Monday, January 24, 2011

The Princess of Pless and the Pless family

The Princess of Pless, better known as Princess Daisy of Pless,  is the subject of a superb biography by W. John Koch,  Daisy Princess of Pless A Discovery.  A paperback edition was published in 2004, and is still available from Amazon, as well as private dealers.
Koch's biography was first published in German, Daisy von Pless: Fürstliche Rebellin.

 The Princess was the author of several volumes, including Daisy Princess of Pless by Herself, which was published in 1929.  These books can be found through used book dealers.  My favorite site to use is Addall.  The link is  Click on used books. 

In 2002, Cygnet Press published  Hansel Pless: Prisoner of History, a Life of H.S.H.Hans Heinrich XVII, 4th Prince of Pless,  by Michael Luke.  This book is a biography of Daisy's eldest son, Hans Heinrich, known as Hansel, godson of Edward VII and Kaiser Wilhelm II.


 A link to The Three of Us

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Det Kungliga året 2010

It's not a surprise that the cover for the 2010 edition of  Det kungliga året features the adorable newlyweds, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden.
The title translates to the Royal year - and covers the comings and goings of the Swedish royal family, from official duties in Sweden and overseas, and at play.  
Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg, former head of the Royal Press office,  is the author of the 2010 edition.  Tarras-Wahlberg is also Victoria's mentor.

The royal wedding dominates this year's edition - 25 pages of text and color photos.   The wedding was the main event in Sweden, but it was not the only event for the royal family.  This volume covers the royal family's visits abroad, including the Crown Princess' trip to Kenya.  There are nice photos of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark's 70th birthday celebrations.  Due to the volcano in Iceland, many of the guests could not make it to Copenhagen,  but the Swedish royals were able to travel to Denmark by train.
In March 2010,  King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia paid a state visit to Brazil.    This was the royal couple's second state visit to Brazil.    Queen Silvia is half Brazilian, and spent a part of her formative years in the country of her mother's birth.

All in all, Natur och Kultur has done (once again) a terrific job.   The really nice thing about this book is the trilingual text: Swedish, German and English.

The price is of the book is 125 SEK (Swedish koners.) 


Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and her husband, Prince Daniel are a cute couple, no doubt about it.  Their wedding in June was stunning, poignant and emotional.   The Princess got her guy, and was not afraid to show her emotion, her love for her man.  Victoria and Daniel are very tactile, and demonstrative in their PDAs.

The official wedding book, VÅRT BRÖLLOP,  was published in late 2010 by Natur & Kultur.    Susanna Popova wrote the text, and Paul Hansen is responsible for the photos.  

There was a great international interest in this wedding, so I am surprised that the publisher chose to have a Swedish only text.   That said, I just got up and walked over to my library to look at the official books for the marriages of the Crown Prince of Norway and the Prince of Orange.  The Norwegian book was published with a Norwegian-only text, but the Dutch published two official books: one in Dutch and one in English.

Now that I have gotten that quibble out of my system, I do want to rave about this book.  It's stunning, well produced, and the editors have captured the essence of the wedding - from the announcement of the engagement to the actual wedding day.
The book is broken down into 11 chapters, including chapters on the engagement, the Lynsning, the wedding, the food, the flowers, the gown, the dancing, and the guest list.    The editors have also included superb informal and formal photographs of the Crown Princess and Prince Daniel. 

Interspersed are family photos of the young Victoria and the young Daniel.  One photo shows little Victoria giving a bottle to her baby sister.   Another chapter focuses on the couple visiting the Storkyrkan, the church where they were married on June 19.
No detail is left out; the invitations, the flowers, the stamps, the work on the boat that carried the newlyweds back to the palace, the food, the table settings and the linens, the wedding cake, and, the absolutely gorgeous WEDDING GOWN!
One of the most joyful photos shows Victoria clowning around with two of her bridal attendants, Prince Christian of Denmark and Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway.  The little children, future sovereigns, are among the Crown Princess's godchildren.
This book also features superb photos of the wedding ceremony and the reception, the officials (and setting up for the official  photos)  

The approximate price of the book is 204 SEK.    Here is a link to the publisher's website :

If you click on, you will be taken to another page with a list of Swedish online shops that sell the book.

The Dutch bookstore, Van Hoogstraten, is selling the book for 32.90 Euros.    Van Hoogstraten is a great source for books on royalty.  Their site is in English, and they do send books outside the Netherlands.

