This will be my final article about the disabled royal women. We’ll be discussing a couple of ladies of the new age! These modern royals have older siblings on their family trees, so they’re not as expected to attend and/or host as many royal engagements as the rest of their family members, but that doesn’t make them less cool.
We start with Princess Maria Christina of The Netherlands. She was born in 1947 as the fourth child to Queen Juliana of The Netherlands1 and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. The Dutch should be kind of used to being ruled by women, as they’ve had three Queens back-to-back until Christina’s eldest sister Queen Beatrix gave birth to a son, who took up the role when she abdicated in 2013. King Willem-Alexander and his wife, Queen Maxima also have a clan of daughters. The oldest is fourteen-year-old Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange.
Queen Juliana contracted German measles while she was pregnant with the princess. German measles or Rubella2 as its known in German, is an infection that can spread from one person to another very easily. Juliana must’ve had it while pregnant, as it can be passed onto the fetus through the bloodstream, this is called “congenital rubella syndrome”. There are many birth defects that a baby can have after being infected with the virus. Christina was born almost blind. A vaccine for the disease wasn’t introduced until the 1960’s, two decades after the birth of Princess Christina. However, she was able to gain some of her sight and has lived a regular life.
Christina went to one the oldest universities in the Netherlands. The University of Groningen3 was created in 1614 just six years before the Mayflower set on its course to the New World. She studied classical music in Canada and has taught music in schools in New York City.4 She met and married Jorge Perez y Guillermo in 1975. Unfortunately, as she married Jorge, who was Catholic, she and her descendants lost their succession rights. However, not all is lost for Christina as she is a grandmother and has sung at tribute concerts as well released albums, which I’d love to find someday!
We go back towards the east, meeting Princess Blanche Elisabeth Rose Marie d’Orléans of France, Mademoiselle de Valois and she was born as the third child in 1962 to the French pretender, Henri, Count of Paris and his first wife Marie Therese, Duchess of Montpensier (formerly Duchess of Württemberg). She has two older siblings, Princess Marie and Prince Francois (who died in 2017), plus two younger siblings: Prince Jean and Prince Eudes. However, she and her older brother Prince Francois shared a similarity between them. The Count of Clermont was born two years prior to his sister, but their mother unknowingly contracted toxoplasmosis during both pregnancies. This is a parasite brought on by meat not being cooked properly, it can also be from being around cats and the litter, which is still advised to women while they are carrying a baby.5
Both Prince Francois and Princess Blanche were born with mental disabilities. There’s not much about either one and their limitations, but I’ve found that Francois had spent time living at I’Arche in Paris as it’s a place for people with both mental and physical disabilities. It has “communities” as its called on its website in thirty-five places all over France!6 Princess Blanche also stays at institutions but I’m not for sure that she would go to the same place as her older brother. Her mother, the Duchess of Montpensier has legal guardianship over her but her other siblings do spend time with her.7
She’s even a godmother to Prince Johann of Liechtenstein, who was born in 1993 to her older sister Princess Marie d’Orléans of France and her husband Prince Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Blanche has never married and is childless, and unfortunately, at the end of 2017 she lost her brother as the Count of Clermont died in his sleep while he was staying with the Duke and Duchess of Vendôme over the holidays.
I’ve had a lot of fun writing all three sections, learning about these six women was interesting, especially since they came from different parts of Europe. It’s been very enlightening to see one who has had a relativity normal life despite being born visually impaired and then you have another princess that shares a condition with their sibling and has had many people to help take care of them. I find it incredible that they were both born this way after their mothers were infected by different diseases and yet they’re stories are so beyond the same to each other.
- http://www.arche-france.org/ [in French]
- http://www.noblesseetroyautes.com/les-50-ans-de-la-princesse-blanche-de-france/ [in French]