While most Swedes were sleeping away in the darkness of another winter night, Princess Madeleine gave birth to a baby daughter in New York, USA, while it was still late evening on the other side of the Atlantic. The baby girl was born at 10:41 PM EST on 20 February 2014 at the Weill Cornell Medical Center at the New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Sweden woke up to the news of the royal birth this morning, 21 February 2014, when the media were full of the news and the Royal Court published the official announcement by the Marshal of the Realm on the royal website. The first salutes for the baby girl were fired at noon (CET) today from Skeppsholmen in Stockholm and tomorrow four other Swedish cities will follow suit.
Shortly after noon local New York time (EST), just after 6 PM in Sweden, the proud father Christopher O’Neill held a short press conference. It was an unshaved, casual and clearly very tired father who told the media that the little girl weighed 3,150 grams and was 50 centimetres tall at birth. It was a normal birth and Mr O’Neill attended the whole process which took just about “the whole day” according to a doctor present. The proud father further told the gathered media that the little girl has dark hair and dark eyes and resembles his mother; something he had apparently been hoping for. Mr O’Neill was the one who cut the umbilical cord and he has already taken many photos with his mobile phone. A name has already been decided but he was (of course not) allowed to share it. After a rather improvised press conference of a few minutes and not the best sound, Mr O’Neill showed the cameras a footprint of his daughter on one of his arms. He also said that he had prepared a little gift for the new mother, probably a piece of jewellery as is the custom (a box was mentioned).
In Sweden the Royal Court has confirmed that King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia got on a plane during the day to fly to New York and meet their second grandchild. The traditional cabinet meeting which the King calls after a royal birth to announce the name and titles will probably be held sometime next week. Instead of the traditional witness confirmation, an ancient ceremony where the Speaker of the Parliament, Prime Minister, Marshal of the Realm and Mistress of the Robes confirms the royal birth and that its genuineness in a document signed with seals, two doctors who attended the birth in New York will write a document of confirmation to the King. A Te Deum, the traditional thanksgiving service held in the Royal Palace Church after a royal birth, will be held on Sunday 2 March at 2 PM and invitations went out already before the birth.
Ever since Princess Madeleine’s pregnancy was announced in September 2013 there have been ongoing discussions and speculations on her and Prince Carl Philip’s (possible future) descendants and the future composition of the Royal House. The issues at stake here are possibly enormous and not just about this particular child.
The Swedish Act of Succession only specifies that those in the order of succession need to be of the evangelical Lutheran faith and be brought up within the realm; leaving many questions behind and perhaps also room for interpretation? Since members of parliament did not do a very good and thorough job at examining the articles and considering the future when the legislation was changed in 1979/1980, and now the special circumstances of a royal birth abroad – the room for discussion feels like a great void.
A statement by the King’s lawyer, Axel Calissendorff, made to Svensk Damtidning only shortly after the announcement of the pregnancy is the only hint we have so far as to what the King and his advisers have been considering for the future. But on the other hand one wonders how well thought out the answers in that interview were as Mr Calissendorff seemed to suggest that children of a Royal Highness would somehow also naturally be a Royal Highness. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that following that line of reasoning would very quickly lead to a very large Royal House and no correlation between styles and titles and actually working for Sweden and representing the monarch.
To be brought up in the Lutheran church will pose no great obstacle but what has hopefully been investigated behind closed doors in recent time is what it means to be “brought up” in Sweden, as the Act of Succession puts the requirement for succession rights. Would it for example be enough for children in line of succession to live in Sweden from their school age and forward? What is also of interest is what citizenship(s), surname(s), style and title(s) this baby and future grandchildren of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia will have. Looking at our neighbouring monarchies, Denmark and Noway, we can see that there are different roads to take. Perhaps the King’s inability to create new noble titles is of hindrance in the discussion of the future of the monarchy, the Royal House and extended Royal Family?
Princess Madeleine’s baby girl is now born – questions and confusion still remain. Hopefully the King and perhaps also the government will be able to clear the clouds when the special cabinet meeting is called – whenever that will be….