ROYAL NEWS: MARCH 2004

Last updated: April 3rd, 2004.

March 1st
Documents released by the National Archives show that Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Great Britain acted as a secret mentor to King Constantine of Greece when a junta seized control of Greece. The Prime Minister, unlike some diplomats at the Foreign Office, did want to help. Lord Mountbatten set up several meetings between Mr Wilson and the King while keeping Queen Elizabeth II fully informed. However at a crucial moment Mr Wilson decided it was diplomatically too dangerous for the King to fly to Great Britain for clandestine talks at Broadlands, the house of Lord Mountbatten. In November 1967, seven months after the coup, Lord Mountbatten wrote to the King to explain the decision and added that Mr Wilson "went so far as to say that you were the one hope of preserving democracy between the dangers of dictatorship and communism". The King and Mr Wilson met in May 1968. Mr Wilson recorded that he found the king "a very lonely young man, totally bereft of any reliable advice - and therefore potentially exposed to unreliable advisers. It seemed to me to be in our interest to keep in close touch with the king and indeed to give him support."

Crown Prince Haakon of Norway wants to close an agreement with the Norwegian media in order to establish guidelines to protect the private life of his family. However not everyone is thrilled by the suggestion. Ellen Arnstad, editor of the magazine Henne, says that such an agreement would breach the principle of a free and independent press, and that she doesn't think that the royal house will get a written agreement with the Norwegian pess. Bernt Olufsen, editor of the newspaper VG, is also not very comfortable with the suggestion. A meeting is to take place next month.

The Countess of Wessex returned to Great Britain on crutches after pulling a muscle in her right leg last Friday during a skiing holiday in St Moritz, Switzerland. A spokeswoman says: "She was checked out by a doctor and discharged after 20 minutes. Fortunately nothing was broken." The Countess has been skiing together with her husband the Earl of Wessex.

Prince Rainier III of Monaco is expected to leave hospital this week, the palace said. The doctors are very satisfied with his condition.

March 2nd
There has been a small fire at Christian VII's Palace - one of Amalienborg's four palaces - just before midnight on Monday. Immediately the whole area around Amalienborg was blocked. The fire was caused by an electrical short circuit, but was rapidly put out by the fire-brigade. Smoke from the fire caused very little damage to the building and paintings and other decorations are left intact. Christian VII's Palace is used to lodge guests. Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik of Denmark both were abroad, while Crown Prince Frederik was at home in Christian VIII's Palace.

The Danish Defence Command has announced a special programme for the May 5th celebrations (Liberation Day) this year. The programme will honour Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. The parade will take place at the Langelinie in Copenhagen. Furthermore several activities and tour take place on the quay. Crown Prince Frederik and his fiancée Mary Donaldson are expected to join other members of the Danish Royal Family at the parade which will take place in the morning. The military tribute will be modelled after festivities in 1967 when the present Queen Margrethe II married Prince Henrik. The couple will also recieve their official wedding gift from the Danish defence.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini ka-Bhekuzulu is negotiating with the family of 20-year-old Zola Zelusiwe Mafu, daughter of Agrippa Mafu and his wife Rose, who is set to become the King's sixth wife. She is from Swaziland. The king's five wives are Queen Sibongile (nee Dlamini), Queen Buhle (nee Mathe), Queen Mantfombi (nee Dlamini), Queen Thendekile (nee Ndlovu) and Queen Nompumelelo (nee Mchiza). Queen Mantfombi is a daughter of the late King Sobhuza II of Swaziland. It is said that "The king states that in accordance with the Swazi custom, Queen Mantfombi took the initiative to look for a possible young bride for her husband. The daughter of Mr Mafu was brought to the KwaKhangelamakengane Palace where Queen Mantfombi resides with the consent and permission of her mother and father."

March 3rd
Prince Harry of Wales was pictured helping with building work at an orphanage in Lesotho. In the newly released photos the young royal is seen helping erect a fence and planting trees at the Mants'ase Children's Home. He arrived in Lesotho on February 13th and has also helped lay foundations for a new hospital and dug trenches for crops. A Clarence House spokesman said: "Prince Harry and his friend George Hill have been travelling the country getting to know Lesotho and its people and working on projects to help local communities. This orphanage needs fencing to keep the animals out... He is not here on an official royal visit. Like any normal 19-year-old he wanted to come and experience it for himself, contribute and learn a bit of the country."

Today and yesterday Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands paid a visit to Germany. Yesterday she was invited for a lunch at Bellevue Castle by German President Johannes Rau. In her table speech Queen Beatrix said to hope that Mr Rau will stay a friend of the Netherlands after the end of his presidency later this year. She also praised the development of Berlin into a fascinating capital with an impressive modern architecture as symbol of courage and action. After the reception Queen Beatrix opened the new Dutch Embassy in Berlin, that was designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Today Queen Beatrix spoke with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and together with German President Johannes Rau she later visited Oranienbaum Palace near Dessau and the Bauhaus in Dessau. In Oranienbaum more than 1000 people had gathered at the market square. Oranienbaum Palace was build for Countess Henriette Catharina of Nassau (1637-1708), daughter of Frederik Hendrik Prince of Orange. She was married to Prince Johann Georg II of Anhalt-Dessau.

Letters from Diana Princess of Wales written to her reflexologist Chryssie Fitzgerald have been sold for £19,400 at auction in Swindon. The letters were written during the period of her marriage breakdown and the first two years of her separation from the Prince of Wales. One of the letters, from October 1994 - sold for £3,300 - tells of her reaction to former Army Major James Hewitt's public revelation of their affair. She wrote: "Last week was the (underlined) toughest yet that I have had to face & I did everything I could to keep myself above water. When I came for my appointment I was in a total state of shock & very distressed about Hewitt's so called revelations - I never expected to hear on top all that about someone else's hatred for me & what accompanies those feelings. It hurt so (double underlined) much to hear from you, Chryssie, that Sarah found me a problem & that with everything else that was going on. Please remember something you said to me just last week 'Babs, you're on your own'. Today, I really feel that."

