ROYAL NEWS: March 2003

Last updated: April 5th, 2003.

March 1st
Jewelry and clothes of the late Princess Lilian of Belgium will be auctioned at Sotheby's in London on May 19. After the Sotheby's selection the auction-house Vanderkinderen in Uccle was allowed to clear out Argenteuil castle afterwards, after the children of Princess Lilian had sorted out the household effects. It turns out that many very personal items of the royal family were left, among others toys of the late King Baudouin, portraits of King Baudouin and King Albert II as a child, the ski equipment of King Leopold III, his hunting trophies. The items can be seen at the auction-house on 28, 29 and 30 March. They will be auctioned on 2 and 3 April.

March 3rd
Lady Helen Taylor, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, has given birth to a daughter yesterday, Buckingham Palace announced today. The statement says: "Mother and baby are doing well." However the palace refused to say where the baby was born. The newborn baby had yet to be named. She is 29th in line to the British throne. Lady Helen and her husband Timothy Taylor already have two sons, Columbus and Cassius.

Today at 1:00 a.m. Archduke Sigismund of Austria-Tuscany and his wife Elyssa became the proud parents of Tatyana Maria Theresia Laetitia Juliet. Tatyana was born in Livingston, Scotland and weighs 3550 kg.

The Danish royal court announced today that Princess Alexandra zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and her husband Count Jefferson-Friedrich von Pfeil und Klein-Ellguth expect their second child in August. They already have a three-year-old son, Richard.

March 4th
In an exclusive interview with the television programme Nova this evening Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme says she and her husband want to be fully rehabilitated and that they came out with their story to tell the truth and to be respected by the people. She said it is very important people know who the Oranjes are 'who are said to be allowed to reign the country, because they do abuse their power. She thinks they have enough proof to show that illegal things happened. She thinks that the negative rumours about her and her husband came from the Dutch royal family and the Bourbon de Parme family and says she also has proof for that. Margarita says that Edwin and she stand so strong that they can't be driven apart, if the campaign against them continues or not. She says Queen Beatrix could stop the campaign, but that she doesn't know if the Queen is prepared to do so, and that she blames the Queen for not giving her the protection she could have given. Furthermore Margarita tells about their visit to the office of Eef Brouwers of the Government Information Service and tells that she discovered a small microphone on the wall. She tells they also taped the conversation with Mr Brouwers. Margarita is sure also Queen Beatrix records conversations she had with her.

March 5th
King Gyanendra of Nepal welcomed the wedding procession of Princess Shitashma, daughter of the late Dhirendra Shah and the late Princess Prekshya, and Avinesh Shah when it arrived at Jeevan Kunj, Maharajgunj, this afternoon. Also other members of the family were present at the occasion. King Gyanendra and Queen Komal performed the Kanyadan rites (giving away the bride) as well as other rites for bride and groom.

The Government Information Service considers to take juridical steps against Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme because she accused director-general Eef Brouwers of bugging in an interview to the television programme Nova on Tuesday. Brouwers called the accusation of Princess Margarita 'unheard and unknown' and 'absolutely not true'. In the interview Margarita spoke about a microphone in the wall, but Brouwers says it was the screw of a painting. At a press conference today Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende also rejected the accusations of Margarita against the royal house. At the press conference he called the case 'outmost painfull and hopes that the case ends quickly'. However he confirmed that the Internal Security Service (BVD) has collected information about the then future husband of the princess in 2000. According to the Prime Minister this is the normal procedure when new candidates enter the royal family. He said that the results of the investigations were the reason for 'conversations in the family circle'.

March 6th
In a letter to Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme and her husband Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn the Ministers of Interior, Kingdom Relations and Justice, also on behalf of the Prime Minister, have apologied. The letter says in addition to the declaration by the Prime Minister yesterday and the answers to the questions asked by the Second Chamber: "We are attached to announce you that this belongs to the regular job of both services, fitting within the legal frames. Such collection of information usually takes place without a special authorization at ministerial level and there was no motive to inform us about that. Moreover such information of the General Intelligence and Security Service, the former BVD, is only very restricted accessible within the service. The above has led to the fact that to our regret this information from both services, wrongly and in retrospect incorrect, was not included in the reply to your previous correspondence."

