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2013 Year in Review: Royals Visit Nat’l Libraries

Swedish, Spanish, and Moroccan heads-of-state and possible future heads-of-state visited the Library of Congress (the de facto American national library), the (Spanish) National Library, and the Moroccan National Library. Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and his consort, Queen Silvia, visited the Thomas Jefferson Building - the oldest of several buildings occupied by the Library of Congress - in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia Renate visited the Library of Congress on May 9, 2013.  The Thomas Jefferson Building opened as the Library of Congress building in 1897.  It is the oldest of three buildings that now house the Library of Congress.
Kris Connor/Getty Images

His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf was born in 1946 and inherited the throne from his grandfather King Gustaf VI Adolf (lived 1882-1973, reigned 1950-1973) on his grandfather’s death, as his father, Prince Gustaf Adolf (1906-1946), Duke of Västerbotten, had died in a plane crash. His mother, Princess Sibylla of Sweden, Duchess of Västerbotten, was related to the British and German imperial families and the Danish royal family.

Queen Silvia was born Silvia Renate Sommerlath, and was a German-born commoner, albeit one descended from an illegitimate son of a 13th Century Portuguese king. As a prince, Carl Gustaf met her at the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Notably, he married her in 1976, after he inherited the throne. In the recent past, if he had married her before he ascended the throne his family would have declared it a morganatic marriage and their children would have been barred from inheriting the throne. Both of his daughters have married commoners.

King Carl XVI Gustaf & Queen Silvia have three children: Crown Princess Victoria, Duchess of Västergötland; Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland; and Princess Madeline, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland. In 1979, the Swedish legislature passed a law amending the Act of Succession to introduce absolute primogeniture so the first born child of a monarch, regardless of sex – becomes heir apparent. As a result, on January 1, 1980 Prince Carl Philip ceased to be Crown Prince and his elder sister, Victoria, became Crown Princess. [1]

According to Roxanne Roberts and Emily Yahr of The Washington Post, while they were in Washington, D.C. the Swedish king and queen were due to attend “a Department of Treasury ceremony unveiling a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the late Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who rescued thousands of Jews during the Holocaust” and “a think-tank gathering to discuss Arctic issues,” as well as tour the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and meet with the Swedish Caucus at the Capitol. They were also supposed to attend the opening night of the Washington Ballet’s Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises at the Kennedy Center. Then, they were supposed to make stops in Delaware, Philadelphia, and New York.

The Swedish monarch and his wife were in the U.S. to mark the 375th anniversary of the arrival of the ship Kalmar Nyckel on what are now our shores. The New Sweden Company established a colony in what is now Delaware, the native inhabitants of which were the Lenape (Delaware Indians).

Swedish colonists founded what is now Wilmington when they built Fort Kristina in 1638.[2] The Dutch colony of New Netherland later conquered and annexed New Sweden in 1655, only to be conquered by the British in 1664.

The Spanish heir apparent, His Royal Highness Don Felipe, The Prince of Asturias, and his wife, Her Royal Highness Doña Letizia, Princess of Asturias, attended the exhibition “La Transicion En Tinta China” (“The Transition In Indian Ink”) at the (Spanish) National Library on May 27, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. India ink, or Indian ink as it’s called in England, is a carbon-based black ink, and as early as the period of the Maurya Empire (321-185 B.C.), masi, as the variety actually produced in ancient India is known, was produced with lampblack (soot collected from lamps), tar, and pitch.

This ink was invented in China, but it has also been made in India for over 2,000 years. It is known as India ink because it was imported from India to European ports.

Don Felipe de Borbón y de Grecia was born in 1968, the son of Don Juan Carlos, Prince of Asturias, and Sofia, Princess of Asturias.[3] On January 21, 1977, His Majesty The King Juan Carlos I of Spain decreed his eldest son “Prince of Asturias and other titles historically related to the Heir to the Crown of Spain.”

Don Felipe also uses the titles Prince of Griona as heir apparent to the historic Kingdom of Aragon; Prince of Viana as heir apparent to the Kingdom of Navarre;[4] Duque de Montblanc as heir to the Principality of Catalonia; Count of Cervera as heir apparent to the Kingdom of Valencia;[5] and Lord of Balaguer as heir apparent of the Kingdom of Majorca.[6] Consequently, his wife also uses these titles.

Doña Letizia, also born a commoner, worked as a television news anchor before Don Felipe married her in 2004. She was briefly married to a high school teacher, Alonso Guerrero Pérez, from 1998 to 1999.

