Answer to Map #12

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Answer: This week’s proportional symbol map shows the locations of residences of Europe’s current royal families. Cities that are home to more royal residences are shown with larger dots. A red dot indicates the presence of five palaces, an orange dot four, a yellow dot three, a green dot two, and a blue dot one.

It is a difficult—and, to some degree, arbitrary—task to try to list all the residences of the various royal families of Europe. Generally speaking, such a list includes lands of three types: residences personally owned by a particular monarch, residences owned by the state and loaned to the monarch, and residences owned by the monarchy and distributed to members of the royal family at the monarch’s discretion. Different countries have different arrangements. Out of this confusing jumble, we have tried to err on the side of including more residences rather than fewer. We have based this map on the list of royal residences maintained by the “Unofficial Royalty” website. (For obvious reasons, we have omitted the various royal yachts)

Initially, we had hoped to extend this map to the whole world, not just Europe. What we found, however, is that non-European monarchs tend not to be forthcoming about the property they own. In Morocco, for example, the monarchy’s allocation of the national budget is public knowledge, but how that money is spent is a tightly controlled secret. One oft-cited statistic is that the country spends $1 million per day to maintain the king’s palaces. Some internet users have tried to use Google Earth to determine exactly how many palaces the king owns, but that number is unreliable. In addition, the Qatari and Saudi monarchies both own palaces in Morocco, making it even more difficult to know for sure where their dots would go on our map. Consequently, it was much easier to stick to mapping the constitutional monarchies of Europe, which have to be transparent with their citizens about their assets.

The European country with the most royal residences is the United Kingdom, and the largest single dot on our map is that of the city of London. Greater London is home to five palaces: St James’s Palace (the unoccupied “official” seat of the British monarchy); Buckingham Palace (the London residence of Queen Elizabeth II); Clarence House (the London residence of Prince Charles); Kensington Palace (the London residence of Prince William); and the Thatched House Lodge (the private residence of Princess Alexandra, who leases the palace from the Crown Estate).

You might think that the orange dot in Belgium refers to Brussels, the capital, but it is actually the nearby suburb of Laeken. Laeken is home to the Royal Palace of Laeken, which since 2013 has been the primary residence of the new Belgian monarch, King Philippe. Laeken is also home to the Château de Belvédère, Stuyvenberg Castle, and the Villa Schonenberg.

Most people solved this map by noting that the vast majority of the dots appear in the ten European countries that currently have monarchies. The tricky thing about this map, as mentioned in Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s hints, is the fact that there are also dots in France and Italy. France and Italy are republics, but they are home to residences used by monarchs from other countries (after all, even kings and queens like to go on vacation). The dot in Italy indicates the town of Tavernelle, home to a private residence (the Villa Rocco dei Dragoni) of the Dutch royal family. The royal families of Sweden, Monaco, and Luxembourg all maintain residences in southeastern France. The other French dots on this map indicate a town in Picardie home to the Montagasque Château de Marchais and the city of Cahors, home to the Danish Château de Cayx. Eagle-eyed map readers may also have noticed a dot in Spain that does not indicate a palace of the Spanish royal family; that’s the Villa Astrida, a privately owned estate in Motril, where Belgian King Baudouin died while on vacation in 1993.

One place that does not have any dots on this map is the town of Valtice in the Czech Republic. Valtice is the historic home of the princes of Liechtenstein, and its history offers an interesting window into the workings of European monarchies. In 1719, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI wanted one of his supporters, Anton Florian, to join the Reichstag, which was open only to princes who held land. Accordingly, Charles granted Florian some land around Vaduz and decreed that he would be “Prince of Liechtenstein.” It was several decades before any of Florian’s descendants bothered to go visit their new territory; instead, they continued to live at various estates in what is now Austria and the Czech Republic. At the end of World War I, the new government of Czechoslovakia took control of Valtice Castle. After World War II, the new communist government of Czechoslovakia seized all the assets of the Liechtenstein royal family in the country. These seizures have been the subject of an ongoing international dispute, and the royal family of Liechtenstein continues to consider Valtice Castle to be a royal residence—even though none of the princes of Liechtenstein has been able to live in the palace since the end of World War II. As a result of the conflict, Czech Republic and Liechtenstein did not establish diplomatic relations until 2009.

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