Prince Rainier III of Monaco has left hospital this afternoon.

March 4th
In the tv-programme Zembla writer F Bieckmann revealed this evening that Prince Claus of the Netherlands and his son Johan Friso had dinner with Cuban leader Fidel Castro when they visited Cuba in 1998. According to Prince Claus's private reports, Bieckmann - who is writing a book about Prince Claus - was able to read, during the conversation Fidel Castro said that he felt much like Prince William of Orange.

March 5th
Millions of people have watched the programme on the American tv-channel NBC today that showed parts of audio tapes on which the late Diana Princess of Wales told about her marriage. The tapes are understood to be recorded at Kensington Palace between September 1992 and December 1993, in response to written questions submitted by writer Andrew Morton. Quotes were used for his book "Diana: Her True Story" that was published afterwards. About her childhood Princess Diana says: "It was a very unhappy childhood, parents were busy sorting themselves out. I remember seeing my father slap my mother across the face and I was crying on the floor... Mummy was crying an awful lot." About the proposal she told: "He said "Will you marry me?" And I laughed. I remember thinking this is a joke. So I said, "yes, OK." I laughed. And he was deadly serious. He said, "You do mean, you do realize that one day you'll be Queen?" And a voice said to me inside, "You won't be Queen, but you'll have a tough role." So I thought to myself, "OK," so I said, "Yes."" On the tapes she blames the Prince of Wales's affair with Camilla Parker Bowles - of which she knew through overhearing telephone conversations between the couple - for worsening her bulimia: "Bulimia started the week after we got engaged. Charles said you're getting a bit chubby, and that triggered something off. The first time I made myself sick I was so thrilled. It relieved me of tension. I ate everything I could find and I was as sick as a parrot... it was an indication of what was going on (between Charles and Camilla)." The bulimia worsened during the honeymoon. The Prince of Wales had brought eight novels with him to read. About her marriage Princess Diana says: "I thought the whole thing was hysterical, getting married. I was very, very deathly calm. I felt as though I was a lamb going to the slaughter." She said: "As I walked up the aisle I was looking for her. I spotted Camilla." Princess Diana told: "I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades... we were trying to hide that from everybody... I was just so desperate." And while she was pregnant with her eldest son William in 1982 she felt very inadequate: "... I threw myself down the stairs, bearing in mind I was carrying a child. The Queen came out and saw me and was horrified." On February 14, 1984, it was announced she was pregnant with Harry. The six week period before Harry was born was when they were at their closest, she said. But then: "Harry was born – it just was bang. Our marriage down the drain. And Charles, all he wanted was a girl. First comment was, 'Oh God it's a boy', second comment, 'Oh no, he’s even got red hair!'" Princess Diana claimed. "I had a very bad time with the press - they literally haunted and hunted me," the princess said. She coninued saying: "My husband made me feel so inadequate in every possible way. The public... they wanted a fairy princess to come and touch them, and everything will turn into gold and all their worries would be forgotten. Little did they realise that the individual was crucifying herself inside because she didn't think she was good enough." Former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter commented on the radio that although the content of the tapes was already known, it was "scary" to hear her voice and "the drama of it all" was more evident. "It became very apparent that she was unhappy, she was bitter and she was ill. They were her own words." Further tapes will be shown on NBC on March 11th at 2200 Eastern Time, 0300 GMT.

The Government Information Service has denied a report in De Volkskrant (newspaper) of this morning. Although a royal decree is prepared about the title of Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands after his marriage to Mabel Wisse Smit, it isn't finished yet and has not been discussed yet either. The newspaper had written that after his marriage Prince Johan Friso will loose his princely title and becomes a count, like his eventual children. They also said that there was a royal decree that would be discussed by the ministerial council next week.

Princess Amalia of the Netherlands will be baptised at the Grote or St. Jacobskerk (Church) in The Hague on Saturday June 12th. The ceremony will conducted by The Rev Carel ter Linden, who also married the Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima in February 2002. The Prince of Orange was baptised in the same church in September 1967.

Per Egil Hegge, editor of the newspaper Aftenposten will write a biography of King Harald V of Norway, which will be published in connection with the 70th birthday of the King in 2007. The biography gets the support of the Royal Palace.

Prince Laurent of Belgium slammed a VTM television cameraman for filming a visit by motorcycle to a house in Brussels yesterday. The cameraman recorded the prince complaining: "They will only talk about this motorcycle, how much it costs, and where the money came from to pay for it ... that gives a bad picture of journalism". He called the VTM programme 'Royalty' "sensationalist" and "too negative. I have had enough". VTM showed the incident in their news programme. Today the Prince told the daily newspaper De Nieuwe Gazet: "Too often scandal and demagoguery is far more important than concrete projects like charity work. I just have to say something ... and it is right away wrongly interpreted. That is very frustrating." The director of information of VTM, Klaus van Isacker, said to De Nieuwe Gazet that the criticism of the prince is unfounded: "His behaviour is childish, unmannered and stupid." he told De Nieuwe Gazet. VTM has filed a complaint with the Royal Palace over the prince's behaviour.

