ROYAL NEWS: JANUARY 2004

Last updated: February 1st, 2004.

January 1st
King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium celebrated the New Year in Borovetz, Bulgaria, together with former King, now Prime Minister, Simeon of Bulgaria and his wife Margarita.

January 2nd
Prince Rainier III of Monaco was again admitted to hospital, now because he is in 'a state of general fatigue' it was announced. He returned to the Centre Cardio Thoracique de Monaco he left on December 21 so he can be kept under constant medical surveillance for several days.

Again the Princess Royal was the most active member of the British royal family in 2003. She undertook 624 appearances both in Great Britain and abroad. The Prince of Wales beat the whole family by undertaking 494 engagements in Great Britain, overall he undertook 604. Despite of her pregnancy, the Countess of Wessex undertook 179 official engagements, while the Earl of Wessex attended 412 events. The Duke of Edinburgh undertook 456 outings, while Queen Elizabeth II appeared 478 times.

Papers released to the National Archives in Great Britain show that Princess Margaret of Great Britain was promised she would be allowed to keep her royal title even if she had married her great love, Captain Peter Townsend, and could have continued carrying out public duties. The papers show that Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden was even prepared to scrap the 18th-century law requiring members of the Royal Family to seek the consent of the monarch to marry. She would have been given a categorical assurance and would have continued to receive her £6,000-a-year Civil List allowance, as well as she would have gotten the extra £9,000-a-year she was entitled to on her marriage. There was even a suggestion that after "some years" Mr Townsend also could have received a title and an official allowance. Princess Margaret announced on October 31, 1955, that she wouldn't marry divorced Mr Townsend, after the disclosure of their affair caused a public sensation. It was mainly the fact that she wanted to marry a divorcee which created the storm of controversy, not Mr Townsend's origins.

January 3rd
King Harald V of Norway was admitted to the Rikshospital again today at 13:25. He has a urinary tract infection and did already have a fever for several days and didn't feel very good. He will have to stay in hospital for a few days and will be treated with antibiotics. Queen Sonja accompanied the king to hospital. Palace spokeswoman Wenche Rasch says the king is in "fine form" and that urinary tract infections aren't unusual after the kind of surgery the king underwent last December.

It was announced that Sheikh Dalmouk bin Juma Al Maktoum of Dubai passed away earlier today. A week-long official mourning in Dubai was announced. Flags will fly at half-mast and local departments will remain closed for two days.

January 5th
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and her family will celebrate Queen's Day 2004 in Warffum and Groningen, in the northeast of the Netherlands. The small village of Warffum will be visited in the morning, the city of Groningen in the afternoon, provincial governor Hans Alders announced this afternoon at the new year's reception of the province of Groningen. It is the second time during her reign the Queen celebrates April 30 in the province of Groningen. In 1990 they visited Haren and Loppersum.

Princess Clotilde of Savoy and her newborn babydaughter Vittoria, who was 50 centimetres tall and weighed 3520 grammes at birth, left the Clinique Générale-Beaulieu in Geneva on Saturday.

January 6th
The Danish royal court announced that the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson on May 14 at the Dom Church (Vor Frue Kirke) in Copenhagen will take place at 16:00. The wedding party will be held at Fredensborg Palace, where also the wedding banquets of Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik as well as Prince Joachim and Princess Alexandra too place. On Monday January 12th there will be a press conference during which more details about the wedding will be released.

The senior member of the British Royal family about whom Diana Princess of Wales wrote 10 months before her death that he was plotting to kill her in a car crash has been revealed by the Daily Mirror today: The Prince of Wales. The Princess's letter was published in the book 'A Royal Duty' of former butler Paul Burrell lately, but the book as well as the Daily Mirror blanked out the name at that time. The passage reads: "** ******* is planning 'an accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury..." The blank space should read 'my husband'. The Daily Mirror now says it has "decided to publish the blanked out name because it will inevitably appear in the public domain". The newspaper said Mr Burrell is prepared to hand over the letter to Royal coroner Michael Burgess, who is opening inquests into the deaths of Diana and Dodi Fayed today. Mr Burrell's agent today said: "Today's publication was solely a decision taken by the newspaper without Mr Burrell's knowledge or consent. He was only informed late on Monday evening and he does not support or endorse its publication." A spokesman for the Prince of Wales declined to comment.

More than six years after Diana Princess of Wales died in a car crash in Paris, Royal Coroner Michael Burgess formally opened the inquest into her death at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London. The inquests are the first official public hearings in Great Britain into the deaths of Diana Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed. "I am aware that there is speculation that (her death was) not the result of a sad but relatively straightforward road traffic accident in Paris," Burgess told the inquest. "I have asked the metropolitan police commissioner [Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens] to make inquiries." The inquest will be adjourned for 12 to 15 months, which means that no evidence will be heard for at least another year. "I have to separate fact from fiction and speculation," Mr Burgess said in a half-hour-long speech. "Speculation and speculative reports are not themselves evidence, however frequently and authoritatively they may be published, broadcast or repeated." Mr Burgess went on: "The police in England will be asked to see and interview on my behalf those who are identified as possible witnesses to find out the extent of their evidence and whether it is relevant to the English inquest. Only once that process has been completed can I consider who can help the inquest process by attending as witnesses." It is hoped the inquests can shed light on what really happened in Paris on August 31, 1997.

