Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee : new books

From the Royal Collection:

and due to be published in February

Albert & Charlene of Monaco: New books on the wedding

There are (at least) three new books on the July wedding of the Prince of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock.

Albert et Charlene: Mariage princier a Monaco was published by Paris-based Editions Didier Carpentier. 

Albert et Charlene: Mariage Princier 1er et 2 Julliet 2011 by Michel Dagnino
and Stéphane Bern's L'Histoire du Mariage Princier were published by Monaco by Editions du Rocher.

All three books are also available from Amazon.fr.    Stéphane Bern's book is also available from van Hoogstraten. 

Book of the Year: Dearest Missy

I read a lot of royal books, naturally.  Some are good, some are terrific, and there are always a few duds. 

And then there is the book that rises right to the top, a book that soars above all the other titles, a book that richly deserves the title: best book of the year.

That book is Dearest Missy, a compilation of the letters of Marie Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess of Russia, Duchess of Edinburgh, and of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and of her daughter, Marie, Crown Princess of Romania (1879-1900.)

The letters were edited by Diana Mandache, a Bucharest-based expert on Romanian royal history.  The letters are held at Romania's National Archives, where Diana was given full access to the material.

The nearly 500 pages covers the period from 1879 thorough 1900.   If this book sells well,  Diana (and Rosvall Royal Books) will be able to publish the second volume.

The correspondence offers the reader an insight into the relationship between the proud Russian-born mother and her eldest daughter, married at seventeen, to Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania, a man she barely knew. 

Marie, known as Missy, had a limited education, despite being a British princess.  She was headstrong, naive, and knew little of the world when she was married off at age seventeen to a man she barely knew.

Crown Princess Marie's first years in Romania were difficult due to the tension-fraught relationship with der Onkel, King Carol I.   Missy's mother was often called upon to act as a mediator between the headstrong Missy and her husband's uncle.

The letters also offer a perspective into Missy's relationship with her sister, Victoria Melita, known as Ducky.  The two were very close, often shared confidences, regarding their own marital problems.  

Ducky's marriage to her first cousin, Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and By Rhine, was also a frequent topic between Missy and her mother,  especially as the marriage disintegrated so quickly.    In a letter to Missy on January 19, 1898,  Duchess Marie wrote:  "Ducky writes seldom and says very little, I am not at all happy about her, though Ernie writes that they are intensely happy now!  I don't see it at all in her letters.  He is a curious man one cannot get hold of him in any way he seems always pleased and in the best spirits."

Marie also acknowledged that her son-in-law was  not interested in sex with women.  It is unlikely that Marie or Missy would have ever thought that their private letters would be published and read by the general public.  Think of this book as a bit of royal eavesdropping.  Mama knew how to dispense the advice -- and the family news with alacrity.

Mother and daughter provide family news to each other,  Missy was anxious to move into her new home, Cotroceni Palace, with her husband and her growing her family, and away from the cruelty of King Carol I.

Missy's older brother, Prince Alfred, was also a topic of contention. 

"I am very unhappy about Alfred, he seems completely done up morally and physically looks like an old man.  I never saw him  in such a state before, he hardly utters, feels weak and depressed and I feel ashamed of him..." Marie wrote to Missy on September 7, 1898.

Marie was troubled by young Affie's behavior, his mistresses, his gambling, his illnesses (syphilis), under arrest in Berlin.  In the fall of 1898,  young Affie visited his sister in Bucharest, making it virtually impossible for him to have met a teenage girl, Mabel Fitzgerald, who lived in Ireland, and married her.  In early December 1898, Marie wrote "our despair at the moment is Alfred....it is naturally also the effect of his nasty illness, which has attacked the brain..." 

One month later, young Affie was dead, a suicide.   Affie's tragic death was soon followed a new scandal for Missy.  Her children's nanny, Miss Winter,  had spied on Missy, and told everyone about Missy's affair's affair with a Romanian officer, Zizi Cantacuzino. 

One again, Marie intervened on behalf of her daughter against Ferdinand who was supported by King Carol.  She suggested that Missy leave the country permanently with her son.  "You ought to insist upon taking the boy with you and leave the country altogether, renouncing, if possible  completely in his name the Romanian succession."   The Duchess also had a "fierce correspondence" with Ferdinand and King Carol,  and pushed for Missy to give birth in Coburg.  

Ferdinand took some of the blame for his wife's affair.  Both he and Missy believed that her child was his, and they both wanted a reconciliation.    The Duchess also chastised Miss Winter "But your sin, the sin of a person in charge of young souls is ten times greater, than the fault of a young woman who may repent it her whole life and keep her position amongst her relations as solid and friendly as before? ... My daughter has greatly sinned, and I have no excuses for her, but  I have no words of blame strong enough for those who are payed  to spy upon her, to denounce her daily and hourly and who spread the scandal around the world."

Diana Mandache has done a wonderful job in editing the book with footnotes and translations of French and German words.  Marie and Missy wrote to each other in English,  but often added a French or German word when an English world would  not do.  She has done an amazing job, and deserves all the fulsome praise she has received so far. 

Dearest Missy will be a great success.  Many copies will be sold, and Diana will be able to complete the second volume. 
Duchess Marie may not have been the perfect daughter-in-law for Queen Victoria, but she certainly went to bat more often for her children.

Dearest Missy was published by Rosvall Royal Books.    Ted's books are available from Van Hoogstraten in the Hague and Majesty Magazine.  No bookstore in North America carries Ted's books, which is why I am distributing his books through Amazon.

This is a must have. a superb read, an entry into the very personal lives of Crown Princess Marie and her family -- and, yes, mother and daughter do talk about (gasp!)  sex!

(Diana, when you have finished the second volume, could you do a book of letters between Missy and Ducky?)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Memo to Thailand - respect free speech

Thai-born American citizen Joe Gordon remains in a Thai prison.  He was found guilty of lese-majeste, or insulting King Bhumipol, the aged and ill king of Thailand.

And what is the insult:  While living in Colorado, Gordon uploaded excerpts of Paul Handley's excellent biography, The King Never Smiles.   The excerpts were translated into Thai.    Handley's book has never been published in Thailand.   The King and his minions prefer fictionalized accounts of the king's life.  

