Sunday, December 27, 2015

All I have to say is Yea!  David McIntosh's long-in-the-publishing-incubator book about the Bourbon-Two Sicilies dynasty has been published.   Royal Exiles in Cannes The Bourbons of the Two-Sicilies of the Villa Marie-Therese was published earlier this fall by ($48.95).  McIntosh and Arturo Beeche are listed as the book's co-authors .

The title refers to the villa in Cannes, where the family lived in a comfortable exile after King Francesco II lost his throne in 1861, a loss that led to a unified Italy and the house of Savoy on the throne. The home became the primary residence for the Count and Countess of Caserta and their large family.

This 200 plus page book is laden with amazing photographs of the descendants of the Two Sicilies lines - from the main to the collateral branches.   The sixteen chapters cover the male and female branches of the family.

Distaff members have married into other Catholic families including Wurttemberg, Bonapartes, Austria, Brazil, Waldburg zu Zeil, and into three Polish aristocratic families, Czartoryski, Lubomirski and Zamoyski.   All of these families ties make for grand weddings and very large parties.

The authors provide an educated discussion of the family quarrel over who heads the family, and acknowledges (thank you) for my exclusive, published on my other blog, Royal Musinsgs, on the reconciliation between the two main branches.

The photos are in a word: amazing.  Large groups, weddings, family photos, official portraits.
 Royal Exiles in Cannes has an encyclopedic range of material, a depth not seen in most photo books.

Mr.McIntosh's text more than complements the many photographs.   Royal Exiles in Cannes is one the best books ever produced by

It is largely impossible to find Eurohistory books in bookstores.  The best sources for ordering are Amazon and

Royal Exiles in Cannes is an excellent book.  A definite must have for your reading pleasure.

I have provided the links for your ordering ease.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A new biography about the Duke of Kent

I have  no other information about this book apart from it being self-published (using Amazon's CreateSpace.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I did it my way - memoirs of Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Don't forget to order through my links .... those few pennies help!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The House of Thurn und Taxis

Oh, this will be a must have, I believe. Expect more information after the book is published ... and a gentle reminder, if you order the book through the link in the post or through the search box, I earn a few pennies.   Princess Mariae Gloria of Thurn und Taxis is one of the authors.  Todd Eberle took the photos.   Skira Rizzoli is the publisher.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Maria Pia Queen of Portugal by Sabrina Pollock

Sabrina Pollock has been fascinated with Queen Maria Pia of Portugal for many years.  She found the consort of King Luis to be a "mass of contradictions," a woman with a temper, "extravagant as she was charitable."

Pollock turned this determined fascination into a large readable (and first English-language) biography, Maria Pia, Queen of Portugal ($43.95/£33.00).

There are not many sources in English on the queen, who was born Princess Maria Pia of Italy.  Certainly no primary sources.   Unlike other English-language writers,  Pollock went to the original sources, most of which are located in Portuguese and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen archives, thus providing translations of letters and other documents.  I am not sure if Pollock used a professional translator for the material, rather than try to do it herself.

Access to primary sources allows a biographer to create an effusive biography. This means a more object accounting of the subject.   It should be noted that this is the first English-language biography on Queen Maria Pia.  

Her research led to her a more informed and well-rounded portrait of Maria Pia. She was widowed after 26 years of an arranged marriage.  She survived her husband's infidelities, the assassination of her elder son, King Carlos, and her grandson, Crown Prince Luis,  the abdication of her  younger grandson, King Manoel II, and exile.  She died a year after the collapse of the Portuguese monarchy.

She was devoted to her sons and fond of Carlos' wife, Amelia.  She was also extravagant, and thought of spending too money on frivolities.

Is this a great biography?  Not at all.  It is good read, sometimes, very good.

But .. but .. but!   Oh the spelling errors ... and mistakes.  Manoel II was born on November 15, 1889, not November 19, which makes the author's statement that Manoel was born exactly two months after the death of his grandfather as incorrect.

I cannot stress enough the importance of using professional editors and fact checkers for biographies.  A good editor would have worked with the writer to flesh out different parts of the text, for example.

There is a lack of consistency in Portuguese names of palaces and places.  It also looks like spell check changed correct words to incorrect words.  My favorite;  commensurate rather than commemorate when referring to Queen Victoria's jubilee.  I also think the index to have more details, and not merely providing what page a person can be found.  If I wanted to go directly to when Maria Pia met with someone, or married or when she gave birth, I am unable to find the information in the book's index.

The author has, however, provided excellent end notes to sources used in the text.

I also wish Mr. Beeche would take heed to my wish that he devote more time to real editing and working with writers, rather than take a manuscript, puff it up a bit with a nice epilogue, but neglect the little things: such as spelling and grammar, accuracy in accents, titles and dates.   More attention to detail would mean a lot less meh! from me.

The book includes 32 pages of photographs.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Crown - a new royal magazine

A month or so ago (a little late), I received a complimentary copy of a new royal magazine, The Crown. The International Royal Magazine.  This is an English-language magazine published in the Netherlands.   The magazine is produced by the same team that publishes the Dutch-language magazine, Vorsten.   Justine Marcella, the editor-in-chief of Vorsten, wears the the same hat with The Crown.   She is correct in saying that The Crown is an ambitious project.

The magazine's market is the the Anglo-speaking world (USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand).

