Category Archives: People

Order of the Seraphim’s bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern

Last Saturday, 12 March, I attended the Order of the Seraphim’s bell tolling in memory of Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016), husband of King Carl XVI Gustaf’s sister Princess Birgitta, at the Riddarholmen Church in Stockholm.

As per tradition, the bell of the Riddarholmen Church tolls for one hour between noon and 1 PM on the funeral day of a knight or member of the Order of the Seraphim, during which members of the public may visit the church and pay their respects. At some point after the service, the seraphim shield of the deceased is then mounted on the walls of the church. Since 1807 the Riddarholmen Church is no longer an active church but functions only as a royal resting place and church for the Order of the Seraphim, making the bell ceremonies after the death of a knight or member of the order one of the very few times one can hear the bell toll and visit the church as an active one.

Order of the Seraphim's bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016)

King Carl XVI Gustaf had ordered flags to be flown at half-mast at the Royal Palace of Stockholm, Drottningholm Palace and Slottsbacken 2 until 1:30 PM on this day. Prince Johann Georg’s seraphim shield was taken from the Royal Palace to the Riddarholmen Church by a grenadier escort and placed on a table at the chancel of the church where a small group of musicians from the Life Guards were positioned. The bell tolled for one hour during which the musicians performed a few pieces of music and Tom Bergroth, senior curator at the Royal Orders of Knighthood, read out the basic details of the prince’s life in Swedish and German.

Order of the Seraphim's bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016)

Prince Johann Georg was, together with his brother Fürst Friedrich Wilhelm (d. 2010), appointed to Knight of the Order of the Seraphim in connection with his marriage to Princess Birgitta in 1961.

Order of the Seraphim's bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016)

Prince Johann Georg’s funeral took place at the Hedinger Church in Sigmaringen, part of a former Franciscan monastery and the final resting place for the Sigmaringen branch of the house of Hohenzollern. Apart from the widow Princess Birgitta and members of the Hohenzollern families guests included King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Princess Désirée Baroness Silfverschiöld, Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson and Sibylla von Dincklage represented Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler. From the German houses guests included Margrave Max of Baden, Duke Franz of Bavaria, Duke Max in Bavaria, Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia and Prince Andreas of Sachsen-Coburg and Gotha.

Order of the Seraphim's bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016)

Order of the Seraphim's bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016)

Princess Leonore’s coat of arms and monogram

Princess Leonore's coat of armsIn connection with her christening yesterday, it was announced that Princess Leonore’s coat of arms and monogram have been approved by King Carl XVI Gustaf for future use.

The coat of arms, drawn by the heraldic artist of Riksarkivet (The National Archives) Henrik Dahlström, consists of an oval shaped shield with four fields that split the arms, a middle heart field and a ducal/princely crown adorning it to mark the royal dignity. The four fields show the Lesser National Coat of Arms (fields one and four), the Folkunga dynasty’s arms (field two) and the coat of arms of Princess Leonore’s duchy Gotland (field three). The heart shield shows the Bernadotte coat of arms.

Princess Leonore's mongram The province coat of arms of Gotland (landskapsvapen in Swedish) is a blue field with a standing silver ram with golden horns and hoofs, carrying a golden stick decorated with a cross and a flying banner in the same golden colour, decorated with a red field and five flaps of gold. This motive stems from the first known seal of Gotland from 1280 and reminds us of the Agnus Dei motive. The landscape coat of arms is in its usual function crowned with the ducal/princely crown.

The monogram, drawn by the former heraldic artist of Riksarkivet (The National Archives), Vladimir A. Sagerlund, consists of the simple initial L that is adorned by the ducal/princely crown to mark the royal dignity.

Royal christenings: Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotland

Princess Leonore christened by Archbishop Wejryd, screen caption from SVT.Today, on their first wedding anniversary, Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Mr Christopher O’Neill hosted the christening of their first child and daughter, Princess Leonore, in Sweden. In the most splendid summer weather, the baroque estate of Drottningholm Palace by Lake Mälaren, a few kilometres west of Stockholm, bade welcome to family, friends and also the Swedish people via television.

Princess Madeleine, who was born at Drottningholm Palace in 1982, and Mr O’Neill had chosen to host the christening in the small palace chapel, decorated by Carl Hårleman in the eighteenth century, and thus marked a difference between this christening and that of Crown Princess Victoria’ and Prince Daniel’s first child which was a larger affair at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

Guests started arriving after 11 AM and many ladies had chosen soft, creamy pastel colours and hats or coiffes. Apart from the Royal Family (King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Princess Estelle, Prince Carl Philip and the happy parents) the guest list included members of the O’Neill family, members of the Queen’s family (Sommerlaths), and members of the extended Royal Family. Only three of the King’s sister attended: Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler, Princess Désirée Baroness Silfverschiöld (without her husband) and Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson. Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, widow of the King’s late uncle Sigvard and who celebrates her 90th birthday this summer, and Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg, widow of the King’s uncle Carl Johan, also attended. The only foreign royal on the guest list, which the Royal Court had earlier said would not include any such people, was Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, first cousin of King Carl XVI Gustaf on his mother Princess Sibylla’s side. The only one of Princess Madeleine’s godparents who did not attend was Princess Benedikte of Denmark.

