Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Three Books on Danish monarchs

"She might not be as pretty as your Olga, but she is smart, and she can turn the whole house upside,"  Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark wrote to his younger, brother, King George of the Hellenes, after the announcement of Frederik's engagement to Princess Louise of Sweden and Norway.

This was a dynastic alliance, not a love match.  Louise quickly learned Danish but never got on well with her in-laws, King Christian IX and Queen Louise thought her "boring and introverted."

Birgitte Louise Peiter Rosenheigh is the author of Frederik  VIII and Queen Lovisa, a 60-page English language biography, one of three books published by Danish Royal Collection.

There have been very few English-language on Danish royals, so it is a joy to be able to acquire these books.  The other two books are  Christian X and Queen Alexandrine and Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid and both were written by Jens Gunni Busck.

The format is the same for all three books.  A brief, concise biography of the three kings and their consorts complemented by a good selection of historical selection of photographs from the Danish royal archives.

After the German invasion of Denmark,  Crown Prince Frederik, who had to stand in for his father, who had been severely injured in a riding accident, had to officially support the new regime, but privately he maintained contact with the Danish resistance.  With the assistance of the national hospital, he staged a fake bout of appendicitis to avoid a trip to Germany to avoid meeting Hitler.

All three kings predeceased their spouses.  Alexandrine and Ingrid eschewed the title Dowager Queen, preferring to remain styled as Queen with the permission of the sovereign.

The writers provide a lot of detail  -- the facts, just the facts, but well-sourced facts --in 60 pages.  I enjoyed all three books even though I knew I was not reading a complete biography.  Each book has a bibliography, although all the sources are in Danish, as expected.

The books are available for sale at the palaces in Copenhagen, but you won't have to travel to Denmark to purchase them.   Amazon offers all three books, usually with a timeframe for delivery.   Christian X and Queen Alexandrine was scheduled to arrive between late December and mid-January. It arrived in mid-December, much to my surprise.

These books are definite needs for serious royal libraries.  Not wants, but needs.

I consider these books to be handy for quick reference. 

Amazon is also now offering Christian IX and Queen Louise, which I hope to add to my library in a few weeks.


Friday, December 21, 2018

Alix an Gretchen (Aix and Gretchen)

In 2002,  Alix and Gretchen (Briefe der Zarin Alexandra Feodorowna aus den Jahren 1891-1914 an Freiin Margarethe von Fabrice) was published in Darmstadt.  This book included letters between Alix and Gretchen until the outbreak of the first world war and family photos that belonged to Gretchen's granddaughter, Rottraut von Prittwitz and other family members.  The book was privately printed with limited distribution.

Fast forward to 2018.  Darmstadt publisher Justus von Liebig Verlag has published the book a hardcover edition with more text and images, again from Gretchen's family's personal collection.

Gretchen was a special lady-in-waiting to Princess Alix of Hesse and By Rhine. Ten years Alix's senior, Gretchen was also a good friend to the young princess. This friendship continued after Alix's marriage to Nicholas II.

The correspondence flourished with letters, postcards, and telegrams.  New photos of the two women's growing families were sometimes also included in the letters.

The outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914 led to an abrupt break in the correspondence.  For Alix, who had made few friends in Russia, the loss of her friend Gretchen, must have been difficult to cope with especially as Gretchen was someone who understood her.

The new edition also has a new introduction by German historian Thomas Aufleger, who specializes in the Hesse and by Rhine grand ducal family, and Rotraut von Prittwitz's original forward.

The book is in German and there are no plans for an English translation.   Personally, I think an English translation is warranted because the correspondence offers a different insight, a softer impression of Empress Alexandra,  a royal whose personality and demeanor were ill-suited to be the consort of the Russian emperor, who was equally unprepared to be Emperor.

Alix's connection to Gretchen maintained a line to her past in Darmstadt where life was more simple and without the pressure of the Russian court.

This book is available solely through the publisher. The price is 24.80 Euros.  Postage is extra.  For postal prices outside Germany, please contact the publisher at

The book is not available through Amazon.  I think the publisher should consider investing in a better distribution system for this book because it is warranted.  I also think that an English translation would not be too costly for the publisher.

