ROYAL NEWS: APRIL 2004

Last updated: May 9th, 2004.

April 1st
The Sun Newspaper today shows photos of Prince William of Wales skiing at Klosters, Switzerland, earlier this week with a girl called Kate Middleton. They say Kate Middleton, the daughter of an English businessman, is the first serious girlfriend of Prince William. The Sun reports that the couple met when starting studying together at St Andrews University almost three years ago, but only became an item over the past four months. The Sun says both the Prince of Wales and his companion Camilla Parker Bowles approve the relationship. She is said to have visited Highgrove, the house of the Prince of Wales, on three occasions and she and Prince William are also said to have made use of a cottage at Balmoral estate. The Prince of Wales's communications director Paddy Harveson said: "It is not our policy to discuss the nature of Prince William's relationships with his friends. It wouldn't be fair on him or them."

The funeral service of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands was viewed by 3.246.000 Dutch people. Already at 9:00am one million people watched the tv-programme about the funeral and as many people watched the summary on television in the evening. The first part of the procession was watched by 1.887.000 people, the second part by 2.607.000 people.

A BBC documentary about King Leopold II of the Belgians is much discussed in Belgium. 'Blanke koning, rood rubber, zwarte dood' (White king, red rubber, black death) will be broadcasted today and next week by VRT/Canvas. British filmproducer Peter Bate has searched the archives for over one year, talked to experts and visited the inland of Congo. The documentary shows the reign of terror King Leopold II pursued in the Belgian colony Congo at the end of the 19th century. From 1885 to 1904 the colony was private possession of the King an he is said to have undertaken huge forays there. According to the documentary the king drove innumerable Congolese people into death. The Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Louis Michel has protested against the broadcasting and calls the documentary 'biased and unnuanced'. Also the Belgian royal house has told the VRT that they are 'concerned', words usually used in the past to stop programmes from being broadcasted. The VRT wants to know more about this 'concern' of the court before it will react officially.

The royal palace confirmed yesterday that Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark has moved out of Amalienborg Palace last week and into the newly restored Chancellery House of Fredensborg Castle. His fiancée Mary Donaldson officially only will move into the Chancellery House after the wedding on May 14. At the moment she lives in an apartment in Copenhagen. "The flag on the Christian VIII Palace where he used to live has been taken down, a sign that he no longer is there," palace spokeswoman Lis M. Frederiksen said.

Prince Albert of Monaco, who himself participated in several Olympic Winter Games, has participated in the Olympic torch relay yesterday. He carried the olympic flame on the island of Aegina near Athens during its six-day journey around Greece. On June 4 the flame will begin a global treck on six continents and 27 countries coviering a total of about 78.000 kilometres, after which it will return to Athens for the Olympic Games that will be held in August. Prince Albert said he was privileged to participate and told: "The Olympic torch has such an incredible meaning and unites people in a way that probably no other symbol does right now. That's a tremendous feeling and a wonderful ceremony to be a part of."

Shaikh Abdul Rahman bin Saqr Al Khalifa of Bahrain died at the age of 57. He was the Governor of the Central Governorate.

April 2nd
Clarence House has banned The Sun from official photocalls for Prince William and Prince Harry of Wales today. Yesterday the newspaper devoted five pages to photographs of Prince William with his alleged girlfriend Kate Middleton. The photographs were bought from a freelance photographer. The Prince of Wales and Prince William believe the publication break the agreement between the media and Clarence House allowing William and Harry privacy in exchange for regular official photo-opportunities. On Sunday there had been an official photocall with the Prince of Wales and Prince William and they had hoped that the photocall would allow them to enjoy the rest of the week's break in peace. The Prince of Wales's communications director Paddy Harveson said: "We are very unhappy with the breach of the agreement and the use of the paparazzi pictures." It is understood that Clarence House has ruled out any legal action or any approach to the Press Complaints Commission because the photographs were taken in a public area, and it would be difficult to argue intrusion or harassment. The Sun in the meantime claims that their story about William and Kate is 100% true and that therefore there is a strong public interest in publishing these delightful photographs.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has received an Hans Christian Andersen award during a ceremony in Odense marking Andersen's 199th birth anniversary. She received the ninth annual Hans Christian Andersen Honorary Award for her work in illustrating dozens of Andersen's fairy tales since 1984. "It feels like a very big honour," the 64-year-old monarch said after receiving a diploma and a small bronze statue of an open book. Thanking the award committee, she jokingly called it "an insane idea" to pick her, prompting laughter from the audience of 500 inside the Odense Theatre.

