Thursday, May 31, 2007

Operation Queen Camilla

Public opinion indicates that 90% of the populace do not want Camilla to become Queen. This operation is highly risky. The public can be quite fickle and Diana sentiment is still strong. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to make Camilla Queen. Should you get caught, we will disavow your actions. You may dispose of this tape in the usual manner. Or this tape will self-destruct in five seconds. *Pooof*[Tape disappears in a cloud of smoke]

Location: A palace somewhere in London.

The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles sit at the table and open their dossiers. They pull out 8 x 10 autographed glossies of Ingrid Seward, Matt Lauer, Ferne Cotton, and James Whittaker.

Prince Charles: I want to see Camilla be crowned Queen beside me.

The Queen: I think it's too soon to discuss Queen Camilla. Look at all the time it took for her to be accepted as your companion and then your wife. We need to take this slow, launch a careful media campaign. At minimum get James Whittaker on board.

Prince Charles: That ghastly man!

Prince Philip: Don't you think we should test the waters? start with Princess of Wales and see how that goes?

Prince Charles: Both of you are always against me. Don't you understand. I love her and I want to make her my queen.

The Queen: Charles, don't play the 'blame your parents card'. We're getting off topic here. Where's Prince Harry? Shouldn't he be in on this meeting?

The group look up to see Prince Harry, suspended by a cable, dropping from the ceiling. He stops and hovers just above the table.

Prince Philip: Glad you could finally make it.

Prince Harry: Is there something I can help with?

The Queen: Yes Harry, we need you to go out and distract people. Get into a fight with someone. Break up with Chelsy..or something like that.

Prince Harry: The things I do for England!

The Queen: That will be all Harry.

Prince Harry tries to retract the cable but gets stuck.

Prince Harry: Can someone help me down from here?

Later on, at another palace in London Prince Philip, Prince William, and Prince Harry meet to finalize plans.

Prince Philip: You must infiltrate the offices of Majesty magazine. Ingrid Seward writes a monthly column, which this month will be anti-Queen Camilla. Make sure you edit it put a positive spin. Here is the equipment you will need for your mission: Commemorative china, your Coronation medals and a trained monkey. Prince Harry, make sure to bring Chelsy's watch, women like it when you wear their gifts.

Prince William and Prince Harry gather up their equipment.

Prince Philip (with a tear in his eye): Good luck boys.

To be Continued.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Is Chelsy Davy 'The One' for us?

Ever since Prince William and Kate Middleton broke up, it's inevitable that the focus would have turned to the future of Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy's relationship. Or has it?

Despite being the 'only British royal girlfriend left standing,' one label that is rarely used in relation to Chelsy is 'royal bride.' This term seemed inextricably linked to Kate. Regardless of whether Prince Harry regards her as 'his one true love,' Chelsy is invariably described as the bleached blonde, 'fag* smoking South African boozer' and according to the catty set, 'who can't even spell her own name'.

Everyone liked Kate and the path was clear. Only Prince William had to cooperate. When he didn't, Kate no longer had anything to show for five years of ladylike patience and restraint. And neither did we. Chelsy unabashedly canoodles with her man, buys him a tacky £20,000 diamond encrusted watch and stays the course. What did we do wrong?

Who knew Chelsy would last as long as she has? Whereas we welcomed Kate with open arms, and the royal family did too. Chelsy seems to be lucky if we'll let her near the door. She may be rich but that can't buy our love. And maybe that's for the best as she doesn't seem to care.

Do we approve? Should we approve? Chelsy may be a wonderful person, but offering out approval betrays all that we made Kate out to be - 'The One'. If we settle for Chelsy, what does that say about us? Can we really picture her in the extravagant dress, on the balcony, filling the void left by her predecessors? Should Chelsy make it that far, will we let her have a happy ending? For all our initial love for Diana and Fergie, knowing us, it's unlikely.