March 6th
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark will receive one of the three "The Fairytale of My Life" awards from the Hans Christian Andersen Committee this year. The honorary prizes are awarded to individuals or institutions that communicate, construe and convey information about the Hans Christian Andersen and his works. Queen Margrethe II is awarded because of her creative work in relation to the fairytale world of Hans Christian Andersen. The committee especially mentioned her costume design for the theatre 'The Shepherdess and the Chimneysweep', the decoupages for the tv-film and book 'The Snow Queen', and the staging for the ballet pantomime 'Love in the Dustbin'. The other two awards go to the Italian librarian and translator Bruno Berni and the Brazilian professor Dr. Ana Maria da Costa Santos Menin. The awards will be presented at Odense Theatre on April 2nd.

March 7th
Yesterday the Oslo chapter of the Norwegian Labour Party voted to take away the Norwegian royal family's privileges. They want a republic. However national leaders of the Labour Party don't seem to share the enthusiasm and even so-called republicans don't want to initiate a national debate about the end of the Norwegian monarchy. The Oslo chapter also voted to form a commission charged with finding a model for a republican government that would be a good alternative for the existing monarchy.

March 8th
Princess Marie Antoinette of Prussia née Countess Lingen, Countess Hoyos, Baroness zu Stichsenstein, died on March 1st at the age of 83. She was buried today in München, Germany. In 1944 she married Prince Wilhelm Victor of Prussia (1919-1989), grandson of German Emperor Wilhelm II. The couple had one son, Adalbert, and a daughter, Marie Louise, four grandsons and one granddaughter.

Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and her husband Ari Behn have renewed plans to move to New York. They now want to go this fall. Plans they made in 2003 were postponed when it became known that Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were expecting their first child together, and later King Harald V was diagnosed with cancer.

According to a survey by TNS Gallup for the Norwegian tv-channel TV2 one of ten Norwegians belief that the interview with Princess Ragnhild recently has a negative effect on the belief in the Norwegian monarchy. 83% of the people said that Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway would become a good king and queen. Another poll, conducted by Infact for Norwegian newspaper VG indicates that 42,4% of the people questioned said they had little or no understanding for the statements of Princess Ragnhild, while 40,4% had some, rather much and great understanding for her opinions. Men were much more positive about the statements than the women.

The Countess of Wessex has been asked to become a patron of WellBeing, which raises funds for research into premature labour. The Countess will support fundraising and publicity events for the organisation. It is not known yet if she will accept the patronage.

James Hewitt, the former lover of Diana Princess of Wales, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a photographer outside his home in South Kensington, London. After being questioned at a central London police station he was released on bail. Further inquiries will be held some time next month. The photographer allegedly suffered a minor head injury.

Yesterday Princess Lalla Amina of Morocco, an aunt of King Mohammed VI, received a special prize from the International Olympic Committee during their conference on 'women and sports, new strategies and new commitments'. The Princess, who is chairwoman of the Moroccan Royal Federation of Equestrian Sports, said to consider the prize as "a tribute to the efforts made by Morocco for the advancement of sport, under the guidance of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, and thanks to his active support for all athletes, especially women." and said that "Morocco has become a key player in various international athletics events, thanks to many champions, especially in women's competitions, where Moroccan women have performed outstandingly. I feel particularly proud that Moroccan women managed to come out of the shackles of exclusion and marginalization."

March 9th
In an interview to Radio Liechtenstein yesterday Hereditary Prince Alois von und zu Liechtenstein said he didn't want to interfere in daily politics after taking over the duties of his father Prince Hans Adam II on August 15, but he will continue the politics of his father and grandfather. He will go the same way as before in the co-operation with international institutes. More conflict themes can't be ruled out. He said that the opening of the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna later this month will be an image profit for Liechtenstein.

A more than two-hour DVD and a video called "Mary, Frederik and the Monarchy" ($44) have been released today. A portrait of Mary Donaldson is given by interviews with her, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, family, friends and colleagues. It also gives a view inside the royal palace. The DVD/video is issued by CMC Entertainment.

March 10th
Yesterday afternoon squatters broke into Beverweerd Castle in Werkhoven, The Netherlands. Early yesterday evening the police summoned them to leave. Six squatters who refused to leave, were arrested.

Yesterday Princess Alexandra of Denmark visited a primary school in Sarajevo, Bosnia Hercegovina, as part of her three-day visit to the country as a guest of Unicef. She also visited the University of Sarajevo, the Gynaecological-Obstetrical Clinic and an immunisation centre.

Prince Daniel of Saxony will take part in the next elections on June 13. He will be a candidate for the CDU in the area Meißen. If he is chosen he wants to focus on building and culture.

Sven Høiby, the father of Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, has been invited for the christening of his granddaughter Ingrid Alexandra on April 17. The christening will be shown live at NRK.

March 11th
Several bombs exploded in local trains during the morning rush hour today killing more than 190 people and injured more than 1200 people in Madrid. The main attack was at one of Madrid's major stations, Atocha, in the city centre. The Spanish governement attributes the attacks to the Basque separatist group ETA. A political group close to ETA has denied that it carried out the attacks. However also seven tapes - one of them containing verses of the Koran in Arabic - have been found with detonators in a stolen van in Alcala de Henares where three of the four bombed trains originated. The other train passed through the town. Three days of national mourning have been declared. Hours after the terrible attacks Queen Sofia of Spain, the Prince of Asturias and his fiancée Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano paid a 45-minute visit to victims and their families at the Gregorio Marañon Hospital to offer their support and solidarity. In a speech Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has said that those who carried out the Madrid train bombings will be punished. In a very rare televised address (the last one was in 1981) King Juan Carlos described the bombing as as "madness which has no possible justification" and said "Terrorist barbarity has today plunged Spain into the deepest grief in the face of which we must stand united and strong." He said: "A nightmare has struck showing terrorism's cruel face. Your king is suffering alongside you, is sharing your anger and is confident that the rule of law will prevail so that these cowardly assassins will answer for their crimes".

