The biggest royal news this week was certainly the royal wedding in Sweden on Saturday afternoon at the Palace Chapel in Stockholm. The elites of Swedish society, along with members of high society from the investment districts of London and New York City rubbed elbows with the likes of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Princess Charlene of Monaco, HIH Princess Takamado of Japan and the children of the King of Greece, among others. Little Princess Estelle turned quite a few heads when she arrived with her parents Prince Daniel and Crown Princess Victoria (who was wearing Princess Lillian’s laurel wreath tiara) so that, for once, the King and Queen were most certainly not the center of attention. Princess Madeleine wore a very lovely Italian-designed wedding dress with lots of Chantilly lace topped by the ‘Modern Fringe Tiara’ while Chris O’Neill, who turned down being a prince, was not too big to turn down some jewelry, wearing the badge of a Knight Commander of the Order of the Polar Star which HM King Carl XVI Gustaf bestowed on him a couple days before the wedding. He was awarded the knighthood for showing great courage and heroism in marrying the King’s daughter (I guess). Surprisingly enough, most of the ceremony was conducted in English by the Chief Court Chaplain, a Bishop Emeritus (no, not that one) and the Court Chaplain. The King and Queen hosted a private reception at the palace afterwards where the guests partied all night, some not leaving until five o’clock Sunday morning.
So, everything went off without a hitch, the bride was radiant and the Swedes gave a good display of support for their monarchy and the Royal Family which has not had the easiest time of late. As most regular readers know, I am not a big fan of Chris O’Neill, his background, his attitude and all of that. However, I do send the new couple my sincere congratulations and best wishes for a happy life going forward. Princess Madeleine has not had an easy time when it comes to romance, part of my own worries stemming from her vulnerability after her last ill-fated attempt to make it to the altar. The Kingdom of Sweden may not be seeing much of the couple after this but I do hope all goes well. The monarchy could a period of uninterrupted good news and not only for their own sake. Things have been somewhat tempestuous in Sweden in general lately, there are a great many problems in the country and the monarchy, to my mind, is the last bastion of tradition and, dare I say, sanity amidst a myriad of problems surrounding disagreements over what values, if any, the country will embrace and what it means in this day and age to be “Swedish”. It is certainly a far cry from the Sweden that was once the powerhouse of Scandinavia and which made the Baltic Sea a Swedish lake. However, as much as things have changed, the monarchy remains as the last living link with that traditional Sweden of days gone by and every Swede and every sincere monarchist should wish them success, happiness and every blessing in the years to come.
Moving on, across the North Sea in Great Britain, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh celebrated his 92nd birthday this week, though unfortunately he did so while in hospital for exploratory surgery on his abdomen. HM the Queen came to visit her beloved consort on his special day and, during his time in hospital, there have been a virtual parade of royal visitors as members of the family have come to check on the Prince who is “comfortable and in good spirits”. We are told that the surgery was not serious, though I would think any surgery for someone of ninety-two years is nothing to take lightly. However, we all send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to the Duke of Edinburgh and congratulations on turning 92 with hopes for many more birthdays to come. Prince Philip is possibly my favorite member of the British Royal Family, for his devotion to Queen and country, his tireless work ethic, common sense and great sense of humor. The Duke has taken a great deal of criticism in the press over the years for what are termed “verbal gaffes” but I cheer him for them. I have yet to come across one that was a genuine gaffe, they have invariably been simply cases of the over-sensitive PC media displaying their own lack of humor. So, all the best to Prince Philip, he’s tops.
On the continent, another one of my favorite royals celebrated a birthday this week, that being the Dowager Queen Fabiola of the Belgians, widow of the saintly and beloved King Baudouin. Her Majesty celebrated her 85th birthday on Tuesday. From a Spanish noble family, she had originally considered becoming a nun but, thanks to some matchmaking clergymen, ended up marrying the King of the Belgians on December 15, 1960. Since his death in 1993 the Queen has withdrawn from public life but is still a regular feature of family events. A great lady, a great queen and a woman of great faith and kindness, we wish her a happy birthday and many more to come. Over in the neighboring Netherlands, controversy continues to be dug up from the happy occasion of “inauguration day” (or whatever they are choosing to call it), this time concerning the always controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders. It seems some are now saying that he was snubbed at the big royal event, not being given a position appropriate for someone who has served as long in government as he has. Was it simply an oversight? Possibly, but even if it was not, Mr. Wilders should not be that surprised. His anti-immigrant stance has earned him few friends in the halls of power and I am sure the Dutch Royal Family had little sympathy for him even before his calls for the former Queen Beatrix to be totally excluded from any role in government. One should not take up an adversarial position with the monarchy and still expect to be treated as though nothing happened. However, to be clear, the Royal Family had nothing to do with the order of precedence he or others on his behalf are complaining about. Personally, I have no problem with his stance on immigration. Any country should be able to control who enters their borders. I do have a big problem with his other, radically leftist positions, and the antagonistic attitude he has taken toward the monarchy.
Finally, in the Kingdom of Spain this week, TM King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia along with TRH the Prince and Princess of the Asturias and the Infanta Cristina welcomed, in grand style, HIH Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan. HIH Crown Princess Masako was invited by the Spanish as well of course but did not make the trip due to her ongoing ‘stress illness’. Those in attendance, however, were all smiles and the Spanish monarchy put on a grand display of pomp and ceremony. The visit was timed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Spanish-Japanese relations going back to 1613 when the daimyo Date Masamune sent a Japanese mission from Sendai to Spain. As it happens, the daimyo (known as the “one-eyed dragon”) was also a brilliant military leader and a protector of the rights of Christians in his domain who at one point also sent a diplomatic mission to the Pope. HIH the Crown Prince exchanged antique coins with the Prince of the Asturias and also attended a Spanish-Japanese Business Cooperation meeting.