Is Chelsy 'The One'? We'll let Prince Harry know.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

* fag is British slang for cigarette

Monday, May 28, 2007

Why I'm sad Prince Harry is not going to war

Her blonde hair blew in the wind and her brow was furrowed as she watched the plane touch down. She had dreamed of this moment, and now it was here. Not one to wear her heart on her sleeve, she could hardly contain the tears in her eyes. She wanted to light a cigarette but knew that it wouldn't look good. The plane door opened, Prince Harry stood at the door way, blinking in the sunlight. He put on his sunglasses and spotted her right away. He raced down the stairs. Forgetting royal protocol and formalities, Chelsy Davy ran from her discreet, yet media friendly, spot on the tarmac, into Harry's waiting arms.

See how I could have written so much about Prince Harry returning from Iraq?

I will admit that I was disappointed when I heard that Prince Harry wasn't going to the front lines. While I have no particular attachment to him, I'm glad he's safe. My reasons for being disappointed stem from all the potential article ideas I could have thought of, drafted and published. It could have been wonderful. A veritable windfall of possibilities. Instead:

Prince Harry sat at his desk, waiting for the phone to ring. He played with a paperclip, his impotent rage barely concealed. Prince William looked at him across the desk, picking up an elastic band, he aimed and fired, hitting Prince Harry right between the eyes.

Almost makes you want to cry, doesn't it?

Like me, Harry must be incredibly frustrated. We've both been stymied by the system into which he was born. But no, his safety had to come first. Don't people understand the testosterone filled need for him to prove himself? Put his training to proper use? Show up his brother and actually earn his medals?

I'm sure I'm not alone in my disappointment. Sadly, all of the 'I'm Harry' t-shirts will go unsold. If you bought one you either have a collectors item or a conversation piece. Or, maybe it might come in handy. If you were kept from the front lines too, taping the word 'like' between the 'I'm' and 'Harry', could show your solidarity.

Yes, I could have written about the dynastic ramifications of sending him, how he's expendible in the grand scheme of things. William's simmering jealousy is an article in itself. Would Chelsy have waited for him? Now we'll never know! Should the unfortunate have happened, I could have written about his lost potential, and how he was misunderstood. And like other public figures when they die, made him out to be more important than he actually was. Instead:

Marilyn sat by her laptop. Frustrated by the news that Prince Harry wasn't going to Iraq. First William and Kate Middleton, now this! All the drafts gone to waste. As she checked her news alerts, her mind drew a blank. What would she write about now? She sighed deeply, closed the laptop and put it away...

Doesn't that make you want to cry?

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

Royal Review: The Way We Were, Remembering Diana by Paul Burrell

Say what you will about the man, he knows how to write a tell-all. I'll admit that, other than waiting for him to do something ridiculous for me to satirize, I really don't pay that much attention to him. So, why am I reviewing this book? well, I have to write about something don't I? Not to mention, it was also at the library.

Considering his somewhat obsessive closeness to her and her memory, he is one of the few people who could be said to have seen her in all of her glorious inconsistencies. The one person, who because of his proximity to her, can authoritatively fill the public's need for endless personal details about her. One would think that he's shamelessly cashing in on her memory, but Burrell doesn't see it that way: 'In painting an accurate record of history, I have breached none of that confidence'. One has to wonder whether he would offer this accurate record of history were Diana still alive.

Reading The Way We Were is almost like sitting with Burrell for coffee, while he confides in us the turn by turn layout of her apartments at Kensington Palace, the color scheme of the walls and furniture, her shoe size, favourite nail polish color, and what she liked to eat for breakfast. Also included is Burrell's memory of the untold love story between Diana and Hasnat Khan, an eminent heart surgeon who smokes, drinks, and likes KFC. Burrell is indignant about her memory being associated with Dodi, discussing the relationship with Hasnat in detail in a chapter called 'The One'. He also writes with candor about the true nature of her relationship with Dodi, as well as the famous 'engagement' ring.

