Royal News: Friday 31 July 2015

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The Royal Palace of Madrid

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia, photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

The Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official home of the Spanish Monarchy. It is used for State and ceremonial functions, but has not been used as a royal residence since the reign of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenie. With nearly 1.5 million square feet and over 3,400 rooms, The Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest palace in Europe.

When the Spanish monarchy was restored in 1975, the new King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia chose to remain at Zarzuela Palace, where they had lived since marrying in 1962. And upon Juan Carlos’ abdication in 2014, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia also chose to remain at their home, which is located just next to Zarzuela Palace. The Royal Palace of Madrid continues to be used for formal events such as State Dinners, and was the site of the wedding banquet for the current King Felipe and Queen Letizia in 2004. It is open to the public for the majority of the year.

The Alcazar of Madrid, from a 17th century painting. source: Wikipedia

The palace was built on the site of the former Alcazar of Madrid – a medieval fortress which had been transformed into a lavish palace by Kings Juan I, Carlos V and Felipe II who made it the official residence of the sovereign in 1561. The Alcazar was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve 1734, and King Felipe V decided to built a new Royal Palace. Construction began in 1738 and the building was completed in 1751, but it wouldn’t be occupied until 1764 when King Carlos III installed his court there. Despite this, the early monarchs spent only a few weeks there each year. Over time, it became the primary residence of the Sovereign, until the overthrow of the Spanish monarchy.

The palace is designed as a square, built around an inner courtyard. The principal state rooms are located on the southern and western wings.

The Southern wing, overlooks the Armory Square and is the main entrance to the palace. It contains the Grand Staircase, the Hall of Columns, and the Throne Room. These rooms were once part of the apartments of King Carlos III.

The Grand Staircase. source: Wikipedia

The abdication ceremony of King Juan Carlos in the Hall of Columns. source: Daily Mail/EPA

The abdication ceremony of King Juan Carlos in the Hall of Columns. source: Daily Mail/EPA

The Hall of Columns was initially part of the apartments of King Carlos III. It is one of the most used rooms in the palace, where the King often meets foreign ambassadors and the diplomatic corps as well as other official events. In 2014, it was the site of the abdication ceremony of King Juan Carlos I.

The Throne Room. source: Wikipedia

The Throne Room is today used primarily in conjunction with State Visits. It is here that the King and Queen are photographed with their guests prior to a State dinner. They also greet members of the government and other invited guests prior to the formal dinner in the Banqueting Hall.

The Western wing, overlooking the Campo del Moro Gardens, contains the Carlos III Room, the Porcelain Room, the Yellow Room, the Gala Dining Room, and the Music Room.

The Porcelain Room. source: Wikipedia, photo by Osvaldo Gago

The Porcelain Room features porcelain covering the walls and ceiling, as well as numerous porcelain objects on display. It was designed and built in the 1760s.

The Gala Dining Room. source: Wikipedia, photo by Jose Luis Filpo Cabana

The Gala Dining Room was once part of the apartments of the Queen, during the time of King Carlos III. It was King Alfonso XII who turned the room into the Gala Dining Room which is still used today for large formal events, such as State Dinners.

The Northern wing, overlooking the Sabatini Gardens, includes the Royal Chapel and several of the former royal apartments. On the ground floor of the Northwest corner of the palace is the Royal Library.

The Royal Chapel. source: Wikipedia, photo by Eric Chan

Once the main Chapel of the royal family, the Royal Chapel is today only used occasionally, most notably for funerals. The funerals of both the Count and Countess of Barcelona (parents of King Juan Carlos) were held here in 1993 and 2000 respectively.

The Royal Library. source: Wikipedia, photo by Fabio Alessandro Locati

The Royal Library, which spans two floors, was begun during the reign of King Felipe V, who joined his personal collection with that of the former Alcazar. Subsequent sovereigns added to the collection, and it was King Alfonso XII who began the task of counting and cataloging everything in the collection. Today, the library contains over 300,000 books, 4,700 manuscripts, 4,100 musical works, 7,000 maps, 200 engravings and drawings and 2,000 coins and medals.