The Dutch Royal House has asked an explanation from the American publisher of three poststamps for Guyana of Princess Amalia of the Netherlands. According to the Government Information Service no permission was asked for the use of the photos. The Royal House owns the rights of one photo that was made by the Prince of Orange shortly after the birth of his daughter. Permission is needed. The other two photos are from press agencies.

The Duchess of York announced yesterday that she will be the celebrity spokesperson for SOS Children's Villages-USA, an organization providing homes to 52.000 abandoned and abused children in 131 countries. Christopher Zappia, executive director of the organization said: "I am very excited about The Duchess gracing our work with her support. SOS Children's Villages has been around for 50 years and the average American does not know how we help abandoned and abused children. The Duchess will help us get the word out."

Lady Tamara Grosvenor, 24, eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Westminister became engaged to Edward van Cutsem, 30, son of Hugh van Cutsem and jonkvrouwe Emilie Quarles van Ufford. The couple will marry at the bride's house at Eaton, Cheshire, in November. Edward van Cutsem was one of the bridal children at the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.

Prince Rainier III of Monaco made his first public appearance yesterday by attending the Champions League match of AS Monaco.

March 12th
Up to 11 million people draped in Spanish flags or wearing black crosses, chanting 'cowards' and 'killers' and holding banners marched for peace through the streets of Spain this evening, often in the pouring rain. More than two million people crowded the streets people of Madrid lead by the Prince of Asturias, Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina (breaking Spanish royal tradition) together with Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. European leaders joined them to show their solidarity. Next to the ETA also al-Qaida remains under suspicion. Meanwhile there are 199 deaths and more than 1400 injured people.

In the second part of NBC's documentary on Diana Princess of Wales the Princess said to be terrified of Camilla Parker Bowles. She approached Camilla at a party and said: "I know what is going on between you and Charles and I just want you to know that." According to Princess Diana Camilla Parker Bowles answered: "You've got what you wanted. You've got all the men in the world falling in love with you and you've got two beautiful children, what more do you want?" To which Princess Diana replied: "I want my husband."

Yesterday Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain held her very first women-only event. She had lunch with famous females from Great Britain, among them Margaret Thatcher, Shirley Bassey, Jemima Khan, Cherie Blair, Charlotte Church, Jennifer Saunders, JK Rowling, Heather Mills McCartney, Twiggy and Vivienne Westwood. Also attending were the Princess Royal and the Countess of Wessex. They had a buffet lunch of seafood casserole, sauteed lamb, mushroom and courgette risotto and vegetable tagliatelle.

Comtesse Bettina Bernadotte af Wisborg celebrated her 30th birthday today. After the laws of the family she now is entitled to use the title of Countess instead of Comtesse. Within the next three years she will take over the business at Mainau Island from her mother, Countess Sonja. She is preparing since early 2002. At the moment Countess Bettina, who is living in nearby Konstanz, works as her mother's assistent. Early May her birthday will be celebrated together with the 60th birthday of her mother and the 95th her father Count Lennart. Also the Swedish royal couple is expected to attend.

Norwegian police is critizising the magazine Se og Hør that in a five-page long report presented a very detailed look at Skaugum, the new home of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. "It is inappropriate to reveal details of the royal couple's residence. We don't want people to know what it looks like there. If this information is now available to the public we must consider this and assess new security measures," said police captain Johnny Asp of the Royal Police Escort. However editor Trond Stensaasen of Se og Hør said: "Skaugum is a well protected property inside a fenced park that is stringently monitored. Potential intruders would be stopped longer before they reached the main building."

Today the highest court in Norway rejected an appeal from Espen Høiby, brother of Crown Princess Mette-Marit. That means he has to serve a 60-day jail term for beating his former girlfriend. He has admitted pushing his former girlfriend after a party in Soegne in Vest-Agder on September 1, 2002, but denies charges that he also beat and kicked her.

March 13th
On May 1st Princess Stephanie von Hohenzollern, daughter of Prince Ferfried von Hohenzollern and his first wife Angela von Morgen, will marry Michael Staudinger. Both were married before. Princess Stephanie in 1996 married Count Hieronymus (Ronnie) Wolff-Metternich zur Gracht, but they divorced in 1999. Michael Staudinger has two daughters from his previous marriage. The place where the wedding will take place is not set yet.

Yesterday at court in Edinburgh, Scotland, Judge Lord Drummond-Young ruled that the Scottish Executive earlier acted lawfully in refusing an inquiry into the deaths of Diana Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed. Mohamed Al Fayed had claimed that Diana Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed had been killed by the British security services. Richard Keen QC, Mr Al Fayed's senior counsel, told the court that his client had a "reasonable belief that the life of his son Dodi may have been taken by force". The Judge however dismissed the notion as "speculative" and "irrelevant" and said: "I am of the opinion that the petition and the accompanying documentation do not disclose an arguable case for the inference that the UK security services were implicated in any way in the death or the surrounding events." He said only facts based on "concrete evidence" that showed security service involvement would be acceptable to the court. Mr Al Fayed said he would take the decision to appeal and said he would be continuing his "quest for the truth".

March 14th
The Spanish national anthem, the 'Marcha Real', has been played at a revised changing of the guard ceremony at 11:30 today in front of Buckingham Palace in tribute to the victims of the Madrid bombings of last Thursday. Spanish ambassador in London, the Marques de Tamaron, and the Duke of Gloucester led a one-minute silence. Afterwards they were presented the sword of honour. The decision to play the Spanish national anthem was made by the Palace with the approval of the Queen. An official said it was "in recognition of the tragedy which the Spanish people have suffered and to show solidarity."

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway took their daughter Ingrid Alexandra out to see the ski jumping competition at Holmenkollen near Oslo today.

