Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Royal A - Z of 2013

It's been a busy year for Europe's's the A-Z of all they got up to in the past 12 months...

A is for ABDICATIONS with not one but two European monarchs stepping aside in 2013.  The abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on April 30th 2013 gave the country its first king in 123 years while the decision of Albert II to step aside, leaving on July 21st 2013, was a shock to the country and the continent.  The two long serving monarchs enter retirement with successful reigns to look back on.

Here's to us - King Albert II of the Belgians and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands both abdicated in 2013

B is for BABIES as a new generation of royals was born. The daughter of Lord Frederick Windsor, Maud Elizabeth Daphne Marina Windsor, became the first woman ever guaranteed succession rights ahead of a younger brother in the British Royal Family on her arrival in August 2013.  Sacha Casiraghi, born in March 2013, gained succession rights in Monaco on the marriage of his parents, Andrea Casiraghi and Tatiana Santo Domingo, in September 2013.  If his uncle, Albert II, has no legitimate children then Sacha is highly likely to be sovereign prince of Monaco one day.  But there was no question over the succession rights of George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, born on July 22nd 2013.  The first born son of the first born son of the first born son of the Queen of Great Britain will be king himself one day.

The boy who will be king - George Alexander Louis of Cambridge is christened on October 23rd 2013 at St James' Palace, London

C is for CATHARINA-AMALIA who at the age of just 10 years became the youngest heir to the throne in Europe.  Since her father's accession as King of the Netherlands on April 30th 2013, she has been known as the Princess of Orange.

Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands became Europe's youngest heir to the throne in April 2013

D is for DIAMONDS after Kate, Duchess of Cambridge was photographed wearing a tiara for the first time since her wedding in 2011.  The duchess was seen wearing the Lotus Flower tiara on her way to a reception for the Diplomatic Corps at Buckingham Palace in December.

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge in the Lotus Flower tiara in December 2013

E is for ELISABETH who became heiress to the throne of Belgium on July 21st 2013, the first time a woman has been first in line.  On her own accession she will become the first queen regnant of Belgium but for now is known as the Duchess of Brabant.

Elisabeth of Belgium, Duchess of Brabant, became the first heiress to the throne of Belgium 
on July 21st 2013

F is for FORTY which was the number of choice for Europe's royals this year.  Mathilde of Belgium celebrated her fortieth in January 2013 as a princess but became a queen before the year was out.  Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and his wife, Mette-Marit, both turned forty in the summer and on September 15th 2013, Prince Daniel of Sweden marked his fortieth birthday.  But the celebrations for that were overshadowed by his father-in-law's jubilee that same day.  King Carl XVI Gustaf marked forty years as his country's king with a tour of Sweden and a weekend long party that culminated with dancing in the streets of Stockholm.

The special picture produced by the Swedish royal house to mark the 40th jubilee of King Carl XVI Gustf who became monarch on September 15th 1973

G is for GLAMOUROUS GRANDMOTHER as Princess Caroline of Hanover became a granny twice over in less than a year.  The heiress to the throne of Monaco welcomed her first grandson, Sacha Casiraghi, in March 2013 and had extra Christmas shopping to do when her daughter, Charlotte, gave birth to a son called Raphael on December 17th 2013.

Princess Caroline of Hanover hands out gifts at the annual Monaco Christmas children's party just hours before her daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi, made her a grandmother for the second time 

H is for HEALTH SCARES with several European royals in hospital this year.  Queen Elizabeth II was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London in the early part of 2013 as a precautionary measure following a bout of gastroenteritis.  The Queen's first hospital stay in a decade lasted just one night with Elizabeth II discharged around 24 hours after being admitted.  Her husband, Prince Philip, ended up staying far longer when he spent the best part of a fortnight in hospital over the summer of 2013 - the only official word on his condition was that it involved exploratory abdominal surgery.  King Juan Carlos of Spain underwent two hip operations in the year while Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway stepped out of public life for nearly two months at the end of the year after an operation on a herniated disc.  And at the end of the year, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was taken to hospital following a minor ski-ing accident left her with a sprained foot.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden suffered a minor injury while ski-ing at the end of 2013

I is for ISABELLA OF DENMARK who started school this year.  The eldest daughter of Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, Mary, looked far more at ease than her parents as they prepared to head off to class on the big day.

No first day nerves here - Princess Isaballa of Denmark gets ready to start school in August 2013

J is for JOHAN-FRISO, PRINCE OF ORANGE-NASSAU who died at the age of 44 on August 12th 2013.  He had suffered head injuries in a ski-ing accident in Austria in 2012 and never fully recovered consciousness.  He was buried close to his mother's home on August 16th 2013.

Prince Johan Friso died on August 12th 2013

K is KARAOKE as Prince William sang on stage with Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift at a charity fundraiser for Centrepoint at Kensington Palace in November.  The Duke of Cambridge belted out 'Livin' On a Prayer' with the stars who luckily managed to cover up William's not no tuneful rendition of his favourite karaoke song (he gave the royals his own, special version of it at Zara Tindall's wedding in July 2011).

William, Duke of Cambridge sings with American rock royalty at a charity fundraiser for Centrepoint in November 2013 

L is for LOOKING TO THE FUTURE as the Prince of Wales begins to take on more foreign duties for his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.  In 2013, the prince attended the Heads of Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka for the queen, the first time in four decades that Elizabeth II wasn't there.  It's a sign that the monarch intends to share these overseas engagements with the prince on a more regular basis.

The Prince of Wales at the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting in November 2013 in Sri Lanka

M is for MARRIAGES  with several royal weddings over the course of 2013.  Princess Caroline of Monaco's eldest son, Andrea Casiraghi, married his long time girlfriend Tatiana Santo Domingo in the summer and so guaranteed the principality's succession as the wedding gave his young son, Sacha, the right to inherit the throne.  The Luxembourg royals dusted down their hats and tails for the second year in a row as the Grand Duke and Duchess' second son, Felix, married his girlfriend, Claire Lademacher, in a romantic ceremony.  The Dutch royals found a reason to smile again after the unexpected death of Prince Johan Friso when the whole family attended the wedding of the king's cousin, Jaime Bourbon-Parma, and Viktoria Cservenyak as the autumn started.  But the biggest royal wedding of the year was the marriage of Princess Madeleine of Sweden to Chris O'Neill in Stockholm on June 8th 2013.  The bride wore Valentino, the groom cried and the future queen, Estelle, almost stole the show with her cute antics during the ceremony.  A honeymoon baby for Madeleine completed the fairy tale.

Princess Madeleine of Sweden married Chris O'Neill on June 8th 2013 in Stockholm

N is for NEW MEDIA as Europe's royal houses increased their Twitter and Facebook presence in a sign of the times.  Spain's heirs, Felipe and Letizia, went on a Twitter tour of the country in the autumn when they posed for photos in a hectic three day visit to different locations which all ended up on social media.  Britain, Sweden and Belgium's royal houses all increased their social media presence but it was Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway who took the lead by becoming the royal ruler of Twitter.  Her tweets included photos of puppies and images of her family as it went about its daily royal duties.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway in one of several twitpics posted in 2013

O is for OLYMPIC DREAMS as Prince Felipe of Asturias led the bid to bring the Summer Games of 2020 to Madrid.  The candidacy was the favourite to win going into the IOC vote in Buenos Aires but was eliminated in the first round of votes despite the prince's impassioned plea to bring the Olympics to Spain.

Felipe and Letizia of Spain after the prince's speech to the IOC as part of Madrid 2020's bid to win the summer Olympics

P is for PHILIPPE, the new king of the Belgians.  The fifty three year old succeeded his father, Albert II, on July 21st 2013 in one of the biggest surprises of the royal year.  The new king gave his country its first Belgian born queen consort in Mathilde and the royal couple immediately began a tour of the cities and provinces to introduce themselves as monarchs.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians with their children on the day of the king's accession, Jul 21st 2013

Q is for QUIRON CLINIC, MADRID where King Juan Carlos underwent two operations in the last part of 2013 on a hip replacement that had become infected.  The king recovered well from both interventions but the main activity was outside the hospital where his family played musical cars to visit him. Juan Carlos' second daughter, Cristina, returned from Switzerland to see her father but her brother and his wife made sure they weren't seen with her as the scandal around her husband's financial affairs continues to rumble.  In the middle of it all was Queen Sofia who spent endless time at her husband's bedside and was seen with every member of her family who made the visit to the clinic.

King Juan Carlos poses with some of the medical team who looked after him on his first stay in the Quiron Clinic, Madrid in 2013

R is for REFUGEE CAMP following Crown Princess Mary of Denmark's controversial visit to Jordan in August 2013.  The princess went to meet people displaced from their homes by the conflict in Syria but Mary had to leave sooner than she intended after an unrelated protest in another part of the camp.

Princess Mary during her visit to a refugee camp in Jordan for those who had to leave their homes because of the conflict in Syria

S is for SYDNEY which became the place to go for Europe's royals for a rousing reception and lots of public love.  First, Prince Harry headed off to the harbor to review the fleet for his granny and was all but mobbed in the process with tens of thousands trying to shake his hand or steal a kiss.  Then, Australian born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and her husband, Frederik, arrived in the city at the end of October to help mark the 40th anniversary of the Danish designed Sydney Opera House.

Harry gets more handsome - the prince during the fleet review in Sydney in October 2013 where he brought the city and the country to a semi-standstill

T is for TRIATHLON which is the basis of the Ironman competition that Prince Frederik of Denmark took part in on a rainy day in Copenhagen in the middle of August 2013.  The prince was photographed swimming, cycling and running in the rain being cheered on by his wife and children.  It was just one hard sporting feat that the prince tackled this year - not long afterwards, he headed off to Florida to train with one of the crews for the 2013 Americas Cup.

Crown Prince Frederik taking part in the 2013 Ironman of Copenhagen competition in August

U is for UNDERGROUND as the Tube in London got plenty of royal help to mark its 150th anniversary.   The Prince of Wales attended one event but it was the visit of the Queen, Prince Philip and the Duchess of Cambridge to the underground that really grabbed the headlines, especially after the pregnant duchess sported a 'baby on board' badge.

The Duchess of Cambridge with her 'Baby on board' badge which London Underground bosses presented to her when she visited in March 2013 as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Tube

V is for VANITY FAIR BEST DRESSED LIST  which included several European royals this year. Princess Madeleine of Sweden, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Princess of Asturias all got a nod.  The year saw several fashion comparisons for Kate and Letizia but both continued to define their own style.

On trend, as always.  Letizia, Princess of Asturias does Gatsby chic in the autumn of 2013 during her visit to America

W is for WILLEM-ALEXANDER, the first king of the Netherlands for over 100 years.  The new monarch ascended the throne on April 30th 2013 following the abdication of his mother the same morning - the festivities for the event lasted three days and were attended by members of all of Europe's royal families. The new king and his consort, Maxima, began a tour of other European courts to introduce themselves as monarchs soon afterwards.

King Willem-Alexander might be the first man to rule the Netherlands in 123 years but he's still outnumbered by the girls.  The king is seen here on the day of his accession with his consort, Queen Maxima and their children along with his mother, now known as Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands

X is for X-TREME with several European royals surprising everyone with some daring moves this year. Crown Princess Mary of Denmark abseiled as part of her training with the Danish National Guard, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway parachuted into his fortieth birthday party, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden enjoyed some high speed car racing and Prince Harry trekked to the South Pole to raise money for charity.

Prince Harry reached the South Pole on December 13th 2013 after a trek of over two weeks across Antarctic ice in temperatures of -45 Celsius

Y is for YORK which staked a late claim to be the final resting place of Richard III after it was confirmed that his body had been found under a car park in Leicester.  The last of the Plantagenets was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and his body taken to Leicester soon afterwards.  His burial place, at Greyfriars in the city, had long been lost but the discovery of bones under a council car park led to an investigation into whether they were the kings or not.  Once it had been confirmed that the skeleton was that of Richard III plans were made to bury him in Leicester Cathedral.  But a judicial review was granted to members of the Plantagent Alliance who claim the king would have wanted to be buried in York.  The final decision will be made in 2014.

Richard III, King of England.  Experts confirmed this year that remains found beneath a Leicester car park are those of the monarch and a row began over where he should be reburied

Z is for ZARA who along with Madeleine will be making the headlines in 2014 as both are expecting babies.  Zara Tindall, the only royal godparent for Prince George, will present Elizabeth II with her fourth great grandchild in the early part of the new year and in February 2014, Princess Madeleine of Sweden is due to give birth.  It's already been reported that Madeleine is having a girl - which will mean that the Swedish line to the throne will contain just one man.  Europe's royal girl power continues.

The future's bright - Zara Tindall will become a mummy in 2014, one of several royal new arrivals expected during the year

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