This is a glossy, slick larger size magazine (nearly 150) that offers readers a mixed bag of articles.  The cover is the Duchess of Cambridge, which, I am sure, was a concerted choice as who else to catch the attention of the Americans or the British.  I enjoyed Rick Evers's interview with Queen Margrethe II and the profile of the King and Queen of Bhutan.  

Queen Margrethe discussed numerous topics, including why she won't abdicate.  Rick Evers has another winner with the profile of Queens Rania and Noor discussing the real Islam.  (You won't this kind of article in Majesty Magazine.)

The articles in The Crown are translations of original articles in Vorsten, one of two monthly Dutch royal magazine.  The other magazine, Royalty, is edited by Marc van der Linden.   Both magazines focus on the Dutch royal family, but also cover the British and European royal families.

The Crown Magazine is visually stunning and well-produced.  I like the mixture of modern and historical pieces (Sisi's missing jewels and the romance between Napoleon and Josephine. There are also articles on royal fashions and jewels.

I enjoyed most of the articles, and the European perspective on royalty.   There are only three English language magazines available, and all are published in the United Kingdom.  Majesty is the doyenne of the publications, as it was first published in June 1980.  Royalty Magazine first appeared in 1981.  Royal Life is a more recent addition to the canon of royal magazines.  It publishes six times a year, and recently published its 17th issue.

Majesty is published twelve times a year. Royalty works the on the alleged 12 months a year schedule.  Both magazines cover British and European royalty, but neither with the same sophistication as the Crown Magazine.   Royal Life focuses solely on the British royals in what can only be described as pure sugar coverage.  I bought one issue, and was bored to tears,   Nice photos, but no substance.

This first issue has 107 different royals and 319 photographs,

The real question: who will buy this magazine?   The American market is not as big as some may think,  I have not seen Majesty's circulation rate in some time, but in the late 1990s, the magazine sold about 48,000 copies per month in the United States.

I am not sure how often The Crown will be published  -- and will there be original articles not previously published in Vorsten -- but the next issue is due out in January 2016.  The cover price is $20.99 (US), $23.99 (Canada) L8.50 (UK) $18.99 (Australia), $15.99 (New Zealand), and NE/BL 9.95 (Euros).   The price is a bit steep for a single issue, especially in North America.  Magazines in many U.S. states are included in the sales of periodicals, which means adding 4% to 8% to the cost of the magazine. Several states exempt books and periodicals from sales tax.

The magazine will be available later this month in the USA. There are very few places where you can purchase foreign publications.  Not at supermarkets or airports.  Barnes & Noble, the bookstore chain, carries some British magazine (fashion and royalty magazines.)  Copies can be ordered online.
Yes, there is a niche market for royal-related books and magazines in the United States, but most of these readers are interested solely in the British in general and William and especially Catherine.  A middle-aged American woman is unlikely to pick up a magazine with Queen Maxima on the cover,

(American women used to be interested in the Monegasque princely family because of Grace Kelly, but these interest receded after her death,)

The British media largely ignores European royal events.  No television coverage, and, perhaps a few paragraphs in one or two newspapers.  Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state of Canada, Australia and New Zealand (and a few other places, too.)  Australians have an interest in the Tasmanian-born Mary Donaldson, now Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, the wife of the heir apparent, Crown Prince Frederik.

I am not the average royal reader, and I would not purchase a magazine solely because the Duchess of Cambridge is on the cover.  There has been a dearth of coverage of the European royals, and now, The Crown can fill the void.

If you can't find a copy of The Crown at a bookstore or at other shops where magazines are sold,  take a risk and order a copy from their website.  UPDATE: The Crown is now on sale at Barnes & Noble.

The first issue of The Crown has a little fluff, a bit of glitz and glamour, and, happily, interesting and informative articles.

I look forward to the second issue of The Crown.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Go-Betweens for Hitler by Karina Urbach

It was not unusual for members of Europe's aristocrats and royals to act as go-betweens or spies for their governments or political foes.  By the late 1800s, the family ties among Europe's royal families led to the use of royal go-betweens during the first world war. Prince Max of F├╝rstenberg, a close confidante of Kaiser Wilhelm II, was an active go-between during the first world war,  due to his ties to Austria.  But by the end of the war, his abilities ceased to be of value.  

Another, and somewhat surprising, go-between in the first world war was the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia), who worked with Prince Max of Baden, and was seen as a "useful link" by the German Foreign Ministry.

Karina Urbach, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Historical Research, University of London, specializes in nineteenth and twentieth-century Anglo-German history.    Her newest book, Go-Betweens for Hitler (Oxford University of Press: $34.95) is a well-detailed study of the aristocrats and royals who were go-betweens and spies.

Urbach provides a good overall introduction to these go-betweens, first delving into World War I and the growth of Bolshevism leading to the ascent of National Socialism.  

German and other nobles saw Hitler (and the Nazi party) as the solution to Bolshevism.  The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was one of the Party's early supporters.   He was a British prince by birth, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who became heir to the Coburg dukedom after the death of his first cousin, Hereditary Prince Alfred of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (and his uncle the Duke of Connaught and his sons, Prince Arthur, renounced their rights).  He was at Eton when his life changed, and he and his mother, the widowed Duchess of Albany, and his older sister, Princess Alice, moved to Berlin so Charlie could be turned into a good German.   He became too good of German, embracing all the tenets of National Socialism.  He was, as Karina Urbach, points out, an employee of Adolf Hitler.

Charlie's own family, especially his sister, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, tried to whitewash his pre-war activities, but the historical documentation is loud and clear: he was a committed Nazi, and he was well aware of the atrocities.   His family ties (regained by the late 1920s) with the British cousins (King George V and Queen Mary) and others were exploited by Hitler and his associates.   His sister, who was Queen Mary's sister-in-law, allowed the duke to use her country home, Brantridge Park, to entertain his contacts.

Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German ambassador to Germany, and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha were close friends, and able to exploit their connections among wealthy British aristocrats and newspapers owners, such as Lord Rothermere, who hired Princess Stephanie zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfurst, the divorced wife of a Austrian prince.  She was Jewish by birth, but this apparently did not matter as she moved though the ranks of Nazi connections, becoming an intimate of Adolf Hitler.

She, too, was an effective go-between, until she came to the US, where she was soon interned.  After the war,  Stephanie found new fame working for German media king Axel Springer.

The third of the World War II go-betweens was Prince Max Egon of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, a member of the Catholic branch of the Langenburg family, who worked for Goring, and was involved with Princess Stephanie and Lord Rothermere.  The go-betweens permeated all levels of British political and social life.

Although Karina needs a few lessons in royal relationships -- no, Karina, the King of the Belgians was not Carl Eduard's nephew (she has a few other clangers, too) -- the book is a must-read for several reasons.

First of all, Urbach knows how to make use of research.  She mined all the sources, including new ones (Francisco Franco's papers, for example).  There are complaints about the lack of access to the Royal Archives, but there are other archives that are closed to researchers... the Coburg archives, for example.

Urbach provides compelling evidence of the Duke of Coburg's duplicity, which previous historians had largely dismissed,  including Briton Philip Ziegler, the official biographer of Edward VIII, who dismissed Edward's pro-Nazi beliefs and who had called the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as "absurd."  It was only after David's abdication (the family name for Edward) that he was finally able to meet Hitler in Germany, and his host was none other than his father's first cousin, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Eventually, Princess Stephanie's cover got blown, and she had to find new angles to acquire, provide and transmit information.

Go Betweens for Hitler is an eye-opening reading experience because Urbach challenges (and produces the facts) about the real-life experiences of Coburg and the other aristocratic go-betweens. 

Plenty of endnotes and cited sources, Go-Betweens for Hitler hits nearly all the right spots as an excellent book.  As I said earlier, I was disappointed by the numerous sloppy mistakes Urbach made regarding family relationships.  [This is when it becomes important for publishers to hire readers who can go through these manuscripts, and catch these mistakes as editors are not experts in royalty.]

These sort of mistakes irritate me because manuscripts can be checked before publication.  Urbach preferred to concentrate on the big picture: the history and the facts regarding the go-betweens and the insidious roles they played and carried out while working for Adolf Hitler.  The shadowy roles of these aristocrats cultivated by Hitler and other high-level Nazis have largely been overlooked by historians. 

Karina Urbach has brought the Duke of Coburg, Princess Stephanie of Hohenlohe and Prince Max Egon of Hohenlohe-Langenburg to justice.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Books by HRH Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia

HRH Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia died on September 29, 2015 at the age of 76.  He was the eldest son of the late Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia and Grand Duchess Kira of Russia

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Royal Exiles in Cannes: the Bourbons of the Two Sicilies by Arturo Beeche and David McIntosh

Royal Exiles in Cannes: The Bourbons of the Two Sicilies of the Villa Marie Therese by Arturo Beeche and David McIntosh

Looking forward to reviewing the book in the not-too-distant future.  If you order the book from my links, I earn a few pennies.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Prince William of Gloucester and his family: Books

Britain's Channel 4's documentary on the late Prince William of Gloucester (1941-1972) brings the need for a post on books about the prince, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, and his family.

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucesters, memoirs are delight ... two different volumes.  Noble Frankland's biography on Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, is dry, with an intense snore factor.  Readers need to fight their way through the book, as it is interesting.  Difficult to spice up the life of a dull, military-minded prince.  

Giles St. Aubyn's Pioneer Prince was commissioned by the family after the death of Prince William in a plane crash.   Lisa Sheridan's Prince William of Gloucester (published in 1945) is currently unavailable (on Amazon or  There are copies available from dealers (   Use the out of print search box.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cotroceniul Regal by Diana Mandache

Romanian historian and biographer Diana Mandache is worthy of a bigger (international) audience.  She has written several English language books, but the majority of her work is in Romanian. 

Earlier this year,  I reviewed Diana's previous book, Balcicul Reginei Maria, which was about Queen Marie's beloved summer palace, now in Bulgaria.
Following the success of the earlier book,  Diana turns her attention to the palace of Cotroceni.  This new book,  Cotroceniul Regal, is a truly competent, well-researched study of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie's family home.

During the eighteenth century, Cotroceni was the home of Serban Cantacuzino and other Romanian aristocrats before being acquired by King Carol I shortly after his arrival in Romanian.  The palace became the primary residence for Carol's heir, his nephew, Ferdinand, and his British-born wife, Princess Marie of Edinburgh, and their growing family.

It was during this period that Cotroceni became King Ferdinand and Queen Marie's official residence.  The palace was also used by Kings Carol II and Michael, but Cotroceni's hay day was during the reign of King Ferdinand, when the palace was modernized.