Gordon's blog was on an American server, just as mine is. He was arrested after he traveled to Thailand for medical treatments.   The "crime" occured in the United States, not Thailand.

Thailand government officials prefer hagiographies to facts when it concerns biographies of their not-so-benevolent king.

My view:  the King of Thailand is not fit to be called a king.  He does not deserve respect.  He is not worthy of the role. 

It is time for the U.S. government, including Gordon's congressman, to speak up and speak out against the tyranny in Thailand, and remind them that Gordon is an American citizen, who posted the translations in the United States, and did not violate any US law.

Lese-majeste indeed.  More likely Lousy Majesty!

Free Joe Gordon now!  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shame on the Thai King --The King Never Smiles - FREE JOE GORDON

The King Never Smiles is a very honest and illuminating biography of King Bhumibol of Thailand.  The book was written by Paul Handley and published by Yale University Press in 2008.

Unfortunately, the Thai government does not see the book in a positive light, and considers it an insult on the King.  

An American citizen, who was born in Thailand,  Joe Gordon was recently convicted of lese-majeste, or insulting the king.  According to the BBC, " Gordon, 55, reportedly translated parts of the widely available biography, The King Never Smiles by Paul Handley, several years ago and posted them on a blog while he was living in the US." 

I read the book shortly after it was published, and can state that the book is honest, well-researched, and an excellent accounting of the life of the longest reigning monarch, and the only monarch to be born in the United States of America.

Shame on Thailand and the Thai justice system.  King Bhumipol is far from being a constitutional monarch.    He needs to speak out about the right of free expression.  His "court" system violated the rights of an American who posted a translation of excerpts of Handley's book on an American blog.  The postings were done in the United States, which means the Thai court violated US law.  Shame on the king  for allowing censorship and the right of free expression.

 Free Joe Gordon now!     All the king needs to do is say an injustice was done, apologize to Mr. Gordon, an American citizen.

Mr. Gordon is protected by US law, thanks to the "Securing the Protection of our
Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act.  The Thai justice system and their king, are violating the rights of an American citizen, whose postings were on an American-based blog, like mine. 

It is time for the King of Thailand to act like a real monarch, and not someone who allows his government to stamp out free speech.  


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Haakon og Mette-Marit i ti år

On August 25, 2001, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway married the woman he loved, Norwegian commoner, Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby.   The path to the altar was paved with obstacles, starting with Mette-Marit's background.

It did not matter that she was a commoner.  Haakon's mother was Miss Sonja Haraldsen when she married Crown Prince Harald in 1968.  Harald and Sonja had to wait ten years before King Olav would give his permission for the marriage to take place.

Sonja, the daughter of a draper, did not have Mette-Marit's problems.  Before meeting Crown Prince Haakon,  Mette-Marit moved in a circle that favored hard partying, drugs and alcohol.  She bore a child out of wedlock.

In spite of Mette-Marit's background,  Haakon fell in love with her and wanted to marry her.  His parents took their time in making their decision regarding Mette-Marit, but they realized that their only son loved Mette-Marit and wanted to marry her.  King Harald V and Queen Sonja came around, and gave their son and his girlfriend the support they needed.

It also took time for the Norwegian people to accept Haakon's choice.

Fast forward ten years to 2011.  Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.  They have two children,  Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus.  As Ingrid is the eldest, she will succeed her father and grandfather as Norway's sovereign.

Norwegian journalist Liv Berit Tessem is the author of Haakon og Mette-Marit i t år (Schibsted).  The title translates to Ten years with Haakon & Mette-Marit.  The book is divided into eleven chapters, one for each year from the marriage through June 2011, two months before the book was published.

Tessem, a former court correspondent for the Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten,  offers insight and perspective into the lives of Norway's future King and Queen.

It is also apparent that Mette-Marit, the former party girl, has evolved into a professional Crown Princess, respected, and perhaps, even loved by the Norwegian people.  

Do not be put off by the Norwegian text.   The 184-page book includes nearly 100 color photos of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess from their wedding to recent photos with their children. 

Haaakon and Mette-Marit are hands-on parents, and are devoted to their children.  Lots of affection, hugs and kisses, but one wonders, with a smile, how Ingrid Alexandra will react when she is older when she sees how she behaved at her younger brother, Sverre's baptism.  A priceless photo.

Each chapter also includes a month- by-month list of engagements, official trips and other events for that particular year.

The price of  Haakon og Mette-Marit  I ti  år is 199 Norwegian kroners.

Norli is a Norwegian bookstore.   The book also can be ordered from the publisher, Schibsted.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Das Fürstliche Haus Hohenzollern

What a wonderful addition to my library ... and yours, too!   Das Fürstliche Haus Hohenzollern Private Einblicke in die Fotalben is a superb book, from start to finish. 

Yes, there are few misidentified photos -- easily correctable for the next edition -- but on balance, this book strikes a golden shot, wonderful glimpses into the photograph collection belonging to the Princely family of Hohenzollern.

German publisher Gmeiner was given access to the private family albums of the princely house of Hohenzollern.  The book is divided into seven chapters: Writing in Light, The Imperial Prussian House, Castles and Residences, Celebrations and Recreation at Court, Small Worlds and Related Royal Houses.

Oh,  did I tell you the book's text and captions are in German and English.  Woo hoo!  

The authors, Karen Kuehl and Anette Hahnel, offer a perspective on how the Hohenzollerns adopted the use of the camera, especially from Karl Anton, Prinz of Hohenzollern.

One of the oldest photos in the collection is from 1858, and shows Ferdinand II, Pedro V and Queen Stephanie of Portugal.  The photo was taken at the time of Pedro and Stephanie's wedding near Sintra.  Princess Stephanie, born a Princess of Hohenzollern, died only a year after her marriage. Her husband died a year later from cholera.

There is a wonderful family group photo taken at Doorn on the occasion of Kaiser Wilhelm II's  75th birthday.

The Romanian royal family, a branch of the princely family, are also included in this book.  There are also photographs of more recent members of the princely family, including a rather sweet photograph of twin sisters, Princesses Maria Adelgunde and Maria Antonia licking a tree.  