After a long fight Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia can have hope again at the inheritance of the House of Hohenzollern. The Bundesverfassungsgericht (High Council) in Karlsruhe has rejected several decisions by other courts and has ordered the court in Hechingen to have a look at the case again. According to the family laws the prince lost his rights of succession because he didn't marry to a protestant wife of equal birth. The prince says this is against the Constitution according to which he has the freedom to marry everybody he wants.

April 3rd
In the past two days about 60.000 people visited the New Church in Delft to have a look at the flower decoration for the funeral of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.

The highest Church court, the Court of Arches, has reserved judgement today about permission to exhume the body of Henry Locock from the family vault in a graveyard in Sevenoaks, Kent. An official decision is expected within six months. Nicholas Locock, a grandson of Henry Locock, who was born in December 1867 and died in 1907, wants to allow a DNA test which he hopes will settle a family legend that his grandfather was the illegitimate son of Princess Louise. The legend tells that Henry Locock was adopted by the son of Sir CHarles Locock, Victoria's gynaecologist, to cover up a scandal. An apply to exhume the body two years ago was rejected by the Rochester consistory court, after which Nicholas Locock appealed to the Court of Arches, which will hold a rare public hearing in St Mary-le-Bow Church, London, today. If permitted Mr Locock plans to take a bone sample for mitochondrial DNA testing. His aim is to compare Henry Locock's DNA with that of the Tsarina Alexandra, whose body was discovered in Russia in 1991, and who if the story is true would have been Henry Locock's first cousin. Nicholas Locock said that if the link was proved, no money, lands or titles would be claimed by the Lococks. After judgement Nicholas Locock said that it was an "important private family matter" to him, and also of potentially significant historical importance. "I would be delighted if I got a positive response from the court and if I could establish the truth. "An enormous amount of people are interested in their own family background." He said the royal family has been informed of the application to exhume and had made no objection.

April 4th
The HNB today reports that the Belgian royal palace is willing to discuss with VTM the behaviour of Prince Laurent of Belgium. During Batibouw the prince told a team of the VTM-programme 'Royalty': 'You must be of VTM. I can see it on your mug.' The management of VTM thereafter sent an angry letter to the palace.

Several royals attended the first Formula One event to be held in the Middle East today. The Formula One races were held in Dubai. Among the royals attending were King Juan Carlos of Spain, King Abdullah of Jordan, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, Prince Hans Adam of Liechtenstein, Prince Albert of Monaco, Prince Ali of Jordan and the Duke of York, as well as several Dubai and Bahraini royals.

Gary Lewis, the man who is going to marry the Lady Davina Windsor on July 31st at Kensington Palace, is of Maori origine. The couple met at Bali three years ago. He was born in Gisborne as the eldest son and second child of Larry Lewis and Viki Smiler (now divorced) and has two brothers, Ian and Hore, and a sister, Donelle. He was brought up on a farm in the Matokitoki Valley largely raised by his maternal grandmother as is customary among Maori extended families, went to school at Te Wharau, Ilminster Intermediate and Lytton High School. He is a keen surfer and left Gisborne, New Zealand, when he was 26. Afterwards he settled in Auckland where he is working as a renovator. Gary and Davina have lived together in Auckland for 15 months before Davina left some weeks ago to prepare for the wedding. After the wedding the couple is going to live in Great Britain. His father Larry Lewis was a leading shearer in his district, and also Gary has worked as a shearer before moving to Auckland. His uncle is Witi Ihimaera-Smiler, author of the book Whale Rider. According to Marlene Eilers Koenig Gary Christie Lewis was born at Gisborne on August 15, 1970 and from a short relationship he has an 11-year-old son, Ari, who lives with his mother in Australia.

