May 29, 2015

Meet the Ten Longest Lived Royals in Europe

Here is our list of the ten amazing royals who enjoyed amazing longevity despite the hustle and bustle of their lives.

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, 104
 (December 25, 1901-October 29, 2004)

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, was the daughter of a Scottish peer, the 7th Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, who was then the largest landowner in Scotland. She married Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, in 1934 and bore him two sons, Prince William, who died in a plane crash in 1972, and Prince Henry, who inherited his father’s title upon his death in 1974. One of the most popular royal figures during her lifetime, she was also the longest-lived European royal, dying at the age of 102. She penned her memoirs, The Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, which was published in 1981 and revised ten years later with the title Memories of Ninety Years.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, 101
(August 4, 1900 – March 30, 2002)

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore. Her family was also one of the wealthiest land-owners in Scotland. She came to prominence in 1923 after she tied the knot with Albert, Duke of York, the second son of King George V and Queen Mary. The couple and their family became even more popular as the embodiment of royals who enjoyed family bliss while never ceasing from their obligation to the public. Known as the "Smiling Duchess" because of her sunny expression, she became Queen Consort and the last Empress of India when her husband succeeded as King George VI after his older brother, Edward VIII, abdicated to marry to the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson. An influential figure during World War II, she stayed with her husband in London while German air raids heavily bombed the city. With her indomitable spirit and ceaseless efforts to boost British wartime morale, even Hitler dubbed her as “the most dangerous woman in Europe.” She remained a popular member of the British Royal Family throughout her life, performing official duties until before her death.

Infanta Maria Adelaide of Portugal, 100
(January 31, 1912- February 24, 2012)

Maria Adelaide was the daughter of Miguel, Duke of Braganza, Miguelist claimant to the throne of Portugal, and Princess Maria Theresa of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. Throughout her life, the princess was a compassionate servant of the poor, working as a nurse and social assistant. During World War II, she joined the Nazi resistance movement, which almost cost her her life. If it was not for the intervention of the Portuguese President of the Council of Ministers, António de Oliveira Salazar who said that the infanta was a national heritage, the Gestapo could have executed her.   She spent her entire life caring for the newborn poor and orphaned at the D. Nunes Alvares Pereira Foundation, which she headed.

Otto, Crown Prince of Austria and Hungary, 98  
(November 20, 1912 – July 4, 2011)

The eldest son of Charles I and IV, the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, and Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, Otto considered himself, his family and Austro-Hungarian legitimists,as the rightful claimant to the thrones of Austria and Hungary since 1922. His father never abdicated.  The Crown Prince was active on the Austrian and European political stage from the 1930s. He promoted the Habsburg restoration and was an early proponent of European integration, while fiercely criticizing nationalism, Nazism and communism. A staunch Austrian anti-Nazi, he fled to the United States when the monarchists were severely prosecuted by the Nazis at the height of the Ausschloss. After World War II, his political career surged with his election as vice president (1957–1973) and president (1973–2004) of the International Paneuropean Union. He also served as member of the European Parliament for the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) from 1979 and 1999. He took a keen interest in the countries behind the Iron Curtain during his tenure, playing a key role in the revolutions of 1989. He also supported the EU membership of central and eastern European countries. Later in his life, he was hailed as one of the "architects of the European idea and of European integration" together with Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, and Alcide De Gasperi.

Infanta Alicia of Spain, 98
(June 29, 1876 – January 20, 1975)

Infanta Alicia was the youngest child of Carlos, Duke of Madrid, Carlist claimant to the throne of Spain and Legitimist claimant to the throne of France,  and of Princess Margherita of Bourbon-Parma. She was firs married in 1897 to Friedrich, Prince von Schönburg-Waldenburg at Venice. The couple had children but their marriage was divorced in 1903. In 1906, he morganatically married Lino del Prete, a cavalry general in the Italian Army, in Viareggio. The couple had issue. The princess’ marriage to del Prete caused her estrangement to her family.

Duchess Altburg of Oldenburg, Princess of Waldeck & Pyrmont, 98
(May 19, 1903 – June 16, 2001)

Duchess Altburg was the daughter of Frederick Augustus II, Grand Duke of Oldenburg, and his second wife Duchess Elisabeth Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She married Josias, Hereditary Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont. The couple had five children, four of which survived to adulthood.