Justus von Liebig should be able to do more to get Alix an Gretchen out beyond Darmstadt.  It is a disservice to do otherwise.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Carolina of Orange-Nassau: Ancestress of the Royal Houses of Europe by Moniek Bloks

Dutch writer Moniek Bloks' first book, Carolina of Orange-Nassau, Ancestress of the Royal Houses is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

From Amazon:  "Carolina of Orange-Nassau (1743 – 1787) was born the daughter of William IV, Prince of Orange, and Anne, Princess Royal and was thus the granddaughter of King George II. It was upon the King's orders that she was named after his wife, Caroline of Ansbach. She was the first of Anne and William's children to survive to adulthood. When her father was at last made stadtholder of all seven united provinces, Carolina was included in the line of succession, in the event she had no brothers. A brother was eventually born, but due to his weak health, she remained an important figure. Carolina married Charles Christian of Nassau-Weilburg and suffered the loss of half her children, either in childbirth or infancy. Despite this, she acted as regent for her minor brother while heavily pregnant and remained devoted to him and the Dutch republic. Her children married well and her descendants sit upon the royal thrones of Europe, truly making her a grandmother of Europe."

The book will be published in paperback by Chronos Books.
The UK's release date is January 25, 2019. The US release date is February 5, 2019.

Miss Bloks lives in the Netherlands.  She runs the History of Royal Women blog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Kenneth Rose's diaries to be published in November

Kenneth Rose (1924-2014)  was the author of the acclaimed biography, King George V. 

His diaries will be published the UK in November  in two volumes.   The first volume will be released in the US on December 18.

If you are looking to get me a Christmas present,  please look no further.  I would love to add the two volumes to my library.

Monday, September 24, 2018

New English language books about the Danish monarchy

New books about King Christian IX and Queen Louise, King Frederik VIII and Queen Lovisa, KIng Christian X and Queen Alexandrine and King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark IN ENGLISH!!!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Roundup of royal titles

It has been a crazy summer.  Got a lot of reading done, but found little time to sit down and write a few reviews.  Some of my readers know that I am a huge (yes, obsessive) fan of the Washington Nationals.  I am a devoted, passionate baseball fan.

I have a half season plan (40 games) but usually attend about 50 or so home games .. and now starting,  the final homestand.  Seven games.  I will be at them all.  No post-season for the Nats. 

In May I went to England for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  A roundup of books about Harry and Meghan and the wedding will be the topic of another post.   I also spent a long weekend in July at Winterthur in Delaware and Longwood Gardens just over the border in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. 

Both are former DuPont estates.  Both are well worth visiting.

I very much enjoyed The American Princess The Many Lives of Allene Tew (Amazon Crossing: $24.95) by Dutch historian Annejet van der Zijl.  The American translation was done by Michele Hutchinson.

Allene Tew (1872-1955) was born into a pioneering family in Jamestown, New York, but her father never found the same financial success that his siblings and other relatives achieved.   Allene lived on the cusp of the desire to achieve more for herself.  Surely, a good marriage would get her out of Jamestown ...and that happened, but not the way Allene planned.  She met Tod Hostetter, a scion of a wealthy Pittsburgh family ... but they had sex before the wedding ... an unplanned pregnancy ... and a shotgun wedding.

Allene was not the bride that Tod's parents would have wanted for their son. Despite's Tod's wealth, they were  social pariahs until Tod decided to start his own yacht club near Newport, Rhode Island, thus offering competition to the Vanderbilts' club.

 The couple had three children before Tod's untimely death in 1902, leaving Allene a wealthy woman.   She would marry four more times.  Two of the marriages ended in divorce,  one -- her great love Anson Burchard -- left her even wealthier, and the last two marriages were to nobleman:  German prince Heinrich XXXIII Reuss, a widower, and the last a Polish count Pavel Kotzebue.