The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam and his wife last night attended the 'Majlis Pernikahan' (wedding) of Princess Hjh Taiyibah Qalbul Bolqiah, the eldest daughter of His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Zariah to Pengiran Haji Mohammad Hakimuddin bin Pengiran Haji Hashim at the Balai Penghadapan Hijau Baiduri, Bukit Kayangan in Jalan Tutong. Also other members of the royal family attended the wedding. The ceremony started with the taking of the marriage vow or 'akad nikah' which was officiated by the Syariah Court Judge, which was later proceeded with the 'junjung ziarah' ceremony to the Sultan as well as other members of the royal family. The groom later performed the 'membatal air sembahyang' ceremony with the bride before proceeding for another 'junjung ziarah' to the wife of the Sultan.

April 5th
Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and the Duke of Edinburgh have started an official three-day visit to France today in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale. They arrived in Paris by train. They were greeted by French President Jacques Chirac at the Place de la Concorde where the Queen reviewed French soldiers. Afterwards they laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe During her visit, the Queen will meet Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, speak briefly in the Senate and go to European plane-maker Airbus in the southwestern city of Toulouse. Britain and France cooperate in the Airbus project.

It is said no member of the Danish royal family will attend the christening of Princss Ingrid Alexandra of Norway on April 17. Crown Prince Frederik and his fiancée Mary Donaldson were invited but will not attend due to personal reasons. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden is coming and it is likely she will be one of the godparents.

April 6th
Crown Princess Masako of Japan will extend her stay at a vacation villa in Nagano Prefecture where she has been resting since March 25th for health reasons, the Grand Master of the Crown Prince's Household said yesterday. She had intended to return to Tokyo today. No decision has been made as to when her stay will end. She is staying at the villa together with her daughter and mother.

Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands is doing well. He has taken rest after the funeral of his wife one week ago. He didn't get a set-back of his health after the emotional events of the past weeks.

April 7th
So far 16.500 people have signed the condolence register for Queen Juliana of the Netherlands on the Internet. The register will at least be open until Monday. Afterwards the register will be handed over to the royal family.

April 8th
The christening of Lady Louise Windsor, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, will take place at the private chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday April 24. Her godparents will be Lady Sarah Chatto, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, Lady Alexandra Etherington, Mrs Francesca Schwarzenbach and Mr Rupert Elliott. The christening will be a private event and one official photograph taken by Patrick Lichfield will be released afterwards. The christening robe that will be used is the one made in 1841 for the christening of Victoria Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria. It is made of fine Honiton lace lined with white satin.

A member of the Military Police guarding Palace Noordeinde has been suspended because while he was on duty he called the reportrooom to say that there was a bomb in the garden of the palace. The incident occured in the evening of March 28, the last evening people could say goodbye to Princess Juliana of the Netherlands at the palace. It soon became clear that it was an internal call and not long afterwards the military policeman told that it had been him. He said it had just been a joke. He might get disciplinary punishment.

April 10th

Today in a special ceremony at Beit Al Barkat Palace in Amman Princess Haya Bent Al Hussein of Jordan married the Heir Apparent of Dubai, General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The ceremony, during which the marriage contract was signed, was attended by the Princess's brother Ali, halfbrothers King Abdullah II and the Princes Faisal, Hamza and Hashim, Queen Rania, as well as Princess Haya's maternal uncles Doctors Alaa and Abdullah Touqan. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum was born in 1949 as the third son of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who died in 1990. After finishing secondary school in Dubai in 1965 he started studying at the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge, Great Britain. In 1968 Dubai became part of the United Arab Emirates and in the same year the Sheikh enrolled the Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot, Great Britain. At the end of 1968 he became Head of the Dubai Police & Public Security. In 1971 he became the youngest Minister of Defence in the world. Since 1986 he is President of the Council of Ministers. He has been Chairman of the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing. At the moment he is Commander of the Umm Al Quwain National Guard, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development, since 2001 Chairman of the Public Corp for Ports, Customs & Free Zones, Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council and the Dubai Media Corporation. He is also Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charity. Since 1995 the Sheikh is Crown Prince of Dubai. In 1979 he married Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bint Juma Al Maktoum, to whom he - as far as I know - is still married. The Sheikh already has 16 children: the Sheikhs Rashid, Hamdan, Maktoum, Ahmad, Saeed, Majid as well as another son, and the Sheikhas Manal, Shamsa (* 1981), Maitha, Hissa (or Hassa), Latifa, Sheikha, Mariam, Fatima and Salamah. The Sheikh especially loves sports (endurance horse riding) and poetry.

