Thursday 30 November 2023

Netherlands Annual Photocall (Winter & Summer)

2023 Summer Photocall
Photo Credit: RVD, Robin Utrecht

The Netherland Royals host a photocall for the Netherlands media twice a year. The idea behind the photocall is that it give the media a change to film the family, especially the children and then allow them to otherwise live relatively private lives. Other Monarchies will do this sporadically, especially if they have young children they wish to protect from the media. 

The photocalls used to take place before the family's winter & summer holidays.  In 2022, the Palace announced that they would continue to do 2 photocalls a year, but they wouldn't take place in connection with holiday trips. 

"From now on, photo sessions with the royal family will in principle take place at times when all family members can be present. This means that photo sessions no longer automatically take place immediately prior to the Royal Couple's holidays. Unstead, the aim is to have two photo sessions followed by a press interview each year." 

Winter Photocall

The annual winter photocall used to be held in Lech, Astria at the start of the family's winter holiday there every February. Since the change in 2022, the photocall has been held at other locations. 

& Children
& children
Mabel &
Huis ten Bosch PalaceX---
De Nieuwe Kerk AmsterdamX---
2021None Held
Lech, AustriaX X X




2022 - This photocall was not referred to as their "Winter Photocall." The group viewed the exhibition 'The century of Juliana'.
2016 - Princess Alexis fractured her fracture right thigh while Skiing during this trip, a few days after the photocall. 

Summer Photocall

We will create a chart for this at a later date, hopefully before their next Summer Photocall. 

Denmark Christmas Calendar - 2023


The Denmark Royal's Christmas Calendar runs from December 1st through December 24th (Christmas Eve). This year's theme and image is the same as last year "Christmas behind the Palace Windows". The Christmas Calendar features Royal Family Members & Staff. The drawing is of Christian IX's Palace, Queen Margrethe's home at Amalienborg Palace Complex. 

Each day, one of the Windows of the palace will be opened. Clicking on it pops up a post featuring some member of the Royal Family or a palace department. Past Days are illuminated, and can still be viewed. The Pictures at the top of this page will help you to identify the correct window.  (You will notice throughout the month that more Christmas decorations get added to the Calendar.)

Link to Christmas Calendar
Each Days Topic
  • Day 1  (December 1st) - Prince Vincent helping Royal Chef make Pancake Balls
  • Day 2 - Queen's Reference Library at Christiansborg Palace. 
  • Day 3  (1st Sunday of Advent) - Queen Margrethe lights the first candle of Advent
  • Day 4  - Crown Prince Family decorates their Christmas Tree at Frederik VIII’s Palace
  • Day 5 - Royal Family's Christmas Cards from the Queen's Reference Library
  • Day 6 - Palace’s canteen manager shares Pebernødder (Pepper Nut) Cookie basket with The Royal Life Guard’s sentry company
  • Day 7 -  Princess Benedikte decorates Christmas Tree at Christian VIII’s Palace
  • Day 8 - Queen’s Master Upholsterer upholsters bench with Queen's embroidery. 
  • Day 9 - Kladrubers (Czech White Horses) at the Royal Mews
  • Day 10  (2nd Sunday of Advent) - Crown Prince Frederik lights the 2nd candle of Advent
  • Day 11 - Queen's Master of the Royal Household prepares for New Year's Eve Banquet
  • Day 12 - Master of the Hunt prepares for move to Marselisborg Palace
  • Day 13 - Royal Life Guard’s Drum Corps plays music on the Metro
  • Day 14 - Treasurer’s Office finalize this year's accounts 
  • Day 15 - Queen Margrethe wrapping Christmas gifts
  • Day 16 - Princess Marie makes roast pork for pre-Chrsitmas dinner for family in Washington DC
  • Day 17  (3rd Sunday of Advent) - Prince Christian lights the 3rd candle of Advent
  • Day 18 - Queen Margrethe’s 10-year-old dachshund Tillia goes for a walk in Copenhagen
  • Day 19 - The assistant matron at Marselisborg Palace prepares for Queen Margrethe's Christmas stay.
  • Day 20 - Master Jointer makes Christmas decorations
  • Day 21 - Preparing the Marselisborg Palace Christmas tree
  • Day 22 - Attic at Marselisborg Palace where christmas decorations are stored
  • Day 23 - Princess Isabella & Princess Josephine label Christmas Gifts
  • Day 24 (Christmas Eve) (4th Sunday of Advent)  - Crown Prince Family video calls with Danish Astronaut Andreas Mogensen at International Space Station
Back to Denmark Christmas Calendar  - Main Page

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Royal Attendance at Spain State Opening of Parliament

Solemne Sesión de Apertura de la XV Legislatura (6)
State Opening in 2023
Ministry of the Presidency. Government of Spain, via Wikimedia Commons

For more on the Spain State Opening of Parliament. 