VÅRT BRÖLLOP is a book certainly worth obtaining.  You do not need to understand Swedish to appreciate the beauty and the emotion of this wedding.  I was glued to my computer screen all day, watching SVT's live streaming of Crown Princess Victoria's marriage to Daniel Westling.

The DVD is available through SVT.  It is all-region, but only for the PAL system.  North America uses NTSC, and our DVD players do not have built in converters ... except for people like me who went out and hunted for one.  (I got mine on Ebay.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Hesse

Oh what a joy it was to read this book.  I own a lot of books, and 99.9% of the books are on royalty.  This should not come as a surprise, of course, and I love adding to my collection, although as I get older, I have started weeding the collection, as I don't need every book.  Well, this one is a keeper.  I know you will agree with me.
The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Hesse is a true surprise, a rare treat -- and most of the letters are in English.  
The time period for these letters is 1878 -1916 - from just before the death of their mother, Alice, from diphtheria until December 1916,  two months before the fall of the Russian empire. 
Alix was only six when she wrote her first letters to her older brother, Ernst Ludwig, the heir to the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine.   The two were raised together, grew up together, and remained close, even after Alix married Nicholas II and moved to Russia.  After the first world war broke out,  the correspondence between the siblings became difficult, and a mutual first cousin, Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden was used as the go-between.  Sweden was neutral during the first world war.
Only a portion of their original correspondence has been preserved.  Ernst Ludwig destroyed Alix's letters during a very difficult time: the final years of his marriage and his divorce from Princess Victoria Melita.
Thus, historians and biographers can only theorize how Alix felt and what she may have written to her brother concerning his marital troubles.
Neither Alix nor Ernst August were intellectuals.  There were no heated political discussions, but lots of family news, going to parties, dances, meeting cousins, travels, who came to dinner, but very few political discussion.

The war brought great sadness to Alix, already in bad health, and she sought comfort in the writing of letters to her brother, who was now the enemy. 
Alix wrote to Ernie on April 17, 1915: "Yes, our Love will never change & we feel that  our prayers  for each other continues .... One's heart bleeds -- the whole world sorrows ... I thank God your dear men are on the other side -- they would never be cruel as the Pr.(ussians) are. - Beloved Boy, heart & soul think of you & yr precious family -- am sure sweet Onor is perfection  &; the real mother to your people -- understand  all you go through. -- Only in prayer & work  one can get to."

Alix was devoted to her family, her husband, her children, and her own relatives.  She was godmother to Ernst Ludwig's younger son, Ludwig.   She mourned with her brother when his daughter, Elisabeth, died from typhoid in 1903.

Perhaps my favorite letter in the book is the letter co-written by Alix and Victoria Melita to Ernie in June 1891.The two cousins were staying with their Grandmamma at Windsor Castle.   Alix noted that the letter was written by "two dirty fingered creatures."  

I did notice that Alix and Ernie never discussed the seriousness of her son's illness.  Ernie certainly would have known that Alexis suffered from hemophilia.  Rasputin is also barely mentioned in these letters.

Most of the letters between Alix and her sister-in-law, Eleonore, Ernie's second wife, were written in German.  These letters are included in the main section as the correspondence is broken down by year, but the English translations are included in the back of the book.

The letters are a treasure trove of intimate conversation. Shortly after her marriage to Nicholas II, Alix writes: "It does not seem funny for me to drive alone with Nicky, I must say, as formerly, I drove with Papa -- & then with you, so I am accustomed to be with a gentleman. But I do not realize it yet that I am married & it it will remain so."

The letters were expertly and judicously edited by Petra H. Kleinpenning.  She fleshes out the correspondence with meticulous footnotes and references to other sources, including Joseph Fuhrmann's The Complete Wartime Correspondence of Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra, April 1914-March 1917, the German-language Alix an Gretchen Brief der Zarin Alexandra Feodorowna an Freiin Magarethe von Fabrice aus Jahren 1891-1914, and Briefe der Zarin Alexandra von Russland: an ihre Jugendfreundin Toni Becker-Bracht.  The  latter two compilation of letters are between Alexandra and her friends, Gretchen and Toni, both of whom are oft-mentioned in the correspondence between Alix and Ernie.