Prince Georg zur Lippe-Weissenfeld and his wife Alexandra expect their first child in June. They are delighted about it. The Prince hopes to be able to attend the birth of their first baby. The couple got married in 1995.

April 11th
The British press today reports that Lady Louise Windsor, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex has a rare condition called exotropia, that could leave the baby blind in one eye unless the defect can be corrected in an operation. She is to undergo rigorous tests before specialists can perform the risky procedure. Lady Louise is said to have developed a pronounced squint soon after her birth. Exotropia causes one eye to deviate from its normal position and look outwards, affecting the sufferer’s ability to focus. In some cases it leads to blindness. The British royal court hasn't confirmed.

After hundreds of years Italian scientists want to open the graves in Florence of in total 49 members of the Medici family. It is their goal to find out the exact causes of death, deceases and eating-habits of the members of the once ruling family. The 'Operation Medici' is set to start at the end of April. At first several tombs in the Medici Chapel and the San Lorenzo Church will be opened.

April 12th
The Norwegian royal court announced that Princess Ingrid Alexandra's godparents will be: King Harald V of Norway, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, The Prince of Asturias, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Marit Tjessem. The christening takes place on April 17.

April 13th
Today the official programme for the wedding day of Prince Friso of the Netherlands and Mabel Wisse Smit (April 24) was issued. The couple will leave Palace Noordeinde in The Hague by car at 10:00. From 10:30 to 11:00 the civil wedding takes place at the Town Hall where the wedding will be solemnized by the Mayor of Delft, Mr H.M.C.H. van Oorschot. The ceremony will be attended by close family, friends of the couple and authorities (about 50 guests). The couple will travel to the Old Church by car. From 11:30 to 13:00 the religious wedding will take place in the Old Church. The Minister is Ds. Carel A. ter Linden, retired clergyman of the Kloosterkerk in The Hague. Among the invited guests are, next to family and friends, royal guests and authorities (about 1400 guests). After the religious wedding the bridal couple will travel back to Palace Noordeinde by car. There a déjeuner takes place. Today also beautiful new pictures of the couple were issued: see here (click left above: foto's).

On the occasion of the christening of Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway the Norway Post issues a postage stamp showing a nice photo of the little princess taken by Guri Dahl. The stamp is designed by Enzo Finger. It is presented as a miniature sheet and decorated in gold and silver with the crown of the heir to the throne. "This is Norway Post’s christening present to Princess Ingrid Alexandra", said Birgitte Lund Nakken from Norway Post. The face value will be NOK 6 and the stamp will be issued in 1.8 million copies and will be on sale all over Norway. Princess Ingrid Alexandra is the youngest member of the Royal Family to ever have been depicted on a Norwegian stamp.

King Harald V of Norway has returned to his job today. Wenche Rasch from the Royal Court said: "The King has been reported off the sick list, and will resume his duties and his program as head of state." It seems King Harald V has fully recovered after his illness (cancer in the bladder) and he is looking forward to resume his duties.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand was rushed to Siriraj Hospital yesterday evening late. Since Sunday he had suffered from stomach pain, vomiting and high fever. Last night the Crown Prince underwent an emergency appendicitis operation. "HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is recovering with no complications, and will be in hospital for three days," the Royal Court said today.

April 14th
At a press conference at the Province House in Groningen Hans Alders, provincial governor Hans Alders said that the first Queen's Day after the death of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands will be celebrated 'in her spirit as an homage and in full size'. A spokesman for the Government Information Service let know that the Royal Family is looking forward to the day very much after the moving weeks recently. Queen Beatrix will be accompanied by the Prince of Orange, Princess Máxima, Prince Constantijn, Princess Laurentien, Princess Margriet, Pieter van Vollenhoven, Prince Maurits, Princess Marilène, Prince Bernhard, Prince Pieter-Christiaan and Prince Floris. Princess Annette is staying home as she is expecting her second child in the beginning of June. The royal family will arrive in the village of Warffum in helicopters at 10:00. They will be welcomed by shots from four rebuilt historical cannons. According to mayor Gerard Renkema 'it will be a non-pretentious party in a historical environment with the small streets'. The programme will show culture, dance, landscape, harbour activities and art. From Warffum the royal family will take the royal train to Groningen. In the programme of Groningen traditional and modern elements will be united. The royal family will first be taken to the Der Aa-kerk (church) in carriages. After a children's circus, they will among others see art, knowledge and sports. The visit will end at the steps of the town hall. From there the royal family will leave Groningen by royal bus. However the party in Warffum and Groningen will not be over then.