Just released British government documents reveal that in total £1,227 was spent on wines, spirits, liqueurs and cigarettes at the reception at Buckingham Palace on the occasion of Princess Margaret of Great Britain's wedding to Anthony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. This accounts for a large slice of the £2,701 spent on the reception and wedding breakfast and easily outstrips the £527 food bill for the occasion. The total costs of the wedding were £26,000. Questions were raised in Parliament afterwards about the cost to taxpayers who were footing the bill through the Privy purse. There was particular concern over the use of the royal yacht Britannia for the six-week honeymoon in the West Indies.

An announcement in The Times today says that the daughter of Lady Helen Taylor and Tim Taylor is named Eloise. She was born at The Portland Hospital in London.

March 7th
Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain has unveiled a bronze portrait bust of her mother, the late Queen Mother Elizabeth, at Sandown Park Racecourse in Surrey, one of the Queen Mother's favourite venues. A second, slightly different bust of the Queen Mother, also by sculptor Angela Connor, is due to be unveiled by the Queen next week at Cheltenham Racecourse.

Today it was officially announced that Claire Coombs, upon her wedding to Prince Laurent on April 12, will receive the title of princess. Her family will not receive any noble title.

Yesterday king Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodge unexpectedly offered to abdicate. He didn't give a reason for his offer, but people say that the decision is connected to the political tensions in the country previous to the elections in July. The king is said to be unsatisfied about the political situation in his country.

March 8th
Prime Minister Balkenede says that the case of Princess Margarita wasn't discussed with Prime Minister Wim Kok, although there has been a file at his ministry, with in it the letter of the princess to Wim Kok.

March 9th
In the controversial TV programme Spirit of Diana, aired on an American channel, British mediums Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker claimed to have contacted the spirit of the late Diana Princess of Wales. They say she is 'having fun' in the afterlife and that she is working with children while watching over her own sons, after first having spent some time with Mother Teresa. The mediums also claim that she told them she was not pregnant at the time of her death, but did plan to marry Dodi el-Fayed. She also said the car crash was an accident. Parts of the show will be broadcasted in Great Britain tomorrow.

St James's Palace will consult the Press Complaints Commission after pictures of Prince William of Wales at St Andrews University in Scotland were published in the News of the World. A Palace spokeswoman said: "We take a dim view of the publication of these pictures as we thought there was an agreement between the Press Complaints Commission and newspapers not to pursue William at university. We will be contacting the PCC to discuss this matter." They further said: "We acknowledge that William was in a public place but, because of sensitive issues around his privacy at university, we hope newspapers will show restraint."

Former bishop Mgr Philippe Bär, who consecrated the wedding of Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme and Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn, has stated that there was no campaign against the couple from the side of the royal family. Although Mgr Bär doesn't want to talk about the case any further, he declares that the Duke of Parme had told him to be against the wedding of his daughter, but that he hasn't asked him why. Mgr Bär says that 'For me the princess and Mr De Roy van Zuydewijn were two lovers who wanted to marry in front of God'.

March 10th
A poll by the NIPO shows that 54% of the Dutch calls the case of Princess Margarita pretty or very damaging for the Royal House. 48% of the people questioned hardly believe the stories and 19% of the people don't believe anything at all. Only 3% of the people think that the statements of the couple are mainly right. About 38% of them thinks the case damages the Prime Minister. Still 81% of the Dutch think The Netherlands should remain a monarchy. About 20% of the Dutch say not to follow the news about the couple at all, while 49% don't follow it very much. 48% of the Dutch above 56 years follow the news intensively, while only 13% of the people between 18 and 35 follow the case intensively.

Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme and her husband Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn have officially informed against former Prime Minister Wim Kok and the ministers De Vries of Home Affairs and Zalm of Finances. They are among others accused of forgery, swindling and violation of the official secret. They also informed against officials of various ministries and the former Internal Security Service (BVD), in connection with the inquiry after Edwin De Roy van Zuydewijn before his marriage.

March 11th
In a letter of Prime Minister Balkenende to the Second Chamber about the Princess Margarita case it is said that Director Rhodius of the Cabinet of the Queen has asked the then deputy-head of the Internal Security Service (BVD) in January 2000. He then said that 'questions were raised about the integrity' of Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn. Thereafter it was decided by the deputy head to research the files of the BVD, as well as other files. No special authority, like bugging, following or observing, was used. The inquiry wasn't reported to Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn or the Minister of Home Affairs, although the last thing should have been wise. Because still some questions were left open, the report of the BVD was handed over to Rhodius, who informed the Duke of Parme and his eldest son Carlos about a few data from the report, because he found that Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn himself had to give a clarification personally and that the father and brother of Margarita were the persons to conversate with him. Also Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands was informed later on.

