June 2009 Newsletter: The 1940s

  June 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm by

The 1940s were again a difficult time. It was the decade which would influence the future of the entire world. This decade did not only lay the foundations for the establishment of organizations which promote peace, like NATO or the EU, unfortunately it was also the beginning of communist reign in most of Eastern Europe, and the beginning of the Cold War, which would keep the entire world into its clutches and which defined the rest of this millennium.

We hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter!
Lady Jennifer, LadyLeana, and Zonk (newsletter editors)

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Major Royal Events in June

National Day (Denmark)

For more details, see the 2009 Calendar of Royal Events.

The 1940s

Royal Births

14 April 1940: Marie Aglaë, Countess Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau (later Princess Marie of Liechtenstein), is the daughter of Count Ferdinand Carl Kinsky z Vchynic a Tetova and his wife Countess Henriette von Ledebur-Wicheln. She married her cousin, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein on July 30, 1967 in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Princess Marie & Prince Hans-Adam have four children.

16 April 1940: Princess Margrethe of Denmark (later Margrethe II), is the oldest daughter of the late Crown Prince Frederik & Crown Princess Ingrid (formerly a Princess of Sweden). Margrethe was not born to be Queen of Denmark, but starting in 1947 the process of changing the constitution had begun to allow for women to succeed to the throne. The Danish Act of Succession was approved in 1953 & Margrethe became the Heiress Presumptive. On June 10, 1967 Margrethe married Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, at the Naval Church of Copenhagen. Margrethe & Henri have two sons.

2 June 1940: Prince Constantine of Greece (later Constantine II) is the only son of the late Paul I of Greece & Frederika of Hanover. In 1960, at the Summer Olympics in Rome, Constantine won a gold medal in sailing. On September 8, 1964, Constantine married his distant cousin, the Danish Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark in a Greek Orthodox ceremony in the Mitropolis, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Athens. Constantine & Anne-Marie have five children. In December 1967 he was forced to flee Greece after a failed counter-coup against the junta. He remained King until the monarchy was officially abolished in 1974.

25 April 1941: Antoinette (Toni) Gardiner (later Princess Muna al-Hussein of Jordan) is the daughter of Walter & Doris Gardiner. She was born in Chelmondiston, England. On May 25, 1961 she became the second wife of King Hussein of Jordan, converted to Islam and changed her name to Muna al-Hussein. Muna and King Hussein had four children together, including the current King of Jordan, Abdullah. Muna and King Hussein divorced in 1971.

23 December 1943: Silvia Sommerlath (later Queen Silvia of Sweden) is the only daughter of the late Walther Sommerlath & his wife Alice Soares de Toledo. Silvia was born in Heidelberg, Germany. After World War II, the family relocated to São Paulo, Brazil for ten years. Silvia met Crown Prince Carl Gustav at the 1972 Summer Olympics. They were married on June 19, 1976 at Stockholm Cathedral in Stockholm. Their marriage was the first of a reigning monarch since 1797. Silvia and Carl Gustav have three children.

14 February 1945: Prince Hans-Adam of Liechtenstein is the oldest son of the late Franz Joseph II, Prince of Liechtenstein & his wife Countess Georgina von Wilczek. Hans-Adam was born in Zürich, Switzerland. On July 30, 1967 in Vaduz, Liechtenstein Hans-Adam married his cousin, Marie Aglaë, Countess Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau. Prince Hans Adam & Princess Marie have four children.

30 April 1946: Prince Carl Gustav of Sweden (later Carl XVI Gustav) is the only son of the late Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten & Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Carl Gustav’s father passed away when he was nine months old. When he passed away he became his grandfather’s heir

30 August 1946: Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark (later Queen Consort of Greece) is the youngest daughter of the late Crown Prince Frederik & Crown Princess Ingrid (formerly a Princess of Sweden). Anne-Marie met her future husband (and distant cousin), Constantine of Greece in 1959 when she was 13yrs old. They were married two weeks after her 18th birthday on September 8, 1964 in a Greek Orthodox ceremony in the Mitropolis, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Athens. Constantine & Anne-Marie have five children. In December 1967 the family was forced to flee Greece after a failed counter-coup made by the King against the junta. The monarchy was officially abolished in 1974.