I was prepared to dislike this book, but Burrell reminisces about Diana in a graceful and respectful way. His continuous references to her as 'The Boss' get a bit tiresome. While Burrell claims friendship, the relationship was obviously never equal, so calling her 'The Boss' unnecessarily elevates her. Despite this, he presents her as a spiritual and introspective person and not a myth. But photographs of her personal space and the details he reveals regarding her death are somewhat intimate and it made me feel, as a reader, somewhat of an intruder. Such information should not be for public consumption.

Burrell claims that this is his last book on Diana, which I find hard to believe. However, if this is so, then Burrell has honored and done justice to her memory.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Click on this link to purchase The Way We Were: Remembering Diana

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Question: Rank of the Royal Ladies

Thank you on your informative "Who is of Higher Rank?" article. However, what about the ladies? What are their ranks and how are they addressed (be they royal or non-royal)?

Thank you very much for your question.

I have written an article, called Meeting Royalty and Nobility, which may be helpful in terms of addressing them.

The ranking of the various royal ladies is a bit different. It goes by an order of precedence. In general you could say that the ranking, without taking into consideration the order of precedence, is as follows:

The Queen
Duchess (royal)
Countess (royal)

And then the noble titles would start, such as non-royal Duchess and Countesses. In the case of women in the royal family, the order of precedence is as follows:

The Queen
The Princess Royal
Princess Alexandra
The Duchess of Cornwall (unless accompanied by the Prince of Wales).

One would think, that because Camilla is the wife of the heir to the throne that she would automatically be the second lady in the land, but this is not the case. Because she chose to be known as the Duchess of Cornwall and not as The Princess of Wales, her position reflects the fact that she is a Duchess and not a princess. Were this the case she would outrank the Princess Royal, as Diana did when she was Princess of Wales.

I hope this answers your questions!



© Marilyn Braun 2007

Monday, May 21, 2007

Royal Focus: Victoria Day

For many Canadians, the Victoria Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. Commonly known as the May long weekend or May two-four*, it's the first long weekend of the summer. Most people have the day off and spend the weekend opening the cottage and being stuck in traffic. However, there is more to Victoria Day than just beer, barbeques, and fireworks.

Each year, Victoria Day usually occurs the Monday on or before May 25th. This day celebrates the birthday of Queen Victoria and, marks the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Victoria, the longest reiging monarch in British history, was born on May 24th, 1819. She came to the throne in 1837, as a vivacious 18 year old and died in January 1901, at the age of 81, elderly, remote and venerated.

The Sovereign's birthday has been celebrated in Canada since the reign of Queen Victoria. But it wasn't until 1845, that the Legislature of the Province of Canada declared her birthday a holiday. After Confederation, Queen Victoria's birthday was celebrated on May 24th, unless the day was a Sunday, then it was held on May 25th.

After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, an Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada establishing a legal holiday on May 24 in each year, under the name Victoria Day. An amendment to the Statutes of Canada in 1952 established the celebration of Victoria Day on the Monday preceding May 25.

The birthdays of subsequent sovereigns have been officially marked on different days. Queen Victoria's successor, Edward VII's birthday, was celebrated on Victoria Day, despite his natural birthdate being in November. From the reign of King George V to the present Queen, Canada celebrated the sovereign's birthday in June, until 1952. From 1953 to 1956, the Queen's birthday was celebrated in Canada on Victoria Day, by proclamation of the Governor General, with Her Majesty's approval. In 1957, Victoria Day was permanently appointed as the Queen's birthday in Canada.

So, while you're sitting by the lake at your cottage, stuck in traffic on the highway, or watching a fireworks display, raise a cheer to Her Majesty!

© Marilyn Braun 2007

*Two-four is Canadian slang for a case of 24 bottles of beer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Survivor Balmoral - Day 31

Trapped in their home for 39 days with no servants to wait on them, no private secretaries as go betweens, the royals must communicate directly with each other and make their own beds. Through a series of challenges, each contestant will prove that they are the real Royal Survivor.