In the German magazine Stern Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn demands personal and public excuses of Queen Beatrix to him and his wife. We don't accept less than that. Meanwhile the Public Prosecutor investigates if the complaint against the former Prime Minister Wim Kok and two ministers, lodged in Amsterdam, can be considered.

Member of the Second Chamber, Harry van Bommel of the Socialist Party, has given other members of the Second Chamber the chance to inspect the correspondence between Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme and Queen Beatrix as well as former Prime Minister Wim Kok, which he possesses. The other parties have asked the Socialist Party to be able to have a look at the correspondence to be able to prepare for the debate in the Second Chamber tomorrow. The letter hardly contains any new information.

BBC's royal correspondent Jennie Bond is leaving the corporation after 14 years to pursue a freelance career. She will continue in her present role until August before seeking new opportunities which will allow her to spend more time with her family. She said: "I've been mulling over this for the past year - and have now decided that it's time to branch out into new fields. I've had a wonderful time and feel I have got the best out of my job, during one of the most tumultuous decades for the Royal Family. I can't wait to turn my hand to some different projects and to spend more time with my family."

The Prince of Wales is to undergo surgery to treat a hernia injury on March 28. It is thought that the injury happened as the Prince was laying hedges in the gardens at Highgrove. The prince could take a number of weeks to recover.

March 12th
The Luxembourg Grand Ducal court announced that Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte suffers of a pulmonary tumor which was discovered at a medical check up. She has been hospitalised and is being treated at the moment. Her health is improving and she will leave hospital within a few days. The official celebrations of the golden wedding of the Grand Duchess and Grand Duke Jean, that were planned for April 5, will be postponed.

Unexpectedly Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme and her husband Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn, accompanied by their lawyer Mr Nicolaï, followed a big part of the discussion in the Second Chamber about their case from the public gallery. Prime Minister Balkenende of the Netherlands didn't succeed in convince the Second Chamber that it is reasonable that information about Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn turned up at Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme's family. The Prime Minister said that 'there was space to share this information with the family', while the political parties want to know why it wasn't left to the BVD to question Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn. The Prime Minister says that the action wasn't illegal, but that it has to go different in the future. During the debate it was said that the Commission for Information- and Security Services of the Second Chamber finds that the extra inquiry to Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn was right, as the suspicions against him were serious enough to justify the extra inquiry. It was not mentioned what the suspicions against Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn were, and also the question if the couple was bugged remained unanswered.

Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme and her husband Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn have informed the police in Amsterdam to two freelance photographers. Both photographers followed the couple in two cars when they came back from The Hague where they attended the debate in the Second Chamber about their case. The photographers of the television programme 'De Week van Willibrord' should have made several traffic offences. The two were arrested in the centre of Amsterdam and taken to the police station for questioning. They were released after a few hours.

March 13th
Today a report was released by the Prince of Wales's private secretary Sir Michael Peat after a four-month inquiry. In the report he investigated allegations of serious financial and sexual misconduct among the prince's staff. The report paints senior royal aide Michael Fawcett as an unpopular man who intimidated other staff, accepted valuable gifts and made palace enemies, but did nothing corrupt or improper. Peat found that a few of Charles's private gifts had been sold by servants over six years, but only on the prince's authority and mostly for charity. The report also criticised the handling of a claim by servant George Smith that he had been raped by another, more senior male servant. "A serious allegation of this sort should not have been treated so dismissively even though there was universal disbelief as to its veracity," the report said. In a statement the Prince of Wales said: "The review does not make comfortable reading in some parts but I accept full responsibility and all the recommendations."

Michael Fawcett, the senior royal aide at the centre of an inquiry into allegations of misconduct in the Prince of Wales's household, has resigned despite being cleared by Sir Michael Peat's report. He will keep on working for the prince on freelance basis. Mr Fawcett is to set up his own event management business and has been guaranteed work by the prince, who also gave him a cash severance package. The Prince of Wales said: "I am enormously grateful to Mr Fawcett for all he has done over many years and I wish him well with his new business."