April 15th
The full guestlist for the christening of Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway was published today. A part of the guests is also invited for lunch at the Royal Palace after the christening. The complete Norwegian royal family will attend the christening, as well as godmother Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. The other foreign godparents the Prince of Asturias and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark will not attend the christening because they have other engagements. Among the guests Crown Princess Mette-Marit's parents, brothers and sister as well as their children, cousins of Crown Prince Haakon, as well as Countess Ruth af Rosenborg, members of the Norwegian government and parliament, Norwegian public budies, Norwegian palace staff, and of course friends of the crown princely couple.
  • Full guestlist for the christening.

    Norwegian royal accounts were aired today. It is part of an effort to modernize palace operations and meet public disclosure desires. It stops short of revealing what the royals spend on such things as clothes, however. The palace's budges shows a deficit of 2.200.000 Norwegian crowns, while the royal budges it in total more than 100.000.000 Norwegian crowns. It would have been worse if some travel and ceremonial events hadn't been cancelled because of Crown Princess Mette-Marit's pregnancy and King Harald V's illness which forced them to cancell several trips and events. Palace officials claim to be cost-conscious, but despite of that royal expenses, including repairs to an ill-fated duck-pond on the palace grounds, exceeded the overall budget. The report doesn't say how the royals themselves use their money. Palace staff said the crown couple had used much of their personal budget to remodel their new residence at Skaugum, west of Oslo. It was said today that the costs of the christening of Princess Ingrid Alexandra on Saturday will not be included in the royal family's own budget, because it s considered a national event.

    The wedding of Princess Stephanie of Hohenzollern and Michael Staudinger, which was set to take place on May 1st, has been cancelled. It is not known what happened exactly, but the invited guests received a message by SMS saying: "wedding doesn't take place".

    April 16th
    Queen Margrethe II of Denmark celebrated her 64th birthday today. Thousands of people cheered her as she appeared at the balcony of Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. She was flanked by Prince Henrik, Crown Prince Frederik, his fiancée Mary Donaldson, Prince Joachim, Princess Alexandra, Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix. In a letter that was mailed to the Danish Embassy in Paris Queen Margrethe II also received a birthday wish of French film star and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot who asked her to end whaling in the Faeroe Islands. Brigitte Bardot said she seized the opportunity 'to share my profound sadness, my revolt about a barbaric tradition'. At the bottom of the letter it said: 'My best wishes for a wonderful birthday'. A copy of the letter was faxed to the Associated Press. Palace spokeswoman Lis M. Frederiksen said: 'I am sure that Her Majesty will be happy about the birthday greetings, but the remaining part of the letter is a political matter. The Queen does not deal with political matters.'

    By royal decree of April 14, issued today, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark has been promoted to Senior Commander (Kommandørkaptajn) of the Navy and Lieutenant Colonel (Oberstløjtnant) of the Army and the Airforce.

    Yesterday around 2,000 celebrities and diplomats attended the annual spring garden party hosted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan at the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo.

    Today Princess Irene of the Netherlands presented her newest book in the crematory of Dieren. Last year she was asked to write a book about dying and saying goodbye, a subject that with the death of her mother Queen Juliana came suddenly very close. She said: 'I hope that I can bring comfort to someone or let him come to new insight.' 'There is no end, the essence goes on. It is important to live with realizing death.' The Princess has dedicated the book to her 'dear mother'.