(Heinrich's first wife was Princess Viktoria Margarete of Prussia, a niece of Empress Auguste Viktoria, who had died a few years earlier, living her husband with two young children.)

Blessed with a brilliant financial acumen and good advisers, Allene's wealth increased and survived the Great Depression.  She faced tragedy head-on.  Her second child, Verna, died at age 2 while her eldest and youngest children, Greta and Teddy, both died in 1918, the former, who was pregnant with twins, succumbed to the Spanish flu, while the latter was killed in action in the waning days of world war I.

It was her friendship with Princess Armgard of Lippe-Biesterfeld that led to Allene and her husband, Pavel,  offering their assistance and support in bringing together Armgard's son, Prince Bernhard, and Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, heir to the Dutch throne.   Allene also became friends with Queen Wilhelmina.   Allene and Pavel attended Juliana's wedding.  Juliana asked Allene to be one of the godmothers to her first child, Princess Beatrix.

The American Princess is a competent and well-researched biography, heavy on the facts.  I was intrigued by Allene as I knew little about her.  Van der Zijl is a methodical researcher and writer, but what is missing from this book is Allene's own voice.

I do not know if Allene left diaries or correspondence, apart from the few letters quoted in this book.  More of Allene's own words would certainly enhance the quality of the book,  as well as more photographs.  But neither quibble diminishes that this is a good book.  It is nice to see a biographer select a subject that few people know about.

 Penny Junor's biography of the Duchess of Cornwall, The Duchess  (Harper: $28.99)  is a very good read. Yes, this is a favorable toward Camilla kind of  biography, but Junor does not stint on the criticism and issues Charles and Camilla faced, alone and together.

Junor offers an honest appraisal of Diana, as well - a fair portrait, not one that paints Diana in a necessarily bad light.

I found The Duchess to be a fair and honest biography, strong on facts, not innuendo, and the best biography so far on Camilla.  We are decades away from a 600-page biography, replete with footnotes and citations, on the Duchess of Cornwall.

I would not describe this book as explosive, however, despite what the British cover states.


Looking for a meaty royal history?  I suggest picking up a copy of Sarah Gristwood's Game of Queens  (One World). The subtitle is The Women who made the Sixteenth Century.  Royal women used their positions in power struggles that led to real power - from Isabella of Castille and Anne de Beajeu to Anne Boleyn, culminating with her daughter, Elizabeth I and the impressive, but lesser known Jeanne d'Albret, whose role in the Protestant Reformation has been largely forgotten.

Sarah Gristwood is a serious historian.  Game of Queens ticks all the boxes.  Well-written, well-researched and ... a study of amazing women, whose stories were told with compassion and insight by one of the best historians writing today. 

Bravo to the scholarship!

Another roundup to appear toward the end of next week ...well, that is the plan.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Together: Our Community Kitchen

HRH The Duchess of Sussex has written the foreword for a new book,  Together: Our Community Kitchen,  which features 50 recipes fromt he Hubb Community Kitchen.  Hubb means love in Arabic.

From Amazon's site: 

"Together celebrates the power of cooking to connect us to one another.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, a group of local women gathered together to cook fresh food for their families and neighbors.

Over the chatter and aromas of the kitchen they discovered the power of cooking and eating together to create connections, restore hope and normalcy, and provide a sense of home. This was the start of the Hubb Community Kitchen.

Together is a storybook of this West London community, showcasing over 50 delicious recipes from the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen and including a foreword by HRH The Duchess of Sussex.

The women invite you to make their favorite simple dishes—many handed down over generations— from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean for you and your loved ones.

Every dish tells a story of history, culture and family, and each has been developed to use few ingredients and easy methods so that anyone can cook these personal recipes.

Together features mouthwatering recipes including Green Chilli and Avocado Dip, Coconut Chicken Curry, Eggplant Masala, Persian Chicken with Barberry Rice, Caramelized Plum Upside-Down Cake, Spiced Mint Tea and lots more.

This stunning charity cookbook is a homage to life, friendship and togetherness.

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will help the Hubb Community Kitchen to strengthen lives and communities through cooking."