The princely family owns Schloss Sigmaringen and several other residences, including Schloss Umkirch and Joseflust.   The Small world chapter focuses on the children of the family.  My favorite photo in this chapter is from 1895 and shows Prince Carol of Romania, Hereditary Prince Friedrich Victor, Prince Franz Joseph and Princess Auguste Viktoria of Hohenzollern.  There are also several photos of the present Prince of Hohenzollern, Karl Friedrich, as a child.

160 pages.  Publisher by Gmeiner.  The cost is €19.90.   The best way to order is from Amazon.com.  Overseas postage is not prohibitive, and if you have a credit card set up for Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, you can breeze through the Amazon.de checkout .. it will be in German, but that should not be a major issue.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Fine Romance

British royal wedding have a way of creating a mini-publishing industry with the publication of books about the couple getting married -- and royal weddings in general.

This was the case of the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981 with the publication of dozens of books about royal weddings.

The same can now be said about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding.  There have been at least a dozen books published about the couple's wedding (not including all those special magazines), as well as several books on Royal Weddings.

Australian-British publisher Hardie Grant is the latest to jump on the wagon with A Fine Romance (£20.00), 200-page book that covers 75 years of royal weddings and the most recent British Royal Wedding.

The book opens with the 1930s and the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  The only royal wedding of the 1940s was the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.   Although there were several major royal weddings of the 1950s (Ragnhild of Norway, Josephine Charlotte of Belgium and Jean of Luxembourg, Prince Albert of Belgium and Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria), the publishers concentrate on the wedding of American film star, Grace Kelly, and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

There were more than a dozen of royal weddings in the reigning royal houses in the 1960s.  This volume focuses on the marriages of Princess Margaret, Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophie of Greece, Princess Irene of the Netherlands and Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma, Princess Anne Marie of Denmark and King Constantine II of Greece, and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and Claus von Amsberg.

Princess Anne's wedding leads the chapter for the 1970s, followed by the weddings of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Princess Caroline of Monaco.

It is not a surprise that the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer is the primary focus of the 1980s.  Eight pages of photographs, followed by two pages on the wedding of the Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson.

The two marriages featured for the 1990s are the weddings of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones and the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Belgium.

Four weddings are featured in the section for the 2000s: the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway, the Prince of Orange and Princess Maxima, the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark and the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, but not the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Asturias, which I consider a major gaffe on the part of the publishers. 

The first part of the book ends with the 2010 marriage of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling.

Part Two is about the romance, engagement and wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  Plenty of color photos of the couple at university, their engagement and the wedding.

The photographs are wonderful, and are enhanced by 20 double-page spreads. 

I think the book would have been better if the publishers had chosen to include all of the weddings that are included in the time lines.  They erred grievously by not including the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Asturias.

The timeline is not complete.  The 1950s include the wedding of the present King of the Belgians, but the wedding of his older brother, King Baudouin, does not even get a mention in the 1960 timeline.

The text also should have been more carefully vetted.  It is Archduke, and not Arch-duke.  Piccadilly,  not Picadilly, for example.  

A Fine Romance can be captivating, which is largely due to the photographs.  But I think the book could have been a lot better if the publishers had decided to provide a more comprehensive look at European royal weddings of the 20th century, a book that would have included all of the reigning royal houses. 

It was a grievous error to exclude the Asturias' marriage, which took place only two weeks after the Danish royal wedding.

In spite of the omissions,  A Fine Romance is a very lovely book, thanks to the superb collection of wedding photos.

A Fine Romance was edited by Lisette du Plessis.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Royalty Weekend in Ticehurst


Ticehurst and Flimwell Church of England Primary School,
Steellands Rise, Ticehurst, East Sussex, TN5 7DH, UK

Saturday and Sunday, 14-15 April 2012

Speakers include:

Coryne Hall on the Romanovs

Griffith Henninger on The Last Empress & The First World War

Neil Rees on Escaping Revolution & Awaiting Restoration – the story of King Louis XVIII of France in Exile at Hartwell House, near Aylesbury 1809-1814

Helen Rappaport on The Trouble with Albert

Richard Thornton on The Harrington sisters – from barmaids to princesses

Christophe Vachaudez on The Belgian Royal Family Through Photography

Charlotte Zeepvat on Royal Costume

There will also be other royal authors present including Robert Golden and Janet Ashton

Cost: £100 for all lectures, tea, coffee and snacks, two buffet lunches & one evening meal with wine.

Cheques in sterling payable to "Mrs S M Woolmans" and to be sent to 12 Lockswood, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, UK, GU24 OHL. Payment can be accepted by PayPal for overseas attendees. Further details from royalweekend@gmail.com or call 0044 (0) 208 319 0696.

Books on the Romanian Royal Family

During my week visit to Romania to attend the 90th birthday celebrations for King Michael,  I visited several bookstores, looking for books on the Romanian royal family.  Much to my delight, I came home with several nice books.

The first book I found was Familia Regala o Historie in imagini (The Royal Famiy in History and images), which was published by Editura Cetaatea de Scaun in 2009.   This book was the companion volume to an exhibition at the National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest.

The text is in Romanian.   The book has 168 pages, and includes an exellent array of photographs of the royal family, beginning with Carol I and Elisabeth, followed by Ferdinand and Marie,  Michael, Carol and Helen, Michael and Anne and their children.  The exhibition also included images of Ferdinand and Marie's younger children, Elisabeth, Marie, Nicolas, Ileana and Mircea.

I bought the book at an open air market in Bucharest's Old Town. The cost was 40 Ron (about $13.00).   However, the book is still available from the publisher.


It was at Humanitas, one of Bucharest's better known bookstores, where I found Coroana română - la 140 de ani, which was published in 2008 by Curtea Veche.  The text of this book was written  by Crown Princess Margarita and Prince Radu.   The book celebrated the 140th anniversary of the Romanian monarchy, beginning with the succession of Carol I, who was born a prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

The majority of photographs in this book come from the Royal Family's private collection, and includes all members of the Royal Family, including King Michael and his family.   An excellent compilation of historical and modern images,  Romanian text.