This volume includes a selection of illustrations, some from the editor's collection, and include photographs of Alexandra and her family, and also photos of the original postcards and letters.    I hope this volume is a success, and we will see Ms. Kleinpenning edit more correspondence, perhaps between Alix and her sisters.

Are we going to lose Borders?

This article on the front page of the Washington Post made me cry.

I love Borders.  I live at Borders.  The staff knows me.   A barista will see me browsing, and come over and ask me what drink would I like my vanilla with, today?   Bookstores have been in the throes of death for some years now.  The chains, such as Borders and Barnes & Noble, were largely responsible for the loss of so many local bookstores. (In fairness to the chains,  the branches have become the local bookstores, stocking local material and featuring local authors.) 
Knock, Knock ... enter Amazon, leaving boxes of books at one's door.   I am the first to admit that I order books from Amazon, but I also purchase books at Borders.  I read a lot. 
My Saturday routine includes a stop at Borders Books on Frontier in Springfield, Virginia.  With a large vanilla latte (skim milk) in my hand, I browse the magazines and the books, and invariably, I end up at the cashier, flash my Borders Rewards Plus card, and buy a new book.
(After I read the book, I might sell it used on Amazon or Ebay!)

But Amazon is not the real culprit here.  Far too many people have purchased e-book readers.  Shame on you?  Who wants to read a book on a small screen?  Not me!   I am morally opposed to these things - book killers!

*       There goes $200 down the drain if you drop the e-reader into the bathtub or the pool! 
*        Don't you want to know what other people are reading on the plane, train, or bus?  It is difficult    to strike up a conversation with the person next to you ... is that a great book -- if you don't know what they are reading! 
*         Jobs!   Do you know how many AMERICAN jobs will be lost if the bookstore chains start to fail?   What about jobs in publishing.   Don't need book jacket covers if you use an e-reader?  So what happens to the designers, the artists, let alone the assistants and entry level jobs.  This damn e-readers are made in CHINA!      American technology - but no Americans making the damn product!   I really hate these things.

I want to touch a book, I want flip through the pages.  I cannot dog-ear an e-book and leave it on the plane for someone else to enjoy.

What will happen to bookshelves?  Having lots of books in a house makes one look smart ... well, perhaps.   A house without books is a house without life, without charm, without ... class.  I have books that are over 100 years old.  Your e-reader will need to be replaced next year. 

What about scratch 'n sniff books?   This is impossible on an e-reader.  You can try, but all you will get are scratches on a screen. 
I want to have piles of books on my cocktail table, ready to delve into at any time.  I like having a book in my carry bag. 

It's true that I am a Luddite, when it comes to technology.  Although I have embraced technology, such as the Internet, in my work as a librarian, but the students use more books than databases.  I still send handwritten thank you notes, and I think it is very, very tacky to send e-cards for birthdays and Christmas!  I do not have a Smartphone, and I do not want one.  I pay $30 a month to T-Mobile for my cell phone - and rarely ever use up my 300 week day minutes (each month).   I have a grandfather plan with T-Mobile.   The firm cannot force me to upgrade or change to a higher rate plan, even though T-Mobile no longer offers my plan.   If I want to search the Internet, I use my computer.  It's a desktop.  If I want to send an e-mail,  I use my computer. 
What about texting?  Do not like it.  I text only when I am out of the country because it is cheaper to text than make an overseas call on my cell phone.  
I still have a land line (and one corded phone in the house so when the power goes out, I can call the power company! -- and calling overseas on a land line is a lot -- and I mean a lot cheaper than with a cell phone.)  FYI: my power rarely ever goes out, but it did last summer.

 Why text, when you can actually pick up the telephone and call someone and TALK with them.    I don't keep my cell phone in my hand at all times, in anticipation of a call or a text every three minutes. 

I want to read books.  I want to buy books.  Real Books.  Books made with paper.   I want my Borders.  
Death to the e-readers! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christiane Grandmontagne's autobiography

For more information about Christiane Grandmontagne's memoirs, Von Kaisern, Prinzen und Grafen: Leid und Kampf einer Prinzessin

Monday, January 3, 2011

Books about Princess Stephanie zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst

Martha Schad's book was originally published in German.

Stephanie's son, Franz Prinz zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst, became an American citizen and served in the U.S. Army.  In 1995, he published a memoir, The G.I. Prince.   Franz's real father was Archduke Franz Salvator of Austria, who was married to Arduchess Valerie of Austria, youngest daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph.