Monday, November 29, 2010

The King's Speech

The movie, which stars Colin Firth as George V, Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, opened recently in New York and Los Angeles.  

The King's Speech will open in selected cities on December 10.

Christmas cards

This is a great site for Christmas cards!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Andrew Morton jumps royal wedding bandwagon

Andrew Morton is "already at work" on a book "with a team of researchers" on the forthcoming marriage of Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton.  William and Kate will be published by Michael O'Mara.
The book will be published within days of the wedding and will be "both a celebration and a memento" of the ceremony.  Photographs of the wedding will be included in the book.
It is unlikely that Prince William will welcome Morton's attention, as it was Morton, with Diana's "covert assistance" who was the author of Diana: Her True Story.
Clarence House had not comment other than to say it was "not a book that has been endorsed."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's official: Prince William to marry Catherine Middleton

Tomorrow is here.  I have been saying that the engagement would be announced betweeen "tomorrow" and next March!  

Clarence House announced the engagement today of Prince William and Catherine Elizabeth Middleton.

I just woke up, and turned on the Today Show, and stared at it for a few moments before it sunk in!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A really lovely book on the Habsburg

A friend sent me Habsburg eine europäische familie im 21sten Jahrhundert, a German-language book with lots of photos.
The title translates to Habsburg - a European family in the 21st century.
The text of the book was written by several Habsburg experts, including Eva Demmerle (who has also written a biography of Archduke Otto) and Rainhard Kloucek.  The book is divided into nine chapters on the history of the family and on different members, including Archduke Otto, the funeral of Archduke Carl Ludwig,  Archduke Karl, the Pan Europa movement, Archduchess Walburga, who is a member of the Swedish Parliament, the confirmation of  Carla and Justin Dantin, Santiagode Casanova, Archduchess Eleonore and Count Moritz Douglas, Archduchess Gabriella, a sculptor who serves as Georgia's ambassador to Germany, and Archduke Georg, who lives in Hungary with his wife, Elika and their three children.  The final chapter is a photographic display of the marriage of Count Philipp von Neipperg (son of Archduchess Andrea) and Paula Wolff, whose mother, Countess Ladislaja von Meran, has Habsburg ancestry.
The limited text is in German.
This is a book of recent photos of Otto and his children and their families.  The book includes a series of interviews with Archduke Otto, Archduke Karl, Archduchess Francesca, Archduchess Walburga, Archduchess Gabriella, a gifted sculptor who acquired Georgian nationality, and now serves as that country's ambassador to Germany, and Archduke Georg, who has settled with his family in a spacious home outside Budapest.

This is a magnificent book dedicated to the current members of the Habsburg dynasty.   If the Austro-Hungarian monarchy had not collapsed in 1918,  Archduke Otto might now be Europe's longest reigning sovereign.   Amazing to think.   He remains dedicated to the cause of a Pan Europa, and his children and grandchildren have taken up the cudgels, and continuing his work. 

This book is not easy to find.  It is not currently available through It may be a difficult adventure to acquire the book, but it will be well worth it.

 The price of the book is 50 Euros.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Grand Dukes

Let's just say I am not a very patient person.  I've been waiting for several years for the publication of The Grand Dukes by  Suffice to say, I have a vested interest in the book as I wrote the article on Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovitch.  In fact, I wrote the chapter several years ago.
The book has been finally published ... well, sort of.  The publisher and editor, Art Beeche, decided to published The Grand Dukes in two volumes.  The first volume, which was released earlier this month,  focuses on the sons and grandsons of Russia's Tsars since Paul.  
My Grand Duke was a great-grandson of a Tsar, which means my chapter will be published in the second volume, due out toward the end of the year.  Yea!

The contributors for both volumes are Janet Ashton, Arturo E. Beeche, Zoia Belyakova, Lisa Davidson, Coryne Hall, Ilana Miller, Greg King, Marlene Eilers Koenig, William Lee and John van der Kiste.  Charles Stewart wrote the introduction.

The first volume has 38 pages of illustrations. also published The Grand Duchesses -- a definite must have!

The Romanovs in the 21st Century

Daniel Willis -- I call him Dan -- is a friend.  We share a common interest in royal genealogy.  He has tacked several major projects, including The Descendants of George I, The Descendants of Louis XIII and The Descendants of Maria Theresia of Austria.   His most recent book, which was published in 2009, but still available, focuses on a more modern line:  The Romanovs in the 21st Century A Genealogical Biography.  
Nicholas I is the progenitor for all the modern Romanov descendants: from sovereigns and consorts to models, photographers, actors and school teachers.
Most of the modern descendants of Nicholas I are not well known, and live largely ordinary lives in the United States, Canada and Australia. 
Dan, who lives in Denver, Colorado, did a lot of research to update and enhance the Romanov genealogy, especially filling in many (but not all) of the blanks, especially for the lesser known non-royal descendants.  He also provides good background information on what many of these descendants do for a living - and where they live.  One story is rather sad.
Nicholas Romanoff, known as Nick, born in 1968, was the grandson of Prince Rostislav Alexandrovich of Russia by his second wife, Alice,  Nick, nor his father, Nicholas, grew up knowing very little about their imperial heritage.  Nicholas was abandoned by his father, who went to live in England, and never returned, when he was a small child. He died in 2000 from complications suffered in a car accident.  
Young Nick, who lies in San Diego, has been married and divorced twice.  He had a son, Cory Christopher, born in 1994, by his first wife, Lisa.   After their divorce, she moved with Cory and her boyfriend, Richard Tiarks, to Memphis, Tennessee. On January 5, 1998, Tiarks killed the little boy, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. 
This book was published in German print on demand publishing firm VDM (Verlag Dr. Müller.)  The book is in English.   The book includes a small number of very small illustrations.  The print for the genealogy is what we describe as "fine print."  Seriously, some readers might need a magnifying glass.

The Romanovs in the 21st Century won't be found at your local bookstore or even through Amazon or   You can order the book from Amazon. de.

The price of the book is a rather pricey 68 Euros (plus postage.)  However, I see this book as an investment because there is not a lot of information on more recent Romanov descendants.    I personally think this book is a must have!  One little quibble -- the index is a bit convoluted as the page numbers do not always correspond to the actual text.

Something new coming ...

You might to save a little Christmas money for yourself - and spend it on a forthcoming book that I think will be terrific,

Greg King and Penny Wilson are the authors of The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World's Greatest Royal Mystery, which will be published on January 11, 2010 by Wiley.  The price is $35.00. 

From the production description: 

The truth of the enduring mystery of Anastasia's fate-and the life of her most convincing impostor The passage of more than ninety years and the publication of hundreds of books in dozens of languages has not extinguished an enduring interest in the mysteries surrounding the 1918 execution of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family. The Resurrection of the Romanovs draws on a wealth of new information from previously unpublished materials and unexplored sources to probe the most enduring Romanov mystery of all: the fate of the Tsar's youngest daughter, Anastasia, whose remains were not buried with those of her family, and her identification with Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be the missing Grand Duchess.

Penetrates the intriguing mysteries surrounding the execution of Tsar Nicholas II and the true fate of his daughter, Anastasia

Reveals previously unknown details of Anderson's life as FranziskaSchanzkowska

Explains how Anderson acquired her knowledge, why people believed her claim, and how it transformed Anastasia into a cultural phenomenon

Draws on unpublished materials including Schanzkowska family memoirs, legal papers, and exclusive access to private documents of the British and Hessian Royal Families

Includes 75 photographs, dozens published here for the first time

Written by the authors of The Fate of the Romanovs

Refuting long-accepted evidence in the Anderson case, The Resurrection of the Romanovs finally explodes the greatest royal mystery of the twentieth-cen

25 Chapters of My Life

Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia has been described as the last Grand Duchess largely because she was the last living distaff Grand Ducal members of the Russian Imperial Family.   Olga was the youngest daughter of Alexander III, and, thus, the youngest sister of Nicholas II.

On 1901, she married Duke Peter of Oldenburg, a member of the Russian branch of the German ducal family.  The marriage produced no children, which is not a surprise, as Peter preferred the company of other men. 

Olga fell in love with a Russian commoner, Nicholas Kulikovsky, but an official marriage did not take place until 1916, when her marriage to Peter was dissolved, and she received permission to marry Nicholas.  A year later, revolution engulfed Russia, bringing down the monarchy and murdering Nicholas and Alexandra, their five children, and other members of the Imperial Family.   Olga, Nicholas and infant son, Tihon, spent time in the Crimea with Dowager Empress Marie, and other members of the Imperial Family, all of whom had gathered at family estates.   But when an opportunity came for Marie to leave, Olga and Nicholas chose to move to another place, as Olga was expecting a second child, and she felt that her family should come first.  

Their own private peace was soon shattered.  The Kulikovskys were sheltered in the White-held Crimea, but as the Soviets moved further into the area, Olga and Nicholas knew that they, too, had to leave their beloved Russia.
More than a year after Empress Marie left Russia on board the HMS Marlborough,  Olga and her family, with the assistance of the Danish Consul, were able to obtain passage on the Hamburg, sailing from Novorossick to Turkey.  From Constantinople, they made their way to Bulgaria and Serbia, where they spent two weeks with King Alexander.  From Belgrade, the family traveled to Vienna, where they were met by Olga's aunt Thyra, the Duchess of Cumberland and her daughter. 

The final destination was Denmark, where Empress Marie now lived.   The ties to Denmark were strong, as Marie was the daughter of King Christian X of Denmark.

For the next 28 years, the Kulikovskys remained in Denmark, eventually purchasing a farm at Ballerup, outside Copenhagen.  Olga painted, Nicholas farmed, and their two sons grew up and married Danish girls.
Once again, war intervened.  Germany invaded Denmark, but the danger for Olga and her family occurred after liberation.  In 1948,  due to a genuine fear of a Soviet threat, the family emigrated to Canada, moving to a farm in Ontario.
Nicholas died in 1958, Olga two years later.  Both are buried in the North York Cemetery in Toronto.

In 1964,  Ian Vorres wrote The Last Grand Duchess. Vorres's biography was largely based on conversations with Grand Duchess Olga. The book remains one of the most sought after royal biographies, although it has been republished several times.   Canadian-born Patricia Phenix's Olga Romanov - Russia's Last Grand Duchess was disappointing on several levels, despite the fact of Olga's descendants provided information.  But the author did always stay with the facts, and the book was an abysmal failure.

The most recent addition to the Olga canon of biographical material is 25 Chapters of My Life (Librario: æ11.99).  This book is NOT an abysmal failure.  In fact, it's terrific.   

At the time of Olga and Nicholas's 25th wedding anniversary, celebrated in Denmark in 1941, the couple agreed to meet with several Danish magazines for an interview.  Billed-Bladet published a special issue commemorating Olga's life and the wedding anniversary.  Olga herself added her own recollections.  The interviews were published in early 1942 with the title Storfyrstindens Eindringer - The Grand Duchess's Memoirs.   In 2005, Olga's granddaughter, Xenia Kulikovsky Nielsen, gave permission to the memoirs to be published in Danish.  As the book sold well in Scandinavia, the family decided to have the book translated into English.
According to the intruction written by Xenia's son Paul,  the English edition is not a translation of the original Danish book, but it is based primarily on Olga's handwritten notes. The parts of the text that are not based on the note come from the original Danish book.
Karen Roth-Nicholls is to be commended on her translation - as Olga's memoirs come alive through words and photos.
The 25 Chapters begin with Olga's memories of her childhood and the Imperial family.  She was especially close to her brother, Grand Duke Michael. She writes of visits to Denmark, holidays at Gatchina (her favorite home), the train crash at Borki in 1888, which nearly killed Alexander III and other members of the family, her relationship with her brother George, her marriage, her faith,  travel, Rasputin, her position within the family, her second marriage, the revolution and flight to the Crimea, and eventually freedom in Denmark.
The book ends with the Grand Duchess' arrival in Denmark.
The memoirs are further enhanced with the publication of a selection of correspondence between Olga and Nicholas II and with her niece, Grand Duchess Tatiana.
Don't expect graphic details regarding Olga's first marriage.  It would not have been proper for the Grand Duchess to have told others about the reason why her first marriage failed.  One can only assume that she was truly unhappy and miserable with Peter.  No sex.  No children.  She finally found love and compassion with a Russian commoner. 
This is a very poignant book, rich with pathos and faith.  Olga was born into great wealth.  She did not know what true poverty was until she actually experienced it in her final years in Russia.   Her life was built on a fragile precipice.  The first shattering of glass came in 1888 with the Borki train derailment.   In 1894, her beloved father, Alexander III, died at the age of 49.   In 1917,  the Romanov glass house shattered, collapsing under the weight of a war and revolution.  A year later, Grand Duke Michael would be murdered in Perm  by the Bolsheviks.  A month after Michael's death, the Bolsheviks killed Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra, their five children, and several loyal servants in a cellar in Ekaterinburg. 

25 Chapters of My Life offers a wistful insight into Olga's early life.  She was largely honest in her portrayal of her family and friends with one exception: her first marriage.  I can understand this.  It would have been difficult for a Grand Duchess to confide, even to a diary, the sadness of an unconsummated marriage.  She also avoided discussing many personal things that the more prurient reader might enjoy  ... like me ... personal details about her family, especially her demanding, autocratic, insensitive mother.

This is a highly recommended book, and a must have for all Romanov collections.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New bio on Queen Elizabeth - due in 2012

From Richard Kay's column in the Daily Mail on November 12, 2010:

"Andrew Marr says he is working ‘flat out’ on his ­biography of the Queen which needs to be in the shops in time for HM’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

‘I have already written 85,000 words,’ says Marr, who is also ­making a three-part BBC series about the anniversary. ‘The only way to fit everything in is to get up very early,’ the broadcaster tells me at the Galaxy National Book Awards, where his The­ ­Making Of Modern Britain won the non-­fiction prize.

‘But I have to say writing about the Queen is a serious ­historical book — not some Andrew ­Morton job,’ he says a snooty reference to my old friend ­Morton’s blockbuster on Prince Charles and Diana’s ­marriage that became an ­international ­bestseller and changed the way the royals were reported on."

Monday, November 8, 2010

When Nature Calls

When Nature Calls is a stunning book of photographs of Brittany taken during the past three years by Sophie de Roumanie.  Sophie's photographs are stunning ... she has the perfect eye for detail and light.
I have known Sophie for many years - and she also goes by HRH Princess Sophie of Roumania,  fourth daughter of King Michael and Queen Anne.  I am very happy to plug her work!!!!

The perfect Christmas gift:

These photos are a small selection of what can be found in  When Nature Calls.  All four photos are copyrighted by Sophie de Roumanie.  These photos cannot be copied.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Royal Exile King Zog and Queen Geraldine of Albania

Briton Neil Rees, a computational linguist, who is very interested in local history and the activities of royals in exile.
His two interests work well together, especially in his new book, A Royal Exile  King Zog & Queen Geraldine of Albania including their wartime exile in the Thames Valley and Chilterns.

It is not surprising that there are very few books on Albania's monarchy.  Albania is a Muslim country in Europe, and has suffered greatly from political instability and poverty.  During the years of an oppressive Communist regime, Albania was largely shut off from the world.
The Royal Family does not largely mix and mingle with the other European royalties for a number of reasons, including the fact that Albania's royal family has few close genealogical relationships with the royal houses.
In 1914, the European powers set up a newly independent Albania as a principality.  Prince Wilhelm zu Wied, a German Lutheran prince, was set up as the new Sovereign, but he had no real chance to succeed.  Within six months,  Wilhelm and his wife, Sophie were gone, and, once again, Albania was under occupation. 
The man who became King Zog was born Ahmet Zogolli.   After an education in Istanbul, Zogolli returned to his native land, and began a career in government.  He dropped the 'golli from his named and adopted a new surname:Zogu.   By 1922, Ahmet Zogu was the country's prime minister.  Three years later, after Albania declared itself a republic, Zogu became president.
The British played a major role in the political life of Albania during the 1920s and 1930.    In September 1928, Zog was declared king of Albania, thus joining the ranks of Balkan monarchs, albeit the only Muslim monarch.  A decade later, Zog, his wife, Geraldine, a half-American Hungarian countess, and their infant son, were forced into exile after the Italian invasion of Albania.  The monarchical experiment was over.  By the end of the second world war,  Albania was under communist control, and the Albanian royal family lived in exile, spending time in England, the USA, France and Egypt.  They maintained an apartment at the Ritz and also lived in Ascot and in Buckinghamshire.
But eventually the family's finances were depleted, and King Zog had to make substantial cuts to his living standards.  After his death in 1961. Queen Geraldine settled in Spain, thanks to the assistance of Generalissimo Franco.

A Royal Exile is much more than an examination of the Albanian royal family's life.  It is a mini-encyclopedia full of interesting tidbits about the history of Albania and the history of the royal family, including the king's sisters.  The book is richly illustrated with photographs and motives - all taking into context the history of Albania - and the history and travails of the royal family. 
In 2002,  Queen Geraldine, King Leka, Queen Susan (Leka's Australian-born consort), and their son, Leka, were invited to return to Tirana to live.  Several properties were returned to them.  Geraldine died in 2002, and Susan two years later.  Both were buried in Tirana. 
Today, young Leka works for the government and plans a career in diplomacy.
Kudos to Neil Rees, who has written a book that fills a nifty niche - the Albanian royal house.  He offers insight into the lives of Zog and his family, but he also brings in other players, British diplomats, for example, who helped establish Albania and put Zog on the throne. 
Reese also provides a bibliography of sources at the end of each chapter, which will allow the reader further opportunity to delve into the different topics covered in this book.

The book can be ordered from the author's website:
Here are links to biographies on Zog and Geraldine:


I must admit I know nothing about the following title:

A Royal Exile by Neil Rees was published the Court of King Zog Research Society. The price is £ 12.95.

This book will be appreciated by those who are interested in the Albanian monarchy, and by others who will want to learn more about the least known of Europe's royal families.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden - affair with pop singer, new book says

King Carl XVI Gustaf has acknowledged that he had an affair with a pop singer more than a decade ago.  He addressed "the allegations during a press conference he traditionally holds at the end of his annual moose hunt."  The king did not deny the affair with Camilla Henemark, a Nigerian-Swedish pop singer.  The affair lasted for about a year, and was known to Queen Silvia, the king's wife.
The allegations about the King's private life were published in a new biography, Carl XVI Gustaf - The Reluctant Monarch.  The book was written by three investigative journalists.

The book was published in Sweden earlier this week.
"The book came to us quite late yesterday afternoon and I have not had the time to read it yet.  I cannot review a book that I have not yet read.  I have seen quite a few of the headlines that have not been too nice.  I've talked with my family and the queen. We will turn the pages and go on now, because as I understand this is about things that happened a long time ago."

There have been rumors about the King's private life for many years, but Sweden's tabloids have largely refrained from writing about them.  This may now change with the publication of this new book.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Book on William and Harry

Vanity Fair has published an excerpt from Katie Nicholl's new book, William and Harry, which will be published by Weinstein Books.

This is the American edition.  The UK edition was published in June by Preface Publishing.