Financiers and gurus: Europe’s working royals

The UK monarchy is not the first in Europe to face questions over the private careers of senior royals.

The Queen led “crisis talks” on Monday over the “new progressive role” that Prince Harry and his wife Meghan want to take, which includes earning their own money while continuing to support the monarch.

European royal family ties go back centuries. Among the UK monarchy’s closest neighbours, some senior royals have successfully transitioned into modern working lives, while others have been forced to give up their titles, or faced accusations of exploiting the royal brand.

The rules on royal titles and duties vary across Europe. It is also significant that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have a global celebrity status not shared by their European counterparts.

The Netherlands’ ‘working model’

The Netherlands has been described as a successful example of senior members of the royal family holding down jobs.

The king’s brother, Prince Constantijn, and his wife, Princess Laurentien, both work.

“They previously agreed… with first taking a life away from the throne but with the condition that you be available when the crown needs you, you might need to put everything aside. And when you do a job, please get in touch with government, with the king, with the monarch to say what your plan is,” Dutch royal reporter Rick Evers said.

The couple work for a global policy think tank and part time for the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs. Prince Constantijn, known as Tijn, rarely attends public events as a member of the Dutch Royal House.

Prince Constantijn’s older brother, Prince Friso, also worked. After earning a degree in aeronautical engineering, he was employed by a uranium enrichment company. He died in 2012 after being buried under an avalanche during a skiing holiday in the Austrian Alps.

Royals with paid private jobs in the Netherlands do not receive constitutional allowances.

King Willem-Alexander, meanwhile, still serves as a commercial pilot, flying planes with KLM – something he describes as a serious hobby rather than a job.

BBC correspondent Anna Holligan says a media code was adopted in 2005 under which photographs of members of the royal house performing royal duties are always permitted, and on occasions like holidays the government arranges official photo opportunities, on the condition that royals are allowed privacy for the rest of the year.

It’s a working model which seems to satisfy both the royals – and public interest in their (relatively normal) lives, she adds.

Norway’s controversial princess

In Norway, Princess Martha Louise – the eldest child of Norwegian King Harald V – gave up her royal highness status after getting married in 2002, as she sought to focus on her private career.

However, she has faced accusations of exploiting her title for profit.

Alongside her boyfriend, a shaman called Durek Verrett, she organised seminars last year called “The Princess and the Shaman”. They promised to take participants on a journey of “self discovery into wisdoms to reveal to you your divine self activated”.

Amid criticism over the move, she later apologised and said she would drop her royal title in future work endeavours.

“The fact that I used princess in the title of my tour, I have said before that I am very sorry, and I still stand by that. It was a mistake and I understand that it provokes when the princess title is used this way,” she wrote on Instagram.

“The discussions are something I have taken seriously, and in collaboration with my family we have found that it is best that we make some changes.”

As part of the move, she created a new Instagram account for work-related projects, which does not include her title.

“I am simply Martha Louise. Let’s explore life and go on adventures together,” she wrote in her first post.

This is my new page for my work related projects where I use my name without my title. I am simply Märtha Louise. Let’s explore life and go on adventures together. #lovelife #businessintuition #intuitivebusiness

A post shared by Märtha Louise (@iam_marthalouise) on

End of Instagram post by iam_marthalouise

Despite the controversy and losing her royal highness status, royal watcher James Taylor said she continues to appear with her family at certain public events.

“She’s had quite a degree of criticism but at the same time she’s… still in the family circle,” he said.

Sweden’s career man

The husband of Princess Madeleine, the youngest child of Sweden’s king, opted not to accept a royal title when they married so he could continue with his professional life.

“When they got married in 2013, the king allowed him a royal title but he declined that because he wanted to be independent and make sure he could make his own money,” Swedish royal expert Roger Lundgren said.

Christopher O’Neill, a British-American national, continues to work as a financier, while his wife performs royal duties and works with non-profit foundations. He appears alongside the royal family at major occasions.

Mr Lundgren said Mr O’Neill did not face criticism in Sweden for his work because he had not accepted a title. He said if Mr O’Neill had taken a royal title while continuing to work as a financier “there would have been a lot of problems”.

The children of Princess Madeleine and Mr O’Neill will also be expected to work for a living in future after the Swedish king last year removed five of his grandchildren from the royal house.

The move to slim down the monarchy saw the children stripped of the title of royal highness, meaning they are no longer required to perform royal duties. Analysts, however, noted that the children – who remained princes and princesses – still retained a “theoretical claim to the throne” and would likely continue to appear at social gatherings through their titles.

The decision did not affect the king’s two grandchildren who are in direct line to the throne.

The Spanish duchess who lost her title

Spain’s Princess Cristina is thought to be the first member of the Spanish royal family to hold a salaried job.

Her father gave her the title of Duchess of Palma de Mallorca upon her marriage in 1997 to former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin.

But her brother, Spain’s King Felipe VI, stripped her of the title of duchess in 2015 as she prepared to stand trial over an embezzlement scam involving her husband.

Princess Cristina was cleared of involvement but Urdangarin was convicted in 2017 of using his not-for-profit Nóos Institute sports foundation to siphon off millions of euros for private use, becoming the first member of a Spanish monarch’s family to go to jail.

The princess, who relocated to Geneva in 2013, has been reported in recent years to be working for the charitable foundation run by La Caixa bank and the Aga Khan Foundation.

She does not perform royal duties and never appears at public events with the royal family, Mr Lundgren said.

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