ROYAL NEWS: OCTOBER 2003

Last updated: October 31st, 2003.

October 1st
Count Alois von Waldburg-Zeil-Hohenems married Antonella Rossi di Montelera in Pianezza near Turin, Italy, on September 27th. Count Alois was married previously to Countess Maria Christina Deym von Stritetz, who died in a car-accident in May 2000 together with their youngest son Ludwig. At the wedding ceremony the Maria-Thanner Musikkapelle played. On the wish of the bride they had especially come from Germany. The ceremony was conducted in Italian and German. A party was celebrated at Villa Lidia, the residence of the Rossi di Montelera family. The couple will live in Paris.

October 2nd
The Royal Palace in Nepal announced that Princess Dilasha, daughter of Prince Dhirendra and Princess Prekshaya of Nepal, will marry Adarsha Rana on December 8th and 9th, 2003.

October 3rd
In yesterdays television broadcast of the programme of crime journalist Peter R. de Vries Charlie da Silva, former bodyguard of the late top-criminal Klaas Bruinsma, said that Mabel Wisse Smit, fiancée of Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands, knew Klaas Bruinsma pretty well, that he was crazy about her and that she was the only woman that was allowed on board of his ship, the Neeltje Jacoba. He also says she was around until Mr Bruinsma was killed in Amsterdam on June 27, 1991. In a statement, answering questions of Peter Rr de Vries, Mabel Wisse Smit says she met Mr Bruinsma in 1989 and was befriended with him for a few months before breaking contact with him. She admits she has slept on the boat three to four times together with other people, but that she didn't have a love affair with Mr Bruinsma. She says she doesn't know Charlie da Silva. The Government Information Service confirmed that Mabel personally answered the questions of Peter R. de Vries by letter. Also Bruinsma's former bookkeeper, Ed S., says he is almost certain Mr Bruinsma had intimate contact with Mabel Wisse Smit, but admits he never personally witnessed the love affair.

October 4th
Days before their engagement Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson attended the wedding of one of the Crown Prince's friends, Jørgen Skeel and Marie Louise Toft at Tikøb church.

October 5th
Earl and Countess Spencer announced the birth of their son Edmund Charles this morning at 1:28am in a London Hospital. Mother and child are doing well. Earl Spencer is the brother of the late Diana Princess of Wales. He married Caroline Freud, who has two sons from a previous marriage, in December 2001. He already has three daughters and a son from his previous marriage to Victoria Lockwood.

Frances Shand Kydd, mother of the late Diana Princess of Wales, has revealed last night that she is suffering from an incurable muscle-wasting disease. She has known it already for three years. She said the condition has led to unfair accusations of drunkenness. The disease has reduced her mobility and affects her speech. She also spoke about her continuing bitterness towards the British Royal Family and former butler Paul Burrell.

October 6th
Geurt Roos, another former bodyguard of the late top-criminial Klaas Bruinsma, has stated that Charlie da Silva exaggerated about the supposed love affair between Mr Bruinsma and Mabel Wisse Smit he told on the radio on Saturday. He says Da Silva is known for his 'big fantasy'. He also told to know Mabel Wisse Smit only vaguely. He said that "numerous girls and ladies payed a part in the life of Bruinsma. Those girlfriends were always kept far from business." Roos told that it was very likely that Mabel was 'naive' and did not know that Bruinsma was involved in criminal affairs. "Klaas loved being in the spotlights, but he could be very invisible too. Mabel was still very young. She was a child. Klaas was an experienced lion." Mr Roos also said that bodyguards were not always visibly armed on the Neeltje Jacoba." Today professional skipper and former skipper of a race yacht sponsored by Bruinsma, Jochem Visser told the newspaper De Volkskrant that "If there had been a relationship between Mabel and Bruinsma, I would have known. We were very close in that time. Klaas surely would have told me." He knows Mabel Wisse Smit from that time: "Sometimes some boys slept on board of the Neeltje Jacoba. Mabel was there a few times because of one of those boys." He further said: "At the time Klaas had a relationship with another lady, also one from high society. That was his girlfriend, who stayed with him until his death. Probably Mabel is mixed up with that lady." He says not to know any Charlie da Silva. Via his lawyer also Etienne Urka, according to justice the successor of Bruinsma, lets know that there absolutely was no talk of a love affair between Wisse Smit and Bruinsma. It should have been a superficial contact.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands wants a further inquiry into Mabel Wisse Smit, fiancée of Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands, after all, after new revelations about the supposed relationship between Mabel Wisse Smit and the late top-criminal Klaas Bruinsma. The Dutch political parties wait for a letter of Balkenende about the affair, and that could take a few weeks.