The Eastern Wing overlooks the Plaza de Oriente and housed the private apartments of the sovereigns from the time of King Carlos IV. These rooms include the small Dining Room, the Billiards Room, the Room of Mirrors, and the Tapestry Room. Many of these rooms are used regularly for royal audiences.

The Billiards Room. source: Wikipedia, photo by Jose Luis Filpo Cabana

To the south are two wings which extend out, forming another courtyard known as Armory Square. The eastern wing contains the Royal Pharmacy and the apartments of Queen Maria Christina. Among these rooms is the Crown Room which was created in 2014.

The Royal Pharmacy. photo by Duimdog at nl.wikipedia

Since the reign of King Felipe II, the Spanish royal family have maintained a Royal Pharmacy, to provide them with any necessary medications. The Royal Pharmacy in the Royal Palace of Madrid – set up as a museum since 1964 – displays many of the old bottles and containers used to house various drugs and treatments, as well as the adjoining distillation rooms.

The Crown Room.  source: Patrimonio Nacional

The Crown Room. source: Patrimonio Nacional

Formerly one of the rooms in the apartments of Queen Maria Christina, the Crown Room was established following the accession of KIng Felipe VI in 2014 to display the symbols of constitutional monarchy – the original throne of King Carlos III as well as his crown and scepter; the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece belonging to Queen Isabella II, and the Table of Sphinxes – the majestic Empire style desk acquired by King Carlos IV in 1803. It was on this desk that King Juan Carlos signed the Organic Act, confirming his abdication from the throne. Also on display are King Juan Carlos’ abdication speech, and a copy of the proclamation speech of King Felipe VI.

The Royal Armory. source: Wikipedia, photo by Jose Luis Filpo Cabana

The western wing houses the Royal Armory, which houses what is considered to be one of the best collections of armor in the world. Read more about the Royal Armory here.

Just to the south of the palace, across Armory Square, is the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Royal of La Almudena, which was the site of the 2004 wedding of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia.

Learn more about the other Spanish Royal Residences here!

July 31: Today in Royal History

Maria Ana of Portugal, wife of Grand Duke Guillaume IV of Luxembourg, with her six daughters; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

July 31, 1750 – Death of King João V of Portugal in Lisbon, Portugal; buried at the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora in Lisbon, Portugal
Wikipedia: João V of Portugal

July 31, 1790 – Wedding of King Frederik VI of Denmark and Marie of Hesse-Cassel at Gottorp Castle in Schleswig-Holstein (Germany)
Wikipedia: Frederik VI of Denmark
Wikipedia: Marie of Hesse-Cassel

July 31, 1812 – Birth of Amélie of Leuchtenberg, second wife of Emperor Pedro I of Brazil (King Pedro IV of Portugal), in Milan, Lombardy-Venetia (Italy)
Wikipedia: Amélie of Leuchtenberg

July 31, 1942 – Death of Maria Ana of Portugal, wife of Grand Duke Guillaume IV of Luxembourg, in exile during World War II in New York City; buried at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg (after the war)
Unofficial Royalty: Maria Ana of Portugal

July 31, 1966 – Birth of Marina Ogilvy, daughter of Princess Alexandra of Kent, at Thatched House Lodge in Richmond upon Thames in London, England
Full name: Marina Victoria Alexandra
Wikipedia: Marina Ogilvy

July 31, 1993 – Death of Baudouin I, King of the Belgians in the Villa Astrida in Motril, Spain; buried at the Church of Our Lady in Laeken, Brussels, Belgium
Unofficial Royalty: King Baudouin I of the Belgians

