Royalty and the Olympics: Competitors
There is just over six hours to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXX Olympiad! Our third and final blog entry focusing on combined royal and Olympic history showcases royals who have themselves competed in an Olympic Games.
Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia, Stockholm 1912
Prince Friedrich Karl competed for the German team in the team jumping event, winning a bronze medal for his efforts.
Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, Stockholm 1912
Like Prince Friedrich Karl, the Grand Duke participated in the team jumping event. The Russian team came in seventh place.
King Olav V of Norway, Amsterdam 1928
Then-Crown Prince, Olav competed at the Amsterdam 1928 Games in the sailing events. He was a crew member on the Norwegian entry in the 6metre class event, and he won a gold medal alongside his crew mates, Johan Anker, Erik Anker and Haakon Bryhn.
Prince Bira of Thailand, Melbourne 1956 / Rome 1960 / Tokyo 1964 / Munich 1972
Prince Bira, a member of the Thai Royal Family, is a well-known sportsman and a four-time Olympian. His first Olympic Games was in Melbourne in 1956, where he competed in the Star class sailing events and placed twelfth. In Rome 1960, he again competed in the Star class, finishing nineteenth in a larger field of competitors. He competed in the Dragon class sailing event at the Tokyo Olympic Games, finishing in 22nd place. In his final Olympics, Munich 1972, Prince Bira changed to the Tempest class event, where he finished last in a field of 21.
King Constantine II of Greece, Rome 1960
The last King of Greece represented his country at the age of twenty at the Rome Olympic Games. He participated in the Dragon class sailing event, winning the gold medal as the helmsman of his boat.
Queen Sofia of Spain, Rome 1960
As Princess Sophia of Greece, she was a reserve member of the Greek sailing team.
King Harald V of Norway, Tokyo 1964 / Mexico City 1968 / Munich 1972
Crown Prince Harald followed in his father’s footsteps, competing in the 5.5metre sailing event as the helmsman of his crew. At the Tokyo 1964 Olympics, Harald’s boat came in eighth position; and the Crown Prince carried the Norwegian flag at the opening ceremony. At Mexico City 1968, he again competed in the 5.5metre event, and finished in eleventh place. In Munich in 1972, the Crown Prince came tenth in the Soling class sailing event.
King Juan Carlos I of Spain, Munich 1972
Twelve years after his brother-in-law became the Dragon sailing Olympic champion, King Juan Carlos took part in the same event, competing for Spain. Juan Carlos placed fifteenth overall in the event.
The Princess Royal, Montreal 1976
Princess Anne represented Great Britain at the Montreal Olympic Games, competing in equestrian. She rode her mother’s horse Goodwill, in the individual (placing twenty-fourth) and team eventing (placing ninth). A fall from Goodwill left the Princess with a concussion.
Infanta Cristina of Spain, Seoul 1988
Like her parents before her, Infanta Cristina was a member of the Spanish Olympic sailing team in Seoul. As her brother did at the following Olympic Games, the Infanta carried the Spanish flag at the opening ceremony.
The Prince of Asturias, Barcelona 1992
Prince Felipe continued the family tradition, and competed in sailing discipline. In the Soling class event, he finished sixth. The Prince was also the country’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.
The Duke of Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona 1992 / Atlanta 1996 / Sydney 2000
Iñaki Urdangarín was a member of the Spanish men’s handball team in three consecutive Olympic Games – Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney. The team won bronze in Atlanta and Sydney, where the Duke was their captain. He met his future wife, Infanta Cristina, at the Atlanta Games.
Princess Charlène, Sydney 2000
Before she met Prince Albert and became the Princess of Monaco, Charlène Wittstock was a professional swimmer for her home country, South Africa. At the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Charlène was a member of the South African 4x100metre medley relay team, which came in fifth. She also made the semi-finals in the 200metre backstroke. The future Princess had hoped to compete at the Beijing 2008 Games, but did not qualify after being out of the sport for over eighteen months due to a shoulder injury.
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, Sydney 2000
As a Jordanian Princess, Princess Haya competed at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in the show jumping events. Riding Lucilla, Haya was ranked seventieth after the third qualifying round. She was also the nation’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.
Princess Zeina Al Rashid of Jordan, Athens 2004 / Beijing 2008
Prior to her marriage to Prince Rashid bin El Hassan of Jordan, Zeina Shaban was a table tennis player. She competed in the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, but was beaten in the first round and preliminary round, respectively. Zeina was the Jordanian flag bearer in Beijing.
Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, Beijing 2008
Despite being a German Princess, Nathalie competes for her mother’s native Denmark in equestrian. Riding Digby, the Princess took home a bronze medal in the team dressage at the Beijing Olympics. She scored the highest percentage of her team (70.417), with the team overall percentage coming in at 68.875 for third place. Nathalie also competed in the individual dressage, coming in fourteenth place.
Prince Faisal Al-Shalan, Beijing 2008
A Saudi Prince, Prince Faisal competed in the mixed jumping events in both individual and team areas, riding his horse Wido.
There are at least five royal competitors in this year’s Olympic Games – Princess Nathalie, Zara Phillips, Prince Abdullah Al Saud, Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Juma bin Dalmook Al Maktoum. Best of luck to all.
Head over to TRF’s special London Olympic Games forum for all the latest news about the Games.Filed under Denmark, Germany, Greece, Jordan, Monaco, Norway, Russia, Spain, Thailand, The United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates
Tagged Constantine II of Greece, Emirate of Dubai, Felipe VI of Spain, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, Harald V of Norway, House of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, Iñaki Urdangarín, Infanta Cristina of Spain, Juan Carlos I of Spain, London 2012, Olav V of Norway, Olympic Games, Prince Bira of Thailand, Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia, Princess Charlène of Monaco, Princess Haya bint Hussein of Jordan, Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, Princess Zeina al-Rashid of Jordan, Prussia, Queen Sofia of Spain, Sport, The Princess Royal.