Royal News: Saturday 31 January 2015

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Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain

photo: Wikipedia

Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain

Princess Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena of Battenberg (known as Ena) was born on October 24, 1887 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the only daughter of Prince Henry of Battenberg and Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria. She had three brothers:

Raised in her grandmother’s household, the family moved constantly between Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle and Osborne House. In January 1896, Ena’s father died of malaria while en route to fight in the Ashanti War. Following his death, Queen Victoria gave the family apartments at Kensington Palace where they lived while in London. After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, Kensington Palace became their primary residence, along with Osborne Cottage on the grounds of Osborne House.

 

In 1905, Ena met her future husband, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, while he was on a State Visit to the United Kingdom. The two soon began corresponding and quickly became smitten with each other. However, several issues needed to be resolved before they could consider marriage. First was the looming threat of hemophilia. Ena’s brother was suffering from the disease, so there was a very good chance that she might bring it to the Spanish royal family. However, with little known about the disease at the time, Alfonso didn’t seem to be too concerned. The bigger obstacles were Ena’s religion and (as far as Alfonso’s mother was concerned), less than royal bloodline. However, Ena willingly agreed to convert to Catholicism, and her uncle, King Edward VII, elevated her rank to Royal Highness so there could be no question of an unequal marriage. These seem to have appeased the Dowager Queen and the engagement was announced.

The couple married on May 31, 1906, at the Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo in Madrid, in a wedding attended by many royals from around the world. The marriage was not, however, without incident. While the wedding procession was returning to the Royal Palace, an assassination attempt was made on the King and his new Queen. Both Alfonso and Ena were unharmed, however several guards and bystanders were killed or injured. Eventually, the couple would have seven children:

Queen Ena with her children. Photo: Wikipedia

After the birth of their first son, Alfonso, it was discovered that he was suffering from hemophilia. Despite having known the risks beforehand, King Alfonso blamed Ena, and it began a rift in their marriage which would never fully heal. In the end, only their first and last sons had the disease.

Victoria Eugenie threw herself into her new role as Queen, and began working with charities that supported the poor, promoted education, and took a particular interest in nursing and hospital care. She would later be instrumental in reorganizing the Spanish Red Cross, and is often credited as helping to advance the healthcare system in Spain. Despite a somewhat rocky relationship at first, she soon became greatly admired and loved by the Spanish people.

Following the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, the family went into exile. Settling first in France, and then Italy, the couple soon went their separate ways. Ena returned to London, taking up residence at 34 Porchester Terrace, to be close to her mother. In 1938, she would reunite with her husband in Rome, for the christening of their grandson, Juan Carlos. The following year she left London and returned to Rome. Despite their separation, she was concerned about Alfonso’s diminishing health, and wanted to be near by. Alfonso died in February 1941, surrounded by his family. Less than a year later, she was forced to leave Italy, as members of Mussolini’s government were accusing her of spying. She settled in Lausanne, Switzerland, at the Hotel Royal. Several years later, in 1947, Ena purchased a villa – Vieille Fontaine – in Lausanne. It was here, in 1961, that she welcomed the media to announce the engagement of her grandson, Juan Carlos, and Princess Sophia of Greece.

 

By most accounts, Queen Victoria Eugenie’s later life was spent enjoying her grandchildren, and keeping up her rather busy social schedule. Shortly after Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Ena took the young Grace under her wing, helping her adjust to her new royal life. A lifelong friendship ensued, and Ena was asked to be godmother to their son, Prince Albert II. She was also godmother to Queen Fabiola of Belgium and the late Duchess of Alba.

photo: Casa Real

photo: Casa Real

In February 1968, Queen Victoria Eugenie returned to Spain for the first time since going into exile in 1931. Staying at the Palace of Liria with her goddaughter, the Duchess of Alba, Ena was there to serve as godmother to her new great-grandson, the current King Felipe VI. She was deeply touched by the crowds who came to greet her wherever she went, and tried to see as many things as she could during her short visit. After the christening, she allegedly took General Franco aside to discuss the future of the monarchy, and particularly the succession to the throne. Several different stories exist about the actual conversation, but she had previously stressed that it would probably be best to skip over her son, Juan, and entrust the future of the monarchy, and Spain, to Juan Carlos.