14 November 1948: Prince Charles of Edinburgh (later Prince of Wales) is the oldest child & son of Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Charles was born in Buckinham Palace & was baptized in the Music Room on December 15, 1948, by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Instead of going straight into the military, like most members of the royal family, Charles went onto college at Trinity College, Cambridge where he graduated in 1970 & became the third member of the Royal Family (at that time) to earn a university degree. On July 1, 1969 Charles was invested as Prince of Wales & Earl of Chester. The investiture was held at held at Caernarfon Castle & televised. In February 1981 Charles proposed to his first wife, Lady Diana Spencer. They were married on July 29, 1981 and had two sons. In December 1992, the couple announced their seperation and in August 1996 they were officially divorced. Charles married again on April 9, 2005 to his long time companion, Camilla Parker Bowles.

25 December 1948: Alia Baha ed Din Toukan (later Queen Alia of Jordan) was a daughter of Bahauddin Toukan, a former Jordanian ambassador to the Court of St. James’s. Alia was born in Cairo, Egypt. On December 24, 1972 Alia became the third wife of King Hussein II of Jordan. She was given the title Queen Alia al Hussein. Alia & Hussein had two children and in 1976 adopted a girl whose mother died in a plane crash. Alia died in 1977 in a helicopter crash in Amman, Jordan. The airport in Amman was renamed in her honor.

Royal Marriages and Anniversaries

11 September 1941: Leopold III of Belgium was born on November 3, 1901, the son of Albert I of Belgium and Elizabeth of Bavaria. In 1926, he married Princess Astrid of Sweden. On February 23, 1934 he inherited the throne of Belgium following the death of his father, Albert I. Queen Astrid died as a result of a car accident on August 29, 1935. Lilian Baels (later Princess of Réthy) was born as Mary Lilian Baels in London, where her parents were living at the time. She met her future husband, King Leopold III of the Belgians in 1933, when he was still Duke of Brabant. In 1941, she was invited to Laeken to entertain King Leopold, who was quite depressed because of his imprisonment by the Nazis (he was a prisoner of war, but was allowed to live in his palace). The religious ceremony was performed on September 11, 1941. The official ceremony was performed on December 6, 1941. Their marriage caused great distress in Belgium. Lilian declined the title of Queen, and was known as Princess of Réthy. The couple had three children: Alexandre, Marie Esmeralda and Marie Christine. This morganatic marriage was one of the reasons Leopold had to abdicate. The couple moved from the Palace in Laecken to Argenteuil upon the marriage of Baudouin and Fabiola. King Leopold died on September 25, 1983. Princess Lilian died on June 7, 2002.

7 March 1943: Prince Franz Joseph of Liechtenstein was born on August 16, 1906, the son of Prince Aloys of Liechtenstein and Archducchess Elisabeth of Austria. His father renounced his right of succession in his favor in 1921. He succeeded his cousin, Prince Franz I on July 25, 1938.Countess Georgina von Wilczek was born on October 24, 1921. The daughter of the late Ferdinand, Count of Wiclzek and the late Countess Norbertine Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau. On March 7, 1943, Prince Franz Josepph and Countiness Georgina were married . At her husbands accession,she became known as Princess Gina of Liechtenstein. They were the parents of Hereditary Prince Hans-Adam; Prince Phillip, Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, Princess Norberta and the late Franz Josef Wenzelaus. In 1984, Prince Franz handed over most of the ruling powers to their son, Prince Hans-Adam. Princes Gina died in October 18, 1989 and Prince Franz Joseph died on November 13, 1989.

20 November 1947: Prince Phillipos of Greece and Denmark was born on June 10, 1921, the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. Today he is more commonly known as Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, consort of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Princess Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926, the daughter of Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI) and Elizabeth, Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother). King George VI succeeded the throne on December 11, 1936 following the abdication of Edward VIII. Princess Elizabeth thus became the heiress presumptive. Prior to his marriage, Prince Phillip renounced his titles and adopted the surname of his maternal grand parents and became known as Lt. Phillip Mountbatten. Upon his marriage, he was granted the style of HRH, and was made Duke of Edinburgh. He married Princess Elizabeth of York on November 20, 1947. Queen Elizabeth inherited the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI in 1952. Queen Elizabeth made Prince Phillip a prince of the United Kingdom in 1957. They are the parents of Prince Charles of Wales, the Princess Royal (Princess Anne), Andrew, the Duke of York and Edward, the Earl of Wessex.

10 June 1948: Prince Michael of Romania was born on October 25, 1921, the son of Crown Prince Carol (later King Carol II of Romania) and Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark. Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma was born on September 18, 1923, the daughter of Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma and Princess Margrethe of Denmark. As a result of his scandalous affair with Elena Lupescu, Prince Carol renounced his rights to the throne in December of 1925. King Michael succeeded the throne upon the death of his grandfather, King Ferdinand in July of 1927. His paternal uncle, Prince Nicolae served as regent. In 1930, King Carol II was proclaimed King by Parliament. In 1940, a coup was staged against Carol II, and Michael II was reinstalled as King. On December 30, 1947 he was forced to abdicate by the Communists. In January of 1948, he was forced to leave the country. The couple, who met at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom and Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark, were married on June 10, 1948. They are the parents of Princess Margarita, Princess Elena, Princess Irina, Princess Sophie and Princess Maria. In 1992, the couple was allowed to return to Romania for a visit. The couple resides in Switzerland and Romania.

12 August 1948: Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch was born on August 30, 1917 the son of Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich and Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Princess Leonida Bagration of Mukhrani was born on September 23, 1914, the daughter of Prince George Bagration of Mukhrani and Princess Helena (nee Zlotnicki). Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Grand Duke’s family fled to Finland. On August 31, 1924, Vladimir’s father assumed the title of Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias. As a result, Vladimir was granted the title of Tasrevitch and Grand Duke. The family relocated to France in 1930. Upon his father’s death in 1938, Vladimir assumed the Headship of the Imperial Family of Russia. During the war, the Grand Duke was placed in a German concentration camp. There was also a fear that he would be kidnapped by the Russians, the Grand Duke later settled in Spain. Grand Duke Vladimir and Princess Leonida Bagration were married on August 12, 1948. Their daughter, Maria was born on December 23, 1953. Their marriage (as well as the succession of Maria as Head of the Imperial Family) is questioned due to Romanov house law which states that only those children who are the product of an “equal marriage”-between a Romanov prince and a princess from another royal, not just noble house -are eligible to be included in the Imperial line of succession; children of morganatic marriages are excluded from the succession. Grand Duke Vladimir died on April 21, 1992 of an apparent heart attack.

Royal Deaths

24 August 1940: Jean Pierre Clément Marie d’Orléans, Duc de Guisewas born on September 4, 1874 the son of the son of Robert, Duke of Chartres and Marie-Francoise d’Orleans. As an Orleanist, following the death of Phillip VIII, Count of Paris, who claimed the throne of France, the Duc of Guise became King of France as Jean III. In 1899, he married Isabelle d’Orleans. They were the parents of Isabelle de Guise, Francoise de Guise, Anne de Guise and Henri, Comte de Paris. He died in Morocco in 1940.

28 February 1941: Alfonso XIII was born King at his birth. The posthumous son of Alfonso XII of Spain and Queen Marie Christina was born on May 17, 1886. His mother ruled as regent until 1902. On May 31, 1906 he married Princess Victoria Eugenie of the United Kingdom. Following their wedding ceremony, they were almost assassinated by an anarchist. They were the parents of Infante Alfonso (who predeceased his parents in 1938), Infante Jaime, Infanta Beatriz, Infanta Maria Cristina, Infante Fernando (still born in 1910), Infante Juan Carlos, and Infante Gonzalo (who predeceased his parents in 1934). Queen Victoria Eugenie was a hemophiliac carrier and this deeply affected the marriage of Alfonso and Victoria Eugenie. The Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed on April 14, 1931 and the Spanish Royal Family went into exile. While in exile, Alfonso and Victoria Eugenie separated. Although the Spanish Royal family did not regain the throne until 1975, Alfsonso abdicated his rights to the Spanish the throne on January 15, 1941, in favor of his son, Infante Juan. He died in Rome on February 28, 1941.