October 7th
36-year-old Ottolien Lels today claimed in De Volkskrant that she had a sexual relationship with the late top-criminal Klaas Bruinsma and not her friend Mabel Wisse Smit, fiancée of Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands. Miss Lels said she decided to come forward because Mabel was wrongly accused. "It is my personal conviction that in this affair only the truth will help to make just what is unjust. That is the reason why I have decided to give this statement," she said. She says she was the woman who had an affair with Mr Bruinsma until his death and that she was the one meant by Jochem Visser last Monday. She confirms the stories told over the past days, and says also she can't remember Charlie da Silva. She said that at that time she worked for a company that organised sailing events. She says the relationship is part of a painful past and she preferred not to remember and asked the media to respect her privacy. "All facts about the relation between Klaas Bruinsma and myself, and how much I knew of his activities, are to be found at the police of Amsterdam. At the time I contacted them. Possibly I am to be found in the archives of the IRT-investigation to Klaas Bruinsma," Miss Lels stated. The Amsterdam Police refused to comment on this and directed to the Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst (RVD - Government Information Service), who says not to be aware of anything at all. The relationship between Ottolien Lels and Klaas Bruinsma has been confirmed by competition yachtsman Jan Deelen and by pharmaceutic sales manager Hans Eekhof.

Today's Münchener Abendzeitung (German newspaper) revealed that Duke Franz of Bavaria has announced the engagement of his niece Duchess Elizabeth in Bavaria, daughter of Duke Max Emanuel and Duchess Elizabeth in Bavaria, to Mr Daniel Terberger. The wedding will take place next year at Tegernsee.

Prince Norodom Narindrapong, a 49-year-old son of King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia died of an heart attack at his apartment in the Avenue Boutroux in Paris this morning.

October 8th
Today the engagement of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Australian Mary Donaldson was announced officially. The wedding will take place at the Vor Frue Kirke (Dom Church) in Copenhagen on Friday, May 14, 2003.

October 9th
An open letter of several international diplomats and politicians was published in De Volkskrant today. It was signed by Mort Abramovitz (Staff member Century Foundation, former American ambassador in Turkey), Emma Bonino (Member European Parliament, former European Commissionary), Gianfranco Dell'Alba (Member European Parliament, secretary general 'No Peace Without Justice'), Garreth Evans (President International Crisis Group, former foreign minister of Australia), Bernard Kouchner (Former minister and former special UN envoy for Kosovo, professor CNAR in Paris), Mark Malloch Brown (Staff member UN Development Fund), Aryeh Neier, (President Open Society Institute), Albert Rohan (Ambassador, former secretary general Foreign Ministry of Austria), William Shawcross (Daily management International Crisis Group), Laura Silber (Author of 'Death of Yugoslavia', political counsellor Open Society Institute) and George Soros (President and founder Open Society Institute). In the letter they defend Mabel Wisse Smit, fiancée of Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands, against media reports about her relationship with the late top-criminal Klaas Bruinsma. "It is shocking that a person who has done so much for human rights in the world should be treated so badly in her own country because of a dubious accusation about an issue dating back 15 years, when she was in her early 20s. As friends and colleagues, we support her totally," they say in the letter.

This evening in the tv-programme Oog in Oog Willemijn Verloop, friend of Mabel Wisse Smit and founder of Warchild Nederland, among others said that it wasn't Mabel's own choice not to come out with the facts immediately in the question of the late Klaas Bruinsma. "I think Mabel has been advised to react in a certain way and that that advice hasn't been very lucky." She herself has been a friend of Mabel since 1994. At the same time, on another tv-channel, crime journalist Peter R. de Vries and former bodyguard Charlie da Silva tried to overthrow statements by other people last week as a reaction to Da Silva's earlier revelations about Mabel and Klaas Bruinsma.