July 31, 2004 – Wedding of Lady Davina Windsor, daughter of HRH The Duke of Gloucester, and Gary Lewis, at Kensington Palace, London
Unofficial Royalty: Wedding of Lady Davina Windsor and Gary Lewis
Wikipedia: Lady Davina Windsor

Royal News: Thursday 30 July 2015

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July 30: Today in Royal History

Maria Theresa of Spain, wife of King Louis XIV of France; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

July 30, 1126 – Death of Abbess Cecilia, daughter of King William I of England, at the Abbey of the Holy Trinity in Caen, Normandy; buried at the Abbey of Holy Trinity in Caen, Normandy
Born about 1055, Cecilia was a daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. She entered the Benedictine Convent of the Holy Trinity at Caen in Normandy in 1074. On the death of Abbess Matilda in 1112, Cecilia was elected Abbess and held that office until her death. She was buried in the nuns’ choir at the convent.
Wikipedia: Cecilia of Normandy

July 30, 1683 – Death of Maria Theresa of Spain, wife of King Louis XIV of France, at the Palace of Versailles; buried at Saint Denis Basilica near Paris
Wikipedia: Maria Theresa of Spain

July 30, 1700 – Death of William, Duke of Gloucester, son of Queen Anne of Great Britain, at Windsor Castle, buried at Westminster Abbey
The 11 year old duke’s death was the major reason for the passage of the Act of Settlement in 1701 which gave the throne to Sophie, Electress of Hanover and her Protestant descendants.
Unofficial Royalty: William, Duke of Gloucester
Wikipedia: Act of Settlement 1701

July 30, 1900 – Death of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, son of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, at Schloss Rosenau in Coburg, Germany; buried in the ducal family’s mausoleum in Coburg Cemetery
Unofficial Royalty: Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

July 30, 1912 – Death of Emperor Meiji of Japan; buried in the Fushimi Momoyama Ryo (Graveyard) in Kyoto, Japan; his soul enshrined in Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan
Wikipedia: Emperor Meiji of Japan

July 30, 1967 – Wedding of Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein and Countess Marie Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau at the Cathedral of St. Florin in Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Unofficial Royalty: Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein
Unofficial Royalty: Marie Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau

July 30, 1988 – Wedding of James Ogilvy, son of Princess Alexandra of Kent, and Julia Rawlinson at St. Mary the Virgin in Saffron Waldon, Essex, England
Wikipedia: James Ogilvy
Wikipedia: Julia Rawlinson

July 30, 2011 – Wedding of Zara Phillips, daughter of Anne, Princess Royal, and Mike Tindall at the Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland
Unofficial Royalty: Zara Phillips
Unofficial Royalty: Mike Tindall

Royal News: Wednesday 29 July 2015

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Zarzuela Palace and The Prince’s Pavilion

by Scott Mehl

ZARZUELAZarzuela Palace

Zarzuela Palace has been the residence of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain since their marriage in 1962. Today, it remains their home as well as housing the offices of King Felipe VI.

The palace began as a hunting lodge, built between 1627 and 1635, for King Felipe IV. It was originally just a rectangular building with two small side wings. It takes its name from the zarzas, or brambles, which were founding on the original hunting grounds. The palace later gave its name to an operetta which was debuted at the Palace of El Pardo in 1657 for King Felipe IV. The building was later modified by King Carlos IV who installed many of the decorative features which exist today. Carlos IV filled the palace with tapestries and porcelain, as well as furniture and an extensive collection of clocks.

Zarzuela Palace in the early 1950s

Zarzuela Palace prior to restoration in the 1950s

During the Spanish Civil War, the building suffered significant damage, and extensive restoration took place in the 1950s. In 1962, it became the residence of the future King Juan Carlos and his bride, Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark. Since 1981, it has also been the home of Queen Sofia’s sister, Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark. The private quarters are located in one of two wings which were built adjacent to the building in the 1990s. The other wing houses offices and security personnel.