    April 17th
    Today Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway was baptised in the chapel at the Royal Palace in Oslo, decorated with the baby princess' own small pink rose, along with pussy willows and other spring flowers. She wore the same christening gown her late great-grandfather, King Olav V, wore in 1903. The gown was made of nearly transparant cotton with lace and narrow silk ribbons. Its cap was new and designed after the style of the time. Ingrid Alexandra was carried into the chapel by her mother, Crown Princess Mette-Marit. It was King Harald V who held his second granddaughter at the font while she was baptized. Ingrid Alexandra cried almost all the time during the one hour ceremony. Marius, halfbrother of Ingrid Alexandra, had the task to carry a candle into the chapel, that was lit by the bishop after the baby was officially baptised. Bishop Gunnar Stålsett of Oslo used his christening sermon for Ingrid Alexandra to urge respect and the need for a private life for Norway's next royal heir saying that she "must be allowed" to experience a childhood and youth "which explores and celebrates the transition to adult life" as others do. "Only with being able to be who she is, can she one day experience that it's a gift to take on the duties that await." More than 200 of the christening guests, who included Norway's government ministers and a host of other dignitaries as well as family and friends, were invited to a luncheon at the palace immediately following the ceremony. During his welcoming speech at the luncheon King Harald V also said to desire that his granddaughter would be allowed to grow up as normally as possible, even though she "landed in a special family." He said it's wrong to assume her life is already mapped out for her, adding that she'll need to "find her place." He said he hopes the public will be a source of strength for the young princess in the years to come, not a hindrance, while repeatedly noting that her birth is historic in that she's Norway's first female heir to the throne.
  • Aftenposten, Photoseries 1
  • Aftenposten, Photoseries 2
  • Christening of Princess Ingrid Alexandra

    New Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, leader of the Socialist Party, took the oath of office in a ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace presided over by King Juan Carlos of Spain today. Also Queen Sofia attended the ceremony. Yesterday he had already been chosen Prime Minister of Spain by the Spanish parliament. In his first parliamentary speech yesterday he promised to make equality between sexes an "emblematic task". He wants to amend the constitution to give women equal right of succession to the throne. Once the constitution is amended, however, the succession will follow chronologically, regardless of gender, instead of through the male line. The changement wouldn't affect the Prince of Asturias, but is to be applied to his children.

    Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands and Mabel Wisse Smit will ask their wedding guests to give money for a good cause. At the end of the wedding ceremony there will be a collection for the World Foundation for the fight against aids, tuberculosis and malaria.

    The Government Information Service wants to come to an agreement with the media about the protection of the privacy of the youngest members of the Royal House to prevent that they will be trouble them, especially Princess Amalia. The Government Information Service has asked the editors of the Dutch newspapers to ask if it would be possible to talk about such an agreement. In exchange there will be official photomoments for the press.

    Prince William of Wales today played for the Scottish national universities squad in the Celtic Nations cup in Cardiff. Unfortunately his water polo team lost in the tri-nations competition over Ireland with 14-7. Prince William, appearing on the team sheet as William Wales, didn't play in the first quarter of the game, but played in the second quarter. He was called on a total of three times during the game, and suffered his share of duckings. The Irish team played Wales in the final of the contest this evening.

    April 18th
    At Princess Sayako of Japan's 35th birthday today a statement to the press was issued. She said to have been relieved to hear the news of the release of some Japanese captured in Iraq in the past days. She thinks "It is most regrettable that events in the world of the past year that come to mind are colored by images of war. It is sad that we have become accustomed to the word 'terrorism' in daily life, and to have reached a stage in which almost every day the day's tally of victims is released by the press. It is my sincerest hope that peace may be achieved in those countries." Over the past year she was also very impressed by the recent exploration of Mars by the Pathfinder. Princess Sayako said that she is happy her father is in a good condition again. She said also to be deeply concerned about the period of recuperation of her sister-in-law Crown Princess Masako. She is hoping she is making good progress towards recovery. She said also her parents are very concerned about the health of their daughter-in-law and have tried to do anything to help. She said that 'The current situation in which women are having fewer children and delaying marriage brings forth various problems, but in a sense it is a natural progression in today's society, where women's lives are increasingly diverse.'