King Felipe's Reign

(2020 )
King FelipeX

Queen LetiziaX

Princess LeonorX

Princess SofiaXAt School in UK


13th Cortes Generales - No State Opening was held. They were unable to form a coalition so no President of the Government was ever selected.

King Juan Carlos's Reign

King Juan Carlos??X
Queen Sofia??X
Prince Felipe??X
Princess Letizia??X
Princess Elena??X
Jaime de Marichalar, Duke of Lugo??X

Princess Cristina??X
Iñaki Urdangarin, Duke of Palma de Mallorca??X

11th Cortes Generales - No State Opening was held. They were unable to form a coalition so no President of the Government was ever selected.

Back to Spain State Opening of Parliament - Main Page

Spain State Opening of Parliament - Main Page

Solemne apertura de la XIV Legislatura 04
Ministry of the Presidency. Government of Spain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Spain State Opening of Parliament (also referred to as the Solemn Opening of the Parliament) takes place once each term of the Cortes Generales. And usually takes place approximately 2 weeks after the investiture of the President of the Government. 

Each term can last up to 4 years. So, the State Opening occurs approximately once every four years, unless Parliament is dissolved early.

The State Opening takes place in the Chamber of Congress of the Deputies at the Palace of the Cortes. The Opening is attended by all the Deputies and Senators that forms the Cortes Generales, along with other Government and Judicial.


  • Arrive at the Palacio de las Cortes
  • King reviews the Troops
  • Speech at Parliament 
  • Military Parade


  • King Felipe's Reign
Royal Attendance

Live Stream 

There is usually a live stream:

Dress code

Suit and Tie or Day Dress.

The Monarch and Heir wear their Congressional and Senate Gold Medals.

Back to State Opening of Parliament - Main Page

Friday 24 November 2023

The Order of British Empire

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a UK Order of chivalry. It is the lowest of the UK's six Orders of Chivalry. This order had the highest number of living member, as it is the one most commonly given. 

The Order of the British Empire was established by King George V in 1917 to honour those who had served in a non-combative role.

Sovereign: King Charles III
Grand Master: Vacant

There are 5 grade across both military and civilian divisions, from highest to lowest:
  • Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross (GBE)
    • Entitled to use "Sir" or "Dame" unless a foreign citizen
  • Knight Commander or Dame Commander (KBE or DBE)
    • Entitled to use "Sir" or "Dame" unless a foreign citizen
  • Commande (CBE)
  • Officer (OBE)
  • Member (MBE) 
Which grade a person receives is based on many factors:
  • The level of contribution in the field of activity (I.e. noteworthy to. Top of their Field)
  • Geographical levels (I.e. local to national)
  • etc. 
If it possible for someone to receive a lower grade and then be upgraded later.

Given for?

The award is given for "contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service." Who is given the honor is decided by the UK Government's Honor's Committee. The Honor is formally given by the King in his role as Head of State. 

The honor is given to both military personnel and civilians. There are no restrictions on how can receive the honor. Except that, Foreign Citizens can only be given the honor in honorary form. 

Working Royals don't tend to receive this honor, as they are usually given a higher honor. Extended Members of the British Royal Family have received this honor before, including:
  • Zara Tindall (then Zara Phillips) - Received MBE as part of the 2007 New Year's Honors for services to Equestrianism as "Individual Three-Day Event World Champion" after winning gold in 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games.
  • Mike Tindall (Pre-marriage into Royal Family) - Received MBE as part of the 2004 New Year's Honors for Services to Rugby Union. Mike received this honor after his team won the 2003 Six Nations Championship along with other members of the team. 


Divisa Ord Impero Britannico
The Men's Insignia for the Grades of the Order of the British Empire
SkukifishCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Order of the British Empire Insignia
Robert PrummelCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Civilian and Military Honors are the same except the military honors have a white stripe down the center of the ribbon.
  • Mantle 
    • Worn by GBE
    • Usually just worn during Service of Thanksgiving for the Order
GBE mantle
Nicholas Jackson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Collar
    • Worn by GBE
    • Only worn on Collar Days
    • Returned after death
  • Star
    • Worn by GBE, KBE & DBE
  • Badge 
    • Sash & Badge
      • Worn by GBE
    • Neck Badge
      • Worn by KBE & Male CBE
Medal, order (AM 2001.25.423-3)
Neck Badge Military Ribbion
    • Ribbon
      • Worn by Male OBE & MBE
    • Bow
      • Worn by Female OBE & MBE
Madeleine Sharp MBE medal
Women's MBE
Paul GardnerCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Lapel Pin/Rosette
    • The same lapel pin is used by all ranks and was introduced in 2006.  Lapel pins must be purchased separately by a member of the order.