4 June 1941: Prince Wilhelm was born on January 27, 1859, the son of Prince Frederick William of Prussia and Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom. Easily influenced by Otto von Bismarck, Wilhem had a dysfunctional relationship with his parents. He married Princess Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein on February 27, 1881. They were the parents of Crown Prince Wilhelm, Prince Eitel Friedrich, Prince Adalbert, Prince August Wilhelm, Prince Oskar, Prince Joachim, and Princess Viktoria Luise. His grandfather, Emperor Wilhelm I died on March 9, 1888, his father Emperor Frederick died on July 15th of the same year, with Wilhelm soon succeeding the throne as Emperor Wilhelm II. He soon came into conflict with von Bismarck, with Bismarck resigning in 1890. A close personal friend of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, Wilhelm was saddened by Franz Ferdinand’s assassination on June 28, 1914. Austria-Hungary wanted to retaliate against the Kingdom of Serbia (they were involved in the assassination). Soon all major European powers were at war due to the series of alliances. Following Germany’s defeat in World War I and the German revolution, Wilhelm’s abdication as German Emperor and King of Prussia was announced on November 9, 1918. The Treaty of Versailles called for the prosecution of Wilhelm for “supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties” but Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands refused to extradite him. Empress Augusta died on April 11, 1921. On November 9, 1922 he married Hermine Reuss. He never gave up hope in restoring the German monarchy. He died on June 4, 1941 of a pulmonary embolus in Doorn, the Netherlands.

28 August 1943: Boris, Tsar of Bulgaria was born the son of Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria and the former Princess Maria Luisa of BourbonParma. Following the Bulgaria’s defeat in World War, Ferdinand I abdicated and Boris because Tsar of Bulgaria. Tsar Boris III and Princess Giovanna married on October 25, 1930 with Benito Mussolini among the guests. Following their marriage, Princess Giovanna adopted the Bulgarian version of her name, Ioanna. They were the parents of Princess Marie Louise of Bulgaria and Prince Simeon, (later Tsar of Bulgaria). Boris III died suddenly in August 1943 under suspicious circumstances.

23 August 1946: Princess Stephanie of Austria was born on May 21, 1864, the daughter of King Leopold II of Belgium and Archduchess Marie Henriette of Austria. On May 10, 1882 she married Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. The marriage started off happily, and their daughter Archduchess Elisabeth Marie of Austria was born on September 2, 1883. They soon began to have problems with both parties engaged in extra marital affairs. In 1889, her husband was found dead (along with his mistress) of an apparent suicide pact. She did not have a good relationship with her father, King Leopold II of Belgium, as she sued in him court for her inheritance. This relationship was further strained on March 22, 1900 when she married Count Elemer Lonyay de Nagy-Lonya et Vasagros Nameny. In 1935, she published a memoir called Ich Sollte Kaiserin Werden (I Was To Be Empress), but due to a court order was not allowed to publish the book in Austria. She died on August 23, 1946.

26 January 1947: Prince Gustav Adolf Duke of Västerbotten, was born on April 22, 1906, the son of King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden and Princess Margaret of Connaught. In October of 1932, he married Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. They were the parents of Princess Margaretha, Princess Birgitta, Princess Desiree, Princess Christina and Prince Carl Gustav (later King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden). Prince Gustav was killed in an airplane crash on January 26, 1947.

