Usually the summer isn't really the time that lots of royal news appears, but this year it at least started different. In the second half of June the Netherlands enjoyed the announcement of the first baby of the Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima, and we had hardly recovered when on June 30 the engagement of the Prince's younger brother Prince Johan Friso with Mabel Wisse Smit was announced. Not that the engagement was a big surprise. Friso's fiancée had already become a very likely candidate after she had followed the royal family into the family vault at the funeral of Prince Claus last October. It was obvious the intelligent Mabel Wisse Smit was already accepted by the family quite some time ago. Halfway July the Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima finally moved into their new home, Villa De Eikenhorst at the Horsten estate in Wassenaar near The Hague. The press is very upset about the new regulations made by the municipality council of Wassenaar - on request of the princely couple - that noone is allowed to photograph around the estate, even from the public road. They find that really goes too far.
It was Norway that was in the spotlight early in July. On July 2nd the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late King Olav V was commemorated. On the same day also Princess Märtha Louise's daughter Maud Angelica Behn, born last April, was christened in the chapel of the Royal Palace in Oslo. Only two days later, on the 66th birthday of Queen Sonja, her son Crown Prince Haakon and his wife Mette-Marit announced they will have a baby that is due to be born around January 22, 2004. On July 20th Crown Prince Haakon celebrated his 30th birthday quietly with his family and some friends.
France isn't a monarchy anymore, but the still unexpected death of the 92-year-old Countess of Paris didn't stay unnoticed in the country. The mother of the present pretender to the French royal throne, the Count of Paris, died on July 5th after having spent some days in hospital in Paris. The funeral on July 11th at the royal chapel in Dreux was attended by hundreds of royals. Another old royal, Prince Carl Bernadotte, died on June 27 in Malaga, Spain. He was the last surviving grandchild of King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway. His funeral on July 10th was much more private although it was attended by the whole Norwegian royal family, the King and Queen of Sweden and Queen Paola of Belgium.
On June 10th one of Europe's most handsome princes, Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, announced his engagement to French actress Clotilde Courau. The next day the surprise became complete when it became known that his fiancée already expects their first child for the end of the year. A wedding is likely to take place late in the summer or early autumn in Italy. The engagement wasn't exactly cheered by Italian monarchists.
The Danish court unfortunately announced that Prince Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, husband of Princess Benedikte, has been treated for skin cancer and cancer of the groin and will have to undergo chemotherapy. Happier news came from Benedikte's sister Queen Anne-Marie of Greece who with husband and children spent some time in Greece, where on July 19 the christening of their fifth grandchild, Anna-Maria, daughter of Princess Alexia, took place. But unfortunately King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie also noticed not everybody likes it that they stay in Greece, as they were loudly booed by people in the audience when they attended a theatre performance one day before the christening.
The biggest celebration of the month took place in Belgium where King Albert II of the Belgians had decided to let the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of his accession to the throne coincide with National Day. On Sunday July 20th the day started with a classical concert, then a parade in the afternoon and in the late afternoon a garden party at Laeken Castle attended by 880 citizens including some 10-year-old children. In the evening a traditional concert took place as well as a huge public ball in Brussels. On Monday July 21st, the actual National Day, members of the royal family attended traditional Te Deum celebrations in several churches and cathedrals all over Belgium. The traditional military parade drew already a huge crowd to Brussels, but the highlight of the day was an open-air concert in the evening starring many famous Belgian artists. At the end the King and Queen climbed the stage during which Queen Paola even publicly hugged her husband. The spectacular fireworks displayed in the centre of Brussels afterwards was attended by some 100.000 spectators.
Let's hope that August will be more quiet, as I would love to enjoy my vacation without hearing all kind of important royal news about which I would love to write.