Right royal goings-on among neighbours

Norway: King Harald V and Queen Sonja
A member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, now better branded as the involuntary noise your glottal-stop produces when confronted with the price of a coffee in Norway, King Harald is today seen, generally, as a Good King. One of the best.

In 1968, he married Sonja, daughter of a "wood merchant". It's probably a better word in Norsk, something along the lines of "fjellskeller". This was the last time there was a real European row - I mean serious, as row-y as Norway can get - about royalty and class.

Young Harald had had long enough to practise, though. Born in 1937, he endured some hair-shaking childhood voyages while Germany (and various quisling bits of Sweden) attempted first to kill grandpa King Carl.

Harald, despite having served as the Deputy of the King from his 18th birthday, in 1955, didn't accede until 1991. That's a long wait. Can't think of another heir-in-waiting who's been left hanging until their hair's pretty much gone. Oh... yes I can.

Sweden: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Crown Prince Daniel
Last June, "Crown Princess" - I'm sure that means they'll take over when Daddy dies, particularly in Sweden, where they've wisely waived the laws of primogeniture, otherwise known by mad royal brothers as "the law of I'm mad and younger, but I've got a willy so na na [poss.

mistranslated from the Swedish/Latin, but you get the point] - anyway ... Princess Victoria of Sweden, who shall be Queen, married her personal trainer, Daniel Westling. They were very much in love and have so remained.

Luxembourg: Grand Duke Henri
Weird one, this. Handsome and wears the right buttons. But his son's wife, Tessy, waited three years before she was accorded the title of Princess. Henri had had to "think about it". For three years. And it's Luxembourg, less than a tenth of the size Brittany, and he only technically runs the country, and he's technically a Grand Duke, not really a king.

He exerts some influence on his parliament, I'm told, but nothing like Albert II, King of the Belgians who has, according to Dr Bierblier, "knocked heads together with tremendous satisfaction and results". Belgium hasn't had a government for three years and yet thrives. Hmm.

Henri is the roughest, maddest, poshest, most thoroughly enjoyable, of the pompous lines available. Good if this one died out.

Monaco: Pierre Casiraghi
The younger son of Princess Caroline and grandson of Grace Kelly, Pierre smokes, plays the sax and is by many accounts a decentish chap. The current ruler, Sovereign Prince of the House of Grimaldi, is Albert II, only son of Grace and Prince Rainier, which makes him Pierre's uncle.

Albert is not married, although he has "acknowledged" two illegitimate children by different mothers. If he doesn't have legitimate ones soon, it'll revert to Caro and thence to smoking Pierre. But Albert is due to marry, in July, a swimmer named Charlene Wittstock.

Spain: Crown Princess Letizia
Crown Princess Letizia of Spain, a former TV journalist, has reportedly done much to promote Spanish fashion worldwide since marrying Felipe, Prince of Asturias.

Crown Princess Letizia had been married once before (only a civil ceremony, therefore the Vatican was able to dismiss it as nugatory and allow full-on bells-and-smells wedding) and will, when Felipe ascends, become the first commoner to share the Spanish throne.

She has apparently been very busy in the past few years upsetting Felipe's sisters, the Infanta Elena, 46, and Infanta Cristina, 45.

Denmark: Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Elizabeth Donaldson
One that should give hope to William and Kate watchers. Mary Donaldson was a 32-year-old Tasmanian estate agent when she met the heir to the Danish throne at a beach-bar in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics. And she even looks a little like Kate, and very happy. The remarkable thing is that the engagement and wedding were greeted without a twitch of snobbery.

- NZ Herald

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