The price of this book is 85 Ron  (about $27.00.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Robert Massie to give talk at Hillwood

November 29. 2011

Book Talk & Signing: Robert K. Massie Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
History offers few stories richer in drama than that of Catherine the Great. In this newly released book, the eternally fascinating woman is returned to life—as an obscure young German princess who became the the bullied wife of Peter III, and finally the Empress of Russia. Ruling Russia for three decades, Catherine rose to become one of the most powerful women in history, applying principles of the Enlightenment to a new Russian constitution, pioneering public health, and established the Hermitage Museum, housing her impressive art collections.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author or Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs, returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, rich with historical accuracy, depth of understanding, felicity of style, mastery of detail, ability to shatter myth, and a rare genius for finding and expressing the human drama in extraordinary lives.

$20, $7 College Students. Free for Members, including a Members-only reception with the author from 5:30-6:30 pm.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

David Linley books

Today is the 50th birthday of Viscount Linley.  To honor his birth, here is a selection of Linley's books:

And his website:  http://www.davidlinley.com/

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory: A must read

It was about five or six years ago when I first discovered Philippa Gregory.  I was browsing in an airport bookstore,  when I picked up Gregory's Meridon, the first book in the Wildacre Trilogy

Meridon was a real page turner.  When I got back home, I headed back to the bookstore and bought the second and third books in the trilogy.   I was hooked.  I had found a new author to love and devour and wait anxiously for each new book.

Philippa Gregory is one of the best, if not the best historical novelists, writing today.  For starters, she's got a Ph.D in history from Edinburgh University, and she is an acknowledged expert in women's history.  She's very different from the late Jean Plaidy, another favorite, because she is not afraid to tackle the strong, controversial women of history.  Her characters are fleshed out with reality, reflecting the warts and all.   The women Gregory writes about are not always virtuous. They use their bodies and their minds to get what they want, not just for themselves but for their families, too.

All of her novels feature strong women, allowing Plantagenet and Tudor women to step forward and be the stars, determined women with roles to play.   Her Tudor Court Novels included The Other Boleyn (about Mary Boleyn) and The Boleyn Inheritance.   The Other Boleyn was made into a BBC Series and a movie. (The BBC adaptation was far better than the movie.)

Gregory's latest series, The Cousins' War, is about the women who feature in the War of the Roses, the Plantagenet battles between the Houses of Lancaster and York.  The first book in the series,  The White Queen, a superbly crafted novel about Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV.   After the death of her husband, Elizabeth found herself trying to keep her family together after her brother-in-law, Richard III usurped her son's throne.  What happened afterward remains open to historical interpretation.  

The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (The Cousins' War)

Elizabeth played a role, arranging for the marriage of her eldest daughter, Elizabeth, to Henry Tudor, the son of Margaret Beaufort, one of the leading protagonists for the House of Lancaster.  The marriage between the York and Lancaster heirs brought the war of the Roses to an end and established the House of Tudor.

Margaret Beaufort's story was brought to life in The Red Queen, an equally riveting tale of intrigue, where the heroine is first seen as the puppet, in an arranged marriage with Edmund Tudor.  But as Margaret matures, marries two more times, feigns loyalty to the Yorkists while plotting to restore the House of Lancaster to the throne, she becomes pro-active, a very determined woman.  She sees Elizabeth Woodville as one of her greatest adversaries, but for  Margaret's plan to come to fruition, she needs to arrange a marriage between Elizabeth's daughter and her son.

Margaret was a Beaufort, a scion of the House of Lancaster with the blood the Plantagenets coursing through her veins.  Elizabeth Woodville was the daughter of a minor English nobleman and Jacquetta of Luxembourg, a descendant of Melusina, the water goddess.

Jacquetta is the star of Philippa Gregory's newest book, The Lady of the Rivers (Simon & Schuster $27.99).  She is one of the under appreciated Plantagenet (by marriage) woman  But her story needs to be told, and Gregory tells it well.   She  weaves a tale of a woman who never gives up, who loves deeply and strongly, and who remains loyal to the Lancaster side until circumstances lead to her family switching sides.  This decision ultimately led to Jacquetta's daughter marrying the Yorkist king.
Jacquetta grew up a Luxembourg court that is allied with England.  She is a young child visiting her uncle, the reigning Lord of Luxembourg, when she meets the imprisoned Joan of Arc, who claims to have visions.   Jacquetta, even as a child, is aware of her ability to see things.  She cannot convince the young Joan to save herself, and Joan's death will haunt her for years to come. 

The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (The Cousins' War)

Family connections lead to a marriage between Jacquetta and the Duke of Bedford, a member of the English royal family, who is the Regent of France.  The Duke, a younger brother of Henry V, is much older than Jacquetta, a widower, and a man of means.  He is well-read,  and he dabbles in alchemy. 

This is a dangerous time for Jacquetta as her husband wants her to use her powers to assist him.  He is not interested in the marital bed, and when he dies several years after the marriage,  Jacquetta is a very young woman, very wealthy, a member of the English royal family, in love with Richard Woodville, one of the Duke of Bedford's squires.   They are in married in secret before Henry VI can arrange a new marriage for the young duchess.

Jacquetta becomes a close friend of confidante of Henry VI's wife, Margaret of Anjou, an equally strong woman, who fights tooth and nail to save her husband's throne for their son.    Years of battles between cousins led to the growing strength of the House of York.  Margaret relies on Jacquetta for council, for her friendship, and for her visionary gifts.   It is Jacquette and several other noblewomen who try to arrange for Margaret and Henry to enter London,  but are unsuccessful.   Margaret flees to Wales and then to the north to regroup.

The Yorkist led by Richard, Duke of York, and his eldest son, Edward, Earl of March, take the city and the crown.  Edward eventually takes the crown, and, in secret, marries Jacquetta's widowed daughter, Elizabeth, Lady Grey.  

But Edward IV's throne is not safe, not from Margaret of Anjou's forces or from Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, who captures the king.  He also conspires against  Jacquette with trumped up charges of witchcraft, charges that are later dropped after Edward is released and restored to the throne.

So how does a power hungry Lord deal with a strong woman: call her a witch.  For many women, such charges led to death, something Jacquetta knew well.

The Lady of the Rivers is an amazing book, a true page turner, emboldened by the character of a truly fascinating woman: Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford.  Her  story, a historical linchpin in the war of the Roses, has been largely untouched by historians.   I am glad Philippa Gregory gave Jacquetta her due. 

This book is full of pathos, adventure, passion,  the struggles of an internecine conflict that was largely focused on women and the succession to the throne. 