Later today Surrey Coroner Michael Burgess opened the inquest into the death of 42-year-old Ehmad "Dodi" Al Fayed at Wray Park, Reigate where Mr Al Fayed lived and is buried. The hearing was adjourned within half an hour. After the opening of the inquest Dodi Al Fayed's father Mohamed Al Fayed said he was "hoping that the truth will come out".

Two more royal weddings will take place in Spain in 2004, King Juan Carlos of Spain said during the celebration of the Pascua Militar. Crown Prince Felipe's cousins Beltrán and Fernando Gómez Acebo will respectively marry Laura Ponte and Mónica Fernán Luque. The wedding of Beltrán Gómez Acebo and Laura Ponte is said to take place in September 2004. During the same event the Prince of Asturias said that 1200 to 1400 people will be invited for his wedding. Both he and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano will attend the weddings of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson on May 14, as well as the official wedding celebration of Crown Prince Hamzah of Jordan and Princess Noor on May 27 (or 29).

January 7th
King Harald V of Norway was released from the Rikshospitalet at 10:00 this morning. Doctors say he has been recovered from the treatment for a urinary tract infection. He will have regular check ups at the Rikshospitalet for some time.

The former Royal Coroner Dr John Burton says Diana Princess of Wales was not pregnant at the time of her death. Dr Burton, who attended the Princess's post-mortem examination, said he could tell she was not expecting a baby when he looked at her womb. "I was actually present when she was examined. She wasn't pregnant. I know she wasn't pregnant," he told The Times newspaper.

A set of official photos to mark the birth of Lady Louise Windsor, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, will be released this weekend. The first one will be published on January 10, a further three on January 11. The family photographs were taken by the Duke of York at Sandringham over the Christmas holiday. All profits made from the sale of the other photographs will go to The Earl and Countess of Wessex Charitable Trust which primary aim it is to assist other registered charities and charitable causes, in particular those with which The Earl and Countess have personal connections or interests.

Queen Rania of Jordan paid a visit to the town of Bam, Iran, where tenthousands of people died in an earthquake on December 26. During her visit she met 97-year-old survivor Shahrbanou Mazandarani who was pulled from the ruins of her home on Sunday and also chatted with other victims at a Jordanian field hospital in the city. Queen Rania also visited the destroyed ancient ruins of the citadel of Bam. Together with Queen Rania 20 tonnes of medical supplies, tents, blankets and heaters arrived by plane from Jordan. Queen Rania said: "We try to help our brothers in Iran as much as we can. This human crisis does not recognise politics or boundaries. There has been great devastation, and when I talk to people I hear of how they have lost a great number of their relatives."

It seems the engagement of Don Luis Alfonso de Borbón y Martínez-Bordiú (Duke of Anjou) and María Margarita de Vargas y Santaella isn't official yet. It is said now that Luis Alfonso postponed his engagement to María Margarita de Vargas y Santaella, as well that the engagement was announced by her family before Luis Alfonso informed his family about his engagement.

January 8th
Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain officially launched the largest cruise liner built the Queen Mary 2. She blessed the cruise ship and then smashed a bottle of champagne on the side of the ship. A firework display followed the ship's official launch. The public were not allowed on to the dock area during the ceremony, but could follow the ceremony live on a giant screen nearby.

More than 450 guests attended the traditional New Year reception at Vaduz Castle in Liechtenstein. They were greeted by Prince Hans Adam II, Princess Marie, Hereditary Prince Alois and Hereditary Princess Sophie. Among the guests were representants of political life, diplomats, the Landtag and the church (like Archbishop Wolfgang Haas), as well as known Liechtenstein people.

The lawyers of Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme and her husband Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn are still only representing the princess in their legal battle against the Dutch royal family and the Dutch state. Lawyers Britta Bohler and Victor Koppe submitted important witness summons in a court in The Hague today and refused to reveal why they are only representing the princess and not her husband also. Based on the testimonies, the couple will decide whether they will proceed with a legal case against the royal family and the Dutch State. The government prosecutor says that both Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and the secret service officials can make use of their exemption rights and therefore don't need to give testimony. Furthermore, he said journalist Maartje van Weegen did not need to reveal her sources. The court will hand down its ruling on February 5th.

John Dalgleish Donaldson, father of the fiancée of the Danish Crown Prince Mary Donaldson, has been hired as a guest professor by the University of Århus, Denmark, for several months starting in May. He will help creating a new class in mathematical modelling and will teach twice in May and in November. The deal with Mr Donaldson was already made in late 2002 when Mary's father and stephmother visited the University of Århus already.