The lawyers of Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme and her husband Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn will call Prime Minister Balkenende as first witness. He among others should answer the question if Queen Beatrix ordered the inquiry by the Interior Security Service, lawyer Nicolaï said in a tv-programme this evening. And he will have to answer questions he left open during the debate in the Second Chamber on Wednesday, like the question if the Cabinet of the Queen was allowed to hand over information from the inquiry to third persons. The newspaper Algemeen Dagblad says that also Princess Irene will be asked to appear as a witness, as well as Princess Laurentien, Princess Annette, the Duke of Parme, Princes Carlos, Jaime and Princess Carolina de Bourbon de Parme, director Rhodius of the Cabinet of the Queen, former Bishop Philippe Bär and treasurer Baars of the court will be called to witness. The couple might claim much more than 50 million euros. Furthermore Princess Margarita wants to make excuses to director-general Eef Brouwers of the Government Information Service because she accused him of bugging her during a conversation with him, as it now is clear that it was done by another service.

On April 25 a special Queen's Day concert will be given at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on the occasion of the 65th birthday of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The concert is only accessible for invited people. The concert will be played by the Concertgebouw Orchestra for this occasion led by Mstislav Rostropovich.

March 14th
Today and on Sunday morning Liechtenstein votes about the fate of Prince and people, thus in favour of the constitutional reforms by Prince Hans Adam II (the Princely Initiative) or against it. People also have to vote in favour of or against the Constitution Peace Initiative, which is an alternative proposal of modifications to the Constitution, which among others intends to limit the Prince's prerogatives. Today already 60,9% of the 16931 people entitled to vote have voted. It looks like a record-voting will be the result, although it might not reach the 96,4% votes for the Landtag elections in 1958. With tension the results are awaited. With the voting a more than ten year long fight about the Constitution should end. From the three political parties in Liechtenstein only the Bürgerpartei stands completely behind the initiative of the Princely House. The Vaterländische Union recommends not to accept the initiative nor the Constitution Peace Initiative, while the Freie Liste is against the Princely Initiative but in favour of the Constitution Peace Initiative. The initiative of the Princely House has the approval of the Princely House, the government and the majority in the Parliament. The Princely Initiative calls for the increase of the powers of the Prince, claiming the right to dismiss the government, even if it retains parliamentary confidence, and individual ministers subject to approval by Members of Parliament. The Prince also wants to be able to over-ride the constitution and give the royal family the right to choose the princely succession, but would grant the people the option of calling a referendum to abolish the monarchy. Constitutional experts from the Council of Europe have severely criticised the prince's proposals as "a serious step backward" that could isolate Liechtenstein. Meanwhile it was announced that soon after the elections Prince Hans Adam II will hand over his authority to Hereditary Prince Alois. An exact term isn't known yet and will be discussed after the voting.

Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme wants her own website on which visitors can find more information and ask questions about the quarrel between the princess and her husband with the royal family. The princess said this in an interview with the Youth News on television. She further says that in fairytales everything always comes allright, so she hopes this also has a happy ending.

March 15th
For the second time Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, his wife Marina and son Emanuele Filiberto have arrived in Italy. They arrived at the airport of Naples this afternoon and will stay for three days, that will be filled with receptions and gala. In the afternoon a mass was held at the cathedral in presence of the royal family, while outside opponents protested. In the evening a reception was held on which the royal family will meet the aristocracy of Naples - about 150 aristocrats refused to show up, among them the Duke and Duchess of Calabria. Tomorrow football-fan Emanuele Filiberto will visit a match between Naples and Verona, together with Prince Serge of Yugoslavia and Prince Nikolaos of Greece. On Monday the family will visit the royal palace in the morning and will depart around noon.

March 16th
In the afternoon all votes in Liechtenstein were counted. From the 14845 people who had the right to vote, 87,7% voted. The Princely Initiative was accepted and got 64,3% of the votes. The Constitution Peace Initiative was rejected with 83,5% of the votes, while only 16,5% of the people voted in favour of it. In all 15 Liechtenstein municipalities the Princely Initiative was accepted, with most division in the municipality of Balzers where it only got 51,8% of the votes, while the Princely Initiative got 73% of the votes in Gamprin. Soon after the results were revealed Prince Hans Adam II and Hereditary Prince Alois issued a statement in which they said to be very happy with the results and thank the people for the trust they showed in them. Full results of the voting.

A YouGov poll, appearing in the Sunday Mirror today, shows that only 42% of the Britons questioned think the Prince of Wales should succeed Queen Elizabeth II. Only 39% thinks the prince would make a good king, while 46% said he would not. Prince William is chosen by 32% of the people as the next monarch. The poll was taken last week after the publication of a report by Charles's private secretary, Sir Michael Peat. The results show a change since the last poll in April when 58% of the people thought the prince should succeed, and 60% thought he would make a good king.