Crown Prince Pavlos of Grece was part of the 23-men strong crew on board of the Mari Cha IV of his father-in-law Robert Miller, who sailed his 140ft yacht across the Atlantic Ocean in six days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds. With that they smashed the former west to east transatlantic monohull speed record of 8 days, 20 hours, 55 minutes and 35 seconds that was set in February 2001. Mr Miller and his crew already beat the 24 hour distance record on Tuesday sailing 525,5 nautical miles in a 24 hour period, becoming the first monohull to ever sail over 500 miles in a day. They started the race at 17:39:41 on October 2nd from the Ambrose Lighthouse just off New York and made history when sailing past Lizard Point off the south west coast of England at 11:32:20 this morning: a trip of 2925 miles. Thereafter they arrived in Falmouth, Cornwall, where they were greeted by friends and family, among others King Constantine of Greece, Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and Prince Nikolaos of Greece. "Once this achievement has sunk in, we will begin planning further record attempts, including a possible attempt to become the first monohull to sail around the world in under 80 days," Robert Miller said.

Yesterday evening Omroep Brabant Televisie (local tv-channel of the province of Noord-Brabant) accidentally announced the death of Princess Juliana of the Netherlands. At 11pm viewers saw a text on their screen telling that 'because of the death of Princess Juliana' the broadcasting would be adapted. The broadcast company said to regret the technical mistake. Editor-in-chief Jan Kriek has offered his apoligies to the Royal House.

In an interview in Bungei Shunju magazine Prince Tomohito Mikasa, a cousin of Emperor Akihito of Japan and fifth in line to the throne, talks about the imperial family and the Japanese national character. The Prince says that the Emperor gives the people a sense of security and he is at the root of the Japanese spirit. He says that terms like 'open imperial family' do not fit in with the Emperor's original status as a symbol. The 'quiet imperial family' is a unique form that the Japanese people have created over a long period of time. Prince Tomohito Mikasa says that in more than 2660 years there have been hardly any instances in which the imperial family has acted on its own initiative. The Japanese Imperial family have never adopted an active stance and has always functioned by passively accepting the wishes and requests of the people.

October 10th
After conversations with Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands and his fiancée Mabel Wisse Smit the Dutch government has decided not to introduce a bill to obtain consent for their marriage at the States General. This means that Prince Johan Friso will loose his rights of succession to the Dutch throne when he marries Mabel Wisse Smit. The wedding still will take place on April 24, 2004. See: The letter of Prime Minister Balkenende to the Second Chamber and The letter of Prince Johan Friso to Prime Minister Balkenende.

October 14th
Gallups Tv-meter of last week says 1.110.000 Danes watched the engagement of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson on TV2. However it was not the best watched programme of the week. The engagement was beaten by the programmes 'Nikolaj og Julie' and 'Hammerslag'.

The Royal Palace in Oslo demands an official apology from the magazine Se og Hør after an article stating that Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and her husband Ari Behn took out a large loan to buy their dream house. The magazine last week wrote that the Princess took up a 6 million Norwegian crowns ($ 875.000) loan to purchase a house in Lommedalen and was a victim of debt. The royal court issued a statement that this was not the case. The Royal Palace has now written a letter to the magazine where it demands that the magazine retracts its statement. "We decided to send this letter because we believe this is a matter of principle,” said Wenche Rasch, head of information at the Palace. In the letter the royal court refers to the ethical guidelines made by and for the Norwegian press. Trond Stensåsen, editor of Se og Hør, said that the magazine will apologize for stating that the princess was a victim of debt, but insists that the princess took out a loan.

Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands has left for a couple of days to an unknown destiny. Most likely she travelled to her house in Tavernelle, Italy.

According to the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper Mabel Wisse Smit hasn't only slept on top-criminal Klaas Bruinsma's boat, but also often stayed with him at the Amstel Hotel, while unknown sources also claim that Mabel was with him at other expensive hotels.