January 9th
The largest private collection of Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs - they own nine of the 50 existing eggs in the world - is to go under the hammer on April 20 and 21 in New York. A presale public exhibition opens on April 12. The auction will also include 180 other Fabergé pieces from the Forbes family collection. One piece, The Coronation Egg, presented by Tsar Nicholas II to his wife at Easter 1897, would be the most expensive piece of decorative art to be sold at auction if it realizes the upper end of its estimated sales range of $18 million to $24 million. The pieces all come from the Forbes Collection, owned by the Forbes family. The Forbes collection of Fabergé Eggs was started by Malcolm S. Forbes, who died 14 years ago. The family has now decided it is time to sell the eggs to other collectors so they may have the thrill of owning a rare and exquisite work of Fabergé.

The photos of the interior of Villa Eikenhorst that were published in the Dutch weekly Privé in April 2003 were made by a building-worker, Privé admitted at the Court of Justice in Amsterdam. However they don't want to reveal his name. After the publication The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, who moved into the villa some time after the photos were published, went to court because they felt that their privacy had been affected by the publication of the photos. According to Privé they didn't break the peace and the photos just show a building-site. However they are willing to destroy the photos, which offer was declined by the couple. The couple's lawyer also said "I see no reason to believe Privé just like that. It could have been everyone. The pictures could also have been made by a reporter, by a burglar or by someone of the royal household." The lawsuit is set to take place at the Court of Justice in Amsterdam on February 25.

January 10th
Already on January 9, a few hours early (the embargo was January 10 at 00:01 GMT), press agency Reuters published one of photos of the Earl and Countess of Wessex with their daughter Louise. The photograph was taken by the Duke of York as the family gathered for Christmas at the Sandringham Estate.

Crown Princess Masako of Japan said in a statement released by the Imperial Household Agency yesterday that the pressure of living in the world's oldest royal dynasty might have led to her recent poor health. She confessed that she had not been well since spring last year, and said: "Since my marriage more than 10 years ago, I have tried to do my best in an unfamiliar environment and under a lot of pressure, but I have a feeling that the bout of shingles resulted from the accumulation of the fatigue of mind and body during this time." She added that "mental and physical weariness" had been accumulated, particularly after the birth of her daughter Princess Aiko. She said she had tried her best to perform her official duties since Aiko's birth: "But my condition has deteriorated to a point where I could not fully perform my official duties recently." Crown Princess Masako added that she took it upon herself to rest up mentally and physically with the aim of returning to her official duties in top condition "as soon as possible".

Prince Uluvalu Tu'ipelehake of Tonga, in an unprecedented move for a member of the Tongan Royal family, has called on Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to use his influence to pressure the Tongan government to further democratise its Constitutional Monarchy. The Prince is a parliamentarian and a nephew of King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV of Tonga (being the eldest son of the King's later brother). In a letter to Downer the prince said he was certain that with encouragement from Australia and governments in the Commonwealth the Tongan government could be persuaded to implement necessary political reforms. Prince Tu'ipelehake said he wanted to see a balanced representation in the Tongan parliament. At the moment the Tongan Parliament is composed of 12 Cabinet Ministers who are appointed by the King, nine Noble's Representatives who are elected by the 33 hereditary noble title holders, and nine people's representatives who are elected by the rest of the population of about 100,000. The prince is the Nobles no 1 representative for Ha'apai to the legislature and chairman of the Whole House Committee. Prince Tu'ipelehake is sure his frustration over the ignoring of an urgent need for a political reform is shared by many Tongans. “There has been absolutely no move to implement, let along investigate, what and how these political reforms would eventuate,” he said while stressing that he would like to see Tonga seek its own form of democracy within the current system. Prince Tu'ipelehake said that the issues that he raised should have been dealt with by the Tongan Parliament, but parliament was ineffective because of the imbalance in representation.

January 11th
According to a survey among 2093 people by YouGov published in The Mail on Sunday still one in three people in Great Britain believe Diana Princess of Wales was the victim of a murder plot. However six out of ten people questioned in the poll didn't believe the Prince of Wales would deliberately harm his former wife, despite of the fact that one in six questioned said he was capable of causing her death. 15% believe the British secret services planned her assassination.

Scotland Yard is to investigate evidence that a letter produced by former royal butler Paul Burrell suggesting that the Prince of Wales wanted to kill his ex-wife was not written at the time that the former royal butler has claimed. The alleged dating of the letter, which is to be studied as part of a police review of inquest evidence into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, has been used to support conspiracy theories that she was murdered. Mr Burrell says the princess wrote the letter in October 1996. However the Sunday Telegraph discovered evidence indicating that the letter was written much earlier than Mr Burrell has claimed. The late Princess's closest friends say that in October 1996 the Princess had resolved many of her conflicts with the Prince of Wales. They are convinced that the letter was written years earlier, also because the Princess is said to have written 'my husband' and to leaving the path clear for him to 'marry', although they were already divorced in October 1996. The letter is also not dated, which was very unusual for the Princess.