Prince William of Wales's 21st birthday party is to take place at Windsor Castle in June, on or close to William's coming of age birthday on June 21. The party will be attended by hundreds of family members and friends. It will be organised by Michael Fawcett, who resigned from the Prince of Wales's household last week.

Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy confirmed today that he has the intention to move from Switzerland to Italy and that he doesn't have the intention to get involved in politics. The next visit of the family will be to Rome in April.

March 17th
Major Ronald Ivor Ferguson, father of the Duchess of York, died last night at the age of 71 at The Hampshire Clinic in Basingstroke after a heart attack. His second wife Susan was at his bedside when he died. He had been battling against prostate cancer since 1996 and had suffered a series of heart attacks. The Duchess of York had spent some time at her father's bedside on Sunday but then had travelled to Australia to carry out commitments for WeightWatchers. She heard the news during a stop in Bangkok. She will return home early at the end of the week together with her sister Jane who lives in Sydney. A spokesman for the Duchess said: "She is grieving but is grateful for the time she had with her father to say goodbye." The Duke of York was said to be 'deeply saddened' by the news, as was the Prince of Wales. Buckingham Palace said that the Queen had been informed and would send a private message of condolence to the Major's widow. Major Ferguson was a former deputy chairman of the Guards Polo Club and had been polo manager ot both the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. He leaves a wife, two daughters from his first marriage and three children from his second marriage.

March 20th
During a press conference at the state visit to Chile Queen Beatrix told the press: "We are of course very worried about her [princess Margarita] and it is clear that this sad case touches us all deeply. I repeat again emphatic that we don't recognise ourselves in the story that are revealed about our family. I don't want to talk about it further, as it is about the daughter of my sister and I really hope that they will succeed in peace and privacy to bring the problems to a solution." She also said that the role of the Cabinet of the Queen that came in the news because of the inquiry to Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn will be discussed quietly and extensive after her return to The Netherlands. She further told that she will continue the state visit despite the start of the war against Iraq, although the war casts a shadow over the visit. Princess Máxima, for who it is her first state visit abroad thinks that she learns a lot from the visit. The Prince of Orange reveals that he is still taking a course in Spanish and that it goes very well.

Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain has sent a message of support to the British troops in the Gulf. She told the troops: "May your mission be swift and decisive, your courage steady and true, and your conduct in the highest traditions of your service both in waging war and bringing peace. My thoughts are with you all, and with your families and friends who wait at home for news and pray for your safe return. At this moment in our nation's history, I would like to express my pride in you, the British service and civilian personnel deployed in the Gulf and in the vital supporting roles in this country and further afield. I have every confidence in your professionalism and commitment as you face the challenges before you." In the coming days several members of the British royal family will visit military bases in the country.

March 21st
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, the Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima finished a three-day state visit to Chile today. On Wednesday Queen Beatrix and Princess Máxima were welcomed at the airport of Santiago de Chile by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the centre the Prince of Orange waited for them, he arrived in Chile seperately after having attended a water conference in Japan. In the evening the state banquet with the president of Chile, Lagos Escobar, took place. Yesterday the Queen visited the parliament of Chile and she also met writer Isabel Allende. Furthermore she visited an art exhibition. The Dutch royals finished their state visit today by visiting the copper-mine Chuquicamata, the biggest in the world and later the Moon Valley with its wonderful folded layers of salt. In the weekend they will travel to Brasil where they will start another state visit on Monday.

March 23rd
Two British newspapers today reported that friends have said that the Countess of Wessex is eight weeks pregnant. A close friend said: "Sophie is very wary of saying anything because it's still early in the pregnancy. They are both worried that it can still go wrong. They have been very careful about not telling anyone. The last thing they wanted was the news getting out. Obviously they are very excited but I think that after the 12th week they'll begin to feel a bit less anxious." Recently the countess began her third course of IVF treatment. But friends claimed the baby was conceived naturally. The countess of Wessex had an ectopic pregnancy in December 2001 and according to a friend also had one miscarriage. Buckingham Palace refused on the couple's orders to confirm or deny the reports. A spokeswoman said: "We are offering no comment. If and when it happens, she will let people know in her own time."