The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (The Cousins' War)

When Edward III, the father of twelve children, died in 1377, he was succeeded his grandson, Richard II, the son of Edward's eldest son, Edward, the Black Prince, who had died a year earlier.   Richard was ten years old when he came to the throne, and his government was ruled by a regency that included John of Gaunt, one of Edward III's younger sons.

The family struggles began during the final years of Richard's reign. In 1389, he wrested control from the regency, turned against John of Gaunt and his family, and disinherited John's son, Henry Bolingbroke.

But this did not sit well with Bolingbroke, who raised an army, and deposed Richard in 1399.   But Henry was not the rightful heir to the throne.  There was no defined act of succession in the 14th century, but the English monarchs largely followed primogeniture, sons before daughters, brothers before sisters.   John of Gaunt was the third son of Edward III.   In theory,  Richard's heirs were the descendants of the second son of Edward III: Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence, who died in 1368.

Lionel had one daughter, Philippa (1355-1382).  She was Richard's heir, and would only be displaced in the succession by Richard's own children.  Her son, Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, was named as Richard's heir after Philippa's death.  Roger died a year before Richard II, and his son, Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, became Richard's heir. 

Henry Bolingbroke took the throne from Richard II, causing a major rupture in the line of succession, ignoring the descendants of Lionel largely because of the female line of descent.

This usurpation would lead to what is known as the War of the Roses.  Although Edmund Mortimer supported Henry V and was one of Henry VI's regents,  his brother-in-law (and cousin), Richard, Earl of Cambridge, who was married to Edmund's sister, Anne,  was a part of an attempt to put Mortimer on the throne, but Mortimer would have none of it,  He told the king, and Cambridge was attainted and executed.

Mortimer's titles were inherited by his sister, Anne's son, Richard Plantagenet.  (The late Earl of Cambridge was a descendant of Edmund of Langeley, fourth son of Edward III).   Richard, Duke of York, had a very strong claim to the throne due to his descent from Philippa Mortimer.)
The Duke of York was a particularly ambitious man, and determined to secure the throne for he and his sons, claiming the the right due to their senior line of descent from Richard III.

By 1460, York, aided by Richard Neville,  Earl of Neville, lead another campaign to claim the throne.  He was killed in battle.   Only weeks after his death, his eldest son, Edward, was proclaimed king,  after a Yorkist defeat of the Lancastrian forces at the Battle of Towton. 

But Warwick, known as the Kingmaker, soon turned again the young king he put on the throne.   Among other things, he did not approve of Edward's secret marriage with Elizabeth Woodville.   Warwick married his daughters,  Isabel, to Edward's younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence, and Anne, first to Henry VI's son, Edward, and later to King Edward's youngest son, Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

The Earl of Warwick turned against Edward VI, and restored Henry VI, briefly to the throne, after a failed attempt to replace Edward with his younger brother, George.   But in April 1871,  King Edward defeated Warwick in battle, and reclaimed his throne.  He reigned until April 1483, when he died suddenly, and was succeeded by his elder son, twelve-year-old Edward V.

The Plantagenet family had come full circle.  One hundred and six years after the death of Edward III and the ascension of the child king, Richard II,  a new child sovereign is on the throne, setting up yet another struggle between the Houses of York and Lancaster.  This time a new line emerges: the Beauforts, the descendants of John of Gaunt and his third wife, Katherine Swynford, a line that was originally illegitimate.  

Enter Lady Margaret Beauford, daughter of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, grandson of the Duke of Beaufort,   Margaret inherited her father's fortune and estates, and an great asset to the House of York. She feigned support for the Yorkists, hiding her true desires to see the House of Lancaster  back on the throne.

She bided her time, watching as the House of York collapsed after the death of Edward VI, and the turncoat actions of the Earl of Warwick.  She watched as Edward's brother, Richard III, usurped the throne from his nephew, the young Edward V, who disappeared with his younger brother, soon afterward.  The boys were sent to the Tower of London and never seen again.

Biding his time, too, was Margaret's only son, Henry Tudor, and only two years after Richard took the throne, he was killed in at the Battle of Bosworth by Henry Tudor, who was proclaimed king.  He cemented his position by marrying the Yorkist heir,  Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of Edward VI and Elizabeth Woodville,  The young Elizabeth was the rightful heir to the throne after the deaths of her two brothers.

The Plantagenet women, in spite of their sex, played important roles in the War of the Roses.  Elizabeth Woodville married a king for love, trusted her brother-in-law to protect her sons (he didn't), and forged an alliance with Margaret Beaufort, fighting to bring her son to the throne.

Elizabeth's power came from her mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, an equally formidable, determined woman, not afraid to use her wiles or her brain, to fight for what she believed in, and what she wanted for her family.

These ladies are power characters, nourished by the rich writing of Philippa Gregory, who certainly knows how to bring her stories to life.   The Lady of the Rivers is terrific.  A wonderful book to curl up with on the couch or something to tuck into while commuting to work. 

The fourth book in The Cousins' War series will be about Isabel and Anne, the two daughters of the Earl of Warwick.   One usually thinks of these two women being used by their father solely for his desire for power.  I am sure, however,  Philippa Gregory, will give these two women voices as well. 

Read The Lady of the Rivers.  You will not regret it.   

The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War)

The Red Queen: A Novel (The Cousins' War)

The White Queen: A Novel (Cousins' War (Touchstone Paperback))

Philippa Gregory is also one three authors of The Women of the Cousins War: the Duchess, the Queen and the King's Mother (Simon & Schuster: $26.00)   This book is pure history, not historical fiction.   I will be reviewing this book soon.

The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Diamond Jubilee books

J.H. Haynes & Co. will publish Sixty Glorious Years: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee in February 2012.  The price of the book is £20.00.

In September,Thames & Hudson published  Elizabeth II: A Photographic Portrait (£35.00)

And The Queen's Year by David Oakley.

The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr (Henry Holt: $32.00)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mette-Marit Prinsesse av Folket

Perhaps emboldened by his American university education, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway was determined to marry the woman he loved.   It didn't matter that Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby's first impression was not a successful one.  She was a former party girl, a member of a circle that used drugs and alcohol on a regular basis.  Mette-Marit did not have a university degree ... and she gave birth to a son out of wedlock. 