Inspector Jean-Claude Mules, a senior French police officer, has denied that the wrong blood sample was used in a French inquiry which concluded that Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed by a drunk driver. British reports said that there was a mix-up over specimens taken from the chauffeur, Henri Paul. "There was no error over the blood," said Mr Mules who was present when the two samples were taken from Mr Paul's body. "We are very serious people and no errors are allowed." Yesterday, Scotland Yard refused to comment on a story in a national newspaper that senior British police officers have doubts over the authenticity of Mr Paul's blood sample. It is understood there are "high-level concerns" over the specimen and that French police have not carried out a DNA test which would prove the blood came from Mr Paul. Doubts over the validity of the blood sample would threaten the credibility of the French inquiry, which concluded Mr Paul, high on a cocktail of drink and drugs, lost control of the Mercedes car while speeding in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris.

A butler of Haifa al-Faisal, one of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia's daughters, and his four accomplices have been arrested on Thursday morning in the Paris region on suspicion of stealing millions of dollars of goods from the princess' home at Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris. The men went to court on Friday and were remanded in custody. The butler, Omar, who had been in the Princess's service for 15 years, told two accomplices when to act and what objects to steal. The goods - worth more than one million euros, were stolen in the last three months. They included jewellery, silverware and paintings, were then sold on by two other men sometimes with false certificates.

January 12th
The programme for the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson was made known today. On Tuesday, May 11, a dinner takes place at the Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen and on Wednesday, May 12, a reception is being held at the Town Hall of Copenhagen. On Thursday, May 13, there is a meeting at the Danish Parliament, while a festive performance will take place at the Royal Theatre in the evening. The wedding will take place at the Dom Church of Copenhagen at 16:00 on May 14. After the wedding the couple will ride back to Amalienborg in a carriage, whereafter a balcony scene at Christian VII's Palace will follow. In the evening the wedding banquet takes place at Fredensborg Palace. In the second half of June 2004 the newly wed couple with Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik will pay a visit to Greenland. In the Summer the couple will sail around Denmark with the Royal Yacht Dannebrog and will visit several places on their way. Furthermore the Danish Royal Court has appointed journalist Lis M. Frederiksen as press- and information manager. The wedding secretariat will be led by Pui Ling Lau. Annelise Wern will be responsible for protocolair questions.

Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia today announced the death of his aunt, Princess Kira of Prussia. She died on Saturday, January 10th, 2004, in Berlin at the age of 60 after a long and serious illness (cancer). Princess Kira was born at Cadinen on June 27, 1943, as the fourth child of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1907-1994) and Grand Duchess Kira of Russia (1909-1967). In 1973 she married Thomas Liepsner, with whom she had one daughter Kira-Marina (1977), but the couple divorced in 1984. Princess Kira studied languages at the universities of Berlin and Erlangen and was occupied as an elocutionist. Princess Kira was very much involved in the Prinzessin-Kira-von-Preussen Foundation that was started by her mother. Each year in the Summer she invited poor children from St. Petersburg, but also from Berlin and Brandenburg, at the Burg Hohenzollern. After the death of her father she also took over his seat at the board of governors of the music festival 'Kissinger Sommer' in Bad Kissingen. Shortly before her death Princess Kira founded the Kira Prinzessin von Preussen Musik- und Kulturstiftung. The funeral service will be held on January 21 at 11:00 at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche in Berlin. A private burial will take place on January 24 at Burg Hohenzollern.

The rights of the fascinating Danish documentary series 'A Royal Family', a Nordisk Film production, has been bought by Discovery Channel Europe. 'A Royal Family' will be broadcasted in over 100 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The series provide an insight into European history by following King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark, whose children married partners from the dominant European monarchies at the of the 19th century. King Christian IX was referred to as “Europe’s Father in Law”, and his blood line can be traced throughout Europe today. The documentary contains unique interviews with 29 members of royal families from all over Europe, who share and portray their family’s incredible history through letters, diaries, stories, photos and film recordings - many of which have not been shown in public before. 'A Royal Family' is also the first documentary where so many members of the European monarchy participate to depict a formerly private side of royal life.

King Mswati III of Swaziland has asked the government to build a palace for each of his 11 wives. He asked for $15m, which is almost as much as Swazilands 2002 health budget. He reportedly wants the money to redecorate his three existing palaces and build eight new ones.

January 13th
Prince Uluvalu Tu’ipelehake of Tonga says his letter to the Australian Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer, asking him to use his influence to bring more democracy to Tonga’s political system, has been passed on to the Ministry of Justice of Tonga. He said: "They had a special cabinet meeting and they decided to hand my letter to the Ministry of Justice for them to sight and I could possibly be charged with treason and slander. So I guess that’s the government’s reaction." Prince Tu’ipelehake denies he has committed treason or that his letter was slanderous.