On the last episode, Kate Middleton left the competition after being humiliated by Prince William once too often. Prince William seems to be coping well despite this set back. Princess Anne currently has the immunity idol after winning the letter mailing challenge. This week, Charles faces his toughest challenge yet: mowing the lawn.

Prince Charles looks for the gardening shed. Confused, he walks over to the Myrtle bush.

"Excuse me, do you know where the lawn mower is?". Receiving no answer, he goes over to the rose bush. "I'm in a bit of a hurry, can you help me find the gardening shed?"

Prince Harry comes by on the riding lawnmover. "Do you think I can play polo on this?"

Meanwhile, Prince Edward is inside Balmoral, trying to run his own bath. Princess Anne has come to his assistance.

Prince Edward: What does this H and C mean? How do you turn it on?

Princess Anne: This is so difficult, we really should pay our staff more.

Prince Edward: Shhhh..don't let them hear that! (looks at the camera) you will edit that out, won't you?

In another part of the castle, Prince Philip finds himself in trouble with The Queen after having forgotten her birthday.

Prince Philip: Lilibet, my memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory is not what it used to be.

The Queen: Let's see whether I give you 'Prince Consort' for our anniversary in November!

The Queen walks off in a huff.

Prince Philip (to the camera): What is it with all of this sentimental nonsense. After 60 years, what does she expect?....wait a moment, no Prince Consort???...Lilibet...Lilibet...

Later in the day the Windsor tribe learn that they are safe from Tribal Council after Princess Michael of Kent, in the Hanover tribe, loses to Prince Charles in the jam making competition. Despite this victory, the Windsor's lose a member when Prince Harry is called to duty in Iraq. Prince William is incandescent with rage.

Prince William: It should have been me that went! Harry isn't going to be head of the armed services!

Prince Andrew: Would you really want him to be? Especially after the Nazi costume?

Prince William: But it should have been mmmmmeeeeeeee

Prince Andrew: Look at it as a compliment. We spares are expendible.

Prince William is still disappointed but visibly brightens. "Poor Chelsy, she must miss Harry. How terribly lonely she must be. Do you think she might need some comforting?"

On the next episode of Survivor Balmoral: Charles boils an egg and Anne opens her own door.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Danish Princess is born

On April 21st, 2007 The Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark welcomed a daughter. This is the second child for the Crown couple, the first being Prince Christian, who was born in October 2005. As with Prince Christian, the baby's name will not be announced until her christening, which will take place on July 1st.

The birth of a healthy child is always a joyous event, but this particular baby is somewhat special. She is the first Danish princess born into the royal family in 60 years. The last was Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, sister of Queen Margrethe, in 1946. Queen Margarethe has two sisters, Princess Benedikte and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. After Margarethe married in 1967, she had two sons - Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim. Until the birth of this little girl she had three grandsons, Prince Nikolai, Prince Felix and Prince Christian.

There is much speculation on what her name will be. For unlike her brother, whose name comes from centuries of tradition and who I wrote about in The Christian Tradition Continues no such tradition exists for females. For now, she is called 'mini-Mary' in the press and 'Lillepige' (translation: little girl) by her parents.

Names they could choose if they wanted to honor the family include Margarethe (after her paternal grandmother), Henrietta (after the Crown Princess's late mother), Ingrid (after her great-grandmother, Queen Ingrid), or Margaret (after her great-great grandmother, the former Margaret of Connaught, sister of Princess Patricia of Connaught.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Photos courtesy of the official website of TRH The Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Reign of Glamour

In a recent poll of Dutch citizens, 70% want Crown Prince Willem-Alexander to succeed his mother, Queen Beatrix, as King in the next three years. Unlike in the United Kingdom where sovereigns reign until their deaths, abdication has been a tradition in the Dutch royal house. Both his great-grandmother, Queen Wilhelmina, and grandmother Queen Juliana, abdicated in favour of their successor.