Communist governments largely destroyed the interior of the palace, as furniture and library books were destroyed.  An earthquake in 1977 caused further damage to the palace's exterior.  It was only after Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu returned from an official visit to Buckingham Palace that restoration work on the palace.

all photos courtesy of Diana Mandache

Don't be put off by the Romanian text.  Yes, it would be nice --- actually awesome -- if Curtea Veche would publish the book with a Romanian and English text, thus reaching a larger market.   Diana is an excellent historian, so I am absolutely sure that this text is informative and historically accurate.
The photos remain the reason to purchase this book.  The majority of the photos come from the Romanian National Archives, Kent State and Mrs. Mandache's private collection.  Queen Marie was fond of posing for photographs in the palace gardens.  All of the photographs are black and white.
The primary focus is on Ferdinand and Marie, but Diana Mandache offers a complete history of the palace's royal residences from Carol I and Elisabeth to King Michael.
The price of book is 50 Lei (under $13.00).  Curtea Veche's site is secure. Use your browser's translation button to order the book.  Postage brings the cost of the book to about $25.00.  A real bargain.  A must have.
At this time, Amazon is not selling this title, although one can order Balcicul Reginei Maria.

Come on Curtea Veche,  you can publish these books with Romanian and English texts ... you will sell more copies.  Seriously. Think about it as Diana Mandache, a respected historian, needs a wider audience.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Pavlos No Ordinary King by Nikos Politos

King Paul (Pavlos) was only 63 years old when he died in March 1964, leaving the throne to his only son, the inexperienced Crown Prince Constantine.   Known as 'good King Pavlos,' he was a sovereign genuinely mourned by many of his subjects.

Thus, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death,  Greek filmmaker Nikos Politos released a documentary, Pavlos No Ordinary King, which took three years to complete.

The premiere took place at the Gennadios Library in Kolonaki on March 5, 2014 in the presence of King Constantine, Queen Anne Marie, Queen Sofia and other members of the Greek and Spanish royal families.  King Simeon of Bulgaria, Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia, Princess Alexandra of Hannover (who died last month) and Archduchess Helen of Austria were also present.   Alexander and Helen's mothers were Greek princesses by birth.  Princess Alexandra was the late Queen Frederika's sister-in-law.

Politis told the assembled crowd: "For us, there is nothing more noble than searching for the truth.  Except one thing. The restoration of it."

The documentary was released as a DVD and is included in the eponymous softcover  companion book.

Pavlos No Ordinary King has 255 pages celebrating King Pavlos' life from his birth through several exiles, marriage and parenthood and the growing political tensions between the king and Greek premier Karamanlis, and the king's death from stomach cancer.

This book offers readers insight into Pavlos' life (from the monarchists' point of view) with a biographical text and a diverse selection of historical photographs from Pavlos' childhood to death.   The photos were chosen from several Greek archives and other sources.  Much to my delight, the book includes a very clear photo of Joyce  Brittan Jones, King George II's companion.

The text of the book is bi-lingual: Greek and English.   The publisher has also included a series of color photos of the Greek royals at the premiere of the documentary.

A DVD of the 2.5 hour documentary will be found in a slipcase in the inside back cover. It is a Region 2 DVD, which means it can only be played on European DVD players, unless you own a code-region free DVD players with a PAL converter.  (North America uses NTSC as its television system.  PAL and NTSC are not compatible.

No Ordinary King offers new insight into the life and reign of King Pavlos of the Hellenes.  

Only 1000 copies of the book were published..  It can be ordered through Amazon. Dutch bookstore van Hoogstraten also has copies in stock.  The cost is 55 Euros.  The Amazon price is $58.00.   The publisher is MP productions.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Royal Gatherings Volume II: 1919-1939 by Ilana Miller and Arturo E Beeche

Royal Gatherings (Who is in the Picture) has been a popular feature of European Royal History Journal for several years now.  The first volume covered the 1859-1914 time period, thus leading to the first world war.

This second volume picks up where the first volume left off in 1914, ending in 1939, thus covering a heady time in European royal history.  This book is divided into 36 chapters, opening with the familiar group photo of the Russian Imperial Family's visit with the Romanian royal family at Constanza in mid-June 1914, only two weeks before Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination at Sarajevo.   The final group photo is from the wedding of the Duke of Spoleto and Princess Irene of Greece.

The purpose of Royal Gatherings is to provide biographical details, anecdotes and historical information about the people in the group photos.  The publisher includes more photos from his own collection (and the newly acquired collection of the late William Mead Lalor) to flesh out the stories of these weddings, funerals and family gatherings.   Bill Lalor had a superb collection of royal images, so I expect to see further books using these photos.

I think my most favorite group photo is of the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and her three Spanish grandsons sitting on a bench outside the Dolder Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1916.  Princes Alvaro, Alonso and Ataulfo were the sons of the Duchess' youngest daughter, Beatrice, married to Infante Don Alfonso of Orleans-Borbon, a first cousin of King Alfonso XIII. (Bee was the first cousin of King Alfonso's wife, Queen Ena.)

Baby Bee is one of my favorites, as are her descendants, all of whom are lovely and helpful people. 

Some of the group photos are familiar to many readers, including the weddings of Princess Margarethe of Denmark and Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma, King Alexander of Serbia and Princess Marie of Romania, 70th birthday of Prince Carl of Sweden, 70th birthday of Grand Duchess Maria Anna of Luxembourg, the wedding of Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden and Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and the wedding of the Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece,

There are also some gems, too: the Habsburgs of Teschen,  the family of Infante Don Carlos of Spain, the funeral of Kaiserin Auguste, the wedding of Princess Barbara of Two-Sicilies and Count Franz Xavier of Stolberg-Wernigerode, the Heinrichs of Prussia. and the Hessian Tragedy, the funeral of the Grand Ducal Family.