Today the monogram of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson was presented. The monogram is designed by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, her husband Ari Behn and daughter Maud Angelica moved into a new house at the Burudveien 63 in suburban Baerum on Monday. The couple lived in a flat in Oslo. Their new home is a rural estate encompassing a large two-story main house, a guest house and even a children's playhouse. The couple paid NOK 8.8 million for the property last fall but had intended to move to New York for a few years. They postponed those plans when it became known that the princess' brother, Crown Prince Haakon, and his wife were expecting the new royal heir in January. Then Princess Martha Louise's father, King Harald, was diagnosed with cancer, so the move to New York remains postponed indefinitely.

January 14th
Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and his fiancée Mary Donaldson this morning at 9:30 (local time) arrived in Hobart on a commercial flight. Details of the trip were kept secret and only a small contingent of Danish and Australian media awaited their arrival at Hobart Airport, although they didn't see much as the couple left directly from the tarmac in a waiting car. Mary Donaldson ventured out for her sister's hen party at Lenah Valley this night, after having slept off her jetlag most of the day. Mary Donaldson's sister Patricia will marry for the second time this weekend. Her marriage to Scott Bailey is believed to take place in a private garden at Sandy Bay on Saturday. They couple already has a daughter, Molly Kay, who was born in September 2002. Patricia has two children from her previous marriage to Ken Woods.

The 2004 Summertour of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and his then wife Mary on board of the Royal Yacht Dannebrog will pass the following cities: Århus (July 26), Aalborg (July 27), Odense (July 28) and Sønderborg (July 29).

Princess Alexandra of Denmark arrived in Washington DC on January 12 for a visit. She will also visit New York and leave again on January 21. She among others attended a performance of the Royal Danish Ballet in Washington DC yesterday. Earlier that day she already visited the National Gallery of Art. Today she will have luncheon alongside Alma Powell and Joyce Rumsfeld - the wives of Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - as well as tea at the White House with First Lady Laura Bush. More on the programme here.

Archduchess Katharina of Austria, wife of Archduke Ferdinand, has given birth to a daughter in Berlin today. The baby is 52 centimetres tall and weighs 3200 grammes. The couple already had a son, Jakob Maximilian, who was born on January 22, 2002, also in Berlin. As Tita von Hardenberg the Archduchess is a moderator of the ARD (German television) programme Polylux.

Staff at Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain’s Royal Sandringham estate apologised yesterday after children and the headteacher of St George's Middle School in Dersingham, Norfolk, had complained after a group was seen shooting birds in the field next to the school's playing field on Friday. More than 200 children, some as young as eight, watched the birds being killed during morning break. Staff said many were distressed and the school had written to officials at the Queen’s Sandringham estate to complain. A spokesman for the estate apologised and said shooting would not take place on land near the school during break times again. "Shooting is a rural sport and has been going on on this estate for over 100 years," said the estate spokesman. "And shooting has been taking place on the land near the school ever since George VI gave the land for the school to be built in the 1930s. I have been in touch with the headmistress to find out what happened, and the estate is sorry if any of the children were distressed. We have agreed to accede to the request of the headmistress to avoid shooting during school break times." It is not known whether any members of the Royal Family were in the shooting party.

January 15th
In his account so far only known to French investigators who interviewed him repeatedly, but today published in the Daily Mail newspapers, Mohamed Medjahdi who was driving his car (accompanied by his girlfriend) immediately in front of the car of Diana Princess of Wales and is the only direct witness to the crash of the car on August 31, 1997, in Paris, seeing the accident through the mirror of his car, said: "I heard the terrible noise of screeching brakes and screaming tyres and saw a big car slewing, out of control, across the carriageway behind me and hurtling towards my car." He had to accelerate to avoid being hit by the Mercedes. Seconds later he heard a huge explosion and the limousine bounced between a concrete pillar and the tunnel wall. "It was a dreadful sound, like a bomb exploding, magnified and echoing around the underpass," he said. "Even today, six years later, I can't get the sight and sound out of my head. I can still hear the screeching of those brakes." Mr Medjahdi says he didn't see any other person or vehicle involved in the crash: "Any conspiracy would have had to be carried out by invisible men." He also said not to have seen any paparazzi photographers in sight.

January 18th
Shah in exile Reza Pahlavi and his wife Yasmine have become parents for the third time yesterday. The baby girl has received the name Farah. Empress Farah Pahlavi said: "We are overjoyed."

January 19th
Tatjana von Lattorff, daughter of Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein, and her husband Philipp von Lattorff had their third child and second daughter, called Marie. She was born in Grabs, Switzerland, on Sunday, January 18. She will be christened Marie Teresa. Godmother will be Princess Marie of Liechtenstein, who is married to Tatjana's brother Prince Constantin.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and the Prince of Orange arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, today for a five-day state visit. They were welcomed at the royal air force base Don Muang by King Bhumipol Adulyadej. After being received by the Governor of Bangkok, and a private talk to the King and Queen Sirikit, they visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In the evening a state banquet took place in the Chakri throne-room at the Royal Palace.