St-Pauls-Cathedral London Crypta Chapel-Order-Of-The-British-Empire-01
Chapel within St. Paul's Cathedral
Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

Order of the British Empire's Chapel is located within St Paul’s Cathedral. Members and Medallists can request use of the Chapel for weddings, baptisms and memorial services. A Service of Thanksgiving is held at the Cathedral for Members and Medallists every four years.

United Kingdom Honors

Order of Chivalry

Orders of Merit
  • Distinguished Service Order
  • Order of Merit
  • Imperial Service Order
  • Order of the Companions of Honour
Other honors

Thursday 23 November 2023

Crown Princess Victoria & Prince Daniel of Sweden's Official Visit to the UK (2023)

Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge visits Sweden 01
Frankie Fouganthin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Crown Princess Victoria & Prince Daniel of Sweden will Visit to UK November 29th-December 1st, 2023. The visit takes place at the request of the government. "The purpose of the visit is to consolidate and promote the long-standing and very good relations between Sweden and Great Britain. The visit also aims to show the strengthened cooperation in security and defence, green transition, innovation and research, as well as the increased exchange in the business world, which the Swedish-British strategic partnership that was recently signed is an expression of."

Wednesday 29 November
  • Visit to Ukrainian soldiers, East of England who are being trained in Great Britain under Swedish leadership within the framework of "Operation Interflex".
  • Woodditton Pub lunch for a conversation about the English pub culture and a presentation of the East Anglia region.
  • Visit to Imperial College Innovation Hub & NATO's accelerator for defense innovation, DIANA, focusing on how innovation can be accelerated in defense and security.
  • Attend International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council Candidacy Reception, at Ambassador's Residence
  • Attend Sustainability themed dinner at National History Museum hosted by Business Sweden and the embassy the theme of which is the importance of cooperation in sustainability, innovation and security, as well as the importance of progress in the climate negotiations during COP28, for British and Swedish companies. 

Thursday, November 30
  • Attend Breakfast with Swedish start-up company, German Gymnasium and meet representatives of Swedish Mindler to share the company's experiences from establishing companies in Great Britain.
  • Meeting with Prince William & Princess Kate at Windsor Castle
  • Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Richmond to take part in various international research projects for the promotion of biodiversity. 
    • Plant a tree as a memory of the visit.
  • Attendance at the conference Outer Thinking – the Swedish-British Summit, at Nobu Hotel
  • Attend the Royal Variety Performance at Royal Albert Hall with Prince William & Princess Kate
Friday, December 1
  • Visit to Cranfield University, School of Aerospace and Aviation Research Technology Centre to hear about  Swedish-British collaborations between academia and industry in green transition and future transport.
  • Attend Life Science Lunch, at Ambassador's Residence with invited British politicians as well as business and academia
  • Advent coffee with Swedes living in London, at Church of Sweden,

Saturday 11 November 2023

Armistice Day Service at Tomb of Unknown Soldier - Belgium

Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Brussels - panoramio
Tomb of the Unknown Soilder
Agracier, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Each year on Armistice Day (November 11th), a military ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Congress Column in Brussel. The ceremony honors those who died in both World Wars and those  soldiers who died during humanitarian and peace missions since 1945. 

The ceremony is attended each year by the Belgium Monarch, along with the president of the House, Senate, and other representatives of the Belgium Government and established bodies. 

Congress Column is a monumental column in Brussels commemorating the creation of the Belgian Constitution by the National Congress of 1830–31. Located at the foot of the Congress Column is the Tome of the Unknown Soldier.

Back to Belgium - Annual Events

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Pages of Honour (UK)

Pages of honour are assist with the royals robes and train and perform other ceremonial duties during events like the State Opening of Parliament. They have been used in the past during the Order of Garter Ceremony, but we have not seen that yet in King Charles's reign as he did not wear a robe with a long train in 2023. 

Page of honour are typically sons of extended family or friends and are usually 10-13 years old.

How long a page of honor serves, depends on how long they can fit into the uniform.  Pages of Honor only perform duties at a few events. So, the uniforms are passed down from page to page & not custom-made.

King Charles III's Reign                  

Lord Oliver CholmondeleySon of former Lord Great Chamberlain2023-Present
Nicholas BarclaySon of Family Friend2023-Present
Ralph TollemacheSon of Charles's Godson2023-Present
Charles Van CutsemSon of Family Friend2023-Present
(Starting at State Opening)
Prince George of WalesCharles's grandson(2023) Just Coronation


Royals do not typically serve as Pages of Honour, expect for extra special occasions like coronations. That is why Prince George only served as Page for the Coronation. 

Arthur ElliotCamilla's grandnephew2023-Present

William KeswickGrandson of one of Camilla's Lady Companions2023-Present
(Starting at State Opening)

Gus LopesCamilla's grandsonJust Coronation
Louis LopesCamilla's grandsonJust Coronation
Freddy Parker BowlesCamilla's grandsonJust Coronation