October 15th
Today the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Per Stig Møller, has handed over to the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Denmark a letter from Queen Margrethe II of Denmark to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. The letter is in answer to an earlier letter to the Queen from the President, who has raised the question of a possible transfer of the mortal remains of Empress-Dowager Maria Feodorovna of Russia, on her own wish, from Roskilde Cathedral to the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, so she can be buried next to her husband Czar Alexander III of Russia. Also members of the Romanov family have asked Queen Margrethe II about a reburial. Queen Margrethe II has written she will not stand in the way of the fulfilment of the wish of the Empress-Dowager, but also points to the necessity in such case of assuring that the transfer and reburial be conducted in a dignified and respectful manner. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has also written a letter to the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Mr. Igor Ivanov. The letter sets out a number of specific considerations which will have to be taken into account to ensure that the reburial be conducted in peace and with dignity. Only when these deliberations have been finalized, will the Danish side be able to definitively assess whether a transfer of the mortal remains of the Empress-Dowager is appropriate, and seek Queen Margrethe II's final approval of the reburial. The intention would be a reburial on September 26, 2004. This date marks the anniversary of the arrival of Princess Dagmar of Denmark to Russia on September 26, 1866, in order to marry the then Russian heir apparent Alexander.

The Government Information Service said yesterday that Princess Máxima of the Netherlands needs full rest and only leaves her house for the regular check-ups at hospital. She is in the 30th week of her pregnancy. After Prinsjesdag her doctors told her to cancel all her engagements. The Prince of Orange said that there was no reason to worry, but that his wife had been too busy before.

October 17th
The Royal Palace announced that Crown Princess Himani Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah of Nepal has given birth to her third child and second daughter on Thursday evening at 20:33 inside the Naraynhiti Royal Palace, where doctors performed a Caesarean section. The baby weighs 2850 grammes. Both mother and child are in good health. King Gyanendra has conferred the title of Her Royal Highness the Princess Yubarajkumari on the newborn. The Crown Princess and her husband Crown Prince Paras Bir Bikram Shah Dev already have a 4-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son.

Delphine Boël, said to be the illegitimate daughter of King Albert II of the Belgians and Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps, today gave birth (by Caesarean section) to a daughter, Joséphine, at the Edith Cavell Hospital in Uccle, Belgium. Mother and daughter are doing fine. Delphine and her partner American James O'Hare met five years ago at a summer course at Oxford University. They live and work in London, but Delphine returned to Belgium for the birth of her first child. Delphine's mother was the first visitor.

October 18th
Prince Harry of Wales took a break from his cattle ranch duties to watch the rugby World Cup match between England and South Africa in Perth.

October 20th
Former royal butler Paul Burrell released a letter of Diana Princess of Wales to the Daily Mirror newspaper in the hope that it would lead to a British inquest and a "thorough investigation of the facts by the British authorities". Ten months before her death Princess Diana wrote Mr Burrell: "This particular phase in my life is the most (the word most is underlined) dangerous. (Word blacked out by the Daily Mirror) is planning 'an accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry." In the letter, Princess Diana went on to write about how she had been "battered, bruised and abused mentally by a system for 15 years now" but that she felt no resentment or hatred. She said she had "cried more than anyone will ever know" but that her "inner strength" never let her down and she would "never surrender". The letter will fuel conspiracy theorists who refuse to accept the official version of the circumstances surrounding her death, reports the Mirror. Mr Burrell, who has a book out, told the newspaper: "With the benefit of hindsight, the content of that letter has bothered me since her death."

The AIVD (General Information and Security Service) didn't have the legal possibilities to check the past of Mabel Wisse Smit extensively. Therefore they can't be held responsible for not having found out the whole truth about her relationship with top-criminal Klaas Bruinsma. That is what Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Interior Minister John Remkes have answered after questions from the Second Chamber. The Prime Minister says the AIVD-inquiry was 'adequate and in time' and says that such inquiries are restricted by privacy laws. An extensive inquiry is only possible when national safety or the democratic legal system is at issue.

October 21st
There will be no public inquiry into the death of Princess Diana, insists the Prime Minister's official spokesman. "As everybody knows, there has been an exhaustive investigation by the French authorities into the circumstances surrounding Diana's death," the spokesman said. "There would be nothing to be gained from repeating that here. But clearly there will be a routine coroner's inquest in Britain once the French legal processes are completed." Mohammed al Fayed claims a letter from Diana predicting her death proves there should be an official inquest into the Paris car crash that killed Diana Princess of Wales and his son Dodi.