Hardly the right qualifications for a future consort.  But Haakon made his case to his parents, and then to his country. Many Norwegians were understandably disappointed in Haakon's decision to date and then move in with Mette-Marit and her son.    He persevered, in spite of criticism and condemnation.  

After the engagement was announced, Mette-Marit spoke about her life at a press conference.  More Norwegians warmed to her charm.

The wedding took place on August 25, 2001.  Mette-Marit has been Crown Princess for ten years now.  She has given birth to a daughter,  Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who is second in line to the throne, and a son, Prince Sverre Magnus.  She has also taken classes and traveled the world to improve her perspective and learn more about what life will be like as the queen consort of Norway.  

Mette-Marit has not only earned the love and respect of her husband's family, she also has learned the respect of the Norwegian people.  Here in the United States, we do not read a lot about the Norwegian royals, so we do not know what they do on a day to day basis.  Media coverage of the Norwegian royal family is largely confined to Scandinavian newspapers and magazines.

The Crown Princess is -- to say the obvious -- is a success.  To celebrate Mette-Marit's first decade as a member of the Norwegian royal family,  Kagge Forlag has published  Mette-Marit Prinsesse av Folket, 130 page book of photographs by noted photographer Aasta Borte. The text was written by Monica Aafloy Hansen, a journalist with the weekly magazine, Hjemmet.

The photos provide coverage of Mette-Marit's life as a wife and mother, and a Crown Princess carrying out engagements in Norway and abroad, highlighting poverty and AIDs, among other causes.  She is able to use her position as Crown Princess for good.

The book also includes a selection of photos of the Crown Princess attending formal events, wearing gowns and jewels, to royal weddings and other gala affairs.  The text is in Norwegian.  There are no plans for an English-language edition.   The photos are what will sell the book to non-Norwegian readers.

The price of the book is 399.00 Norwegian kroners.


This book can be ordered from Tanum, an Oslo-based bookstore with several branches throughout the city.


An earlier book, in German, about Mette-Marit:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Princess Sophie of Romania's newest book: A Small Wink from Brittany

HRH Princess Sophie of Romania' long-awaited third bilingual photography book, A Small Wink from Brittany,  is now available.

As poetic as her first two books, this new volume shows you the Brittany she loves from a delightfully enchanting point of view.

The photographs in this book complement each other and take you through the different departments which make up the Brittany of today and of yesterday. You will discover this region through her images much the same way she did close to ten years ago.

www.blurb.comRomania is preciously held in her heart, but Princess Sophie fell under the spell of Brittany and settled there in order to pursue her work which reveals the soul of Brittany as only a Breton artist can. It can be said that she is Breton by adoption.

By opening this book, you will enter the magical world of Breton beauty that Princess Sophie's artistry captures for you."


I think A Small Wink from Brittany will make an excellent Christmas present.  HRH Princess Sophie of Romania is a truly gifted photographer

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Another new royal wedding book: A Fine Romance

A Fine Romance is by Steve Cooper.  The book was published in Australia by Hardie Grant, which also has a branch in the United Kingdom.

From the Amazon.co.uk blub:  More than just a celebration of the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, A Fine Romance is a sumptuous photographic record of European royal weddings over the last 75 years. These are the unforgettable alliances and love stories that have defined our understanding of modern European royalty. Part one of A Fine Romance is an extraordinarily comprehensive record of historical royal weddings, fairytale brides and handsome princes, from a glamorous and serene Grace Kelly to a blushing and shy Lady Diana Spencer. Part two is a richly illustrated romantic delight, bringing together a stunning collection of images from the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

No US publisher or distribution at this time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee 2012

Of course, there will be a plethora of new books about Queen Elizabeth II, her reign, her family in honor of her 60th anniversary on the throne.  Here are several of the new and upcoming titles:

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Archduke's Secret Family by Daniel A.Willis

In 1996, Dan Willis published The House of Habsburg: The Descendants of Maria Theresia of Austria.  As with many royal genealogies, the book was not  complete as Dan was unable to contact some of the living descendants.

He was also stumped by one branch, the descendants of Archduke Ernst (1824-1899), was a son Archduke Rainer, who represented one of the many junior lines of the Habsburg dynasty.

Ernst has provided a challenged to royal genealogists.  Dan decided to take up the challenge to answer so many questions.  Did Ernst marry Laura Skublics, and what happened to their children?  Are there descendants living descendants?

The Archduke's Secret Family

The answers to these questions is in Dan's newest book, the superbly terrific The Archduke's Secret Family

Ernst and Laura, met in a park in Budapest. It was love at first sight for the archduke,  and he was determined to be with Laura.  But Ernst's kinsman, Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, tossed a few obstacles in the archduke's way in order to keep the lovers separated.  

Laura, who had two children by her first husband, gave Ernst two daughters and two sons.   Tragically, for Ernst and for the children,  Laura died young.   Archduke Ernst could not publicly acknowledge his four children.  In an instant, he became a friend, and the children were raised in a foster family, who were financially supported by Ernst's brother, Rainer.

So did the children ever find out their true roots?  In order to learn the answer to this question, and see how a dogged, determined royal genealogist managed to overcome several language barriers (Hungarian is not an easy language to learn), make his way through dusty archives and poorly maintained cemeteries,  order The Archduke's Secret Family.  

A little hint:  the book includes family photos, biographical and genealogical details.   Ninety four pages. 

Another hint:  this book is  not sold in bookstores. Dan has made the book available through Amazon.  You can click on the link or the photograph to order the book.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our Queen by Robert Hardman

Robert Hardman, the Daily Mail's Royal correspondent, is the author of Our Queen, scheduled for publication on October 6.
The publisher is Hutchinson and the price is £20.00.   The book does not have an American publisher at this time.  Americans (and others outside the UK) can order from Amazon.co.uk.   Your US account information works with Amazon.co.uk - and you can be billed in U.S. dollars.    So if you want to order the book, click on the link at the top of this post.   I will earn a few cents (and  mean a few cents) from Amazon products ordered through my links, my stores and my search portals!!!!   

Hardman's earlier book,  A Year with the Queen, is available on Amazon

Honour and Fidelity by Zoia Belyakova

Honour and Fidelity is the first book about the Dukes of Leuchtenberg, one of the junior branches of the Russian Inperial Family. The author of this excellent book is Zoia Belykova, the Russian historian who specializes in the Romanovs.