In his new book 'Diana in Search of Love' which will be released this summer author Andrew Morton tells about famous public figures who were also secret lovers of Diana Princess of Wales. Two actors and a multi-millionaire businessman are among the names in the book Diana In Search Of Love. One of the actors mentioned is reported to be now 64-year-old Terence Stamp. 'The others were a married film star and a captain of industry who is a household name', Morton claims in his book according to a report in the Daily Mail.

March 15th
The Swedish Royal House is going to sue a website that has published manipulated porn pictures of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden as well as Princess Madeleine of Sweden on the Internet. The website also contains manipulated porn photos of Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. The Swedish Royal Court said that the publication 'is unacceptable' and that they will pursue the case in court. The Norwegian Royal House had no knowledge of the pictures and has therefore not decided on any action.

Tomorrow Pieter van Vollenhoven, husband of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, will undergo surgery for a hernia at the Universitary Medical Centre in Utrecht. Already since the end of December 2003 he has had pain in his lower back. It is expected he will have to stay in hospital for a couple of days.

Espen Høiby, brother of Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway said today he was stepping down from his position as head of SAS' pilots in Norway after his conviction for violence. He'll be allowed to continue to fly, and may take on other jobs within the airline.

March 16th
The Swedish P3 radio programme 'Hej domstol' reported today that King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden had died. The announcement was repeated twice and mourning music was played before the moderators revealed that it was all just a joke. The Swedish royal family is not amused and might take legal action.

The Imperial Household Agency said yesterday that Emperor Akihito of Japan will no longer attend to six official functions in which he and Empress Michiko grant an audience at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to persons who have served with distinction in various fields. Since last December the agency has been reviewing the Emperor's public duties with the idea to ease his workload.

On Saturday Melusi Moyo, a Gauteng businessman, will pay lobola for 25-year-old Zulu Princess Nomkhosi. Celebrations will start at the crack of dawn in the palace of the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. He will pay no less than 114 cows for the King's daughter by Queen Mantfombi. A spokesman for the King said: "All the preparations for the big event are well under way and we are expecting many people to come and celebrate with His Majesty." The Moyo family will visit the palace for the second time. "They came here to propose last year and they were told what was expected of them before Moyo could marry the princess. They are now coming to pay lobola and they will be warmly welcomed at the Enyokeni palace and they will be taken to KwaKhangela Palace." The wedding date will be set on Saturday.

March 17th
On March 9th Princess Stephanie of Baden, wife of Hereditary Prince Bernhard von Baden, has given birth to her second child, a son, at the St Elisabeth Hospital in Ravensburg. The couple's first son, Leopold, was born almost two years ago at the same hospital. The name of the baby, according to family tradition, will only become known at the christening. Prince Bernhard said: "With my whole family I am very happy and thankful that the birth went well."

Zara Phillips, daughter of the Princess Royal, is included on the shortlist of 14 horse-riders for the Olympic Games in Athens this year. Only five of the 14 horse-riders will be going, and Zara hopes to be on the final list. Attending the opening day of the National Hunt Festival Zara said yesterday: "My grandmother [Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain] was thrilled when I was chosen for the long list. She'll be watching if I get to go."

The Imperial Household Agency has unofficially decided to employ Hidemi Oshiro, a 46-year-old doctor, as the Emperor's chief physician from April 1, making him the youngest ever to assume the post, informed sources said yesterday. He would become the chief court physician and oversee health and medical services for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. Oshiro has been one of the court physicians since April last year.

Clarence House confirmed that Prince Harry of Wales will take a second gap year before he starts his military training at the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst. He will enjoy an extra 12 months of character-forming activities. Communications secretary Paddy Harveson said: "There are plans for Harry to extend his gap period into next year. That means that when he enters Sandhurst he will be of a more similar age to the rest of the intake." It remains to be seen what Prince Harry will do during the extra year, but it has been suggested he might spend some time in Argentina.

March 19th
In a Royal Decree that was issued today it says that after his marriage to Mabel Wisse Smit on April 24 Prince Johan Friso will keep the title of Prince van Oranje-Nassau as a personal title with the personal title of Royal Highness. The hereditary title Count and the family name 'Van Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg' will be confered upon him. Because of his marriage he will no longer be a member of the Royal House. According to the Law Membership Royal House from 2002 his family name and eventual titles must be decided at the latest within three months after the wedding has taken place. At the moment he marries he will become: 'His Royal Highness Prince Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David van Oranje-Nassau, Count van Oranje-Nassau, jonkheer van Amsberg' with the family name 'Van Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg'. Children from his marriage can be Count(ess) van Oranje-Nassau, jonkheer (jonkvrouw) van Amsberg, with the family name 'Van Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg'. By her marriage Mabel Wisse Smit will not become noble, but she use the title of her husband.

At a press conference at the town hall Mayor Van Oorschot of Delft said that about 1000 invited people will attend the religious wedding of Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands and Mabel Wisse Smit at the Old Church in Delft on April 24. The civil wedding will be attended by 100 people. A small part of the city will be closed. He expects that there are no more than about 10.000 people who will come and watch.

Fürst Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg died Tuesday afternoon at the age of 68 at the Diakonie Hospital in Schwäbisch Hall after a long and difficult illness. He is survived by his second wife Irma. In 1965 he firstly married Princess Charlotte de Croy, whom he divorced in 1990. He is survived by his children from this marriage: Cécile, Philipp and Xenia. The funeral will take place in private on March 20, as wished by the deceased. A public commemoration service will take place on Saturday, March 27, at 14:00 at the Stadtkirche in Langenburg.

After having spent some weeks sailing in the USA and a short vacation with his wife at the Bahamas, King Harald V of Norway returned home yesterday. During a visit to Sogn og Fjordane today Queen Sonja told the press: "The trip to the USA has been good for the king, and he seems to be doing very well." She said that it was not up to her to decide when he would be back at work.