October 22nd
On RTL-news yesterday evening it was said that Mabel Wisse Smit was allegedly familiar with the contents of her AIVD dossier before her meeting with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende in June. Sources claim that Mabel Wisse Smit only told him what was already in the dossier. Meanwhile Mabel Wisse Smit is also being investigated on suspicion of lobbying on behalf of Egyptian arms dealers in the 1990s. It also appears she had much broader contacts with Bosnian political leaders than only Mohammed Sacirbey. Today the Prime Minister, Interior Minister and the Commission for Intelligence and Security Services will have a private meeting. Parliamentary leaders of the large parties will be informed about secret and personal information. Only Pvda leader Wouter Bos refused to attend the meeting as he says he doesn't want secret information about the affair scandal that he could not publicly use in Parliament. 'Mabelgate' will be debated in Parliament on Thursday, but the debate will be restricted to the answers that the Prime Minister and the Interior Minister gave to members of parliament on Monday night.

Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxemburg have paid a visit to Denmark over the past days. They arrived in Copenhagen on Monday and were greeted at the airport by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Prince Henrik, Crown Prince Frederik, Princess Alexandra and Princess Benedikte. Afterwards a lunch at Fredensborg Castle followed. While the Grand Duke visited a company, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa visited art at the Louisiana Museum. Thereafter a visit to Frederiksborg Castle took place. The gala dinner at Fredensborg Castle was also attended by Mary Donaldson, fiancée of Crown Prince Frederik. It was her first official engagement. Yesterday the Grand Ducal couple visited the university of Aalborg and an art museum. The Grand Duchess also visited a kindergarten. In the evening a concert was given in Copenhagen by the Luxemburger Philharminische Orchester led by Emmanuel Krivine. This morning the Grand Duke visited the Danish Parliament, while the Grand Duchess visited the porcelain-factory Royal Copenhagen. The official visit ended with a reception at the townhall of Copenhagen. However afterwards the Grand Ducal couple, accompanied by Queen Margrethe II, visited the Queen's exhibition in Odense.

Earl Spencer says on NBC television he has never seen anything to suggest the crash in which his sister Diana Princess of Wales died was anything but an accident. Extracts from the book of former royal butler Paul Burrell, published in the Daily Mirror newspaper, also include a letter to Diana from her brother, expressing concern for her mental health. "I pray you're getting treatment for your mental problems," Earl Spencer allegedly wrote. "I know how manipulation and deceit are parts of the illness." Earl Spencer told he was angry the letter was published and said: "Well first of all it is obviously private correspondence which has been taken out of context and out of time. I suppose all the loving letters I sent don't have the sell-ability that this one, which was trying to help her, a genuine attempt to help her, when she was at her most complex." At the apparent request of the Duke of Edinburgh, Palace lawyers Farrer & Co are scrutinising extracts of the book, which is published on Monday. Publisher Penguin said the Palace requested an advance copy of the book on Tuesday following stories in the Daily Mirror quoting letters to Diana from the Duke of Edinburgh. Joanna Prior, at Penguin, said only extracts of the book were handed to the Palace to protect commercial agreements, including serialisation rights, ahead of publication.

In the French newspaper Le Figaro of today the engagement of Princess Hélène of Montenegro with Alexandre Morin de la Fosse, son of Paul-Edouard Morin-Bargeton and Yvonne de Lesquen du Plessis Casso was announced. The engagement took place in Versailles on October 18.

October 23rd
The Dutch Cabinet has survived the Mabel Wisse Smit debate in the Dutch Parliament today. The Second Chamber supports the Cabinet in the affair. Most political parties are satisfied about the way Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has settled the affair. Leader of the Socialist party PVDA, Wouter Bos, has the impression that the painful public condemnation of Mabel Wisse Smit could have been avoided if there had been an earlier decision for a deeper inquiry. LPF-leader Matt Herben wants a fundamental discussion about the future of the monarchy. The left parties agree that Balkenende and Interior Minister Remkes have played 'ping pong' with their responsibilities. Because of that they say it is not clear anymore who was responsible for what.

On the day of the final split between the Prince of Wales and his wife Princess Diana, August 28, 1996, she wrote that she never wanted a divorce. In a handwritten note to her then butler Paul Burrell, she was reported to have said: "I never wanted a divorce and always dreamed of a happy marriage with loving support from Charles." and "A part of me will always love Charles." She also said she wished the Prince of Wales had "looked after me and been proud of my work", that she wanted to become his "best friend" and that she knew better than anyone "what makes him tick". But she went on to write: "It has been a turbulent 15 years having to face the envy, jealousy and hatred from the Prince's friends and family. "They have so misunderstood me. It has brought enormous heartache."