Maximilian Beauharnais, 3rd Duke of Leuchtenberg, was selected to be the husband of Grand Duchess Maria Nicolaievna, daughter of Emperor Nicholas I. It was a marriage encouraged by Maximilian's mother, Princess Augusta of Bavaria.

The marriage took place on July 2, 1839. Maximilian was given the style of Imperial Highness. Although he remained Roman Catholic, he agreed that their children would be raised in the Orthodox church.

The well-educated Duke of Leuchtenberg undertook numerous in Russia, but he was not happy in Russia. His private life was fodder for gossip. Both the Duke and the Grand Duchess had affairs.. Marie's relationship with Count Grigory Stroganov probably before the premature death of her husband, and he, not Maximilian, may have been the natural father of the younger Leuchtenberg children.

Maria and Maximilian were the parents of seven children: Alexandra, Maria, Nikolai, Eugenie, Yevgeny, Sergei and Georgy.

Alexandra died as a child. Maria married Prince Ludwig of Baden. Their son, Max, was the last Chancellor of Imperial Germany. Eugenie was the wife of Prince Alexander of Oldenburg. It was their son, Peter, who married Grand Duchess Olga of Russia, a marriage that was never consummated, and eventually dissolved by divorce.
It was Maria and Maximilian's eldest son, Nikolai, caused great consternation in spite of his "exceptional abilities." He was a favorite of Alexander, and showed great promise, but it all fell apart when he contracted a morganatic marriage.

Although Maria was married morganatically to Count Stroganov (a marriage in secret), she could not bear the thought that her eldest son had married unequally.

For most of the rest of his life, Nikolai lived a largely nomadic existence with his wife and two sons. Thanks to family connections, Nikolai settled in Bavaria at Castle Seeon. He also owned several other properties in Bavaria.

Duke Nikolai continued to write to his mother-- the letters are included in the book -- but he never received her blessing for his marriage.

Belyakova is an expert historian, and a very good storyteller. She focuses on each of Maria and Maximilian's children in one chapter. The life stories of several grandchildren, Duke Nikolai of Leuchtenberg, Duke Georgy, Prince Peter of Oldenburg, and Daria Yegenia of Leuchtenberg, the daughter of Yevgeny, 5th Duke of Leuchtenberg and his morganatic wife. In 1893, young Dolly, a free spirit of sorts, married Prince Leo Kochubei, and became the mother of two sons.

Dolly was at the center of St. Petersburg society, but she may have been banished to France in 1905, following comments about Nicholas II and his wife. She eventually returned, divorced Prince Leo. Her second husband, a battleship commander, Baron Vladimir Gravenitz, kidnapped Dolly and the married her. Nicholas II decided not to punish Gravenitz, after learning who he had married.

Dolly was no longer welcome at court, She was too eccentric. This marriage soon collapsed, and the good baron may have committed suicide. She resumed her maiden title Countess Beauharnais, but soon evolved into Daria Leuchtenberg.

She went to Bavaria, where she became a citizen, but by 1918, she was back in Russia, ready to be a good Communist. She married for a third time to Viktor Markezetti. They became good Soviet workers and were executed in 1938.

By the 1930s, the Leuchtenberg descendants were scattered across the globe, in Germany, the US and Canada, far from the Soviet Union, but remaining essentially Russian.

The book also includes the previously privately published memoirs of Duke Georg Nicolaievitch.

This book is further enhanced by the publication of many previously unseen photographs, provided by several descendants. Belyakova was also able to draw on correspondence, diaries and other documents.

Inspiration for the book's title was provided by the Dukes of Leuchtenberg's motto, Honour and Fidelity.

The book, published by Logos in St. Petersburg, is a very limited edition: 500 copies in English and 500 copies in Russian. The English translation was done by P.R. Williams.

This book is not available from Amazon. I believe the only bookstore that still has copies is Van Hoogtraten in the Hague. The price is 43.90 Euros.


It is definitely worth the effort to add this book to your library.  One can fault some of the translations, what cannot be faulted is the brilliant scholarship.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New book - Our Insane Family

Well,  not exactly new ---
From Dynasty Press' website

Our Insane Family, by Frederick the Great's sister Princess Wilhelmine of Prussia

Translated from German by Queen Victoria's daughter, HRH Princess Helena ( HRH Princess Christian) now edited
and updated by HRH Princess Katarina of Serbia, Lady de Silva

Wilhelmine of Prussia's no-holds-barred memoirs give a penetrating insight into the bizarre upbringing she and her brother Frederick the Great suffered at the hands of an insane father and a callous mother. Almost unbelievably, the family was forced to go hungry and to dress in tatters, while their father ploughed the considerable resources of the state into creating the Prussian Militaristic Machine which would cause several European wars in the future, including the Franco-Prussian War and the First and Second World Wars.

(Click here to order for the US:  Our Insane Family )

These memoirs were translated by Queen Victoria's daughter Helena, with the approval of her sister Crown Princess Victoria and brother-in-law Crown Prince Frederick of Germany (the parents of Kaiser Wilhelm 11) as a covert warning to Europe of the dangerous direction in which Bismarck and Emperor Wilhelm 1 were steering the German Empire.

[Click to order for the UK:    Our Insane Family  ]

This edition includes an illuminating and unique Foreword and updated Introduction by HRH Princess Katarina, Lady de Silva, a descendant of these historical figures, explaining the objectives of the author, Wilhemine, in penning such witheringly frank memoirs, and the translator, Helena, in translating into English for widespread dissemination a tale which was by then unknown even in Germany, and which, under more ordinary circumstances, they would have suppressed. However, these supporters of constitutional monarchy and liberal government were intent on warning the world of the dangers of absolute monarchy and unchecked militarism, and hoped that by disseminating these memoirs throughout the English-speaking world, they could bring pressure to bear upon the direction the German State was taking.

Credit: Dynasty Press

As a historical document of rare prescience, this edition, with the updated Foreword and Introduction, is unsurpassable.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jewels of the Romanovs Family and Court

First the good news.  Stefano Papi's Jewels of the Romanovs Family & Court is a stunner.  This is the kind of book you would like to have on the cocktail table.  Luscious, superb photography, where the jewels jump right off the pages,  a true visual treat. 