This is the kind of book that you will dip into many times,  Don't rush through the photos or the text.  Sit back and enjoy the traveling back to a time, edging toward a world-changing war that affected the lives of both commoners and royals.   The 1920s were a time of rebirth, new challenges, and then the madness of an collapsed economic system leading to the most deadly of dictatorships, hurling toward a second world war.

Royal Gatherings Volume II is published by ($48.95.)   The book is available though Amazon and

I reiterate the same complaint that I made about the first volume.  The authors have not included a bibliography nor do they cite the quotes they use in the text.  It would help other writers and researchers to do know the source material - and to see where the quotes come from.  The addition of a bibliography and citations would only enhance this book's worth.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Eurohistory subscriptions now on Amazon

EUROHISTORY 2015 USA subscriptions can now be purchased through AMAZON!
We are working on being able to list the subscription for international readers/subscribers!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Princes at War by Deborah Cadbury

Deborah Cadbury certainly mined a lot of sources while researching Princes at War (Public Affairs: $28.99) a largely excellent book about the British royal family during the second world war.

The book opens with the abdication of Edward VIII and the accession of his younger brother, the stuttering and untested George VI.  It ends with George VI's death in 1952.

The British Royal Family did not escape the from the demands of the second world war.  The former Edward VIII,  now the Duke of Windsor, and his American wife, Wallis Warfield Simpson, were not to be trusted as both were Nazi sympathizers, as official British and American documents have shown.

The Duke of Kent, married to the attractive Princess Marina of Greece, was on active duty during the war, and killed in a plane accident, less than a month after the birth of their third child, Prince Michael.

Shortly before the war, the Duke of Gloucester was named as Governor General, but his acceptance was put on hold until after the war.  He provided important support to his brother, who sent him to war zones in the British Empire.

The true burden of the war was felt by George and his family, as the bombs rained down on London. The king proved an effective monarch, able to advise and discuss with his ministers, including Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Cadbury is to be commended for concentrating on a specific historical period within the confines of British royal history.  This was a difficult period for the United Kingdom - and for the monarchy as the King and other members of the royal family grappled with personal feelings and public demeanor.    The king's two daughters,  Elizabeth, heiress presumptive, and Margaret, spent most of the war at Windsor Castle, protected and safe from the war.  It was Elizabeth, as she approached womanhood, who managed to carve out her own war role as a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

As German troops marched through Europe, invading, and taking control of most of Western Europe, several sovereigns and their families fled, and ended up at Buckingham Palace, including Queen Wilhelmina of Netherlands.   England became the safe haven for European royals and governments in exile.

I was impressed with the depth of Cadbury's research that led to a largely well-written and effective book.

 But I was saddened by the lack of attention to details about the royal family and their relatives.

Page 60:  impossible for the Duke of Kent and his brothers to have relatives on the throne in Hungary as Hungary was a part of the dual Empire with Austria, and the connection to the Habsburgs was light.  The Austro-Hungary monarchy ceased to exist in 1917.

Page 61:  Princes Philipp and Christoph were members of the Princely family of Hesse-Cassel.  Empress Alexandra was not the "most famous descendant" of this family.  She was a member of the Grand Ducal Family of Hesse and By Rhine.

Page 178:  Prince Paul was one of three Regents for King (not Prince) Peter of Yugoslavia, who was approaching his majority.  On this page, Cadbury described Peter as Paul's nephew.  Peter was the son of King Alexander who was Paul's first cousin.  Cadbury does get it right on page 190, when she described King Peter as the son of Paul's cousin.

Page 208:  It  would have been impossible for Queen Elizabeth  "preparing for her usual Sunday routine" on December 7, 1941, when she heard the news of the Japanese attack on the wireless.  The attack was not announced on the radio on the US East Coast until nearly 3 p.m., which means the king and queen would not have learned about it until that evening, as London is five hours ahead of the U.S. coast..

Page 249:  It would have been difficult to strip Prince Philipp (by then the Landgrave of Hesse) of his titles because he did not have a legal title.  In 1919, the new republic of Germany passed a law, abolishing all titles, but allowed the former royals to use their titles as surnames.  Thus, in law,  Philipp was not a royal highness, and prince but Philipp Prinz von Hessen. (Socially, titles were still used.)

Page 250:  I am not sure I would describe Mafalda as Philipp's beloved wife.  This marriage was largely an arrangement that was beneficial to husband and wife.  Philipp was bi-sexual, and his homosexual relations continued after the marriage.  After the wedding and honeymoon, Mafalda preferred to spend more time with her family in Italy than in Germany.

Page 266:  King Michael (not Prince) of Romania.  His mother, Helen, was known as Sitta (for sisters) and not Zitta.  Paul of Yugoslavia may have become depressed over events in Yugoslavia, but it must be noted that he, although a regent for the minor King Peter, did not himself have dynastic rights.

279:  Kaiser Wilhelm's eldest son was Wilhelm (not Friedrich Wilhelm).  He was styled as Crown Prince Wilhelm.  One sentence on this page is totally confusing.  "Their destination was Schloss Friedrichhof, a magnificent castle in Kronberg once owned by the George VI's aunt, Princess Victoria, which had passed to the Hesse family."

Huh.  Schloss Friedrichshof was owned by Empress Friedrich, widow of Friedrich III of Germany (parents of Kaiser Wilhelm II).  Empress Friedrich was a British princess by birth, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria.  She was George VI's great aunt.   Empress Friedrich left Friedrichshof to her youngest daughter, Margarete, who married Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, Landgrave of Hesse (and the parents of Philipp and Christoph).