Prince William of Wales has been chosen to represent Scotland in the national universities water polo squad. He is the captain of the water polo team of St Andrews University, where he studies. He was chosen from among 32 hopefuls trying out at a council-run pool in Dunfermline. Scottish Universities Sports Federation representative Matt McGeehan said: "He is just a good player and we just treat him as one of the guys." He delivered an impressive performance to earn his place on the 13-man squad. He will compete against Welsh and Irish teams at the Celtic nations tournament in Cardiff next month.

Yesterday morning Johanna Vanbelleghem, also known as Jeanne Boydens, from Raversijde, Belgium, died. She was the widow of Georges Boydens. Especially after 1976 she supported Prince Charles of Belgium, who was her neighbour. They visited each other about every day until the prince died in 1983.

March 20th
At 9:15 this morning the Government Information Service announced that Princess Juliana of the Netherlands has died in her sleep this morning at 5:50 at Palace Soestdijk. She was 94 years old and died of the result of pneumonia combined with general weakening. She wsa surrounded by her husband Prince Bernhard, her three eldest daughters Queen Beatrix, Princess Irene and Princess Margriet, and several grandchildren. Princess Christina was in the USA but arrived in the Netherlands at 8:00. The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima, who are on skiing vacation in Austria, are preparing to return to the Netherlands tomorrow. Princess Juliana's personal standard is waving on top of Palace Soestdijk together with a black mourning ribbon. De Telegraaf early this morning already announced that the Princess was seriously ill and that members of the family visited her yesterday. Princess Juliana was Queen of the Netherlands from 1948 to 1980. Memorial Website of the Royal House.

This evening it was announced that the funeral of Princess Juliana of the Netherlands will take place on Tuesday March 30 at 12:30 at the New Church in Delft. She will lie in state at Soestdijk Palace until March 24. There the immeditiate family will be able to say goodbye. On March 24 the coffin, accompanied by her four daughters, will be transfered to Palace Noordeinde in The Hague. There a number of deputations, including Dutch dignitaries, members of the Diplomatic Corps in The Hague and heads of international organisations will be able to pay their respect to the former queen. The public will be able to pay their respect from March 25 to March 28. Court mourning will be observed until the funeral. Until April 11 no member of the royal family will undertake public engagements. According to the wishes of the late Princess the court mourning is short. The wedding of Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands and Mabel Wisse Smit, as well as Queen's Day will go ahead as planned.

Fürst (Prince) Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg was cremated and his ashes were buried privately in at the family mausoleum at the cemetery in Langenburg this morning. A small family gathering followed at Langenburg Castle. Among the people attending were the Prince's widow, his son and daughters, as well as his daughter-in-law and son-in-law, and his nephew Prince Ludwig zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg, the Prince zu Hohenlohe-Oehringen and the Prince zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg. The memorial service on March 27 is followed by a reception at Langenburg Castle and is expected to be attended by many members of the Gotha.

March 21st
Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands gave birth to a baby boy this morning at 00:37 at the Bronovo Hospital in The Hague. The baby's full name will be Claus-Casimir Bernhard Marius Max Count van Oranje-Nassau, Jonkheer van Amsberg. Claus-Casimir weighs 3970 grammes and is 52 cm tall. According to the proud father, Prince Constantijn, he 'is a strong and healthy baby'. The couple has gone through the past days with mixed feelings, but they are at the same time very happy with the birth of their son. Last night Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands, his fiancée Mabel Wisse Smit, as well as Princess Laurentien's parents visited the newborn baby. Claus-Casimir is the third grandchild and first grandson of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The baby at the moment is sixth in line of succession to the Dutch throne. Around noon Princess Laurentien and Prince Constantijn left hospital with their newborn son. Princess Laurentien and Prince Constantijn will stay at Palace Huis ten Bosch. At the end of April the couple will move to Brussels. It was also announced that since March 1 Prince Constantijn works four days a week for RAND Europe in Brussels. One day a week he will stay active as advisor Europe Communication for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Yesterday evening the traditional Rose Ball took place at the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo. This year's theme was imperial China. Prince Albert of Monaco was accompanied by his sister Princess Caroline of Monaco and her husband Prince Ernst August of Hannover. Prince Rainier III recently had health problems and as a precaution he preferred not to attend the Ball. Also Princess Stephanie didn't attend, and was abroad with husband and children.

March 22nd
At 14:00 the Grand Master of the House of Her Majesty the Queen, Mr P.W. Waldeck, had the death of Princess Juliana officially registered in Baarn.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announced the death of her mother in a special edition of the 'Staatscourant' (Gazette of the Netherlands). She says: "With great sadness I give notice that my beloved mother died peacefully this morning. My family and I feel strengthened by the thought that many share this great loss with us. Beatrix."

Around 11:00am on Wednesday March 24 Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and her sisters Princess Irene, Princess Margriet and Princess Christina will accompany their mother's mortal remains from Palace Soestdijk to Palace Noordeinde, where the cortège is expected to arrive around 12:15. After 14:00 official representants will have the opportunity to pay their respect to the former Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. The public can pay their respect from Thursday 25 March to Sunday 28 March from 9:00 to 22:00 via the entrance at the backside of Palace Noordeinde. In the Princess's garden people can sign the condolence register in a special tent. The States General commemorates the former Queen at 12:45 on Wednesday 24 March in a special United Meeting.

The Government Information Service said that Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands is physically unwell and it is uncertain if he will attend the funeral of his wife. He is 'extremely affected' by the death of his wife. The coming days will indicate if the prince's health will allow him to attend the funeral. If not, he might try to attend the interment itself only. His health is not directly related to the death of his wife.