    April 19th
    The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam and his wife, as well as the Crown Prince, yesterday consented to attend the 'Bersanding' ceremony of YAM Pg Anak Hj Abdul Wadood Bolkiah, son of Princess Hajah Masna and YAM Pg Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pg Anak Hj Abdul Aziz, with Dk Seti Aminah bte Pg Othman. Also other members of the family attended the wedding ceremony. The ceremony began at Darun Noor in Kg Telanai in Jln Tutong where a 'junjung ziarah' was held between the groom and other members of the royal family, before they proceeded to the bride's residence in Kg Kiarong for the Bersanding ceremony.

    April 20th
    A huge party on Monday to mark the 36th birthday of King Mswati III of Swaziland has been criticised as a big waste of money. 10.000 guests gathered in the national football stadium for the event. The costs for the event are estimated $600.000, which can hardly be payed by the poor country. The day was a public holiday and the event was shown live on national television.

    April 23rd
    Today the marriage contract (Nikah) of Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan and Rym Brahimi was signed in Paris. The ceremony was attended by King Abdullah of Jordan as well as the bride's father, Lakhdar Brahimi, UN special envoy to Iraq. The public wedding will take place on September 7. The bride is about 35 years old and is of Algerian and Croatian heritage. Since 1998 she worked for CNN's London and Baghdad bureaus and has resigned on Friday. For CNN she has covered major events including the Iraqi war in 2003, the Kosovo war and the Hajj pilgrimage. Before CNN she worked among others for BBC French Service, UPI, Dubai TV and Bloomberg TV. In 2001 a group of CNN journalists, among others Rhym Brahimi, won a Headliners Award for Investigative Journalism for her part in covering the Saudi response to the September 11, 2001, attacks. She is fluent in English, French, Italian and Arabic. She has a master's degree in English literature and a diploma of advanced studies in political science from the University of Paris. She also earned a journalism degree from Columbia University in New York.

    After the broadcast of the photos of the late Diana Princess of Wales lying injured in the car crash in which she died in 1997 on the US Network CBS a spokesman for the Prince of Wales was quoted in the British newspaper The Sun saying: "We don't think anything is to be gained by going over the tragic events of 1997." There was no official comment on behalf of the couple's sons. Earl Spencer, the Princess's brother, earlier said he was 'shocked and sickened' by the programme. Prime Minister Tony Blair called the show 'distasteful' and said it could cause 'great distress to her family'.

    The Castle of Mey in Caithness opens its doors and gardens again from 18 May to 29 July and from 11 August to 30 September. For the first time a bedroom of the late Queen Mother is shown, as well as the late Princess Margaret's sleeping quarters. Ashe Windham, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, said: "It will give our visitors a better idea of how life was at the castle when Her Majesty was in residence. We took the decision to open the Queen Mother's private apartments with some reluctance but in the event agreed that visitors should not be denied the experience." Tourist further can tour the hall, drawing room, library, dining room, butler's pantry, kitchen, courtyard and gardens.

    April 24th
    Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands today married Mabel Wisse Smit in Delft.

    The Lady Louise Windsor was christened at the private chapel at Windsor Castle today by the Dean of Windsor Bishop David Conner. The baby's godparents are Lady Sarah Chatto, Lord Ivor Mountbatten, Lady Alexandra Etherington, Francesca Schwarzenbach and Rupert Elliott. The ceremony was attended by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, the Duke of Edinburgh, other members of the British royal family, Christopher and Mary Rhys-Jones. The baby wore a 163-year-old royal christening robe of fine Honiton lace and white satin in which the Queen, her children and all her grandchildren have been christened. The official photographs were taken by Lord Patrick Lichfield.

    April 26th
    Yesterday Buckingham Palace said that plans for Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain to perform the official opening of the memorial fountain to Diana Princess of Wales in Hyde Park in July are 'under active consideration'. The opening is also expected to be attended by the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry, Earl Spencer and Lady Sarah McCorquodale.

    Crown Princess Masako of Japan has returned to Togu Palace in Tokyo on Monday after spending a month at her parents' resort home in the wooded mountain town of Karuizawa - together with her mother and daughter Aiko - to recover from poor health, Yasuo Moriyama, spokesman for the Imperial Household Agency, said. She still hasn't fully recovered and will need more rest before resuming her official duties. It is unclear when the princess will return to a normal schedule. The spokesman refused to discuss the nature of the Crown Princess's illness.