279:  Cadbury jumps the gun by stated that the Princes of Hanover were related by marriage to the Danish, Greek and Spanish thrones.   Prince Ernst August of Hanover (1914), head of the family, was the grandson of Princess Thyra of Denmark, and the son of the last Duke of Brunswick and Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia (the Kaiser's only daughter.)   Thyra's brother was King George I of the Hellenes.  

Ernst August was not related by marriage to these families. He was related by blood.  His sister, Frederika, married King Paul I of the Hellenes, a grandson of King George I, and their daughter, Sofia, married the future King Juan Carlos of Spain.   This marriage did not take place until 1962, some years after the second world war.

288:  Although the Red Army played a major role in liberating Belgrade,  Stalin removed his troops from Yugoslavia in 1944.  It was Tito's government that appropriated royal properties and possessions.

These mistakes can be easily corrected in a  new edition (or when the paperback is published.)  

Although I found these errors to be irritating, the average reader probably won't.  What is more important is the scope of Cadbury's impeccable research, which focuses on the lives of the British royals and their roles in the second world war.   The Duke and Duchess of Windsor do not come off well,  but this does not  come as a surprise as there is a growing body of historical documentation about their treacherous behavior.

The abdication was an emotional and political upheaval that put the monarchy into question.  King George VI and his family emerged from the dark days of the second world war, stronger, and more popular, and this is made clear by Cadbury's proficient text.

Britain was lucky to have George VI as their king during the war.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A few recomendations: Princesses on the Wards and two new Romanov books

Looking for something royal to read?  I am making my way through the pile of books on my cocktail table, and here are a few recommendations to read.
Acclaimed historian Coryne Hall has turned her attention to princesses who worked as nurses during war and revolutions, writing a book, Princesses on the Wards (The History Press: L6.99)about the lives of a diverse group of royal women.  It was calling of Florence Nightingale, who gave a brave and modern face to nursing that inspired two of Queen Victoria's daughters, Princess Alice and Princess Helena, to learn more about nursing.   

Nursing would bring new focus to the role of royal women as they rolled up their sleeves to take care of the sick and dying.  For several royal women, this calling allowed a deeper appreciation for the nursing profession, thus allowing for the creation of programs to educate and train nurses for the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The royal women included Queen Marie of Romania and her daughter, Ileana, who ran her own hospital in Romania until the Romanian royal family was forced into exile.  Other royal nurses include Princess Marie Jose of Belgium, Empress Alexandra of Russia, and my favorite, Princess Arthur of Connaught, a trained nurse, who ran her own nursing home.

Coryne Hall accessed a myriad of sources -- and each chapter is chock-a-block with footnotes, which adds to the book's excellent value.   For most of these royal women, the only real goals in life were marriage and motherhood (and consort), but their embracing of a new profession gave them  -- and the nursing profession - a new gravitas.  For the princesses, there were new, more important duties and an entirely different view of service. 

Kudos all around for an exceptional new, specialized royal book.

The American distributor for Princesses on the Wards is Trafalgar Square Publishing ($29.95)

Helen Azar, an American librarian, is a Romanov historian, focusing on the lives of the daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra.  Her first book, The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution, was published by Westholme Publishing in 2013. 

[Here is a link to my review:]

Since then, she has written two more books.  The first book, Russia's Last Romanovs In their Own Words, which co-written by Eva and Dan McDonald.  This paperbook offers a glimpse into the lives of the Russian Imperial family as seen through the memoirs of others, including the Captain of the Standart and Tatiana Botnik and correspondence and diaries of Nicholas, Alexandra and their children.

In one of Alexandra's final diary entries, which her final month of life before the entire family was murdered at Ekaterinburg, she wrote about the heat, and how the "honeysuckle foliage is beautiful, but, as usual, not-well groomed."  Ever the Empress.

Some of the material was only available in Russian, and translated into English for the first time, which gives the reader new details and insight into the lives of these young woman.

This is a valuable addition to the Romanov bibliography, another important source of information.  I do wish the authors had used an editor to help them produce a more complete book.

After completing work on Russia's Last Romanovs, Helen Azar began work on Maria and Anastasia The Youngest Romanov Grand Duchesses in  Their Own Words,  the companion to The Diary of Olga Romanov.

The first thing that struck me about this volume is the ordinary and the dullness of the lives of Maria and Anastasia.  They were Grand Duchesses, lived in palaces, and their father was the Emperor of Russia. Their own lives were so far removed from reality, even the reality that was the Imperial family. 

With their two older sisters and one young brother, the heir, Grand Duke Alexis,  Maria and Anastasia were largely isolated from meeting other people, and having a well-rounded education. It is suffice to say that the five imperial children were emotionally immature and insular.  But this does not mean the words of these young ladies are not important or worthy of publication. 

It is important to know (and read) the correspondence between the sisters and their parents and other relatives, including their aunt Grand Duchess Xenia.  They are the witnesses to their own final days before the family was murdered by the Bolsheviks. 

After their father's abdication, their lives changed inexorably.  In the first two years of the first world war, the grand duchesses were able to experience life outside the palace, visiting patients, learning how to nurse, but still seemingly oblivious to the reality of what was happening in Russia.  This was a country, drained by war, on the verge of a bloody revolution, but we see little of these events in the young women's words.