Should Queen Beatrix do so, Prince Willem-Alexander will become the first King of The Netherlands in over 100 years. The last was King Willem III, who died in 1890 and was suceeded by his daughter Princess Willhemna. The Princess was 10 when her father died, so her mother Queen Emma acted as Regent until she came of age.

In the 20th and so far the 21st century, The Netherlands has been ruled by women. When Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948, Queen Juliana took the throne. After 32 years, she abdicated and Queen Beatrix suceeded in 1980. When Prince Willem-Alexander either abdicates or reigns until his death, The Netherlands of the mid to latter 21st century will once again be ruled by a woman, when his daughter Princess Catharina-Amalia succeeds. The young princess owes her position as heir to the 1983 change in the succession laws, allowing for full lineal primogeniture, where the eldest child becomes heir regardless of sex.

It's easy to understand why people would want a change. Currently Prince Willem-Alexander's wife, Princess Máxima, is the most popular member of the Dutch royal family, followed by himself. Queen Beatrix ranks third. A young family with three beautiful children, fills the need for glamour, which seems to be an important pre-requisite for todays European royal families.

Because of this, later in the 21st century, if the Dutch still want a monarchy, we may once again see a poll, this time in favour of Catharina-Amalia succeeding her father.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Photos courtesy of the Official Dutch Royal House Website.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Question: The Queen's Pearls

Can you tell me the history of the Queen's pearls?

With the exception of State dinners, if you see the Queen on any public occasion, she will rarely be without her pearl-and-diamond button earrings, a brooch, and her pearls (she wears all three in the photo at right).

The Queen, as Princess Elizabeth, received her first set of pearls, a triple strand, as a young girl. They were given to her in 1935 by her grandfather, King George V, to celebrate his Silver Jubilee. Today, she usually wears these pearls in the daytime.

The other pearl necklaces, that I'm aware of at least, are the ones she received as a wedding gift from her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The one string is said to have belonged to Queen Anne, last of the Stuart monarchs. The other to Queen Caroline, wife of King George II. She wore these necklaces on her wedding day in 1947, and they are now worn on informal evening occasions.

An oft told anecdote about the pearls. Having received them as a wedding gift, they were put on display at St. James Palace, along with the rest of the gifts. As she was getting ready for her wedding, she wanted to wear the pearls and realized they were still on display. Shortly before the Princess was to leave for Westminster Abbey, she sent John Colville, her Private Secretary, to collect the pearls.

He rushed down the seemingly endless corridor, hurtled down the Grand Staircase, and ended up in the quadrangle, where he commandeered King Haakon VII of Norway's large Daimler. Although traffic had been stopped since early morning, the crowds were so deeply packed across Marlborough Gate, that the car, even flying its royal flag, had to halt while he fought his way through on foot. When he arrived at the Friary Court entrance to the State Apartments there was only an elderly janitor to listen to his odd story, but he finally allowed Colville upstairs to explain his mission to the men who were guarding the 2,660 presents. The dilemma was: if they accepted is story and he turned out to be a clever jewel thief who had made off with the Crown pearls, they were in trouble; but if they refused to let him have the necklace and it all turned out to be true, they were equally in trouble. There was no one to consult; time was running out, and only after they found his name in the wedding programme as one of the Household officials in attendance on the Princess did they allow him to remove the pearls. *

Thanks for your question!

© Marilyn Braun 2007


The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field *
The Royal Jewels by Suzy Menkes
Official Site of the British Royal Family

More on royal jewels:

Jewels fit for a Queen
Camilla's Tiara

Royal Engagement Rings
Royal Focus: The Poltimore Tiara

Photo: Camera Press/Snowdon

Monday, May 07, 2007

Question: Who is of higher rank, a prince or a duke?

