Friday, January 24, 2020

A QVD engagement

Benjamin Leopold Sewell is the younger of two sons of Percy Sewell (1958) and Alice Louise Esther Margot Huntington-Whiteley (1961), the eldest of three children of the late Sir Miles Huntington-Whiteley, Bt, and H I ll H Countess Victoria Adelheid of Castell-Rüdenhausen.    Countess Victoria was the third and youngest child of Princess Caroline Mathilde (Calma)  of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1912-1983) and her first  husband, H I ll H Count Friedrich of Castell-Rüdenhausen (1906-1940).   Friedrich was killed in action two years after his marriage to Calma had ended in divorce.

Lady Huntington-Whiteley is a first cousin of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Princess Caroline Mathilde was the fourth child of HRH Prince Charles Edward (Carl Eduard) of Albany, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and HH Princess Viktoria Adelheid of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.   Duke Carl Eduard was the posthumous son of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, youngest son of Queen Victoria, and Princess Helena of Waldeck und Pyrmont.

Louise and Percy were married on February 1, 1985 at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace.

Benjamin, who is known as Benjy, is also the great-great-grandson of the late Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin,1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley.

He was born July 15, 1990 at Horton Maternity Hospital, Banbury, Oxfordshire. Benjy attended Harrow School and the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he received a BA in History in 2012.  Benjy is a Trainee Investment Manager at Quilter Cheviot Ltd

Alice Sarah Hobden is the daughter of Michael Charles Hobden and Deborah Gillian Blakeney.  She was born in October 1989 in London..

 Alice and Lady Olivia Marquis celebrated their 18th birthdays with a joint party at Chloe's.

Mr. Hobden and Alexander von Solodkoff, the husband of HH Duchess Donata zu Mecklenburg, are former directors of 67 Ongar Road Ltd, a London property management company.  Hobden, who lives in Chelsea with his wife, Deborah, is a director of at least 18 different firms.

In 1978, Michael founded Poundminster, a Chelsea-based property management company, which is now run by his son, David.

Queen Victoria - Prince Leopold - Carl Eduard  - Caroline Mathilde - Victoria Adelheid - Louise - Benjamin

Thursday, January 23, 2020

A full day of events in Bucharest

Saturday January 18.

The guests gathered in the lobby of the Radisson Blu hotel to wait for the bus to take us to the National Theatre for a celebration of 30 years of Margarita of Romania Royal Foundation.   This was followed by a superb lunch at the Carul cu Bere, a 19th century pub in Bucharest's Old Town.  We ate well.  I sat with Princess Helen and her husband, Alex Nixon, and others.  Connivial conversation and lots of laughs.  Helen was happy to share photos of her daughter Karina, who lives in northern England.

Alex recommended the Romanian beer so I ordered a glass ... and the food was fabulous, an enticing array of Romanian cheeses, ham, sausages, vegetables and bread  ... oh, and the desserts.  Several of us decided to skip the bus and walk back to the hotel ... burn a few calories.

After getting back to the hotel, I decided to relax with a visit to the pool and the hot tub ... no, not the inside hot tub, but the one outside with the massaging fountains.

Then it was back to the hotel for the change to Black tie/Cocktail dress.    The first event was a concert at the Romanian Athenaeum, which was televised live on Romanian TV, followed by a  buffet dinner at the State Dining Room in the Royal Palace.

I was last in Bucharest in October 2011 when I attended King Michael's 90th birthday celebrations.  Great progress in redeveloping historic and spectacularly architectural buildings.  The Old Town area has more stores, restaurants and apartments and far less abandoned buildings than 2011.    Bucharest has a lively cafe scene to rival Paris .. well perhaps not mid-January.

I thank Her Majesty and HRH Prince Radu for their kind invitation.  It is a delight and an honor to see the soft power of the Royal Family.  The Romanian government recognizes their titles and position in Romanian history.  Her Majesty is one of the most popular people in Romania.

Not only was the concert carried live,  it was repeated a few hours after the original transmission.

The music selections were wonderful.    After the concert, we walked to the Palace -- Swedish royal journalist Roger Lundgren and I walked with Stéphane Bern , having a lively chat.

Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and his wife attended the gala concert and were also present at the buffet dinner at the Royal Palace.

The Royal Palace is now an art museum.   The buffet dinner was held in the State Dining room.  A military band played a variety of American tunes and an Orthodox choir wowed us with their performance. 

The throne room was also open so I got to see it for the first time.  The throne is gone, but still ... all that history!

Then it was back to the hotel for a night cap, as I joined other guests including Crown Prince Leka  and Nelly Miriciou, the great Romanian opera singer.  We all walked back to the hotel (a few minutes walk), and the first thing all the women did as we walked in was to kick off our shoes.

On Sunday, up early for breakfast and was joined by two other guests,  historian David Horbury and Canon Peter Galloway, before heading back to the room to close the bags and check out.  Stéphane Bern and I were on the same flight to Paris. He lives in Paris.  I had one connection to make to Washington, D.C.

Valentina Nafornita, a Moldovan opera singer, who performed at the concert the night before, joined Stéphane Bern and I in the Royal Household's car for the ride to the airport.  Many thanks to Stéphane who helped me with my bags!


Crown Prince Leka and Roger Lundgren

Princess Sophie gave a speech at the start of the concert

in the throne room