But what we do get is the poignancy of the final year of their life.  Maria, in one letter (September 1917), writes "we live in one room all 4, so it is not lonesome. Our windows  look over the street and we often look at the passers-by."

There are a few hints of what was to come. In March 1918, Anastasia wrote to an unnamed friend: "For the moment, thank God, we are living well.  A detachment of the Red Army men from Omsk, up until now they behaved themselves..." 

In the spring of 1918, the family was briefly separated, as Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia and Alexis remained behind at Tobolsk, as Alexis had been to ill too travel, while the rest of the family was taken to Ekaterinburg.

The final letters are to friends,  In one, Maria writes of sending a food package, which was very generous as the Imperial family's own rations were limited.  Life became more difficult when everyone was reunited in Ekaterinburg.

"We miss the quiet and peaceful life in Tobolsk.  Here we have unpleasant surprises almost daily.  Just now the members of the regional committee were here and asked each of us how much money we had with us," Maria wrote less than two months before the family was killed.

The authors have enhanced the book by including excerpts from Nicholas and Alexandra's diaries.  One can feel the poignancy and the uncertainty in one of Nicholas' last entries, where he acknowledges Maria's birthday.  But there were also other things on his mind: "Spent an anxious night and stayed away and dressed ...All this was because the other day we received two letters, one after the other, which informed us to get ready to be kidnapped by some loyal people! But the days passed and nothing happened, and the anticipation and uncertainty were extremely tortuous."

The letters were more likely to be cruel ruses set up by their Bolshevik captors, already aware of what would happen in July 1918.

As with the previous book, Russia's Last Romanovs,  Maria and Anastasia could have used a good editor who might have caught a statement that got my attention right away - the first line of chapter one, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand (no hyphen) was assassinated by a Serbian terrorist.  Gavrilo Prinzip was a Bosnian Serb.  Big difference.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Princess Tatiana Metternich: Five Passports in a Shifting World

Some years ago I read a lovely book, Five Passports in a Shifting World, the memoirs of Princes Tatiana Metternich (1915-2006)

Princess Tatiana was born in St. Petersburg, the second daughter of Hilarion Sergue├»evitch Vassiltchikov and Princess Ldiya Vyazemskaya.   She and her younger sister, Marie (1917-1978)  known as Missie, became noted authors. 

I wrote to Princess Tatiana to say how much I enjoyed her book.  It remains one of the best royal memoirs ever written.  Her sister wrote  Berlin Diaries: 1940-1945, which provided an first hand account of the 1944 plot against Hitler.  This is also a very fine book, and recommended for royal libraries.

Princess Tatiana was married in 1941 to Prince Paul Alfons von Metternich-Winneburg (1917-1992.)  Their marriage was childless.

Princess Missy married Peter Harnden, a US Army Captain, who worked in military intelligence, in 1946.  They had four children: Marina, Anthony, Michael and Alexandra. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow

I looked forward to reading A Royal Experiment The Private Life of George III by Janice Hadlow.   This is the first major biography on George III since 1972 when John Brooke's George III was published.

The underlying themes of this excellent biography are the influences that formed George's life and personality.  He succeeded to the throne at the age of 22, following the death of his grandfather.  George III's life had a moral purpose.  He wanted to be a king admired by his people, and he wanted a successful and happy family life.

Familiar with his own family's dysfunction, George III wanted to create a new family life for his children.  His marriage to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was loving and successful.

Charlotte was something of a blue stocking, who enjoyed the company of well-educated, well-informed women.   She gave birth to 13 children, thus creating a large royal family that could have become the standard of morality.

But it would come all crashing down as political (loss of American colonies) and ill-health brought great strains into George and Charlotte's family lives.  It was not until 1969 when two psychiatrists linked porphyria to George III.  But more recent research appears to undermine Macalpine and Hunter's theories.  Re-examining some of the earliest medical information from George III's own doctors,  there have been new medical journal reports that George may have suffered from a "bi-polar disorder with recurrent manic episodes" that occurred during periods of "extreme stress" in the king's life. 

At first, family life was harmonious but the dysfunction that had run rampant in earlier generations reappeared with George's children. The organized, functional life that George and Charlotte were eager to maintain soon fell apart as their surviving children grew up.

The king was a domestic tyrant.  It was easy for his sons to rebel (and rebel they did with drink, unsuitable women, illegitimate children).  But George III would never have acknowledged, as Haddow wrote, that he had "deliberately thwarted his daughters' happiness."  The princesses were eager for marriage, for families of their own, but George III made little effort to secure the proper alliances.

I found the lives of George's daughters (Charlotte, Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary, Sophia and Amelia) to be sad, poignant and bittersweet.   Charlotte was the second wife of  the Hereditary Prince of Wurttemberg, and Elizabeth and Mary would find husbands late in life, to Prince Friedrich of Hesse-Homburg and Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, respectively.  There would love affairs and attachments for Augusta, Sophia and the frail Amelia, who was so much in love with General Charles Fitzroy.  Sophia gave birth to an illegitimate son, by her lover, Major General Thomas Garth.

The royal experiment to maintain a private, harmonious life failed on so many levels, compounded by the king's illness and the ever changing politics in late 18th century Britain, leaving a fractured and dysfunctional family.

Janice Hadlow, a BBC staffer, has brought George and Charlotte to the forefront by giving them a new focus.  Americans tends to see George in a different light, the mad king who was responsible for all those crazy laws that led to the Declaration on Independence.  (Actually, Parliament passed the restrictive laws, not the King.)