1 April 1947: Prince George of Greece (later George II) was born on July 20, 1890 the eldest son of Constantine I, King of Hellenes and Princess Sophia of Prussia. In 1921, he married Princess Elisabetha of Romania, daughter of King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie of Romania. It was not a successful marriage. Following the forced abdication of Constantine, George succeeded to the Greek throne on 27 September 1922. In March of 1924, George was deposed and a Greek republic proclaimed. George and Elisabetha divorced in 1935. The couple had no children. In 1946, George returned to the throne of Greece. He died on April 1, 1947 in Greece.

20 April 1947: Prince Christian of Denmark born on September 26, 1870 the son of King Frederick VIII of Denmark and Princess Louise of Sweden. On April 26, 1898, he married Princess Alexandrine, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. They were the parents of Prince Frederick (later King Frederick IX of Denmark) and Prince Knud of Denmark. He succeeded to the throne on May 14, 1912 as King Christian X of Denmark. During World War II, King Christian X remained in the capital despite the Nazi occupation. Thus becoming a symbol of the national cause as well as a thorn in the side of the Nazi’s. On April 20, 1947 he died at Amalienborg Palace. At his funeral, a cloth armband (similar to the ones worn by members of the Danish resistance movement) was placed on his coffin.

9 May 1949: Louis II of Monaco was born on July 12, 1870, the only child of Prince Albert I of Monaco and Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton. His parent’s marriage was annulled in 1880. He was raised by his mother and stepfather in Germany. At the age of 11, he returned to Monaco to be trained for his future royal duties. After the completion of his schooling, he joined the French Foreign Legion where he was posted in the African colonies. In Africa, he established a relationship with Marie Juliette Louvet, a cabaret singer. On, September 30, 1898 their illegitimate daughter, Charlotte Louise Juliette was born. In 1908 he returned to Monaco without his daughter and his mistress. A Monaco succession crisis was in the making as the Prince did not have an heir, the throne of Monaco would pass to a German nobleman who was the son of Prince Albert’s aunt. In 1911, a law was passed recognizing Charlotte as Louis’s heir and making her a part of the royal family. This was invalid under the 1882 statues. Another law was passed in 1918 modifying the statutes to allow the adoption of an heir, with succession rights. Charlotte was formally adopted by Louis in 1919, and became Charlotte Louise Grimaldi, Princess of Monaco and Duchess of Valentinois. On June 27, 1922, Louis succeeded to the throne of Monaco upon the death of Albert I. On July 24/27, 1946 he married French film actress Ghislaine Dommanget. He spent a majority of his final years in France where he died on May 9, 1949.

Accessions, Enthronements, Jubilees, and Abdications

8 September 1940: Abdication of Carol II of Romania. Carol II of Romania had renounced his rights to the throne in 1925, after a scandalous affair. Carol’s son Prince Michael became King of Romania in 1927. In 1930, however; Carol decided to renede on the renunciation, and he was proclaimed King the following day. During his reign he tried to inlfuence Romanian politics greatly. In 1940, Carol II was forced to abdicate in favour of his son, Michael, and he left the country to the mercy of WWII.

15 January 1941: Abdication of Alfonso XIII of Spain. King Alfonso XIII had been living in exile since 1931, which was the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic. Alfonso XIII held on to his throne until 1941, when he left the throne to his son Juan, who would, however, never be proclaimed King.

29 November 1945: Deposition of Peter II of Yugoslavia by the Communist Party. King Peter II had been on the throne since 1934, when his grandfather King Alexander was killed. Peter was only 11 years old then. In 1941, Peter was proclaimed of age, and officially became King of Yougoslavia. In that same year, the German troops and their allies invaded Yougoslavia, and Peter was forced to leave. In 1945, Yugoslavia’s Constituent Assembly deposed Peter as Head of State. He refused to abdicate, and settled in the United Stated after the end of the war.

16 September 1946: Bulgarian royal family, Queen Giavanna, Tsar Simeon II and Princess Maria-Louisa were exiled after the Communist coup in their country. First the regents for Tsar Simeon II (who was still a child at the time) were executed, and later a plebiscite decided with 97% of the votes in favour of the newly established republic, that the Royal family had to leave. However, Tsar Simeon II never formally abdicated. He used his title “Tsar of the Bulgarians” while in exile, but since his return to his native country, in 1996, he does not use this title any more. As elected Prime Minister of Bulgaria, he even swore to protect Bulgaria’s Republican Constitution.

1 April 1947: Accession of King Paul of Greece after the death of his elder brother Georg II of Greece. His reign began during the Greek Civil War, and King Paul was immediately confronted with the necessity to rebuild his country. Later during his reign he was criticized for his high maintanence costs and interfering in politics, and the Republican mobvement grew stronger. He died in 1964, a week after a surgery for stomach cancer. The Greek Monarchy would only continue for 9 more years after his death.

20 April 1947: Accession of Frederik IX of Denmark upon the death of King Christian X of Denmark. King Frederik IX of Denmark saw his country change after WWII into a modern society. Under his reign, the Succession Law was changed, so that his daughters could succeed him, should he have no sons. He died in 1972 and was succeeded by his eldest daughter Margerethe II.

29 December 1947: Romanian royal family exiled after the forced abdication of King Michael I of Romania. Accounts of how the abdication happened vary according to the source. He was allowed to take some valuables with him. The family moved to various places in Europe. King Michael has undertaken some semi-diplomatic engagements for Romania, after it abolished Communist reign, such as lobbying for admission of the country into the EU and NATO.

31 August 1948: Golden jubilee of Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands. Wilhelmina was Queen of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948, but because she was only 10 years old when she succeeded her father, she only reigned from her 18th birthday onwards.

4 September 1948: Abdication of Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands in favour of her daughter, Juliana of the Netherlands. Queen wilhelmina was styled “Her Royal Higness Princess Wilhelmina of the Netherlands” after her abdication. She lived at the palace Het Loo unitl her death in 1962.

6 September 1948: Accession of Queen Juliana of The Netherlands, who succeeded her mother, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, upon her abdication. Queen Juliana would reign for 31 years, and abdicate on her 71th birthday in 1980, in favour of her eldest daughter Beatrix.

3 April 1949: Abdullah I becomes King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Before this, he had been Emir of Transjordan under a British Mandate. When Jordan became independent, Abdullah became the first King of the new state. He would reign until his assasination in 1951, upon which he was succeeded by his son, Talal I, and, shortly after him, his grandson Hussein I.

9 May 1949: Accession of Prince Rainier of Monaco upon the death of his father HSH Prince Louis II. He is mostly known for his marriage to American actress Grace Kelly in 1956, and for expanding the economy of his small principality. He would reign until his death in 2005, with which he became one of the longest-reigning monarchs in the 20th century. He was succeeded by his son, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Major World Events

2 September 1945: End of World War II. World War II had started in 1930 with the declaration of war on Germany by France and Britain after the German invasion of Poland. In 1940 Germany invaded Scandinavia and France and in summer 1941 opened a second front against the USSR. In December 1941 the Japanese attacked the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into the war. In the meantime, the German advance on the eastern front had been halted by Soviet troops and the harsh conditions of winter in Russia. Fighting continued, with gains and losses on both sides, but by 1943 the Allies were making advances. In June 1944 the Allies invaded mainland Europe to free the invaded countries, and by spring 1945 Germany and Italy had surrendered. The war in Asia continued until the use of atomic bombs by the United States against Japan in August 1945, which formally surrendered on 2 September, bringing the war to an end. The end of the war saw the demise of several monarchies, notably in Italy and eastern Europe, the abdication of the King of the Belgians who was believed to have been a German collaborator, and the demotion of the Japanese emperor from a deity to a figurehead.