As their wedding was a civil ceremony, it was unnecessary for Pope John Paul II to annul her first marriage before she wed Felipe in Santa María la Real de La Almudena Cathedral on May 22, 2004. Felipe & Letizia have two daughters, Infanta Leonor, born in 2005, and Infanta Sofia, born in 2007.

Prince Felipe, Princess Leizia, and their daughters reside in a mansion on the grounds of Palacio de la Zarzuela (Zarzuela Palace), the de facto residence of King Juan Carlos & Queen Sofia, on the northern outskirts of Madrid. The Spanish Royal Family only uses the Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid), their official residence, on special occasions.[7] They let sitting Spanish prime ministers reside in the Palacio de la Moncloa (Palace of Moncloa) in the University City district of Madrid and visiting foreign heads of state occupy the Palacio Real de El Pardo (Royal Palace of El Pardo), where Franco lived, on the same grounds as the smaller Zarzuela Palace.

On Tuesday, July 16, 2013 the second day of a four-day-long visit to Morocco, King Juan Carlos I of Spain[8] participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with His Majesty The King Mohammed VI of Morocco[9] and Mohammad’s younger brother, Prince Moulay Rachid, at the inauguration of the exhibition “25 Anos de Cooperacion Hispano-Marroqui” ("25 Years of Spanish-Moroccan Cooperation") at the (Moroccan) National Library in Rabat, Morocco. The visit of the Spanish monarch was symbolically important because Spanish-Moroccan relations have long been contentious.[10]

King Juan Carlos was born in 1938 and came to the throne in 1975 two days after the death of the military dictator Francisco Franco, though he had been acting head-of-state while Franco was ill for several months in 1974 and ‘75. In the new Spanish Constitution of 1978, approved by referendum, Juan Carlos was recognized as king as the legitimate heir to the throne of his ancestors (rather than as Franco’s heir).

King Mohammed was born in 1963 and came to the throne on the death of his father, King Hassan II. Like Juan Carlos, Mohammed is a reformer.

[1] As members of House Bernadotte, Carl Gustaf, his children, and granddaughter – Victoria’s daughter, Princess Estelle of Sweden, Duchess of Östergötland – are direct descendants of Field Marshal Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte (1763-1844). For his victories on the battlefield, Emperor Napoleon I had rewarded Bernadotte with the titles Marshal of the Empire and Prince of Ponte Corvo (in Italy). The Swedish Riksdag of the Estates voted to make Bernadotte the heir of the elderly and childless King Karl XIII of Sweden/Karl II of Norway. Bernadotte ruled as Karl XIV John of Sweden and Karl III John of Norway.

[2] New Sweden was the brainchild of King Gustav II Adolph (lived 1594-1632, reigned 1611-1692), the founder of the Swedish empire. He reorganized the Swedish Royal Army and with battlefield victories gained Baltic territories at the expense of the Russian Empire (1617) and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1629) before he intervened in German politics, joining – and soon emerging as the leader – of the Protestant forces in the Thirty Years War until he was killed in the Battle of Lützen (1632). The Swedish colonists also named the Maax-waas Hanna (“Bear River”) the Christina River in honor of their young sovereign, Queen Christina (lived 1626-1689, reigned 1633-1654), the daughter of Gustavus Adolphus who would later convert to Catholicism and flee to Rome.

[3] At the time of Felipe’s birth, his father, Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria de Borbón y Borbón was a pretender. Franco presented Juan Carlos with the title Prince of Spain in 1969. Before she married Juan Carlos in 1962, Queen Sofia was known (in English) as Her Royal Highness Sofia, Princess of Greece and Denmark. [The modern Greek royal family is a cadet branch of the Danish royal family.] She is the sister of King Constantine II of Greece, who was deposed in 1967.

[4] These titles are politically meaningful because there are independence movements in both of these constituent kingdoms that merged with Castile & Leon to form the Kingdom of Spain.

[5] King James I of Aragon created the Kingdom of Valencia by conquering Moorish principalities in the 1230s and 1240s.

[6] James I also created the Kingdom of Majorca when he conquered the Balearic Islands.

[7] On September 23, 2013, King Juan Carlos received sixteen new ambassadors who presented their credentials at Zarzuela Palace instead of the Royal Palace of Madrid because he was ill and went to Quiron University Hospital in in Pozuelo de Alarcon, Spain to undergo surgery to replace his left prosthetic hip, which was infected, on September 25, 2013.