Interest in the Romanovs continues to fascinate historians and others who have been captivated by the great wealth, the internecine family squabbles, the palaces, and revolutions that led to the collapse of the 300 years of Romanov reign and the assassination of Nicholas II and the murders of his wife, children and other members of the Imperial family.  

Don't forget the jewels!   Magnificent jewels, diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, pearls.  Some lost forever.

Stefano Papi is an internationally respected European jewelry specialist, who has worked for Christie's and Sotheby's.  He knows a lot about jewels.  He doesn't know a lot about the Romanovs,  which means there are a number of glaring errors in the text.   He states that Grand Duchess Olga accompanied Nicholas and Alexandra to Tobolsk, but in fact it was Grand Duchess. 

The book is broken down into six chapters that focus on Nicholas and his family,  the Romanov relations, the Jewelled stars (Marie of Romania, Princess Marthe Bibesco, Nancy Leeds, the downfall of the Tsar, and what happened after the revolution: dispersal and survival.  

The chapter on the Romanov relations is the most fascinating.   Empress Alexandra's smalls box was certainly filled with amazing jewels from massive strands of pearls to stomachers to tiaras.  Many of Alexandra's jewels were lost at Ekaterinburg or broken up after the Soviets began making inventories of the jewels they found.

But the glitz and glamour was not confined to Alexandra or her mother-in-law.  Other  members of the family also owned amazing jewels, especially several distaff members, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of the Duke of Edinburgh,  Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir,  Grand Duke Serge, and Grand Duke Paul,  both of whom showered jewels on their wives.

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna was particularly blessed with jewels.  She owned a dazzling array of tiaras, including a waterfall tiara made by Chaumet and  the spectacular kokoshnik tiara.  Maria received it as a wedding gift in 1874.   This tiara was inherited by her daughter, Helen, who married Prince Nicholas of Greece. and Helen sold it to Queen Mary.   Queen Elizabeth II often wears this tiara.

Many of Maria Pavlovna's jewels survived the revolution, and were divided among her three sons and her daughter.   Some of the jewels have gone to auction.  Others are in the possession of the descendants of Helen's three daughters, Olga, Marina and Elisabeth.    Maria Pavlovna's eldest son, Kirill, married Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh,  who was the daughter of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna.  

Ducky and her older sister, Queen Marie of Roumania, were often seen in wearing amazing pieces of jewels.many

Princess Paley, the morganatic wife of Grand Duke Paul, received many jewels from her husband.   Other Romanov relations/friends with absolutely fab jewels include Princess Zenaide Yusupov, whose son, Felix, married Princess of Russia, daughter of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, and the Duchess of Leuchtenberg, the wife of Prince Eugene Romanovsky, 5th Duke of Leuchtenberg, son of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaievna, eldest daughter of Nicholas I.

So what happened to the jewels.  Some disappeared, others were plundered, but the Soviets did provide an inventory of the jewels that they found, including many of Empress Marie's jewels.  The Soviets sold some pieces at auctions in the late 1920s, and they destroyed the jewels from the time of the last Tsar because they "considered them to be modern and not of historic importance."

Grand Duchess Ella gave her jewels to Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the younger, who, in turn, sold them to King Alexander of Yugoslavia. His wife, Marie, a granddaughter of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, often wore the pieces that were once given by her maternal great-uncle to her mother's first cousin.

Jewels of the Romanovs Family & Court was published by Thames & Hudson ($75.00/£42.00).  Visually stunning, but the text could have been a lot better.

You will also enjoy William Clarke's book, Hidden Treasures of the Romanovs.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just Published - The Archduke's Secret Family

From the jacket blurb " He defied an Emperor to be with her. She found the love she had been seeking in his arms. Their passion would ignite the imagination of an Empire.

It sounds like a promotion for the latest romance novel, but this story is no work of fiction. Archduke Ernst of Austria, cousin of Emperor Franz Joseph, fell in love and started a family with Laura Skublics. However, she was not born into the right family to be considered a suitable bride for an Archduke. Some say they married anyway. But did they? The Archduke’s Secret Family seeks to answer that very question as well as learn the fate of their children and their descendants."

I will have a review of this book in the next few weeks.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Die Habsburger Ohne Reich by Dieter Kindermann

In November 1919, Emperor Karl I of Austria lost his job.  The new rulers  -- Socialist politicians -- provided no compensation  nor severance pay.  Karl and his family left the country to live in exile with limited resources. 

Karl and his wife, Zita, lived peripatetic lives following exile as they tried (and failed) to regain the Hungarian throne. After Karl's death in 1922,  Zita turned her attention to regaining the throne for the couple's eldest son, Otto.

Otto's hopes and dreams were carried outside of Austria.  He and his family were forbidden to return to Austria unless they recognized the republic.  Some Habsburgs, largely from collateral lines, did that, and settled into more normal lives, establishing careers, raising families and eschewing politics.  To this day, members of the Habsburg family are not permitted to run for political office in Austria.

Dieter Kindermann, a political journalist for an Austrian newspaper, has written a well-researched book, Die Habsburger Ohne Reich Geschichte Einer Familie seit 1918 (K&S: 22.90 Euros).  This German-language book does answer the question: so what happened to the Habsburgs.

This book was published several months before the death of Archduke Otto, who was givven a state funeral in Vienna.  Resigned to the fact that he would never reign in Austria, Otto, who lived in Bavaria, devoted his life to Pan-Europeanism.  Today,  his younger son, Archduke Georg, lives in Hungary with his wife and children.  Archduchess Gabriela is the German ambassador to Georgia, and Archduchess Walburga has been a member of the Swedish parliament since 2006.  She is married to a Swedish count.

Kindermann also examines some of the lesser known members of the family, including Ulrich Habsburg-Lothringen, a morganatic descendant, who has been fighting an uphill battle to run for office in Austria.   Most of the book, however, deals with Otto and his career and family.  Otto von Habsburg, who eschewed his archducal title, played an active role in European politics for nearly all his life 

K&S is a Viennese-based publisher.  There are no plans to translate the book in to English.   There are about a dozen or so black and white photos.  I wish there were more. 

Although the Habsburgs have not reigned for nearly 100 years now, family members still find ways to serve.