King Juan Carlos meets with Pope Benedict in his office, 2011. source: Daily Mail/EPA

King Juan Carlos meets with Pope Benedict in his office, 2011. source: Daily Mail/EPA

The main floor of the palace contains formal reception rooms, a library and dining room. Also on the main floor is the King’s Office, which is currently used by King Felipe. Just next to the office is the Audience Hall, where the King receives guests and foreign visitors, and often hosts meetings.

The Prince’s Pavilion

PAVILIONLocated adjacent to Zarzuela Palace is the Prince’s Pavilion, the home of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia and their family. The home was built between 1999-2002 to be a residence for the then-Prince of Asturias. Covering over 3,100 square meters, it is very much a private home. The first floor features several formal rooms used for entertaining and official functions, while the second floor is the private living quarters. Upon his accession, Felipe and Letizia chose to remain at their home, while the King took over his father’s offices at the Palace of Zarzuela.

Learn more about the other Spanish Royal Residences here!

July 29: Today in Royal History

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and Mary, Queen of Scots; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

July 29, 1030 – Death of King Olav II of Norway in battle at Stiklestad, Norway; thought to be buried under Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway
King Olav II is the patron saint of Norway.
Wikipedia: Olav II of Norway

July 29, 1108 – Death of King Philip I of France in Melun, France; buried at the Fleury Abbey in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, France
Wikipedia: Philip I of France

July 29, 1565 – Wedding of Mary, Queen of Scots and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland
Mary and Darnley were both grandchildren of Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII of England
Wikipedia: Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
Wikipedia: Mary, Queen of Scots

July 29, 1588 – Defeat of the Spanish Armada in the Battle of Gravelines by the English Navy
Wikipedia: Spanish Armada

July 29, 1672 – Birth of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond and 1st Duke of Lennox, 1er Duc d’ Aubigny, illegitimate son of King Charles II of England and Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth
Wikipedia: Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond and Lennox

July 29, 1900 – Assassination of King Umberto I of Italy by anarchist Gaetano Bresci at Monza, Italy; buried in the Pantheon in Rome, Italy
Wikipedia: Umberto I of Italy

July 29, 1981 – Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England
Unofficial Royalty: Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer
Wikipedia: Diana, Princess of Wales
Unofficial Royalty: Charles, Prince of Wales

Royal News: Tuesday 28 July 2015

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July 28: Today in Royal History

King Frederik VIII of Denmark and Lovisa of Sweden; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

July 28, 1540 – Execution of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry VIII of England, at Tower Hill in London, England
Wikipedia: Thomas Cromwell

July 28, 1540 – Wedding of King Henry VIII of England and Catherine Howard, his fifth wife, at Hampton Court Palace in Richmond, England
Catherine Howard was a first cousin of Anne Boleyn.
Wikipedia: Catherine Howard
Wikipedia: Henry VIII of England

July 28, 1683 – Wedding of Queen Anne of the United Kingdom and Prince George of Denmark, son of King Frederik III of Denmark, at the Chapel Royal, St. James Palace in London, England
Wikipedia: Prince George of Denmark
Wikipedia: Queen Anne of the United Kingdom

July 28, 1684 – Death of Charlotte Jemima Henrietta Maria FitzRoy, illegitimate daughter of King Charles II of England and Elizabeth Killigrew; buried at Westminster Abbey
Wikipedia: Charlotte FitzRoy

July 28, 1844 – Death of Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte, King of Naples and Sicily, King of Spain and the Indies, Comte de Survilliers in Florence, Italy; buried at Les Invalides in Paris, France
Wikipedia: Joseph Bonaparte

July 28, 1869 – Wedding of King Frederik VIII of Denmark and Lovisa of Sweden at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden
Wikipedia: Frederik VIII of Denmark
Wikipedia: Lovisa of Sweden

July 28, 1996 – Birth of Samuel Chatto, son of Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones and grandson of Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom
Full name: Samuel David Benedict
Wikipedia: Samuel Chatto