If you check the top left hand corner of the blog, just above recent articles, you'll see that I welcome questions on royalty. I love answering them, and sometimes I even learn something new. I recently received questions from two different people. Why am I mentioning this? Well, the questions were almost identical - Who is of higher rank, a prince or a duke?

Since this question seems to be so popular, I thought I'd post it here in case anyone else was wondering the same thing.

So, who does rank higher?

Well, it's easy to say that a prince ranks higher than a duke. However, there are two types of Duke's in the United Kingdom - Royal Duke's and noble (non-royal) Duke's.

It is customary, on the marriage of the sons of a sovereign, to be given a Dukedom upon their marriage. The Queen did this with Prince Andrew (Duke of York) in 1986 and Prince Edward (Earl of Wessex - to be created Duke of Edinburgh after his father's death), upon his marriage in 1999. The Prince of Wales, as the eldest son of the sovereign, automatically became Duke of Cornwall upon his mother's accession in 1952, making him the most senior of dukes. Therefore he was not given any titles when he married in 1981.

Although there is nothing that defines these titles as exclusive to the royal family or makes them royal in general, any available dukedom, created by the sovereign for one of her sons, could become a royal dukedom. These royal dukedom's, which unlike other dukedoms, do not come with any estate or property. A good example of this would be the Duke of Windsor, which was simply a title. As such, because they are royal dukedoms, they rank higher than that of an "ordinary" older dukedom.

So a prince, whether a royal duke or not, ranks higher than a noble duke, which is the highest rank, just below that of a king or a prince.

Thanks for your questions ladies!

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Friday, May 04, 2007

Greeting The Queen - A guide for the U.S. visit

I have previously written about what to do when you meet royalty and nobility. However, in honor of The Queen and Prince Philip's visit to the United States, I thought I would give a refresher:

  • Contrary to popular belief, when you meet the Queen, it's optional to curtsey or bow. You could do both but you might get a strange look.

  • When you greet her, speak when spoken to. But don't tell her your life story. If you do, you may notice her shifting her purse as a signal for her staff to rescue her.

  • Address her as 'Your Majesty' and 'Ma'am' thereafter. Do not call her 'Cabbage' or 'Lilibet'

  • Shake her hand when she offers it. Be gentle - no hand crushing grips.

  • Outside of handshakes, do not, under any circumstances, hug or touch her in any way. Kissing is completely innapropriate.

  • Don't ask for her autograph

  • Don't ask to pose with her or ask Prince Philip to take a picture of you together.

  • Don't offer her food or gum. Even if she looks hungry.

  • Above all remember, if in doubt be polite.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Queen's American Visit

Today the Queen and Prince Philip touch down in Virginia to mark the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement.

The Jamestown what?

My knowledge of American history is minimal. In highschool we studied the American political and legal systems but little of its history. Our young and impressionable minds were also a captive audience for the teacher's sectarian views. I'll admit that I don't really pay that much attention to why the Queen visits, as much as just enjoying the fact that she does. This visit will mark the fourth time she's made a State Visit to the United States. The previous trips were in October 1957, July 1976 for the US Bicentennial, and in 1991 to visit President Bush. In 1983 the Queen and Prince Philip also made an official visit to the West Coast of America. She has also made some private visits to Kentucky for horse breeding.

In Canada we see far more of the Queen. Not including her tour when she was Princess Elizabeth, she has come to Canada 29 times in the course of her reign. Is it because she likes us better? We like to think so but being the Queen of Canada certainly helps. I have seen the Queen in person once, and that was from a distance when I attended the 1997 running of the Queen's Plate at Woodbine Race Track in Ontario. The Queen and Prince Philip rode by in their carriage, waving and smiling, and then they disappeared to the place where all good VIP's go after they've made their obligatory appearances.