Her trip to Spain would be one of her last public appearances. She returned to her home in Switzerland, and soon her health began to fail. Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Queen of Spain, passed away on April 15, 1969 at her home, surrounded by her family. Ironically, it was 38 years to the day that she had been forced to leave Spain in 1931. Her funeral was held at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Lausanne, and she was buried in the nearby Cemetery Bois-de-Vaux. In April 1985, her grandson, King Juan Carlos, had her remains returned to Spain where they were interred in the Pantheon of the Kings in the Royal Crypt of the Monastery of El Escorial.

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January 31: Today in Royal History

Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma, 1st wife of Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Photo Credit – Wikipedia

January 31, 1512 – Birth of King Henrique of Portugal in Lisbon, Portugal
Wikipedia: Henrique of Portugal

January 31, 1580 – Death of King Henrique of Portugal at Almeirim, Portugal; buried at Jerónimos Monastery, Lisbon
Wikipedia: Henrique of Portugal

January 31, 1606 – Execution of Guy Fawkes, convicted in the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and King James I of England
Wikipedia: Guy Fawkes

January 31, 1756 – Birth of Marie-Thérèse of Savoy, wife of King Charles X of France, at the Royal Palace, Turin, Savoy, Italy
Wikipedia: Marie-Thérèse of Savoy

January 31, 1788 – Death of Charles Edward Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Young Pretender at Palazzo Muti, Rome; buried at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
Wikipedia: Charles Edward Stuart

January 31, 1899 – Death of Maria Luisa of Bourbon-Parma in childbirth, first wife of Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria, in Sofia, Bulgaria; buried at the Cathedral of St. Louis of France in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Wikipedia: Maria Luisa of Bourbon-Parma

January 31, 1938 – Birth of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands at Soestdijk Palace in Baarn, Netherlands
Full name: Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard
Unofficial Royalty: Beatrix of the Netherlands

Royal News: Friday 30 January 2015

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King Alfonso XIII of Spain

photo: Wikipedia

King Alfonso XIII of Spain

King Alfonso XIII of Spain was the Spanish sovereign from his birth on May 17, 1886 until the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic on April 14, 1931. He was born Alfonso León Fernando María Jaime Isidro Pascual Antonio de Borbón y Habsburgo-Lorena, the son of the late King Alfonso XII of Spain and Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria. Because his father had died before his birth, his mother served as Regent while awaiting his birth. She would remain Regent until Alfonso turned 16 and took control of the monarchy. He had two older sisters:

 

While on a State Visit to the United Kingdom in 1905, King Alfonso met Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, the daughter of Prince Henry of Battenberg and Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom (the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria). The two soon began corresponding and developed quite strong feelings for each other. However, there were several obstacles in their relationship that would need to be resolved before they could consider marriage. The first issue was religion. Alfonso was Catholic while Victoria Eugenie was Protestant. The second issue was the potential of bringing hemophilia into the Spanish royal family. As Victoria Eugenie’s brother suffered from the disease, there was a very good chance that Victoria Eugenie herself was a carrier. And the third obstacle was Alfonso’s mother, the Dowager Queen. She did not feel the Battenbergs were royal enough (due to the morganatic marriage which started that family), and wanted her son to marry a member of the Habsburg dynasty of Austria. Eventually all three obstacles were overcome. Victoria Eugenie (known as Ena) agreed to convert to Catholicism, and despite the risk of hemophilia, Alfonso still chose to marry her. Her uncle, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, raised her style to Royal Highness, so as to remove any question of the marriage being equal.

The couple married on May 31, 1906, at the Royal Monastery of San Jerónimo in Madrid, in a wedding attended by many royals from around the world. The marriage was not, however, without incident. While the wedding procession was returning to the Royal Palace, an assassination attempt was made on the King and his new Queen. Both Alfonso and Ena were unharmed, however several guards and bystanders were killed or injured. Eventually, the couple would have seven children:

Alfonso and Ena’s marriage was strained from the birth of their first son, Alfonso. Shortly after his birth, it was discovered that he was suffering from hemophilia. Of their children, only their oldest and youngest had the disease. Despite knowing the possible risk before they married, King Alfonso blamed Ena for bringing the disease into the royal family, and distanced himself from her. He had several mistresses and fathered at least 6 illegitimate children.

In 1923, General Miguel Primo de Rivera seized power in a military coup, with the support of King Alfonso. He named him Prime Minister and served as dictator for the next seven years. In 1930, after falling from grace with the King, and losing much of his public support, Primo de Rivera resigned. Having been an ally for most of that time, the King also suffered a huge lack of support from the Spanish people. In 1931, elections were held, resulting in the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic. Alfonso and his family fled Spain, settling in France and then Italy.

