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.