This visit to the United States is more than just a polite call in. She is coming to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement - the first permament English settlement in North America, established in 1607 (thanks Wikipedia!). While no doubt an important event in American history, it's unlikely that it would get the same amount of global news coverage were it not for the Queen's visit. I'm glad to say that because of it I've learned something new.

One British newspaper noted that with her advancing age, this visit to the US will probably be her last. Let's hope that isn't true. She's the most traveled monarch in British history, so she's earned the right to put her feet up. If after this visit she does, then this visit marks a historic event in more ways than one.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Royal Birthdays

Yesterday The Netherlands celebrated Queens Day, the official birthday of the Queen. Called Koninginnedag in Dutch, it is observed on April 30th, although this is not the birthday of the current Queen Beatrix (January 31st). This was originally the birthday of Queen Juliana and it has been continued to be celebrated on this date because the weather is better for the outdoor celebrations. Street parties and other events are held around the country and the Queen and members of the royal family visit one or two places each year.

The Sovereign's Official birthday is celebrated differently in various countries:

Demark: On April 16th, Danes celebrated the 67th birthday of Queen Margarethe. It is an annual event, beginning at 12.oo pm, after the changing of the guard. The doors of the Amalienborg, the royal palace is opened and the Queen and her family appear on the balcony to be greeted by loud cheers. After a while, they move back into the palace, but appear again after the traditional call from the crowd: Margrethe, Margrethe, kom nu frem, ellers går vi aldrig hjem" (Margrethe, Margrethe, come on out, or we will never go home). The Royal Guard wears celebratory attire, a red jacket and bright blue trousers, and the Royal Guard Music Corps plays birthday songs and other joyful music.

United Kingdom: Last year, the Queen turned 80, and this milestone was marked by several special events. The Queen has two birthdays - her real one on April 21st and her official birthday, which occurs on the first or second Saturday in June. Her official birthday is marked by the Trooping the Color ceremony and a balcony appearance by the royal family. Her birthday is celebrated in the various Commonwealth countries. Canada celebrates Her Majesty's birthday on Victoria Day - May 24th. While it is known as Queen Victoria's birthdate, this date is also intended to honor the present Queen's birthday as well.

Luxembourg: The national holiday celebrates the birthday of the sovereign. The date has changed with each monarch, but since 1961, by Grand Ducal decree, it has been celebrated on June 23rd. It is celebrated on this date regardless of the actual birthdate of the sovereign. Festivities begin the evening before, June 22, in one of the villages outside of the capital, attended by the Grand-Ducal couple. They arrive in the capital around 10.00 pm, to take part in the traditional torch-lit procession. A fireworks display is held at 11:30 pm. On June 23rd a military parade is held in the Avenue de la Liberté, and the Te Deum is celebrated in Luxembourg Cathedral at 11 a.m. The Grand Duchess' birthday is marked on January 23rd with a parade and fireworks.

The Emperors Birthday in Japan: Celebrated on the current Emperors birthday - December 23rd. In 1948 it was made a public holiday. A public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace, when it opens its gates to the public. The royal family appear on the balcony to acknowledge the crowds.

Sweden: Birthday of the royal family are observed by flag days. Name Days are also celebrated, but only for the King (January 28th), the Queen (August 8th) and Crown Princess Victoria (March 12th). This year, King Carl-Gustav's 61st birthday was celebrated at the Royal Palace, where the king inspected the outgoing guard and received flowers from children. Every year on July 14, the future Queen of Sweden, Crown Princess Victoria's birthday is celebrated on Victoria Day in Borgholm on Öland. The Royal Family attend and Victoria presents the Victoria scholarship to a outstanding Swedish athlete. Singers and artists perform throughout the day and evening and a mini-marathon race is run.

Norway: On February 21, 2007, King Harald of Norway celebrated his 70th birthday, with a church service and a gala concert at Oslo City Hall. The public was invited to attend a variety of events. A dinner was held, attended by a large number of royal guests and European heads of state.

© Marilyn Braun 2007