[8] In 1947, Franco had proclaimed the restoration of the monarchy, but never enthroned the heir apparent, Infante Juan (1913-1993), Count of Barcelona. Instead, in 1969, he handpicked Juan’s son Juan Carlos to succeed himself as Spanish head-of-state. To the displeasure of the Falangists, the military, and monarchists, in 1977 Juan Carlos restored the constitutional monarchy that had existed between the First Restoration of the Monarchy in 1874 – when his great-grandfather Alfonso XII came to power after the collapse of the First Spanish Republic (1873-74) – and his grandfather King Alfonso XIII fled the country in 1931 after anti-monarchist politicians swept to victory in municipal elections. The proclamation of the (Second) Spanish Republic had led to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). General Franco led the Nationalists (monarchist and religious elements in the Spanish Army and members of the Falange political party), who were allied with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, to triumph over the Republicans (republicans, Marxists, socialists, and anarchists), who were allied with the Soviet Union. [It should be recalled that the overthrow of the monarchy and the Spanish Civil War occurred against the backdrop of the Great Depression, as had the resignation of the military dictator Primo de Rivera as prime minister in 1930.] In 1977, Infante Juan renounced his claim to the throne in favor of his son Juan Carlos, who had actually occupied it for over a year.

[9] In a referendum last year, voters approved a new constitution he proposed that called for him to delegate more powers to the legislature and prime minister and make the Berber language an official language of the state like Arabic.

[10] In late antiquity, a German tribe, the Vandals, conquered Roman Spain (modern Spain and Portugal), the Roman province of Africa (North Africa west of Egypt), and various Mediterranean islands. [In the 530s, the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire destroyed the Vandal kingdom as part of Emperor Justinian’s plan to reunify the Roman Empire.] In the 700s, Arab tribes newly united by Islam conquered multiple Asian and African provinces of the Byzantine Empire and swept into Visigothic Spain. [Another German tribe, the Visigoths had helped the Romans regain control of Spain from the Vandals, but later conquered Roman Spain themselves. The inhabitants of Spain at that point had been a combination of native Celtiberians and colonists from Carthage, Greece, and Rome, as well as individuals from far-flung Roman provinces. The line of Visigothic high kings had died out before the Arab invasion, so there was no central government to organize resistance. The lesser Visigothic kings fell back to Asturias.] Two Berber dynasties in modern Morocco – the Almoravid Dynasty and the Almohad Dynasty – who ruled the Maghreb (North African west of Egypt) conquered Al-Andalus – the parts of Visigothic Spain Arabs had conquered in the 8th Century – from the 11th to the 13th Centuries, after they helped their Arab co-religionists repulse attempts by Christians to recover the lost lands and concluded the Arab rulers were weak. Between 1212 and 1248, alliances of Christian kings from Portugal, Castile, Navarre, and Aragon smashed Almohad forces. A third Berber dynasty, the Marinids, who had conquered the Maghreb, tried to conquer the Iberian Peninsula, but their army was defeated by Kings Alfonso XI of Castile, Leon, and Galicia and Alfonso IV of Portugal in the Battle of Río Salado (1340). With the end of the Reconquest in 1492, when Isabella I of Castile & Leon and her husband King Ferdinand II of Aragon, Valencia, Majorca, the Two Sicilies, and Sardinia – both members of the Trastámara Dynasty – conquered the Emirate of Grenada, the last Muslim kingdom in Spain, re-establishing European Christian control over all of Spain, many Muslims and some Jews fled to what is now Morocco. More recently, the Alaouite Dynasty, which has ruled all or part of Morocco since 1631, was able to maintain nominal independence against encroachments by the Ottoman Turkish Empire, the Republic of France, and the Kingdom of Spain, but between 1912 and 1956 had to accept a French protectorate over most of Morocco, and two Spanish protectorates over the extreme northern and southern ends of the kingdom. Sultan Mohammad V negotiated true independence and re-integration of his country into one political entity in 1956 and assumed the title of king in ‘57. Spain continues to rule two small port-cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the mainland and some small islands off the coast of Morocco. In 1957, Morocco began to demand that Spain relinquish control of the Spanish Sahara. [This sliver of North Africa’s Atlantic coastline is a sparsely-populated desert region south/southwest of Morocco that is also bordered by Algeria to the northeast and Mauritania to the east and south.] The colony of Spanish Sahara existed from 1884 to 1975. In the mid-1960s, the U.N. passed resolutions calling on Spain to de-colonize the territory and hold a referendum on independence. Morocco claimed the northern two-thirds of Western Sahara and Mauritania claimed the southern third. Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania were parties to the Madrid Accords (1975). Mauritania relinquished claims to the Western Sahara in 1979 in the face of an independence movement.