March 24th
This morning the Duke and Duchess of York and their daughter Beatrice attended the funeral of the Duchess's father Major Ronald Ferguson who died last week. More than 300 people gathered at All Saints' Church, Odiham, for the service to celebrate his life. Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain was represented by her former private secretary, Sir Robert Fellowes. Lord Palumbo of Walbrook read out some thoughts written by the Duchess. She wrote: "Our father was a military man born and bred - 'an officer and a gentlemen' as one commentator recently put it. He was given to briskness, precision and punctuality, a gentleman's virtues. To some who didn't know him well he might have seemed a bit formal and reserved. But to those who knew him, those who loved him, Dad was a British institution in the very best sense. He was brave, kind, loyal, sensitive, outspoken, a champion of the underdog and devoid of any pomposity or malice. He had a rare sense of humour, he was willing to see the absurdity in any situation. Rarer still, he was willing to laugh at himself."

March 25th
Prince Laurent of Belgium and Claire Coombs signed the wedding register at the town hall in Brussels today to announce their intended marriage.

Prince Ernst August of Hannover has to go to court again, this time he is charged with deliberate inflicting bodily harm on a technician who was just reparing a video-beamer at a party at the ski-resort Zürs in Austria at the end of February. The prince kicked the technician's bottom so hard that the technician suffered bruises.

March 27th
Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain ended in 8th place in the yearly voting for 'Celebrity Mum of the Year'. The Quality Street award was won by a former model who declared that "It is an honour to beat the Queen, who I have never been up against for an award."

March 28th
Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxemburg paid a state visit to Italy from 25 to 28 March. The Grand Ducal couple were received on Tuesday at the Palace de Quirinale in Rome by the Italian president Ciampi and his wife. There was also a dinner at the palace in the evening. During the afternoon Grand Duchess Maria Teresa visited the Casa di Peter Pan association where children with cancer can stay with their parents during their medical treatment. On Wednesday the Grand Duke met the president of the Senate, while the Grand Duchess visited the Santa Maria de Trastevere Basilica. Afterwards the Grand Ducal couple was received by the mayor of Rome, while in the evening they attended a concert. Yesterday morning after having said goodbye the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess accompanied by their children were received by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. Afterwards they travelled to Milan to attend the closing of a forum consecrated to the Luxemburg economy. Today the couple was received at the town hall of Milan, before returning to Luxemburg.

On Monday Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, the Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima started their state visit to Brazil in the capital Brasilia, after having spent the weekend at the waterfalls of Foz Iguazu. After a tour through Brasilia and a meeting with Dutch people living in Brazil, the official welcome took place with a huge military march-past. On Tuesday the royals visited Rio de Janeiro where they visited a home for street-children and the famous statue of Christ. The last part of the visit led to Recife, which has been Dutch for some time in the 17th century. From 1637 to 1644 the governor was Count Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen. The royals visited among others the Instituto Materno Infantil de Pernambuco, where children and women from the poor northeast of the country receive basical help. The Dutch royals finished their state visit at the Fortress Oranje in Recife, where they saw a Brazilian carnival performance.

March 29th
Prince Armin and Princess Traute zur Lippe celebrated their Golden Wedding today. With a service in the chapel of Detmold Castle they wanted to renew the blessing of their wedding this afternoon. Their family as well as members of befriended princely houses attended the service. While entering the chapel the couple was accompanied by their four grandchildren. After the service a reception was given at the castle and in the evening they had dinner with the family.

The Prince of Wales left the King Edward VII hospital in London today after a routine hernia operation last night. He arrived at hospital yesterday afternoon with Camilla Parker Bowles. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "As you would expect after a fairly routine operation the Prince of Wales was very cheerful as he left hospital and is looking forward to resting this weekend in Highgrove." The Prince of Wales will stay at Highgrove all week and will travel to Balmoral next weekend.

March 31st
Hereditary Prince Maximilian zu Bentheim-Tecklenburg and his wife Marissa announced the birth of their first child, Moritz Friedrich Carl, on March 27 at the evangelischen Krankenhaus in Rheda. Mother and child are doing fine and were able to leave hospital today.

In a television-programme former bishop of Rotterdam, Philip Bär, said this evening that he wants to mediate in the conflict between Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme and her husband Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn and the Dutch royal family if he will be asked to. He is however not sure if he should do as he has only played a role in the life of the princess and her husband during the preparations for their wedding in 2001. Although he knew what was going on then, as he has had one conversation with the couple about the conflict before their wedding, he has carefully kept himself away from the case.

Royal News: February 2003. Last updated: March 1st, 2003.