The Danish royal court made details known about the royal trip to Greenland this summer on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Grønlands Hjemmestyres on June 21. Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik of Denmark will arrive in Narsarsuaq by plane on June 19 and will board the royal yacht Dannebrog there. They are expected to arrive in Greenland's capital Nuuk (Godthåb) on June 21 to take part in the celebrations. Crown Prince Frederik and his then wife Mary will arrive in Nuuk by plane on June 22 and board the Dannebrog which will sail to Maniitsoq (Sukkertoppen) where they will arrive on June 23. On June 24 a visit to Itilleq and to Sisimiut (Holsteinsborg) is planned. The next day the royals will visit Aasiaat (Egedesminde). Qeqertarsuaq (Godhavn) will be visited on June 26. On June 27, after attending a service at church in Qeqertarsuaq, they will sail to Uummannaq, which will be visited on June 29. Qaarsut will be reached on June 30, from where the trip will be continued by plane as the royals will stay a night at Thule Air Base (Pituffik). On July 1 Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik will take the helicopter to Siorapaluk and later to Qaanaaq. The crown princely couple will fly to Qaanaaq immediately. Another night will be spend at Thule Air Base. On July 2 they will fly via Mestervig to Daneborg where the sleigh patrol Sirius will be visited. The Zackenberg research station will be visited on July 3. Via Mestervig they will fly to Constable Pynt and will stay two nights at the Søværnets inspektionsskibe. The last place to be visited, on July 4, is Illoqqortoormiut (Scoresbysund). On July 5 Queen Margrethe II, Prince Henrik, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary will return to Denmark by plane via Iceland.

In his account to French investigators, published in the Daily Mail newspapers last week, Mohamed Medjadhi stated he didn't see any other car around. His then partner Souad Mouffakir, who was in his car also, came out and said she kept silent for all those years about what she saw because she was afraid she would be killed. She now says she saw a white Fiat Uno driving very fast up to her husband's car through the back window, but then it slowed down until their car and the Fiat Uno were side by side. She got frightened as the car was very close to theirs. She also described the driver of the car. She and Mohamed Medjadhi speeded away and just a moment later the crash happened. A few friends of Mrs Mouffakir confirmed she had told them about it after it had happened.

January 20th
The funeral service for Princess Kira of Prussia, who died on January 10 after a long illness, took place at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche in Berlin today. During the service the urn of the princess stood on the altar surrounded by flowers, mainly white and pink roses. The Rev Sylvia von Kekulé said in her speech at church: "She was like a candle, that is placed in a dark hall and who with her light warms the hearts of the people and offers a place to hide". After the service Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, head of the royal house, held a reception in the commemoration hall of the church. Among the about 200 guests were the daughter of the deceased, Kira-Marina Liepsner, Duchess Marie-Cecile of Oldenburg, Prince Michael of Prussia, Prince Andrew of Prussia, Prince Rupert of Prussia, the Marchioness of Douro (née Princess Antonia of Prussia), Princess Magdalene of Prussia, Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, Prince Ferfried of Hohenzollern and Count Andreas von Bismarck. The private interment will take place at Hohenzollern Castle in Hechingen on January 24.

The Danish government today announced they will suggest to raise the yearly royal allowance of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark from the current 4.2 million Danish crowns ($ 700.000) to 14.4 million Danish crowns ($ 2.4 million) after his wedding. The increase is needed because the crown prince and his fiancée Mary Donaldson - who will become Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark - will have their own household after their marriage. The increase was based on the couple's expected expenses. The money will be spend to cover staff wages, household expenses and personal representation costs. A majority in parliament is expected to support the government's proposal.

During the state visit to Thailand Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands told journalists that she is not worried at all about satirical imitations of the royal family. She said she had more trouble with the media. She also said that her mother Princess Juliana was not improving and that she is also not very approachable, although her physical health is good. Queen Beatrix also said that she doesn't think her 25th reigning jubilee is a very important event, but she fears other people think it is, and she thinks she has to live with that. Prince of Orange said that his daughter, Princess Amalia, will be christened somewhere after the marriage of his brother Prince Johan Friso and Mabel Wisse Smit, which will take place on April 24.

January 21st
At 9:13 this morning Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway gave birth to a baby girl at the maternity ward of Rikshospitalet in Oslo. Mother and daughter are doing fine. The girl is the first child together of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit and is second in line of succession to the Norwegian throne after her father. The Crown Princess already has a son from a previous relationship - Marius turned 7 on January 13. Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit arrived at hospital by car just before 4:00 this morning. After the birth Crown Prince Haakon notified the couple's families, the president of the Norwegian Parliament, Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and others, before the news of the birth of the baby became public. At noon today salutes were being shot from the Akershus fortress. Flags were hoisted all over the country. At a press conference at Rikshospitalet Crown Prince Haakon of Norway this afternoon told the press that the baby's name will be announced on Thursday. He says that his wife and the newborn baby girl are healthy and that his daughter is "the finest, most beautiful little girl in the world" and later said he thought that she looked a bit like both her mother and father. He called the birth 'a powerful and wonderful experience' and said it was fantastic to be present at birth. The baby weighs 3686 grammes and is 51 centimetres tall. The Crown Prince thanked the staff of Rikshospitalet for their help and support during the pregnancy and delivery. Crown Prince Haakon said that he would be dedicating much of his time to his family in the next weeks. While Crown Prince Haakon was holding his press conference, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and her newborn daughter left hospital via a back entrance around 14:00. They are now at home at Gut Skaugum.

Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik called the birth a historic event. "We congratulate King Harald and Queen Sonja with a new grandchild and the Norwegian people with a new heir to the throne. The birth is a historic event since it is the first time a daughter of Norway's crown prince couple is born in the line of succession." Paragraph six of the Norwegian Constitution was changed in 1990 to give both males and females equal rights to the throne of Norway.

An extraordinary state council will take place tomorrow, January 22, at 11:00 at the Royal Palace in Oslo. The name of the baby will then be announced by Crown Prince Haakon of Norway. Popular names in polls are Ingeborg, Margrethe, Ragnhild, Ingrid, Astrid, Märtha and Sonja, as well as Louise, Sofie and Josephine.

The official engagement (petición de mano) of Beltrán Gómez-Acebo, son of Infanta Pilar of Spain Duchess of Badajoz, and Laura Ponte y Martínez (born Vigo, June 9, 1973) will take place on May 1, 2004 in a private ceremony. The wedding will take place at the Palacio Real de la Granja de San Ildefonso in Segovia on September 18, 2004.

The Domain of Argenteuil in Waterloo - where Princess Lilian, second wife of King Leopold III of the Belgians, died on June 7, 2002 - exceptionally will open its gates on February 15 for one day. Most likely the domain will be shown for the last time before it is sold. Only the park will open for the public from 10:00 to 16:00. The castle itself remains closed.

The British Channel 4 is to make a drama about the life of Princess Margaret of Great Britain. The drama will include her love affair with Captain Peter Townsend, the story of her marriage to Anthony Armstrong-Jones and her affair with Roddy Llewellyn. Filming will begin in the spring and the drama will be shown later this year.

January 22nd
After an extraordinary Cabinet meeting this morning during which Crown Prince Haakon of Norway announced the names of his newborn daughter to the politicians present Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik made the names of the newborn daughter of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit public standing outside the Royal Palace. The baby will be called Ingrid Alexandra he told: "Ingrid is a well-known Norwegian girl's name, at the same time it is a Norse name and a royal name in the Bernadotte family, from among others, Queen Ingrid, mother of Denmark's Queen Margrethe, originally a Swedish princess. Ingrid is also used in the crown princess' family, and is therefore a fine combination of the two families." Crown Princess Mette-Marit's paternal grandmother was born Ingrid Andrea Tvedt and she died in 1978. She was married to Bjarne Høiby. Alexandra is a well-known royal name in Europe and Alexander was the original name of the late King Olav V, grandfather of Crown Prince Haakon. In the meantime flowers and gifts stream in for little Ingrid Alexandra. Lots of people lined up in the biting cold in front of the palace to write something in the palace ledger and to hand over a gift. Crown Princess Mette-Marit and the little princess Ingrid Alexandra were visited today around noon by Mette-Marit's brother Espen Høiby and her sister Kristin Høiby Bjørnøy. Her mother Marit Tjessem already arrived on Wednesday by plane from Kristiansand.

Copyright: Norwegian Royal Court, Crown Prince Haakon

This evening the first pictures of Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway were released by the Royal Palace. They are all taken by Crown Prince Haakon himself.

Prince Rainier III of Monaco has left hospital today, the palace announced. He was in hospital since January 2.

Prince Harry of Wales is to spend the next eight weeks of his gap year in Africa. He will visit a number of locations and community projects and will help with building projects, and see first-hand how aid and support is provided to people in difficult circumstances. "The Africa trip reflects Harry's personal interest in helping people with severe health difficulties, as well as mothers and children who lack social support and educational opportunities", a Clarence House spokesman said. For security reasons, the exact locations are not being disclosed yet.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens who is investigating the death of Diana Princess of Wales said at the BBC that he may question members of the British Royal Family as a part of the investigation if necessary. He also said that "As a police officer, you don't start off with any theories, you go where the evidence takes you. You have my word we will look at this and by the time this inquiry has been finished and we've looked at every single part of these allegations, we will know what the truth of the matter is and then we will disclose that to the coroner."

Princess Mathilde of Belgium's mobile telephone was robbed on Saturday. The princess was shopping in Brussels and after parking the car she forgot to lock it. Someone passing the car then stole the phone. However he quickly was caught by a bodyguard of the princess who was nearby.

On the day marking the 211th anniversary of the guillotining of King Louis XVI of France, a scarf of 160 centimetres by 76 centimetres worn by the King at the Temple during his imprisonment - and given to a fellow prisoner on the day he died - before he was guillotined during the French Revolution was bought at auction at the town hall of Loches, France, yesterday by a large French-American family attached to the royal family. The family wants to recall to the French and Americans the decisive part played by Louis XVI in the United States' independence. They paid 70.000 Euros for the plain white triangular linen cloth, yellowed by time and perspiration, known at the time as a cravate.