George III's life was hampered by illness.  But when he married and started a family, he was determined to have a different family life that he had witnessed.   His failure lead to a difficult relationship with his eldest son, George, and the further breakdown of family relationships.  He would never know about the deaths of his wife nor his granddaughter, Charlotte, in childbirth, nor of the birth of a granddaughter, Victoria, in May 1819.

Princess Charlotte of Wales, heiress presumptive, got it right when she said "No family was ever composed of such odd people."

This is a powerful biography-cum-history book that offers new insight and perspective into George's life.  One can only wonder how his life, public and private, would have been different if he had not become ill or if his determination to create a more family oriented royal family had succeeded.  (George was certainly perspicacious in this matter, but it would take a few more generations for his views to take hold.)

I have a new appreciation for Queen Charlotte, sympathy for George, and empathy and sadness for the king's daughters.

A Royal Experiment was published by Henry Holt ($40.00.)

This is Janice Hadlow's first book.  Janice, welcome to the world of royal biography.  It is safe to say you have hit a home run with this book.   This is one of those well-researched books that most writers can only dream about. 

I look forward with anticipation to Janice Hadlow's next book.

[George III and Charlotte were supports of Sir Edward Jenner's vaccination against smallpox and made sure their children were vaccinated.]

Monday, February 16, 2015

New Romanov book coming out this week by Helen Azar: Maria and Anastasia: The Youngest Romanov Grand Duchesses In Their Own Words:

Helen Azar's newest book,  Maria and Anastasia: The Youngest Romanov Grand Duchesses In Their Own Words: Letters, Diaries, Postcards. (The Russian Imperial Family: In Their Own Words) (Volume 2)    will be published on February 17, available through Amazon.


From Amazon's blurb: 
"They were the two youngest daughters of the world's most powerful man - Nicholas II, Tsar of Russia. Known to their family and friends as "The Little Pair", Grand Duchesses Maria and Anastasia were born into opulence, but led modest lifestyles. They were two normal young women growing up in extraordinary circumstances, ultimately getting caught in the middle of frightening political events that would take their teenage lives. Until this volume, the two girls did not have a chance to tell the story of the last four years of their lives during the first world war and the revolution, - in their very own words."

Friday, February 13, 2015

Balcicul Reginei Maria by Diana Mandache

Romanian historian and biographer Diana Mandache needs a bigger audience because she offers her readers true insight into Romanian royal history.  She has one problem: most of her books are in Romanian.

On one hand, books in Romanian on the royal family is a very good thing because Romanians can read and learn the truth about their royal family's history.  But the Romanian-language books are also a limitation because many people interested in royal history in general, and the Romanian royal family in particular, cannot read the growing number of royal books being published in Romania.

I have a selection of Romanian-language books on the royal family (ones with lots of photos), and it is nice to see so many previously unseen photographs in these books.

Balcic was also a place that Princess Ileana and her husband, Archduke Anton of Austria, could bring their growing family to see their grandmother and revel in a bucket and spade holiday.

Diana Mandache's most recent book, Balcicul Reginei Maria (Curtea Veche) focuses on Queen Marie of Romania's summer palace at Balchik on the Black Sea.   The area caught the attention of Marie in 1921.   Her palace, always her favorite spot, was constructed between 1927-1936.  It was a comforting oasis, where Marie and her family and guests could rest and relax.

The selling point, at least for me, is the number of photographs, most of which were provided by the Romanian National Archives.  Amazing photographs of Marie, her sisters, Sandra and Victoria, and her daughter, Ileana and her husband and their young children.  One of the sweetest photos shows young King Peter, fresh out of the water, wrapped in a robe and towel, perhaps a little embarrassed to have his photo taken.

On another level, Balcic also offered a respite to young Peter and his mother.  In 1934, Peter's father, King Alexander I, was assassinated during a state visit to Marseilles.  Peter was only 11 years old when he succeeded to the Yugoslav throne.There are also superb photos of Marie's grandsons, the child kings, Michael and Peter.

There are also photos of Balcic's interiors and exteriors as well.  The text -- I can figure out bits and pieces -- is a history of Marie and her love for this palace.  She created a garden that honored the religions of the world. After her death in July 1938, Marie's heart was placed in a jar and buried at Balcic.   In 1940,  Balcic and the surrounding area was returned by treaty to Bulgaria, and arrangements were made to return Marie's heart to Romania.

One can understand Marie's fondness for Balcic, hundreds of miles from Bucharest, and the growing familial and political tensions.  After her eldest son, Carol, returned to Bucharest, as King,  Marie found peace and contentment in amid the gardens and temperate climate.

I cannot say enough good things about this book.  Diana Mandache is an excellent writer and historian.  She is fluent in English, and has written several English-language books, so there are no reasons that this book cannot be translated into an English-language book. (Yes, I am thinking of Ted Rosvall or Art Beeche, and I know both read this blog.)

You can order Balcicul Reginei Maria straight from the publisher, Curtea Veche.   The price is 50 Lei.  The postage was a further 53 Lei.  Total: 103.18 Lei.  So what did this cost me in dollars?  $26.00 for the book and airmail postage.   Definitely worth it.   The publisher's site is in Romanian but it is easy to navigate.  It is also safe to use credit cards.  

[update: the book has been reduced by 15% to 42.50 Leis ... a real bargain for a lovely book]

The publisher has available more than a dozen books on the Romanian royal family, and none are expensive, thanks to the exchange rate.