October 24th
Three photographers - Jacques Langevin of the Sygma/Corbis agency, Christian Martinez of the Angelis agency and freelancer Eric Chassery - have defended themselves against charges of invasion of privacy for taking pictures of Dodi Al Fayed at the scene of the crash that killed Diana Princess of Wales in 1997. The court case follows a complaint filed by Mohamed Al Fayed and comes after the photographers were cleared of manslaughter charges in 2002 in relation to the high-speed crash. They face one year in prison and fines if convicted. A judge dismissed the case against five other photographers present at the crash scene. Photos taken at the site were confiscated and never published. A verdict is expected to be set for a later date.

In an interview to ABC 20/20 former royal butler Paul Burrell has claimed Diana Princess of Wales was in love with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan and not Dodi Fayed at the time of her death. "I spoke to her the day before she died," Burrell says. "I know that the Princess would never marry Dodi. He may have wanted to, but he wasn't the one." Mr Burrell said Diana and the surgeon were "two very like-minded people, two people who wanted to go out into the world and help others, two humanitarians". He said Khan eventually broke off their relationship. "I think there were too many complications on both sides," he said in the interview. In his new book, Mr Burrell also claimed the Duke of Edinburgh wrote to Diana telling her he and the Queen disapproved of the Prince of Wales's affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. It was reported the Duke told Diana: "I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind leaving you for Camilla."

Prince William and Prince Harry of Wales have attacked former royal butler Paul Burrell for his "cold and overt betrayal" of their mother Diana Princess of Wales. In the statement released by Clarence House Prince William, also speaking on behalf of his younger brother Prince Harry, says: "We cannot believe that Paul, who was entrusted with so much, could abuse his position in such a cold and overt betrayal. It is not only deeply painful for the two of us but also for everyone else affected and it would mortify our mother if she were alive today and, if we might say so, we feel we are more able to speak for our mother than Paul. We ask Paul please to bring these revelations to an end." According to a spokeswoman "It's telling Paul Burrell that they've had enough." She added William and Harry would also be prepared to meet Mr Burrell to discuss the matter. In a reaction Paul Burrell said: "I am saddened at the statement issued on behalf of Prince William and Prince Harry. Saddened because I know that this book is nothing more than a tribute to their mother. I am convinced that when the Princes, and everyone else, reads this book in its entirety they will think differently. My only intention in writing this book was to defend the Princess and stand in her corner. I have been greatly encouraged by calls of support from some of the Princess's closest friends within the past 48 hours. I would also like to point out that, following the collapse of my trial at the Old Bailey last year, no one from the Royal Family contacted me or said sorry for the unnecessary ordeal myself, my wife and my sons were put through. Neither do I say sorry for writing this book, of which I am extremely proud and I am convinced the Princess would be proud of too. I have told the truth where the British public should know the truth." Asked whether he would be prepared to meet Princes William and Harry, he said: "That is what I've always wanted to do."

October 25th
Prince Gabriel Baudouin Charles Marie of Belgium was baptised in a private ceremony at the chapel of Ciergnon Castle today, on the 2nd birthday of his sister Princess Elisabeth. The christening ceremony was led by Cardinal Godfried Danneels. His godparents were Count Charles-Henri d'Udekem d'Acoz and Baroness Maria Christina von Freyberg. The whole Belgian royal family attended the ceremony. Among the guests were also Grand Duke Henri, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte of Luxemburg. Photos.

A mummy, thought to be that of Pharaoh Ramses I, has been returned to Egypt as a gift from the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, USA. Now the mummy is temporarily put on display at the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo. Mr Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities, said: 'This... is a message to other people all over the world that they should do the same. If you have a masterpiece in a museum outside Egypt, I think this masterpiece should come home...' The Atlanta Museum's artefacts originally came from the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I, son of Ramses I. They acquired the mummy in 1999 as part of a collection that reached North America in the 19th century after Egyptian tomb robbers sold it to a collector. An examination by the museum indicated that the mummy was '95 %' Ramses I. Mr Hawass escorted the mummy back from Atlanta to Egypt after the Carlos Museum offered to transfer ownership back to Cairo. 'We are 100 % sure that the mummy... is a royal mummy, because of the way it was embalmed' and because its arms are folded across the chest', he said. 'We are not sure that it is Ramses I. But what makes us think it is, is that his face looks like Seti I, his son.' "We are the sons of the Nile. Welcome Ramses, the builder of esteemed Egypt," sang a chorus of schoolchildren around the case draped in the national flag in the entrance hall of the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo. A band played triumphant military tunes as Mr Hawass opened the case containing the mummy in the ceremony. The mummy will be displayed next year at the Luxor Museum in southern Egypt.

