Thursday, December 21, 2017

Archduchess Gabriella and Prince Henri: An Old-School Royal Union

Many royal watchers were surprised by the news the other day that Archduchess Gabriella, niece of Grand Duke Henri, and her fiancée Prince Henri of Bourbon-Parma recently welcomed a baby daughter. Their's is an old-school royal union, after all the Habsburgs and the Bourbons are some, if not the most important royal houses in Europe. When I set out to write this post, I had a pretty clear message in my head. I planned to say that this union may just be a bit too close to comfort for my personal taste. Archduchess Gabriella and Prince Henri are second cousins, with both their sets of parents also being second cousins.

I'm neither an advocate pro- or anti-noble unions as I simply believe that you should marry the person you love and want to spend your life with. It wasn't even simply the fact that they are second cousins, but how many times over these two are related. However, when we did the maths I - and my fellow bloggers here at Luxarazzi - were pretty surprised. We traced young Victoria's (who, by the way, due to being born out of wedlock probably does not have a style and title) back seven generations. And while they are some very interesting lineages from the same ancestors, there also are plenty little known nobles that aren't related in any way in there.

Probably most striking of all, baby Victoria is a descendant of Duke Robert I of Parma (1848-1907) and his second wife Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal (1862-1959) through four different lines. Duke Robert I of Parma had 24 children by two wives. Among them Princess Zita, (the future Empress of Austria), Prince Felix (the future Prince Consort of Luxembourg), and Prince René (who went on to marry Princess Margrethe of Denmark). It is through these three royals that young Victoria can trace her ancestry back to the last sovereign Duke of Parma and Piacenza.

The Parma connection

Robert of Parma Robert of Parma Robert of Parma Robert of Parma
Zita of Bourbon-Parma Felix of Bourbon-Parma Felix of Bourbon-Parma René of Bourbon-Parma
Carl-Ludwig of Austria Jean of Luxembourg Marie-Gabrielle of Luxembourg Michel of Bourbon-Parma
Carl-Christian of Austria Marie-Astrid of Luxembourg Lydia of Holstein til Ledreborg Erik of Bourbon-Parma
Gabriella of Austria Gabriella of Austria Henri of Bourbon-Parma Henri of Bourbon-Parma
Victoria Victoria Victoria Victoria

Victoria also descends in multiple ways from King Miguel I of Portugal and his wife née Princess Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg; King Christian IX of Denmark ("the Father-in-Law of Europe") and his wife née Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel; and Duke Wilhelm of Nassau via his first or second wife. She is also a descendant of Luxembourg's very own Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix via two of their children, Grand Duke Jean and Princess Marie-Gabrielle, as also shown above.

Looking at the big picture, however, it is not nearly as bad as I thought. (Pro tip: Click on the picture while using the CTRL key and the charts should open in all their glory.)

We went back seven generation. In the row on the bottom, you can read the names of Victoria's great-great-great-great-great-grandfathers. Everyone who appears more than once is marked with a colour. Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix are marked purple; King Miguel I of Portugal and Princess Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg red; King Christian IX of Denmark and Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel are turquoise; Duke Wilhelm of Nassau is yellow; and Duke Robert I of Parma and Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal are green. (Read the chart from the left, as we stopped a line as soon as he arrived at people that previously appeared.) As you can see, there is plenty of blue - meaning people, who appear only once.
A closer look at Archduchess Gabriella's ancestors.

A closer look at Prince Henri's ancestor (to be read in addition to Gabriella's chart).

Yes, some of these lines (*cough* Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Felix *cough*) end pretty early on but I imagined there to be a much smaller variety of ancestors and more overlap in previous generations. Combined, Archduchess Gabriella's and Prince Henri's grandparents do include a Princess of Ligne, a Count of Holstein til Ledreborg and a Princess of Broglie-Revel though. While famous noble names, they would not have been able to marry into the ruling families of Austria, Luxembourg, (Bourbon-)Parma, Braganca or Belgium prior to the last century.

If we would go back further, we would naturally find more common ancestors. With seven generations we are, however, well into the 18th century - and if we looked at our own family trees, we would probably find a few overlaps in ancestry back then, too. Will I ever become a fan of modern-day intermarriage between rather closely-related royals? Probably not, but I got to admit that it was rather fun researching all of this. And I may just miss the days a tiny bit when you could easily make out all the close familial connections between the different reigning families. Days that a are  now gone with only a few reminders still in existence. Cases in point: Grand Duke Henri and King Philippe of the Belgians are first cousins, as are King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Margrethe of Denmark. 

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