The Prince of Asturias personally requested that the city of Madrid should cancel the celebrations planned for May 17, including a huge fireworks as a wedding gift for him and his fiancée Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, as well as some other festivities. They want that the money is used instead for the construction of the memorial monument for the victims of the bombings in Madrid on March 11.

In May the Prince of Wales is expanding his range of organic products with a haircare line. The line seems to be tested by celebrity hair stylist Daniel Galvin. The Prince's Brand Duchy Originals until now concentrated on food items, but marks a new departure with shampoo and conditioner. Duchy Originals recently also branched into garden furniture that will go on display in April.

March 23rd
The funeral hearse for Princess Juliana of the Netherlands will be the same one as was used at the funeral of Prince Claus of the Netherlands in October 2002. The carriage will be decked in the colours purple and white. According to the Princess's wishes women must wear subdued colours with an accent of white and men must wear a dark suit with a dark tie at the funeral.

The Rev. Welmet Hudig-Semeijns de Vries van Doesburgh will conduct the funeral service of Princess Juliana of the Netherlands. It was the outspoken wish of the late Princess to chose for a kindred spirit female clergywoman. Since 1977 she was a Dutch Reformed clergywoman in Kralingen and a Pastor at the Free Youth Church. Afterwards she was among others a spiritual supporter at a Children's Hospital and a clergywomen at a Remonstrant Brotherhood. She now works as an oncological therapist at two institutes offering psychological help to people with cancer. During several years the Rev. Welmet Hudig-Semeijns de Vries van Doesburgh was conversating with Princess Juliana about theological and spiritual matters.

According to the wish of the late Princess Juliana to have a short period of mourning the wedding of Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands and Mabel Wisse Smit on April 24 will take place as planned. Out of respect for the Princess however - who also was Prince Johan Friso's godmother - the couple has decided to cancel or change the festive activities around their intended marriage. A reception and a dance performance will be postponed. No wedding ball will take place the evening before the wedding. Instead of the ball a diner will be held for the invited people. The civil wedding will take place at 10:30 at the Council Hall of the Town Hall in Delft. The religious wedding will take place in the Old Church in Delft at 11:30.

Leftwing political parties want a discussion in the presidium of the Second Chamber about the length of the mourning period after the death of a member of the Royal House. Because of the death of Princess Juliana of the Netherlands the Chamber has decided to stop all public activities until after the funeral. Members of leftwing political parties think that is too long. "You can also show respect while you are working."

At 16:15 Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands officially gave notice of the birth of his son Count Claus-Casimir Bernhard Marius Max van Oranje-Nassau, Jonkheer van Amsberg at the former Town Hall in The Hague. His father-in-law Minister of Economical Affairs Laurens Jan Brinkhorst and Minister of State Wim Kok acted as witnesses. Prince Constantijn said: "He now is called Claus-Casimir. If he develops more as Claus, he will become Claus. If he develops more as Casimir, he will become Casimir." He says mother and child are doing fine: "He keeps us awake in a proper way, that is the way it is." For photos: Royal Portraits.

Pieter van Vollenhoven, husband of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, has left hospital. He had been at the Universitary Medical Centre in Utrecht since March 16 because of surgery for a hernia. According to the Government Information Service the surgery was harder than expected. Pieter van Vollenhoven hopes to be able to attend the funeral of his mother-in-law Princess Juliana.

Former King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece announced on Greek television this evening that Crown Prince Pavlos and Crown Princess Marie-Chantal expect their fourth child in September.

With 102 to 2 votes the Danish Parliament today decided to grant Mary Donaldson, fiancée of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, the Danish nationality from the day of the wedding. Only two members of a leftwing republican party argued that Mary Donaldson shouldn't be treated different from other immigrants and should have to wait for several years to receive the citizenship. She will give up both her British and her Australian citizenship.

18-year-old Princess Tsuguko, the eldest daughter of the late Prince Takamado, is to study in Great Britain for 14 months starting April 2004, the Imperial Household Agency announced. She will study English while participating in homestay programs in Edinburgh and Oxford. She will take a humanities course at the University of Edinburgh from October 2004 to June 2005.

March 24th
This morning the body of Princess Juliana of the Netherlands was taken from Soestdijk Palace, where she lived for 67 years, to Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, where she was born in 1909. The Princess's three youngest daughters Irene, Margriet and Christina, Pieter van Vollenhoven as well as several grandchildren kept a night vigil over the body of the Princess on Tuesday. Shortly before 11:00 this morning the car with the coffin inside showed up in front of Soestdijk Palace. The coffin had been placed in the car at the back of the Palace where family and staff could say goodbye to Princess Juliana. The four daughters walked down the stairs and stepped into a following car to accompany their mother. A cavalcade of 16 motorbikes of the Military Police as well as cars accompanied the car also. On the steps from the left to the right were saying goodbye: the Prince of Orange, Princess Máxima, Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, Prince Floris, Pieter van Vollenhoven, Mabel Wisse Smit, Prince Carlos de Bourbon de Parme, Prince Johan Friso, Prince Constantijn, Prince Bernhard jr, Princess Carolina de Bourbon de Parme, Princess Annette, Prince Maurits with son Lucas and Princess Marilène with daughter Anna. They all stayed at Palace Soestdijk to keep Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who didn't appear on the steps, company. Hundreds of people lined the streets around Palace Soestdijk. Around 12:30 the car with the coffin, driven by the chauffeur of the Princess accompanied by her gardener, arrived at Palace Noordeinde where thousands of people were waiting. Eight carriers of the Royal Air Force (base Soesterberg) carried the coffin inside the palace. In the early afternoon the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament commemorated the late Princess Juliana. Also ministers and state secretaries were present. Later the politicians departed for Palace Noordeinde to pay their last respects to the former Queen. For photos: Royal Portraits.

Tens of royals attended the state funeral for victims of the Spanish March 11 attacks at the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, the Prince of Asturias and his fiancée Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano and other members of the Spanish royal family attended. From abroad came next to several high politicians, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, the Prince of Wales, Prince Philippe of Belgium, Prince Albert of Monaco, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco, Prince Faisal and Princess Alia Al Faisal of Jordan.

March 25th
Prince Pieter-Christiaan van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven will take part in the guard of honour of the Military Police at the bier of his grandmother Princess Juliana of the Netherlands. He served in the Military Police in the past. Next to the bier of Princess Juliana there is a wreath of Prince Bernhard, her four daughers and Pieter van Vollenhoven. There are also flowers of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. On the cushions in the chapelle ardente are the Grand Cross of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands, the Grand Cross of the Order of the House of Orange, the Cross of Merit of the Netherlands Red Cross, as well as the decorations relating to the Four Freedoms Award which she received in 1982.

Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia married Sibylle Kretschmer at the Registrar's Office in Berlin-Charlottenburg on March 23 only attended by two witnesses. Afterwards the couple had a small dinner at Villa Monbijou in Halensee. It is the groom's third marriage. Only a few weeks ago the Prince divorced his second wife Princess Ehrengard. Sibylle Kretschmer is a 53 years old painter and teaches at Art School.

Elisabeth de Balkany, daughter of Princess Maria Gabriela of Savoy, and her husband Olivier Janssens became the proud parents of a baby girl who was born in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 7. She has been named Gabriella Luisa Maria Asia. She weighed 4000 grammes at birth.

March 26th
According to the newspaper De Telegraaf Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme will attend the funeral of her grandmother Princess Juliana of the Netherlands. She is said to have visited Palace Soestdijk earlier this week to pay her last respects to her grandmother, without her husband Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn. The Government Information Service will not confirm that she will attend the funeral.

More than 10.000 people paid their respects to Princess Juliana of the Netherlands at Palace Noordeinde today. Yesterday already 6500 people said goodbye to the former Queen.

Today's British Court Circular says that "The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester are delighted to announce the engagement of their daughter, The Lady Davina Windsor, to be married to Mr Gary Lewis, son of Mr Larry Lewis and Mrs Vikki Carr." Gary Lewis is a 33-year-old renovator, currently living in New Zealand. The couple met 3 1/2 year ago in Bali. The wedding is to take place at the Chapel at Kensington Palace on July 31. After the wedding the couple will live in Great Britain.

March 27th
At the Stadtkirche in Langenburg a memorial service was held for Fürst Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg who died earlier this month. Among the 600 guests was the Duke of Edinburgh, uncle of the late Fürst, members of the Hohenlohe family, as well as among others of the families Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Hannover, Baden, Bavaria, , Hohenzollern, Schleswig-Holstein, Württemberg, Schaumburg-Lippe, Wied, Waldeck-Pyrmont, Leiningen, Törring-Jettenbach, Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg, Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, Öttingen-Spielberg, Öttingen-Wallerstein, Solms-Laubach, Castell-Castell, and Croy.

March 29th
In the afternoon almost the whole Dutch royal family, except for Pieter van Vollenhoven, Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme, Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, Mabel Wisse Smit, Princess Marilène and Princess Annette van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven, paid a two-hour visit to the New Church in Delft, which is being prepared for the funeral of Princess Juliana tomorrow.

March 30th
Princess Juliana of the Netherlands was buried at the family vault in the New Church in Delft. About 60.000 people lined the route of the procession from The Hague to Delft and the Market Square of Delft. The funeral was attended by Prince Bernhard, husband of the late Princess, their four daughters and 14 grandchildren with partners. As the coffin was taken into the crypt almost at the end of a moving ceremony Princess Juliana regained her official title as queen, a title she relinquished when she abdicated in favour of her daughter Beatrix in 1980. After the funeral 300 people, including the royal guests, were invited for a dejeuner at Palace Noordeinde.

Alexander Hohenzollern, grandson of King Carol II of Romania and a ski pro in the chidren's division at the Buttermilk Ski and Snowboard School in Aspen (currently residing in a second-floor apartment in Twining Flats), was involved in a serious accident on Saturday night. He was hit by a SUV driven by a colleague while crossing Highway 82 during a snowstorm. He was airlifted to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction on Sunday morning. It is said Alexander Hohenzollern will need at least two surgeries to repair his injuries, including two severely broken legs, a cracked pelvis and, possibly, a severed urethra. He might face at least three to four months in a wheelchair once he is discharged from the hospital.

March 31st
A thank you letter was issued by the Dutch royal family today. It says: "The Hague, March 2004; We are all deeply moved by the many warm expressions of sympathy and esteem we have received on the death of my wife, our mother and grandmother. She led a wonderful, but difficult life in turbulent times. The many memories of her reflect the many facets of her personality. From her convictions and love of others, and with determination, warmth,a keen sense of humour and a great love of nature, she fulfilled her destiny as Queen and Mother. Her commitment to people and her sincere interest in everything affecting society have left a lasting impression on all of us. We wish to thank you all most sincerely for your sympathy, and for the many ways in which you have shown it. Signed: Bernhard, Beatrix, Irene, Margriet, Pieter, Christina".

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark is to race his fiancée Mary Donaldson in the harbour of Copenhagen on May 9. Crown Prince Frederik will sail together with Danish Olympic and former world champion Jesper Bank, while Mary Donaldson's skipper will be Australian yachtsman John Bertrand.

  • Princess Juliana of the Netherlands 1909-2004.


    Royal News: February 2004. Last updated: March 1st, 2004.