January 23rd
Adans Lopez Peres, husband of Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, and his brother Ivan will performe for three months in the Wintergarten-Varieté in Berlin from February 6. The Peres Brothers will present their hand-in-hand acrobatics in the new programme Capriccio.

January 25th
On January 17 it was announced in Luxemburg that Prince Guillaume of Luxemburg and his wife Princess Sibilla expect their fourth child in the beginning of July. They already have three children: Paul-Louis (1998), Léopold and Charlotte(2000).

January 26th
The Jordanian royal court officially announced that the official wedding ceremony of Crown Prince Hamzah of Jordan and Princess Noor Hamzah will take place in Amman on May 27, 2004. The couple already married in a private ceremony at al Baraka Palace in Amman on August 29, 2003.

According to the newspaper Daily Mail Prince William of Wales is to hire a PR expert when he finishes his four-year degree course at St Andrew's University. The communications secretary will be paid for by the Prince of Wales and will operate from Clarence House. Prince William already has a personal assistant. A royal aide told the newspaper: "In principle, William will have someone in-situ towards the end of next year. He or she will be dedicated to looking after him and Prince Harry."

January 27th
In an interview with the BBC the Prince of Wales defended King George III of Great Britain. He said: "For many years I have been fascinated by my ancestor. George III led Britain through 60 years of enormous social upheaval, industrial revolution and terrible hardships inflicted by war with Napoleon. Yet history remembered him above all as the 'mad king' or the 'king who lost America'. This is a travesty." The Prince pointed out that a trans-Atlantic royal visit would not have been possible in 1776, so there were limits to what George could do to quell revolutionary sentiments in his colonies. The Prince says King George III was one of Britain's wisest, kindest and most misunderstood rulers, also saying: "He used to walk around the countryside at Windsor and Kew alone, talking to neighbours and farm workers. He had a genuine interest in the well-being of every single estate worker."

Bertel Haarder, the Danish Minister of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs, has prepared a bill which will grant Mary Donaldson, fiancée of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Danish citizenship. The bill will be presented to the Danish Parliament. The first of three debates is to take place on February 6. It is thought most members of Parliament will vote in favour. Mary Donaldson's Danish citizenship will take effect on the day of the wedding, May 14. She has applied to be released from her citizenship of Australia and Great Britain.

Yesterday Fluturak Germenji, spokesman for Leka Zogu, heir to the Albanian throne, presented Leka's conclusions on Albanian politics and the way in which the state is being managed at a news conference. He called on intellectuals to take control of steering politics and made some concerned remarks about developments in the country. Germenji said that very soon there would be a more detailed platform on objectives and a political platform from the heir to the throne. The Albanian nation has the intelligence to initiate a social movement including the entire political spectrum and of Albanian society for fundamental changes for the sake of the country's major interests. Through this movement, we aspire to combine progressive and rational thinking with the will and vision to offer transparency and cooperation between the moderate right and the moderate left. Albanians must show citizenship and governing abilities. We cannot wait in front of the locked door of the future by consuming ourselves and waiting for a prolonged transition that exhausts the vital forces that strengthen the nation. The declaration also criticized the way the Albanian state has built its relations with Pristina and Skopje. Leka himself didn't attend as he has suffered a broken leg after an acident at home.

January 29th
Norwegian singer Morten Abel asked his friend Ari Behn, the husband of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway to sing a duet with him during his concert on radio channel 3 yesterday evening. They sang 'The Power of Love' (hit of Jennifer Rush) together. Morten Abel said he thinks Ari Behn has a good voice.

January 30th

Copyright: Norwegian Royal Court, Guri Dahl

The Norwegian royal court issued lots of photos of the crown princely couple with their newborn daughter Ingrid Alexandra and the Crown Princess's son Marius. The photos were taken by Guri Dahl at Gut Skaugum, the house of the couple, earlier today. Photopage 1 and photopage 2.

Former King Simeon of Bulgaria, now Prime Minister of Bulgaria, said today that legal claims on his hereditary property send wrong signals to foreign investors, whom Bulgaria needs badly: "If such a thing gets known abroad ... this will be a very bad signal about treatment of private property in Bulgaria. We are not used to embezzle property in my family." At court a couple in Sofia, Todorka and Tsvetan Hadzhibonevi, is claiming his palace in Vranya, saying he illegally inherited it. They say Simeon's grandfather Ferdinand bought the land on which the Vranya Palace was built from their ancestors, but that the palace and other pieces of real estate the former king regained didn't belong to his family but to the royal supply service and were state property. Their attorney says that the documents of ownership of the former king look suspicious. Now the opposition wants a parliamentary inquiry on the restitution of royal property - two small palaces, two mansions, a hunting lodge and a country house - to former King Simeon in 2001, that was based on a Constitutional court ruling that abolished the nationalizing law of the Communists from 1947.


Royal News: December 2003. Last updated: January 4th, 2004.