 

Soon after going into exile, King Alfonso and Queen Victoria Eugenie went their separate ways. He remained in Rome, while the Queen settled in Switzerland. On January 15, 1941, feeling that his life was coming to an end, Alfonso formally abdicated in favor of his third son, Juan, Count of Barcelona. (His two older sons had both renounced their claims to the throne in the early 1930s.) Just weeks later, on February 28, 1941, King Alfonso XIII died at the Grand Hotel in Rome. He was just 54 years old. His funeral was held at the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri in Rome, and he was buried at the Church of Santa Maria in Monserrato degli Spagnoli, the Spanish national church in the city. In 1980, his remains were returned to Spain and interred in the Pantheon of Kings in the Royal Crypt of the Monastery of El Escorial.

The Pantheon of the Kings. Photo: Wikipedia

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January 30: Today in Royal History

Tomb of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria (on the right); Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer, 2012

January 30, 1649 – King Charles I of England is beheaded at the Palace of Whitehall; buried at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Wikipedia: Charles I of England
Eyewitness to History: The Execution of Charles I, 1649

January 30, 1676 – Death of Tsar Alexis I of Russia in Moscow; buried at the Cathedral of the Archangel in Moscow
Wikipedia: Alexis I of Russia

January 30, 1730 – Death of Tsar Peter II of Russia at Moscow; buried in the Kremlin, Moscow
Peter II, the grandson of Peter the Great, died of smallpox at age 14.
Wikipedia: Peter II of Russia

January 30, 1853 – Wedding of Napoleon III of France and Eugenie de Montijo at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Civil marriage was held on January 29, 1853 at the Tuileries Palace.
Wikipedia: Napoleon III of France
Wikipedia: Eugenie de Montijo

January 30, 1889 – Apparent suicides of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and Baroness Marie Vetsera at Mayerling, Austria; Rudolf was buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna, Austria; Marie was secretly buried in a cemetery in Heiligenkreuz, Austria
Wikipedia: Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria
Wikipedia: Marie Vetsera
Wikipedia: Mayerling Incident

January 30, 1894 – Birth of Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria in Sofia, Bulgaria
Full name: Boris Klemens Robert Maria Pius Ludwig Stanislaus Xaver
Wikipedia: Boris III of Bulgaria

January 30, 1962 – Birth of King Abdullah II of Jordan in Amman, Jordan
Unofficial Royalty: King Abdullah II of Jordan

January 30, 1968 – Birth of King Felipe VI of Spain in Madrid, Spain
Full name: Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y de Grecia
Unofficial Royalty: King Felipe VI of Spain

January 30, 1993 – Death Alexandra of Greece and Denmark, Queen of Yugoslavia
Unofficial Royalty: Alexandra of Greece & Denmark, Queen of Yugoslavia

January 30, 2005 – Birth of Prince Hashem of Jordan, son of King Abdullah II of Jordan, in Amman, Jordan
Wikipedia: Prince Hashem of Jordan

Prince Claus of the Netherlands (Claus van Amsberg)

Photo Credit – “Prince Claus of the Netherlands 1986″ by Croes, Rob C. / Anefo – [1] Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANeFo), 1945-1989, Nummer toegang 2.24.01.06 Bestanddeelnummer 253-8984. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 nl via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prince_Claus_of_the_Netherlands_1986.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Prince_Claus_of_the_Netherlands_1986.jpg

Prince Claus of the Netherlands, was the husband of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Klaus-Georg Wilhelm Otto Friedrich Gerd von Amsberg was born on 6 September 6, 1926 at Haus Dötzingen, his family’s estate near Hitzacker, Germany. He was the only son of the seven children of Klaus von Amsberg, a member of the German Niederer Adel (lower nobility), and Baroness Gösta von dem Bussche-Haddenhausen.

Claus had six sisters:

  • Sigrid von Amsberg (born 1925), married in 1952 to Bernd Jencquel, had issue
  • Rixa von Amsberg (born 1927 – 2010), married to Peter Ahrend
  • Margit von Amsberg (born 1930 – 1988), married in 1964 to Ernst Grubitz, had issue
  • Barbara von Amsberg (born 1930), married in 1963 to Günther Haarhaus, had issue
  • Theda von Amsberg (born 1939), married in 1966 to Baron Karl von Friesen, had issue
  • Christina von Amsberg (born 1945), married in 1961 to Baron Hans Hubertus von der Recke, had issue

In 1928, the family moved to the former German colony of Tanganyika (later Tanzania), where his father was manager of a coffee and sisal plantation. In 1933, Claus and his sisters were sent to live with their maternal grandmother in Lower Saxony, Germany. He attended the attended the Friderico-Francisceum-Gymnasium in Bad Doberan, Germany from 1933 to 1936 and a German boarding school in Lushoto, Tanganyika from 1936 to 1938.