Princess Alice of Albany, Countess of Athlone, 97
(February 25, 1883 – January 13, 1981)

Princess Alice is considered the longest-lived princess of the blood royal of the British Royal Family and Queen Victoria’s last surviving grand daughter. She married Prince Alexander of Teck, the younger brother of Princess Mary, later Queen Mary, in 1904. In 1917, the couple relinquished their German titles following the letters patent issued by King George V. The princess joined her husband in South Africa after he was appointed governor-general from 1924 to 1931. From 1940 to 1946, he was governor general of Canada, and as the wartime vicereine, Princess Alice also supported the war effort in various capacities. She continued to be an active and well-loved member of the British Royal Family until her death.

Princess Eduarda of Liechtenstein, Countess zu Pappenheim, 97
(October 16, 1903 – July 13, 2001)

Known as Princss Edina to her family, she was the fourth child and second daughter of Prince Eduard Victor of Lichtenstein. She first married in 1922 Viktor, Count von und zu Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg . Her second husband was Alexander, Count zu Pappenheim.

Princess Lilian of Sweden, Duchess of Halland, 97
(Auguat 30,  1915 - March 10, 2013)

Princess  Lilian of Sweden was initially controversial for her relationship with Prince Bertil of Sweden. Born in Wales, the former Lilian Davies consummated a rather discreet love affair with the prince. Marrying a divorcee and a commoner would bar Prince Bertil from inheriting the throne (that time, he was the third in line to the throne). While the couple's relationship was accepted privately within the Royal Family, the couple had to wait until the death of Bertil's father, King Gustaf VI Adolf, to get married. The new king, his nephew, Carl XVI Gustaf, permitted his uncle to marry the love of his life. Princess Lilian, despite being 61 at the time, emerged as one of most popular members of the Swedish Royal Family. She was a familiar fixture at the annual Nobel Prize awards ceremony, present every year from 1976 until 2005, when she decided she was too old to attend. She remained occupied with official functions even after the death of Prince Bertil in 1997.

Princess Marie Adelaide of Lippe, Princess Reus, 97
(August 30, 1895  - January 25, 1993)

Princess Marie Adelaide first married Prince Heinrich XXXII Reuss of Köstritz. After divorcing him, she married his younger brother Prince Heinrich XXXV. The marriage also ended in divorce. His third husband was the commoner Hanno Konopath, who was a prominent Nazi official. The princess was notable for being a popular socialite and a staunch Nazi supporter. She was a key figure in the Nordic Ring, which was a forum for the discussion of issues concerning race and eugenics. She also served as an aide to Nazi Minister of Food and Agriculture Richard Walther Darré, and produced numerous works of fiction, poetry, translations, and other books. After the end of World War II, she published translations of prominent Holocaust-denying works, such as Paul Rassinier's Le Drame des Juifs européens [The Drama of European Jews] into German in 1964.

May 28, 2015

The Queen's Speech highlights EU referendum and funding cuts to Labour

Queen Elizabeth II reads the Queen's Speech from the throne at the State Opening of
Parliament this year.

The much-awaited Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament unveiled the plans of Her Majesty’s Conservative government headed by Prime Minister David Cameron for the upcoming Parliamentary year.

The Queen’s Speech, the first for a Conservative majority since John Major, contained 26 bills, including laws to tax cuts that would benefit 30 million people, reduction of benefits cap from £26,000 a year to £23,000, and a pledge to increase free childcare for working families. On the other hand, the speech also contained provisions for the “incentives” cut for foreign migrant workers in the UK.

The two most profound contents of the Queen’s Speech, however, was the in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union and the bill that would cut funding for political parties.
In the upcoming referendum, which the Prime Minister wants to happen the soonest possible, Britons would be asked if they wish to “remain a member of the European Union”.

Then, there’s the legislation that would see donations to Labour Party cut by tens of millions of pounds annually. The bill would give union members the opportunity to opt-in to paying an annual amount to Labour, instead of opting out as at present.

May 27, 2015

Unforgettable Moments at the State Opening of Parliament Through the Years

The State Opening of Parliament has always been a highly anticipated event by politicians, peers, civil servants, and members of the Royal Household. Aside from its historical and political significance, the State Opening is also a showcase of priceless gems, lovely ladies in even lovelier gowns, and gentlemen at their best. Here are some unforgettable moments at the State Opening of Parliament through the years.