October 26th
The naming ceremony of Princess Yuvarajkumari was held in accordance with the Hindu Vedic tradition at the Narayanhity Royal Palace in Kathmandu today. She was named Kritika Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah.

In an interview with the Sunday Times former royal butler Paul Burrell has claimed Buckingham Palace courtiers have poisoned the 'little minds' of Princes William and Harry of Wales. He also claims the letters, allegedly to and from Diana and serialised in the Daily Mirror this week, are just the "tip of the iceberg". More will come out if Diana's name continues to be besmirched, he said. Describing himself as "the keeper of these secrets", Mr Burrell told the newspaper: "I know where the boundary is and I do not cross that line. Anything I reveal is to illustrate a fact. Other books have been rather sad betrayals." The ex-butler, whose book is published on Monday, also says he fears "dark forces" are still monitoring him.

October 27th
The Government Information Service today said that Princess Máxima of the Netherlands is doing fine, as well as her unborn child, doctors told her after a regular pregnancy check-up. The rest she had to take since September is working well. It wasn't necessary to rest in hospital and she also didn't have to take medicines. It was also announced that the doctors expect that the birth of the baby will take place before the new year instead of in January.

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway have begun a week-long tour of Russia today with a visit to St Petersburg. This week they will explore the Norwegian-Russian cultural exhibitions in St Petersburg and meet with business delegates to help bridge economic interests in the two countries. Later this week they will also visit Moscow and visit an expanding Norwegian-Russian college founded in 1994. Crown Prince Haakon will also pay a visit to Murmansk alone, while Crown Princess Mette-Marit will have a lighter schedule due to her pregnancy.

In an interview with BBC former royal butler Paul Burrell says he would never have written it had he received a call from the Royal Family after the collapse of his theft trial at the Old Bailey last year. He has denied the book is his revenge, but admits it would have been "a very different world" had he received a phone call from the princes. He also says he was angry with the princes but claimed they were being used as "emotional cannons" by the "grey men in suits" at the Palace. "Why listen to people who always say yes and no-one tells you no? I'd love to give them a piece of my mind," he said. But he also said it was time for the princes to "grow up" and stressed they were just children when their mother was alive while he "lived in an adult world with the Princess".

A Buckingham Palace spokesman, responding to questions about the new book of former royal butler Paul Burrell, has said "The Queen's conversations with her family are a private matter. But the Queen fully supports Prince William at this time." Buckingham Palace says she will also support his decision if he decides to go ahead with a face-to-face meeting with the former royal butler. As copies of Mr Burrell's book, A Royal Duty, went on sale today, lawyers for the Royal Family are scrutinising its 396 pages. It is almost certain that no legal action will be taken as he has avoided any breach of copyright by quoting from private letters rather than reproducing them in full.

Local elections in Bulgaria show the support for the National Simeon II Movement has dropped dramatically. The Socialist Party (former communists) took a clear victory and also the United Democratic Forces were clearly more popular than the party of Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski. The turnout was under 40%. In the parliamentary elections two years ago the party of former King Simeon of Bulgaria had been the clear winner. Recent surveys show that almost three quarters of the population feel his government has failed. The results are widely seen as an indication of how Bulgarians will vote in the general election in 2005.

Queen Elizabeth II has unveiled the first public statue of herself in Great Britain at the highest point of Queen Anne's Ride in Windsor Great Park, Berkshire. The statue shows the Queen on horseback at one-and-a-half times life size. It was made by sculptor Philip Jackson and commissioned by the Crown Estate to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. The last British monarch to have statues dedicated to her in Great Britain during her lifetime was Queen Victoria.