In 1938, Claus and his mother moved back to Germany and he attended Balt Schule, a boarding school in Misdroy, Pomerania, Germany (now in Poland). Claus then moved back with his maternal grandmother in 1943 and again attended the Friderico-Francisceum-Gymnasium. He joined the German Youth and later, the Hitler Youth.  Membership in both organizations was compulsory for eligible boys.

Claus was drafted into the German Wehrmacht in 1944. He trained with an armored division from August 1944 – March 1945. Claus then became a soldier in the German 90th Panzergrenadier Division in Italy in March 1945, but taken as a prisoner of war by the American forces at Merano, Italy before taking part in any fighting. Claus was sent to a prisoner of war camp at Ghedi, Italy where he worked as an interpreter and a driver. In September of 1945, he was sent to Camp Latimer, an American internment camp in England and again served as an interpreter. In December of 1945, Claus was released and returned to his birthplace Hitzacker, Germany.

Claus was able to finish his secondary education in Lüneburg, Germany and studied law at the University of Hamburg, graduating in 1952. After an internship in the United States and for a short period at a law firm, where he was worked with the restitution of Jewish Germans in West Germany, he chose a new direction, diplomacy. He passed the necessary exams, and worked in the West German embassies in the Dominican Republic and the Ivory Coast. In 1963, Claus went to work in the West German capital of Bonn at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Section for Economic Relations with Africa south of the Sahara.

On New Year’s Eve in 1962, Claus met Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, the heir to the Dutch throne, at a party with friends in Bad Driburg, Germany. The couple met again at the wedding eve party of Princess Tatjana of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Moritz, Landgrave of Hesse, in June of 1964. Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg acted as a go-between for the couple and did much to strengthen their relationship.

On May 1, 1965, a photographer took a photo of the couple in the gardens at in the garden of Drakensteyn Castle and their relationship became public. The fact that he was a German national, had been a member of the Hitler Youth, and had served in the Wehrmacht, caused great controversy among the Dutch people. Among other protests, orange swastikas were painted on walls around Amsterdam as an ugly association between the House of Orange and Germany’s Nazi past. Queen Juliana gave her permission to the marriage although she had given serious thoughts to not allowing it. The Dutch parliament debated long and vehemently about the proposed marriage. Only after the historian Loe de Jong had established that Claus was not to blame for any war crimes, was the marriage approved. On December 10, 1965, Claus received a Dutch passport and on February 16, 1966, his name was officially changed to Claus George Willem Otto Frederik Geert van Amsberg.

 

Claus and Beatrix were married on March 10, 1966, at the Westerkerk, a large church just down the street from the building where Dutch Jewish teenager Anne Frank hid during World War II. The ride to and from the church was disrupted by riots with smoke bombs and firecrackers. According to some newspapers, there were about a thousand rioters chanting “revolution” and “Claus get out”. Claus was granted the style and titles His Royal Highness Prince Claus of the Netherlands, Jonkheer van Amsberg.
Unofficial Royalty: Wedding of Beatrix of the Netherlands and Claus von Amsberg

 

After their marriage, Claus and Beatrix lived at Drakensteyn Castle and Claus began to learn Dutch. In the first year of his marriage, Claus kept in the background. The first time he was the center of attention was when he came to register the birth and name of his eldest son at the Utrecht city hall and then gave a short televised speech to the Dutch people.

Claus and Beatrix had three sons:

  • King Willem-Alexander (born April 27, 1967) married 2002 Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, had three daughters
  • Prince Friso (September 25, 1968 – August 12, 2013) married 2004 Mabel Wisse Smit in 2004, had two daughters
  • Prince Constantijn (born October 11, 1969) married 2001 Laurentien Brinkhorst, has two daughters and a son

 

Over the years, Claus became accepted by the Dutch public and during the last part of his life he was considered the most popular member of the Dutch Royal Family. Claus remained fascinated by Africa, and was appointed Chairman of the National Commission for Development Strategy, a publicity organization for the development African policy of the government. On April 30, 1980, Queen Juliana abdicated and Beatrix became Queen. The family moved to Huis ten Bosch, a royal palace in The Hague. On June 10, 1981, Claus was appointed regent in case Queen Beatrix died before their eldest son reached his 18th birthday.