Mr O'Neill, Princess Madeleine with Princess Leonore, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Mrs Eva O'Neill. Back row from left: Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler, Princess Désirée Baroness Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson and Consul General Tord Magnuson. Screen caption from SVT.

Mr O’Neill, Princess Madeleine with Princess Leonore, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Mrs Eva O’Neill. Back row from left: Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler, Princess Désirée Baroness Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson and Consul General Tord Magnuson. Screen caption from SVT.

The official parts of Sweden were represented by the Speaker of the Parliament, Per Westberg, Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt, members of the diplomatic corps and a short list of high ranking members of various authorities. Only two government ministers other than the Prime Minister attended and only one of the parliamentary party leaders, perhaps because the christening coincided with a birthday celebration of the Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt’s wife Anna Maria Corazza Bildt in Italy this weekend. The Royal Court was represented by both present and former staff; among them the present Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, former Marshal of the Realm Ingemar Eliasson, now chancellor of the royal orders, Mistress of the Robes Countess Alice Trolle Wachtmeister with her husband Count Hans Gabriel, Marshal of the Court Karolin A. Johansson, head of the Crown Prince Couple’s household, as well former nannies of the King and Queen’s children. Personal and private guests included Prince Carl Philip’s girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist and long-time close Swedish friends of Princess Madeleine and the Royal Family.

The christening service commenced at noon when a salute of 21 shots was fired from Skeppsholmen in Stockholm. Archbishop Anders Wejryd, perfming his last big duty as such before laying down his archbishop’s crosier one week from now, was joined by Chief Court Chaplain Lars-Göran Lönnermark and the Pastor of the Royal Court Parish Michael Bjerkhagen in officiating the service.

The altar and chapel was decorated with beautiful blooming roses and peonies in different rose-colours and the baptismal font was dressed in ivy, the landscape flower of Gotland. Instead of using the grand and very heavy silver christening font from the seventeenth century, last used for the christening of Princess Estelle in 2012, the regular christening font of the Drottningholm Palace Chapel was used. Princess Eugénie’s crown from 1860 marked the royal dignity of the service.

On two opposite rows of chairs near the altar sat Princess Madeleine’s parents, siblings and Prince Daniel, and on the other the chosen godparents: Crown Princess Victoria (with Princess Estelle next to her in a mini-chair), Ms Louise Gottlieb, Mr Patrick Sommerlath, Mrs Tatjana d’Abo, Count Ernst Abensperg und Traun and Ms Alice Bamford.

The main character of the day, Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotland, slept through most of the service. The little princess was dressed in a christening gown from 1906, made in cotton batiste and valencienne lace with a slip of satin woven silk and whose lining carries the embroidered names of its previous wearers (Prince Gustaf Adolf, Prince Sigvard, Prince Bertil, Prince Carl Johan, Princess Margaretha, Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée, Princess Christina, Prince Carl Gustaf, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip, Princess Madeleine and Princess Estelle).

Mr Christopher O’Neill read the introductory thanksgiving prayer in English, Crown Princess Victoria read about Jesus and the children (Mark 10:13) in Swedish and then Mr O’Neill’s half-sister Mrs Tatjana d’Abo read from the Galatians in English. The music consisted of classic period music, coinciding well with the baroque surroundings, as well as the bridal march from Gotland, performed at the wedding of Princess Madeleine and Mr O’Neill, re-worked for organ. Court singer Elin Rombo sang Max Reger’s “Mariä Wiegenlied” (op. 76, nr. 52) in German and Swedish and the final psalm, before the recessional piece from Roman’s “Drottningholm music”, was a beloved classic, “En vänlig grönskas rika dräkt” that is sung in most schools when the start of the summer holiday is marked.

At the end of the ceremony King Carl XVI Gustaf attached a miniature of the Order of the Seraphim to Princess Leonore’s christening gown, signalling that she has been awarded the order but the princess will probably not receive the real insignia and start to wear them until she reaches the age of majority.

After the christening service guests exited the chapel and walked around it on the outside to reach the entrance to Drottningholm Palace. After a short posing moment on the stairs of the palace for the immediate family, Princess Leonore was laid down to rest in Karl XV:s cradle from 1826 in the Ehrenstrahl Drawing Room. In the same room, standing next to the cradle, Princess Madeleine and Mr O’Neill received the guests who also greeted King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Mrs Eva O’Neill who was standing at the other end of the room before the guests passed to the next room. The Ehrenstrahl Drawing Room is dominated by great seventeenth century paintings by court painter David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, depicting glorifying images of Dowager Queen Hedvig Eleonora and the Pfalz dynasty on the Swedish throne.

During the reception the Royal Family also allowed cameras to film a little bit of the receiving of the guests and the presentation of gifts, something which was not done at Princess Estelle’s christening. The Speaker of the Parliament and Prime Minister, speaking in front of the gathered guests and next to the happy parents on a podium, presented the government’s and parliament’s gift which is a collection of children’s books by Swedish authors. The Marshal of the Realm presented the court staff’s gift, a set of a children’s sized table and chair made by a carpenter from Gotland of local sustainable wood and presented together with a tea set. The County Governor of Gotland presented the County Administrative Board and people of Gotland’s present in the form of a photo and soft-toy depicting a baby foal of the Swedish race Gotland pony (Gotlandsruss) that was born on 21 May 2014.

After the reception a christening luncheon was given in Karl XI:s Gallery, a room that serves as a reminder of King Karl X Gustaf’s wartime achievements with great seventeenth century battle depictions. The menu consisted of lobster-filled pickled apple cannelloni, langoustine-pannacotta, trout roe and smoked dill crème, lemon and thyme filled chicken breast, confit leg of chicken, potato and asparagus terrine, sorrel sauce and asparagus buds, and a summer trio of rhubarb and strawberries for desert.

Back row: (godparents) Ms Alice Bamford, Mrs Tatjana d'Abo, Count Ernst Abensperg und Traun, Crown Princess Victoria, Mr Patrick Sommerlath, Ms Louise Gottlieb. Front row: Mr Christopher O'Neill, Princess Leonore, Princess Madeleine. Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström,

Back row: (godparents) Ms Alice Bamford, Mrs Tatjana d’Abo, Count Ernst Abensperg und Traun, Crown Princess Victoria, Mr Patrick Sommerlath, Ms Louise Gottlieb. Front row: Mr Christopher O’Neill, Princess Leonore, Princess Madeleine. Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström,

Crown Princess Victoria’s name day 2014

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014Until yesterday, three years had passed since Crown Princess Victoria’s name day was last celebrated with the traditional congratulatory call by the defence and the public at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

In 2012 only weeks had passed since the Crown Princess had given birth to Princess Estelle when the name day came along and so the public celebration was cancelled. In 2013 the Royal Family were in mourning for Princess Lilian when the Crown Princess’ name day occurred two days afterwards and so it was cancelled again. But yesterday, 12 March 2014, it was time again.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014After a grey, damp and altogether depressing winter everyone in Sweden is longing for spring and summer. And so it was a treacherous sun that cast its glorious golden rays over Stockholm yesterday morning, making many people pick their spring coat instead of something warmer for the day. At the Royal Palace however, standing in the shadow of the inner courtyard, many realised how deceiving the sun can be. Luckily, I took the safe option and grabbed my winter coat for the day as I got on the train in the early morning.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014But however freezing many of us were, standing there awaiting the start of the event, I think the temperature might even have slightly risen when Crown Princess Victoria came out together with not only Prince Daniel but also the two-year old charmer Princess Estelle. Many happy exclaims came from all sides at the sight of the little princess who had a lot to look at, from the crowds surrounding the royals to the military men and band standing in front of them.

The Crown Princess’ family took their places together at the small blue podium, where the Crown Princesss has previously stood alone. At a safe distance behind the royals the head of H.R.H. The Crown Princess’ Household, Court Marshal Karoline A. Johansson, and Aide-de-Camp Helena Sigurdsson, placed themselves.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014Princess Estelle was impeccably well behaved during the concert part which consisted of the performance of three military marches, a drum salute, the traditional Swedish congratulatory song “Med en enkel tulipan” (“With a simple tulip”) and the Victoria fanfare followed by the congratulatory hurrah exclamation of the public.

The little princess applauded each performance and even broke into a little dance every now and then. Princess Estelle curiously looked up at the military representatives when they stepped forward to present their company’s congratulatory bouquet to her mother; perhaps thinking they had some funny looking hats on… Every now and then the little princess also looked back at Karoline and Helena standing behind them.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014After the musical programme was finished the Crown Princess went on her usual walkabout to receive flowers, presents and children’s drawings from the crowds. Prince Daniel took Princess Estelle on his arm and walked along. As always it was wonderful to watch the Crown Princess’ fantastic interacting with people of all ages, always taking the time to stop for a moment for all of those who wants her attention.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014The most spectacular gift of the day was probably the spettekaka that a woman brought with her directly from Skåne, of which it is a speciality. The Crown Princess was very happy to receive it and was impressed by how this fragile cake had been transported so far and arrived without any noticeable damages.

To see more of my photos from Crown Princess Victoria’s name day in 2014, please visit my Flickr album dedicated to the event.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014

Her Royal Highness Princess Leonore Lilian Maria of Sweden, Duchess of Gotland

Princess Leonore. Photo: Christopher O'Neill/The Royal Court.

Princess Leonore. Photo: Christopher O’Neill/The Royal Court.

Yesterday King Carl XVI Gustaf, having just about returned from a visit to New York and his grandchild together with Queen Silvia, chaired a special cabinet meeting at the Royal Palace of Stockholm upon the birth of his second grandchild.

Because of the current winter holiday and many current travels in the country and abroad for ministers, it was quite a thin government that gathered around the table to hear what the King and his advisors had decided for the first royal heir to be born abroad since King Oscar I in 1799 (though he was not born royal).

Just like when Crown Princess Victoria gave birth to her (so far only) child Princess Estelle in 2012, speculations were circling around traditional Swedish and royal names like Alice and Désirée – but again Sweden was delivered with a name surprise. Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill’s first child and daughter is styled Royal Highness, received the ducal title of Gotland and will be named Leonore Lilian Maria.

Leonore is not a traditional Swedish name, only 128 Swedish women bare it with only 35 of them using it as a calling name, but this choice is fully in line with the current royal trend of giving royal offspring all kinds of modern and non-traditional names. Lilian was chosen to honour Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland, the dear “auntie” of the royal children who passed away last year. Maria is the second name of Mr O’Neill’s mother Eva.
– There were very many other names that we had thought about. I can only say that it was a joint decision which we made together. It’s a nice name that we both like very much, Christopher O’Neill told Expressen.

Versions of the name Leonore seems to be a bit of a trend in the royal world at this time. In Spain there is Infanta Leonor, oldest daughter of the Prince and Princess of Asturias and one day destined to become the country’s ruling queen unless her parents have a son. In Belgium there is Princess Eléonore, fourth and youngest child of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and with Crown Princess Victoria as one of the godparents. In the Netherlands there is Countess Leonore of Orange-Nassau, third and youngest child of Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands.

One version of the name Leonore – Eleonora – is a very traditional Swedish royal name and still today quite popular with more than eleven thousand women bearing the name. No less than four queens in Swedish history have carried the name: Maria Eleonora (née Brandenburg, 1599-1655), consort of King Gustav II Adolf, Hedvig Eleonora (née Holstein-Gottorp, 1636-1715), consort of King Karl X Gustav, Ulrika Eleonora the older (née of Denmark, 1656-1693), consort of King Karl XI, and Ulrika Eleonora the younger (1688-1741), ruling queen of Sweden who abdicated in favour of her husband King Fredrik I, landgrave of Hesse-Kassel.

Gotland is a a county, province and diocese is made up of one large main island surrounded by many smaller island of varying sizes in the Baltic Sea off the coast of south-west Sweden and has just under 60.000 inhabitants. It has been a royal dukedom once before: Prince Oscar (1859-1953), second of four sons and children of King Oscar II and Queen Sofia (née Nassau), received the dukedom at his birth and then lost his style, titles and succession rights at his unequal marriage to Ebba Munck af Fulkila in 1888. Prince Ocar was later conferred with the non-hereditary title Prince Bernadotte and became the father of the world-famous Count Folke Bernadotte af Wisborg.

Princess Leonore with grandparents Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf. Photo: Princess Madeleine/The Royal Court.

Princess Leonore with grandparents Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf. Photo: Princess Madeleine/The Royal Court.

After King Carl XVI Gustaf announced the name, style and title of his new grandchild at the cabinet meeting, a short press conference followed. The Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, said that the King and court has made an interpretation of the Act of Succession that means that Princess Leonore will have to move to Sweden from the age of six to remain in the line of succession.
– She will be brought up from about the age of six and have her whole schooling in Sweden. She is to be Swedish, speak Swedish fluently and take a Swedish student certificate.

With these decisions King Carl XVI Gustaf has implemented completely gender-neural succession, style and title practices – although there are many questions remaining out in the open about the future of the Swedish Royal House and family. What does it mean to be a Royal Highness – will there be a correlation between receiving styles, titles and being in the line of succession and actually becoming a working royal? What happens if Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill won’t want to move to Sweden by 2020, can a royal keep their style and titles but not be in the line of succession? What citizenships will Princess Leonore have?

There are many reasons for joy these days, but also cause for great debate and pondering on the future.