Queen Mary wearing her robes for the State Opening of Parliament, 1911.

Queen Elizabeth II delivers her speech at the State Opening of Parliament in 2008.

Diana, Princess of Wales, at the State Opening of Parliament, 1984.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Princess of Wales arriving at the State Opening
of Parliament, 1991.

The Queen at the State Opening of Parliament, 1954.

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra at the State Opening of Parliament.

A painting showing King George V riding in the Gold State Coach during the State Opening of Parliament. 

King George V and Queen Mary at the State Opening of Parliament sometime
in the 1930s.

King Edward VIII at the State Opening of Parliament in November
1937. Less than a month later, he abdicated.

King George V and Queen Elizabeth.

The State Opening of Parliament

The State Opening of Parliament is hailed as the most anticipated event of the Parliamentary year. Its historical, ceremonial, and political significance lies on the fact that this is the only event when three elements of the legislature are gathered together: the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Queen. Thus, the State Opening of Parliament, is the ceremony where the Crown is in Parliament.

It is the duty of the Queen as head of state to formally open each new session of Parliament.
There were only two instances when Queen Elizabeth II the Opening of Parliament. Once was in 1959 when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and the second was in 1963 when she was pregnant with Prince Edward.

The State Opening of Parliament is now held every May, following the passage of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

Before the Queen travels from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, a detachment of the Yeomen of the Guard searches the cellars of the Houses of Parliament, a tradition that dates back to 1605, during the Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Fawkes was arrested for plotting to blow up Parliament. Today, aside from the security measures by the police, the Yeomen of the Guard still continue to their historic search.

The Coronation of Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia

Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra

Moscow, May 26, 1906 - Nicholas II was crowned emperor of all the Russias with the most gorgeous ceremonies the world has ever seen, the New York Times wrote of the historic event. The Cathedral of the Assumption, where the coronation was held, was "a blaze of gold and silver. The ornate richness of the cathedral, the splendor of the uniforms, the gleam of jewels, the assembled beauty of the empire, the glories of the vestment, the magnificent singing and the clouds of incensed" heightened the solemn emotions of everyone around who were "witnessing the most splendid of worldly functions." The Czar's throne, which dated back to the time of Michael Feodorovitch, was "covered with purple velvet and set with rubies and turquoises." The throne's back was gold, while Czarina Alexandra's throne was made of ivory.

The Pioneer Express noted that the ceremonies started at 7 in the morning with a 21-canon shots followed by the ringing of the Cathedral bells. By 7:30 am, distinguished guests and dignitaries who were part of the cortege started their assembly at the palace and cathedral halls. The ladies wore court dresses, while the gentlemen wore their full uniform.  Scarlet-clad attendants ushered dignified guests to their seats. Church dignitaries slowly processed into the Cathedral to the tune of solemn music and church bells to their assigned seats. "Then gold and silver crowns of the popes, the golden capes of the metropolitans, the chasubles of the minor clergy, the dalmatics of the deacons, the grand toilets of the ladies, and uniforms of the officers" sparkling with orders definitely made the grand occasion a glittering royal event, reported New York Times.

The Shakur of Gondal, "gorgeously attired" in her green and red silk Indian costume was the most scene-stealing of the royal guests. He was resplendent with his "gems and gold and silver ornaments," as they gloried the event with their "barbaric magnificence" that Westerners seldom saw that time.  With him was his wife, the Maharana.

By 8:50, the Cathedral was already filled. All the diplomats and their wives were present, except for the ambassador from Turkey, whose Muslim faith barred him from entering a Christian church.
The coronation procession was headed by the chevalier guards of Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Czar's mother. They were followed by the pages, representatives of the syndics from the rural areas, the mayors of the leading cities and members of various local governments, and other respectable officers of the lands, followed by the Cossack soldiers, nobility, the senate, the church, etc.

The imperial insignia, which included the collar of he Order of St. Andrew of the czarina, the sword, the standard, and the seal of the empire, the imperial mantles, the globe, the sceptre, and the crowns of the emperor and empress, were borne by high court dignitaries. Next were the ceremonial officials, then, by the emperor and empress, who were walking under canopies carried by the imperial aides-de-camp. Right next were the hereditary nobility and military officials.

The czar and czarina bowed their knees three times as they entered the church. They then proceeded towards the estrada and took their seats on the throne of Czars Michael and John III. The Orthodox Church officials filed in two lines between the estrada while the choir was chanting.

The dignitaries carrying the imperial mantles then proceeded on the first step of the throne, then the one holding the sword of the empire stood on the second step. On the third step was the bearer of the standard. The ceremony of the coronation and anointment was then accomplished, followed by the state banquet at Kremlin.

There, the czar and czarina received the greetings of foreign dignitaries and government representatives. The reception was celebrated at the Hall of St. Andrew, also known as the Throne Room. The New York Times reported that "this room, which had been renovated for the coronation fetes, presented a brilliant appearance." The walls were bedecked with light blue silk adorned by gold plates which were gifts to the czar and czarina from various Russian towns. .

At around 10.30 am, the halls and rooms of Kremlin were already filled by the revered guests coming to celebrate with the newly crowned sovereign and his consort. By 11.30, the Hall of St. Andrew was beaming with guests. The czar and czarina entered after "the gilded doors swung open." The emperor was dressed in general's uniform, while the empress was wearing a gala costume. The regalia was displayed on their right side.


May 26, 2015

Prince Harry finally meets Baby Charlotte

Prince Harry finally meets Princess Charlotte.

 Three weeks after she was born, Prince Harry was finally able to see her lovely niece Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Twitter user Jake Cottrell reportedly saw the prince near Anmer Hall on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk on Friday.

"I have just seen Prince Harry driving through Brandon in the nicest Range Rover I've ever seen" the royal fan tweeted. On Sunday, the  Mirror broke news that "royal insiders last night confirmed the visit."

Prince Harry’s meeting with Charlotte was delayed because he had his four-week attachment with the Australian Defence Force and then a tour of New Zealand. Even when he returned home, still he was too preoccupied to visit Baby Charlotte. Her was kept busy with his two-day engagements at the Chelsea Flower Show in London although, thank goodness, he and Charlotte came to see face to face.
The 30-year-old prince revealed that a photo of the cute Princess was sent to her and that he quipped that she was "absolutely beautiful."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Princess Charlotte.

And while he was traveling, the prince couldn’t stop from thinking of his niece, collecting presents for her and his nephew Prince George. In fact, Prince Harry was asked by adoring royal fans to send their presents to Charlotte and George. When he was at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, he was given a children's book for Charlotte while a pair of Wellington boots was sent to George. The Rugby Union team Wellington Hurricans also asked the prince to give Charlotte a cuddly toy and a babygro.

A nine-year-old royal fan also sent Charlotte a handmade care.
"I gave him a card for Princess Charlotte," Rakaia Burwell-Garratt told the BBC on the first day of Harry's tour. "I wrote in it, I hope you like being a princess and happy birthday for your first week.'"

May 22, 2015

The 1903 Ball at the Winter Palace: The Last Grand Ball in Imperial Russia

Nicholas and Alexandra at the 1903 Grand Ball

The Russian royals had the fascination for throwing lavish gatherings and extravagant balls. Anyway, they had all the money in the world to splurge on and we could only imagine how glittering an event that was! The 1903 Ball at the Winter Palace was dubbed the last ball of Imperial Russia. Held on February 11 and 13, guests who were members of the Imperial family and Russia's elite wore ostentatious dress in the 17th century style.

Nicholas II’s brother-in-law and cousin, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch recalled that the event, the grandest during the reign of Nicholas II, was the "the last spectacular ball in the history of the empire...” However, the grand duke also noted that “a new and hostile Russia glared through the large windows of the palace.” While the royals and the nobility were dancing, social unrest was brewing across the empire’s four corners. “Workers were striking and the clouds in the Far East were hanging dangerously low," Alexander noted.

Empress Alexandra Fedorovna requested the empire’s best photographers– Boasson and Egler, Alexander Renz and Schroeder, Levitsky V.Yasvoin, D.Zdobnov and others –  to be at the event to perform single portraits and group shots of participants of the ball. That was the last time that the Imperial Family was photographed together.
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