 

Claus suffered from various health issues. In 1982, Claus was diagnosed with depression and spent some time in the hospital. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991. Claus underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer in 1998, but the radiation for the cancer caused urinary tract problems. In 2001, a kidney was removed and he had problems with the other kidney. Respiratory infections kept him in the hospital during the spring of 2002, shortly after the wedding of his eldest son Willem-Alexander. On August 9, 2002 he had a coronary angioplasty. Prince Claus, aged 76, died on October 6, 2002 at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands from Parkinson’s disease and pneumonia. He was buried in the crypt of the royal family in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft.

Photo Credit – “Funeral of Prince Claus of the Netherlands” by Looi from nl. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Funeral_of_Prince_Claus_of_the_Netherlands.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Funeral_of_Prince_Claus_of_the_Netherlands.jpg

Wikipedia: Prince Claus of the Netherlands

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January 29: Today in Royal History

Tomb of King Christian IX of Denmark and his wife; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer, 2011

January 29, 1601 – Death of Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont, wife of King Henri III of France, at Moulins, Allier in France; first buried at was buried at the Convent of the Capuchins, re-interred in 1817 next to her husband in the Saint Denis Basilica
Wikipedia: Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont

January 29, 1749 – Birth of King Christian VII of Denmark and Norway at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark
Wikipedia: Christian VII of Denmark

January 29, 1820 – Death of King George III of the United Kingdom at Windsor Castle; buried at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Wikipedia: George III of the United Kingdom

January 29, 1844 – Death of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in Gotha (Germany)
Ernst was the father of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband.  He was also Queen Victoria’s uncle.
Wikipedia: Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

January 29, 1860 – Death of Stéphanie de Beauharnais, wife of Karl, Grand Duke of Baden, in Nice, France
Wikipedia: Stéphanie de Beauharnais

January 29, 1906 – Death of Christian IX of Denmark at Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark; buried at Roskilde Cathedral
King Christian was the father of King Frederick VIII of Denmark, King George I of Greece, Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom and Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia.  He was as much the “grandfather of Europe” as Queen Victoria was the grandmother. His grandchildren sat upon the thrones of Denmark, the United Kingdom, Russia, Greece and Norway.  Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, King Harald of Norway, King Albert II of Belgium, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Queen Sofia of Spain and former King Constantine of Greece are among his many descendants.
Wikipedia: Christian IX of Denmark

January 29, 2000 – Wedding of Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein and Angela Brown, civilly in Vaduz, Liechtenstein on January 21, 2000 and religiously in New York City at St. Vincent Ferrer Church on January 29, 2000
Unofficial Royalty: Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein
Wikipedia: Angela Brown

Royal News: Thursday 29 January 2015

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January 28: Today in Royal History

King Henry VIII of England; Photo Credit – WIkipedia

January 28, 814 – Death of Charlemagne at Aachen, Germany; buried at the Aachen Cathedral
Wikipedia: Charlemagne

January 28, 1271 – Death of Isabella of Aragon, wife of King Philip III of France; buried at the Basilica of St. Denis
Wikipedia: Isabella of Aragon

January 28, 1457 – Birth of King Henry VII of England at Pembroke Castle, Wales
Wikipedia: Henry VII of England

January 28, 1547 – Death of King Henry VIII of England at Whitehall Palace, London; buried at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Wikipedia: Henry VIII of England

January 28, 1768 – Birth of King Frederik VI of Denmark and Norway at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark
Wikipedia: Frederik VI of Denmark

January 28, 1845 – Death of Elizabeth Mikhailovna of Russia, first wife of Adolphe of Nassau, the future Grand Duke of Luxembourg, in childbirth at Castle Biebrich in Wiesbaden; buried at the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Elizabeth in Wiesbaden (Germany)
Wikipedia: Elizabeth Mikhailovna of Russia

January 28, 1941 – Death of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, in exile, in Rome, Italy; first buried at Church of Santa Maria di Monserrato, the Spanish national church in Rome, in 1980 his remains were transferred to San Lorenzo de El Escorial in Spain
Wikipedia: Alfonso XIII of Spain

January 28, 1941- Birth of Susan Cullen-Ward, wife of King Leka I of Albania, pretender to the Albanian throne, in Waverley, Sydney, Australia
Wikipedia: Susan Cullen-Ward

January 28, 1950 – Birth of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, in Riffa, Bahrain
Unofficial Royalty: King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain