Royal Bridges is much more than an artistic forum that brings together the creative talent, inspirational dexterity and, more importantly, the tangible, as well as, intangible heritage linked to imperial, royal, princely and noble houses worldwide.
In fact, it is a movement aiming at the preservation of the artistic heritage linked historically to ruling or former courts. It is also linked to the individual contribution of members of those houses beyond borders, languages, religions or cultures – as formulated by its Founder Sheikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, himself a painter since 1968.
Throughout history, art in its various forms, has been a pursuit, often a passion, ergo, not merely an avocation, for monarchs, princes and princesses; yet their artistic contributions are more often than not, overshadowed by their grand lineages. Royal Bridges steps in to fill in the gap and contends the ubiquitous stereotype of simple royal patronage yet dearth of artistic talent, which is often associated with ruling houses.
Henri Estramant, the managing director, points to a recent visit to Lobkowicz Palace in Prague, wherein the paintings of a princess belonging to that princely house now adorn a room. Yet during her time, as explained to visitors, they were not shown since art was not deemed an activity worthy for persons of aristocratic rank.
Royal Bridges is a melting pot, the common factor for all artists is their “membership” into a royal, princely or noble house yet the lineages are as diverse as the artistic endeavours of the artists.
Currently, the movement has assembled painters, photographers, jewellery designers, actors, writers, fashion designers, singers, dancers and sculptors. They are not simply set apart by their grand lineages or often long names, but rather by a tradition of artistic pursuits within a same family going back generations.
Photographer Princess Sophie of Romania (alias Sophie de Roumanie) has been a full-time landscape photographer since 2007 with headquarters in Normandy, France. She is due to exhibit, for the very first time, in Romania in a few months. Her mother the late Queen Ana of Romania was more of an amateur painter, her paternal great-grandmother Queen Marie of Romania just as the latter’s grandmother British Queen Victoria painted water colours. The first Romanian queen, Elisabeta, under the nom de plume “Carmen Sylva” wrote poetry, plays, novels, short stories etc. in German, English, Romanian and French.
The same “artistic gene” lies within the House of Orléans, Royal Bridges’ sculptor Duchess Diane of Württemberg, Princess d’Orléans’ (nom d’artiste D Diane) elder brother Henri, Count of Paris, and sisters, Anne, Duchess of Calabria, or Hélène, Countess Évrard de Limburg Stirum, are exhibited water colour painters. The former’s eldest daughters is likewise a successful portrait painter based in Brussels, Countess Catherine de Limburg Stirum known as Catherine Ailesse as an artist. The Count of Paris’ eldest daughter, Princess Marie of Liechtenstein, is equally a painter settled in Austria.
In other cases, royalty may be involved very much in the arts but is reluctant to exhibit or become commercial due to the stereotypes associated with princely houses as in the case of India, bemoans Maharajkumari Vidita Singh of Barwani, who herself focuses on automotive art, paintings but also the design of accessories.
Jewellery designer Miriam de Ungría, Princess of Tirnovo (Bulgaria) is herself only married into the Bulgarian Royal House but as a Spaniard she feels the penchant of people in her work in Bulgaria because of her association with the Royal Family. This is something that encourages and gives her more of a drive into her designs albeit her primary market remains Spain.
Following a long tradition of patronage and philanthropy, Royal Bridges also finances performances of the Royal Cambodian Ballet and the Royal Drummers of Burundi, two immaterial heritages linked to the royal courts of the respective countries. These, however, face many challenges in funding despite their Unesco status as world heritage.
Royal Bridges is now focusing on its next art event that will take place this time in Berlin. During a first global exhibition Grand Prince Norodom Sirivudh of Cambodia entertained the attending guests with his piano performances and songs. His late half-brother King Norodom Sihanouk was also a musician.
The gala raised $135,000 to benefit the world’s largest charity organisation, the UN World Food Programme. Each individual donated a piece of their artworks, and the International Humanitarian City as well as the Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives facilitated the functions.