April 1946: Dismantling of the League of Nations and creation of the United Nations. The League of Nations had been set up after World War I as an international organisation dedicated to avoiding future conflicts by establishing principles for conflict resolution and human rights. Although President Wilson was instrumental in founding the League, the United States never joined because it was perceived by some politicians as a threat to US sovereignty. It did not have its own armed forces but instead had to rely on military intervention by individual countries, some of which were reluctant to get involved in actions that did not suit their national interests. In 1933 both Germany and Japan withdrew from the League, followed by Italy in 1937. By the start of World War II, the League effectively no longer existed. The League of Nations was officially dissolved at a meeting at its headquarters in Geneva in April 1946 and ceased to exist as of 20 April. The United Nations was conceived during World War II as a successor to the League of Nations, and was formulated at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in 1944, a series of conferences attended by representatives of the Allied Powers. At these meetings the structure of the UN, including the Security Council, was decided, and the UN Charter was drawn up. The Charter was finalised at the San Francisco conference in 1945, and the UN officially came into being on 24 October of that year, when the Charter was ratified by the permanent members of the Security Council: the USA, Britain, France, China, and the USSR. The headquarters of the UN are in New York City.

25 May 1946: Independence of the Kingdom of Jordan. The Ottoman Empire, which was already in a state of severe decline, had entered World War I on the side of Germany and Austria. After the War, the Allied Powers (principally Britain and France) oversaw the partitioning of what remained of the Empire. Britain took responsiblity for Palestine under the British Mandate, a League of Nations mandate which both guaranteed the rights of the existing populations and proposed to establish a Jewish homeland; France took responsibility for Syria and Lebanon. The intention of the Mandates was that when these countries were ready for home rule, the British and French administration would cease. The area to the west of the River Jordan was administered as Palestine, and the area to the east was administered as Transjordan; the mandate to set up a Jewish homeland did not extend to Transjordan. Abdullah bin Hussein, a son of the Emir of Mecca, had supported the British during World War I. His reward was the rulership of Transjordan under British control. In 1923 the British granted some independence to Transjordan, and in 1928 further steps toward independence were taken. After World War II, full independence was granted under the terms of the Treaty of London, and on 25 May 1946 Abdullah was formally proclaimed King and the country was renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan (which became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949).

14 August 1947: Independence of India. During the period of European colonial expansion in the 16th-19th centuries, many parts of India were colonised. Eventually the British gained control of India via the British East India Company, and raw materials from India helped fuel the British Industrial Revolution. In 1857, Indian soldiers employed by the Company rebelled and started a war which is known in India as the First War of Independence. The rebels failed to overthrow the Company, and were treated harshly in defeat. This led to India being brought under direct British rule, and Queen Victoria was named Empress of India in 1877. Calls for independence continued, and Mohandas Gandhi led the independence movement throughout the 1920s and 1930s with his campaign of civil disobedience and non-cooperation. After World War II, with Britain severely weakened from years of fighting, and in 1947 India became formally independent as a republic and was partitioned into the predominantly Hindu India and the predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

14 May 1948: Establishment of the state of Israel. For centuries, Jews had been emigrating to the Holy Land, usually as a result of persecution in Europe. The drive for an internationally recognised Jewish homeland escalated with the advent of political Zionism at the turn of the 20th century, and the Balfour Declaration in 1917 stated that British government policy favoured a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. The Palestinian Mandate issued after World War I gave the British government the responsibility of governing Palestine and Transjordan and echoed the terms of the Balfour Declaration that a homeland for the Jewish people should be created in Palestine, although without infringing on the rights of the existing population. After World War II and the Nazi Holocaust, the United Nations decided in 1947 to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state, with Jerusalem remaining under UN control. This was not accepted by the Arab states, so Israel went ahead with a unilateral declaration of independence on 12 May 1948, upon which Israel’s Arab neighbours attacked. Israel and many of the surrounding countries have been fighting on and off ever since.

4 April 1949: Establishment of NATO. In response to the expansionist aims of the USSR, the Treaty of Brussels was signed in March 1948 by the Benelux countries, France, and the United Kingdom; the Treaty was intended to ensure mutual military support and economic collaboration. Since it was felt that the USSR could not be effectively countered by western European nations alone, a further Treaty, the North Atlantic Treaty, was signed on 4 April 1949 between the signatories of the Treaty of Brussels, several other western European nations, Canada, and the United States of America. The headquarters of NATO are in Brussels.

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