October 28th
Last week Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme and her husband Edwin de Roy van Zuydewijn's lawyers have summoned Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands to testify in preliminary hearings early next year in their case against the State of the Netherlands and the Dutch Royal Family. Also a testimony from Margarita's father the Duke of Parma is requested, as well as from the AIVD chief, the director of the Queen's Cabinet and royal tv-presenter Maartje van Weegen who allegedly spread incorrect information about the couple. The couple claims the Dutch State violated their privacy and they have accused the royal family of conducting a smear campaign that damaged Edwin's business interests. The couple claim the royal family opposed their relationship and lawyer Britta Bohler said her clients wanted the truth to come out. The couple hopes the testimony will determine who was responsible for the investigation.

Arrangements are being made for Prince William of Wales to meet privately former royal butler Paul Burrell to discuss revelations in Mr Burrell's book about the late Diana Princess of Wales. A spokeswoman for Clarence House confirmed: "William has said that he is prepared to meet him and we will be proceeding on that basis." It wasn't said when or where the meeting might take place. Mr Burrell says he welcomes a chance to meet with the royal family.

The legal struggle about the inheritance of Empress Soraya of Persia will be continued in Köln (Cologne), Germany. Last week documents about the obduction and the toxological report arrived from Paris and now it should become clear if the disputed will of Empress Soraya's brother Bijan Esfandiary is legal. Bijan Esfandiary was Empress Soraya's only heir. However he died one week after his sister in 2001. About 19 parties fight for the inheritance of about 22 million Euros. Only hours before he died Bijan Esfandiary is said to have changed his will to leave all his money to his private secretary. It is disputed if the will is a false one and if Bijan Esfandiary still was able to know what he was doing.

October 30th
1/3 of the Dutch, according to a poll by TNS Nipo for the tv-programme Twee Vandaag, think that Queen Beatrix should get a ceremonial function only. Half of the Dutch think the present situation is fine. 32% of the people say that their trust in the Royal House has become less after the affairs in the past two years.

In a telephone interview with a Dutch tv-channel Mohammed Sacirbey, former minister and former UN-ambassador of Bosnia and ex-boyfriend of Mabel Wisse Smit, has said that Mabel didn't have anything to do with smuggling weapons in the 1990s. He says however that she, because of the organisations she worked for, was involved in a strong lobby for the right on selfdefence of Bosnia. He says he met Mabel in 1993 and that their relationship was not a secret. Together they fought for Bosnian muslims. Sacirbey is in an American prison since March 2003. The Bosnian government suspects him of having embezzled 550.000 Euros.

October 31st
Yesterday Culture Minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon of France has unveiled a 390 million Euros renovation plan for the Versailles Palace which will bring back its origins and improve the site for its 10.000.000 visitors a year. "The aim, through this vast programme, is to give Versailles back its lustre," Mr Aillagon said. Work will begin later this year and go on to 2020 in three stages. When completed the palace will have fewer but better entrances for visitors. The gardens, that were destroyed in a 1999 storm, will be replanted. The first stage which will be finished in 2009 will enhance safety, the roof will be entirely redone and window frames and the heating system will be replaced. Offices will be moved out of the central building to the Grand Commun - a building that originally held the court's staff - and will be replaced by two main entrances, free toilets, shops and a large restaurant. The royal courtyard at the centre of the chateau will be restored to its original splendour with a replica of its former gate, destroyed in 1793, and new paving stones. A research centre on life at the Sun King's court will also be created at the Grand Commun. Also the main building's facades will be restored, a staircase in the north wing will be rebuild and the backstage equipment in the Opera Royal will be renovated.

Paul Smith, a 17-year-old schoolboy recruited via Internet by a Scottish anti-English group, was sentenced yesterday for three years after posting about 40 letters claiming they containing poison to among others Prince William of Wales.

Mohammed Al Fayed has taken his bid for a public inquiry into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and his son Dodi one stage further. His court application for an inquiry was given the go-ahead after judge Lord Drummond Young turned down a bid by Scottish law officers for a lengthy postponement. The application will begin at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on December 15, 2003. Al Fayed said: "In recent days the public have made it clear that they want answers to the questions which will still surround the death of my son and Princess Diana. It is more than six years since the crash and it is now vital that these matters are considered quickly. I welcome the judge's decision to hear this case in December."


Royal News: September 2003. Last updated: October 12th, 2003.