    April 29th
    Pieter van Vollenhoven, husband of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, who will celebrate his 65th birthday tomorrow, already celebrated it this evening at the Circustheater in Scheveningen. The festive evening was organised by the Foundation Circle of Life in name of five foundations Pieter van Vollenhoven is the president of. The evening was amongst others attended by Queen Beatrix, the Prince of Orange, Princess Máxima, Prince Constantijn, Princess Laurentien, Prince Maurits, Princess Marilène, Prince Bernhard, Princess Annette, Prince Pieter-Christiaan with girlfriend, Prince Floris with girlfriend Aimée, Princess Irene, Princess Carolina de Bourbon de Parme and Princess Christina. The Circle of Life is a melody from the musical The Lion King that was performed this evening. On the occasion of his birthday Queen Beatrix has appointed her brother-in-law Chevalier Grand Cross in the Order of the Dutch Lion, the highest civil distinction in the Netherlands. The decorations were handed over to Pieter van Vollenhoven by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende tonight. In his speech the Prime Minister called Pieter van Vollenhoven a 'self-made man in the very best sense of that word'. He said Pieter van Vollenhoven already for years fights for everything vulnerable in our society, in which probably tenacity is his most marking quality. Because of Pieter van Vollenhoven safety has become more important and he especially fought for an independent inquiry in the area of safety.

    It was announced yesterday that ten years after it closed to the public, Kew Palace is to re-open in 2006 following a £6.6 million refurbishment. The palace was closed in 1996. The body disclosed an ambitious plan to bring the palace back to life with exhibitions of its past and its restoration.

    April 30th

    photo and copyright: Netty Leistra

    Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and her family celebrated Queen's Day in Warffum and Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. Almost the whole family was present. Only highly pregnant Princess Annette and Prince Friso and Princess Mabel, who were on honeymoon, cancelled. As usually the family was cheered in Warffum by thousands of people. The family watched games and dancing and heard music. The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima were touched by the world premiere of the Princess Amalia March. At the end of the Warffum visit the family took the royal train to Groningen. They took open carriages from the railway station to the centre of the city. Again lots of music and dancing, as well as theatre, here. At the end of the visit the family appeared on the steps of the town hall. Queen Beatrix held a speech and said it was a very special Queen's Day, as 24 years ago it was hard to understand for the family how it really would be to celebrate Queen's Day without Queen Juliana being alive. She said to be happy that they can keep on thinking about her in this wonderful festive way.

    An inquiry among 1000 Dutch people by TNS NIPO in order of the NOS says that 58% of the Dutch people wouldn't have problems when Queen Beatrix would ignore politics and puts in her own ideas. However only 10% says the Queen should have more power. 58% is satisfied with the present power partition between Queen and politics. 25% has the opinion that the head of state is not allowed to have political power. 86% of the Dutch say the Netherlands should stay a monarchy. 71% says yes to the question if there is still a place for monarchs in the Europe of the future. 91% finds Princess Máxima the most sympathic member of the royal family. The Prince of Orange takes the second place, followed by his mother Queen Beatrix. On the seventh place is Princess Catharina-Amalia. 48% is against hereditary succession. Least popular are Prince Johan Friso and Mabel Wisse Smit. Although 67% finds Prince Friso nicer after his wedding, they also find him more dull (66%). 75% also found him distantive. Mabel received 49% of the votes for sympathy. 95% of the people questioned know about the Mabel-Affair. 73% finds Mabel guilty of the affair, 13% names journalist Peter R. de Vries and 4% Charlie da Silva (Klaas Bruinsma's former bodyguard).

    In 2005 a new Euro coin will be issued on the occasion of the Luxemburg presidency of the European Union. Special about it is that it will depict two monarchs from two different countries: Grand Duke Henri of Luxemburg and King Albert II of the Belgians, to celebrate the political cooperation between the two countries. The coin is meant to be used in everyday transactions.

    King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden celebrated his 58th birthday today. As usual the king appeared on the balcony of the Royal Palace in Stockholm together with Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip, Princess Madeleine and Princess Lilian. Outside the palace the King received birthday wishes and flowers.


    Royal News: March 2004. Last updated: April 3rd, 2004.