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.
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.