On 9 January, the 31st birthday of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, it was announced from Buckingham Palace that the Queen had issued Letters Patent on 31 December 2012, extending the number of members of the royal family entitled to the style of Royal Highness and the prefix Prince or Princess. This change is very specific, affecting only the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and is consistent with the new legislation introducing equal primogeniture.
The tradition of the Christmas broadcast by the British sovereign started 80 years ago in 1932, when John Reith, Director General of the BBC, persuaded George V to make a Christmas Day broadcast to the people of the Empire via the new BBC Empire Service (precursor to the BBC World Service). Although George V was famously conservative and suspicious of anything new, he saw the advantage of being able to speak directly to his people around the world.
Speculation in the press about the Duchess of Cambridge being pregnant has increased in recent weeks, and on 3 December that speculation was finally laid to rest by an announcement from Clarence House that she was pregnant but suffering from severe morning sickness and was being hospitalised for a few days. According to the announcement, Kate is in the very early stages of pregnancy, meaning that the baby is probably due to be born next summer. Although many people were hoping for a Jubilee Year baby, we did at least get a Jubilee Year announcement!
Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy were married in a civil ceremony on 19 October 2012, and a religious ceremony on 20 October 2012.
When in February of this year 78-year-old Emperor Akihito had to undergo heart bypass surgery and, in particular, when it afterwards became clear that the Emperor was not recovering smoothly but had to repeatedly go back to the hospital to have fluid drained from his lungs, many spectators thought that the era of Akihito’s reign, the Heisei (“peace everywhere”) era, was nearing its end and that it was time for Crown Prince Naruhito to finally get ready to follow in his father´s footsteps. When Akihito, contrary to expectations, was able to attend the celebrations of Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee in London in May, and has succeeded in completely fulfilling his duties as emperor ever since, this came as a joyful surprise. Still, it is clear that after more than 23 years on the throne, the major part of Akihito’s reign is, in all probability, behind him.
On 1 July 2012, the republics of Rwanda and Burundi both celebrate the 50th anniversary of their independence – of each other as well as of the Belgian government. The Berlin conference of 1884 had assigned the territory – then known as Ruanda-Urundi – to the German Empire. After World War I, the area came under Belgian rule. Although both Rwanda and Burundi were European colonies, each country kept its monarchy throughout their colonial history.
On Saturday 16 June 2012 the Saudi state television announced that Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, aged 79, had died. Reuters reported that he had died in a hospital in Geneva, Switzerland. The Crown Prince had been suffering from diabetes mellitus and osteoporosis for years. He was buried last Sunday, according to Muslim traditions, at the Al Adl cemetery in Mecca.
Two seemingly unrelated events took place at the end of May 1660. On 29 May, his 30th birthday, Charles II arrived in London after nearly a decade in exile to begin (or resume) his reign after the restoration of the monarchy. On the previous day in Hanover, Sophia, wife of Ernst August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Elector of Hanover, gave birth to her first son, George Louis. Sophia was the youngest of the 12 children of Frederick V, Elector Palatinate, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of James I of England/VI of Scotland and aunt of Charles II.
King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain celebrate their golden wedding anniversary today. Although – celebrate? Maybe that’s not the correct word to use right now. In any case, the couple got married exactly 50 years ago, on 14 May 1962.
Guest blog by Carolyn Harris, owner of the Royal Historian blog
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting Canada to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee from May 20-23, 2012. Their visit coincides with the Victoria Day long weekend, which honours a monarch significant for both the longevity of her reign and her influence over Canadian history. Queen Victoria is the only other monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee, presiding over a parade and thanksgiving service in London, England, in 1897.