Here is some contemporary news, which happen to be loosely related to the life story of my grandmother’s half-sister Gerda. I’ve posted about this elsewhere but I’m putting it in here too.
The Associated Press
Date: Thursday Feb. 23, 2012 10:52 AM ET
STOCKHOLM — Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria gave birth to her first child Thursday, a baby girl who will one day become queen, prompting banner headlines and 21-gun salutes across the country.
The girl, who is second in line to the Swedish throne, was born at 4:26 a.m. (0326 GMT), said Victoria's husband, Prince Daniel. She was 20 inches (51 cms) long and weighed 7.23 pounds (3.28 kg).
Victoria, 34, is next in line to the throne held by her father since 1973. Sweden changed the constitution in 1980, three years after Victoria was born, to allow the eldest heir to inherit the throne regardless of gender. Before that female heirs were excluded. Sweden's last female monarch was Queen Ulrika Eleonora, who ruled for just one year until 1720.
Victoria married Daniel, 38, a commoner and her former personal trainer, in June 2010.
As is custom when an heir to the throne is born, the Swedish Armed Forces celebrated the news with two 21-gun salutes at noon in Stockholm and other cities.
This is the only picture made pucblic so far of Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, Duchess of Östergötland. With her parents Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel. (Photo from the Royal Family’s Facebook page.)
As soon as the birth was announced yesterday, name speculations started. Today the name was officially announced, and the TV hosts were obviously a bit surprised and bewildered at first about the choice of Estelle. It took them a while to get their bearings and find the background for it. I wonder if I was the only one reacting with an “Of course!” and wishing I’d actually thought of making a serious guess of it…
In the introduction page to this blog (see tab at the top of the page) I mention that my p.grandmother’s half-sister Gerda was employed as chamber maid or similar to Estelle Manville-Bernadotte, American wife of the well-known Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte, related to/member of our royal family.
Folke Bernadotte (2 January 1895 – 17 September 1948) was grandson to King Oscar II of Sweden, who was King of Sweden 1872-1907 (and of Norway 1872-1905).
Folke Bernadotte also earned his own place in history as a Swedish diplomat noted for among other things his negotiation of the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during World War II. After the war, Bernadotte was unanimously chosen to be the United Nations Security Council mediator in the Arab–Israeli conflict of 1947–1948. He was assassinated on Friday 17 September 1948 by members of the Jewish nationalist Zionist group Lehi (commonly known as the Stern Gang or Stern Group).
On 1 December 1928 in New York City, Folke Bernadotte married Estelle Romaine Manville (born in Pleasantville, New York, 26 September 1904; died in Stockholm, 28 May 1984), whose family had founded part of the Johns-Manville Corporation. They had four sons, two of whom died in childhood, and seven grandchildren, all born after Bernadotte's death.
I have not yet found out at what point in history my great-aunt Gerda came to work for them. I’m hoping to maybe find some clue among the old postcards as I continue to examine these. If I don’t, I may try and think of some other way to find out, because I’m really getting very curious!
Anyway, my immediate reaction to the royal announcement today was that the name could hardly have been more perfectly chosen. It’s a stylish old name not worn out by recent popularity but not sounding too odd either. It’s got a French ring to it that goes well with the name Bernadotte. It’s got royal connection as pointed out above, but at the same time Estelle Manville was not born royal - just as the new little princess Estelle’s father Daniel was not! And it indirectly commemorates a member of the royal family whose life’s work really deserves to be honoured.
I’m sure my grandmother Sally would have loved it. She was a big fan of the royal family – partly, I suspect, because of her sister working for them! When I was visiting my grandparents in childhood, I used to read old weekly magazines from the 1940’s and early 50’s that my grandmother had saved. They had lots of articles and photos of the royal family then living at Haga Palace (which Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel have now taken over as their residence).
Our present King Carl XVI Gustaf (in the middle), with his four older sisters, at Haga in 1948 (from Wikipedia). Back then, the Swedish constitution did not allow girls to inherit the throne – so the nation kept waiting and waiting for that little prince…!