Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Crown -- Coming soon on DVD




The first series of The Crown, produced by Netflix, will be released on DVD in November.   If you use these links to purchase,  I make a few pennies per sale .. it adds up.  Thanks.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Madam, Where are Your Mangoes? by Desmond de Silva, QC





Sir Desmond de Silva, QC, has written his memoirs, Madam,  Where are Your Mangoes (Quartet)  I look forward to reading this book.  Sir Desmond is the former husband of Princess Katarina of Serbia.  They have a daughter, Victoria.  




www.spectator.co.uk/2017/09/an-account-of-postwar-empire-and-colonies-madam-where-are-your-mangoes-reviewed/

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Absolute must haves for every Royal books Collection

Seriously, if you do not have these two books by Theo Aronson  .... Order them.   The late Theo Aronson remains one of the best royal biographers ever ... not scholarly reading, but informative and factual.


Queen Victoria's Matchmaking by Deborah Cadbury








https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/11/queen-victorias-matchmaking-deborah-cadbury-review-ripping-tale

I am not sure Cadbury will be telling us anything new.  Looking forward to reading and reviewing it.

Bloomsbury is the UK publisher.   PublicAffairs is publishing the American edition.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Subscribe to Royalty Digest Quarterly






Are you looking for a royal magazine that focuses on the history and not on the fashions or the latest gossip about Prince Harry.   Royalty Digest Quarterly is published by Ted Rosvall.  RDQ specializes in royal history with articles written by experts in their field. (Yes, I do write for the magazine)

 Don't expect articles on the Duchess of Cambridge's third pregnancy.

Subscribe to Royalty Digest Quarterly, now in our 12th year, a journal devoted to the history, genealogy, and images of the Royal Families of Europe. In every issue, which all have 64 pages in large format and over 120 illustrations, we present one dynasty in text, pictures, and pedigrees. Plus a lot of other articles, book reviews, and royal news.

Subscribe at www.royalbooks.se or via email (royalbooks@telia.com)
SEK 480 per year (approximately £46, €50 or $60) including postage.

All 46 back issues are still available.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Books by Coryne Hall

All are must haves --- excellent books.  Here is an opportunity to these books to your collection.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Romanov Tour: In the Steps of the Romanovs






"The tour will focus on the final 1.5 years (1916-1918) in the life of the Russia's last imperial family Romanov. Their photographs, diaries and letters will be used to help us relive their experiences, from the revolution torn Petrograd to the "Red" Ekaterinburg. We will start in Tsarskoe Selo with their wartime efforts at the infirmaries, their daily attendances of prayer services at local churches, their visits to orphanages, and burials of their beloved patients. We will also visit places where they went regularly, such as Anna Vyrubova's house, Peterhof, and Yelagin Palace.  We will enter the Yusupov Palace where their "Friend" Grigori Rasputin was murdered in late 1916, and take a peek at the apartment where he lived just prior to his death.  We will relive the Tsar’s abdication and retrace the steps of his sad last ride from the imperial train station to the Alexander Palace. We will experience the family's life under house arrest by walking around the Alexander Park - where they planted a garden, broke ice on canals, cut trees for firewood and took walks followed by guards.

During our time in St Petersburg we will visit additional locations, including the cathedral where the remains of the imperial family are currently entombed. We will then follow the Romanovs to Siberia and enter the Governor’s mansion in Tobolsk, where the family lived in captivity for almost a year. We will then head back towards Urals through Tyumen, making a stop in Pokrovskoe village, Rasputin's hometown. We will stand in the same spot the Romanovs stood - in front of Rasputin's house, when on Easter of 1918 they changed horses during their transfer to Ekaterinburg. We will then travel to Alapaevsk, where Grand Duchess Elisabeth, the Tsarina’s sister, and other members of the Romanov family, were imprisoned and ultimately murdered.  Our journey will conclude in Ekaterinburg, where "The House of Special Purpose" - the last prison of the last Russian imperial family - once stood. We will pay respects in the exact spot they were murdered 100 years ago, and remember and honour them at their original burial site in the woods, then outside the city limits."


The tour is being led by Romanov Historian Helen Azar who is a former biochemist turned librarian, historian and translator. She coauthored several articles on identification of the remains of the last Russian Imperial family. While attending library school, Helen did an internship at Tsarskoe Selo Museum's Rare Book Department, where she worked with the library collection that belonged to all Russian emperors from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II. Helen has been researching and translating Romanov diaries and letters for approximately ten years, having published five books from original writings of the last Tsar's four daughters. Within the field, Helen is considered the ultimate "voice" of the Romanov grand duchesses. Currently she is working on a book based on the last diary of Grand Duke Michael - the brother of Nicholas II, as well as two other Romanov books using new primary sources from the Russian archives.

For more information:  http://www.getours.com.au/tours/?s=in-the-steps-of-the-romanovs&d=europe&t

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Wandering Princess: Princess Helene of France, Duchess of Aosta by Edward Hanson







 Edward Hanson is the author of The Wandering Princess: Princess Helene of France, Duchess of Aosta 1871-1951 (Fonthill Media)

The Duchess by Penny Junor




The Duchess, a new biography of the Duchess of Cornwall, by Penny Junor will be published by William Collins in the UK on June 29. The book will not be published in the US until early 2018.

The biography is published in connection with the Duchess of Cornwall's 70th birthday.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Why ? Why? Why few English language books on foreign royals

In 1983, I started RBN Royal Book News, a bi-monthly newsletter, where I reviewed English and non-English books on royalty.  I published the newsletter until about a decade ago, due to the rising international postage.    This blog is the newsletter's successor - where I can reach even more readers without having to raise postage.

[RBN was never a money spinner, never made a profit, but I didn't do the newsletter to pay the rent.]

In the last 34 years, I have written numerous times about the dearth of non-British royal books published in English.  There are several reasons for this.

The first reason is no market.  Let me repeat this, as sad as it sounds to those of us who are interested in royalty, the Anglo-market is largely  non-existent.    Anglo-American publishers are not going to invest money in a book about Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden or King Felipe V of Spain because the books won't make money.  Sad.  But true.

The second reason is translation costs.  Yes, there are books in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg (lovely books published in Luxembourg), Spain, Liechtenstein (okay, few books available on the princely family), Monaco (many books in English on Princess Grace and her family), the Netherlands (Wilhelmina's memoirs were translated into English), as well as the non-European monarchies.

Translations are expensive.  Publishers hire professional translators, and the cost for these services are  expensive.   A good translator is well worth the price.   The cost for the translation is built into the cost of publishing the book.     A publisher has to recoup the publishing costs.  This means the book has to make money. Royal books rarely make the best sellers list.

The text for the annual Swedish royal year book, Det Kungliga aret, is in Swedish and English.

http://www.kungligaaret.se/


A scholarly biography is more likely to be translated in English.  John Rohl's massive three-volumed biography of Kaiser Wilhelm II was translated into English by Cambridge University Press.  However, this is a seminal and masterful achievement, and not a book about what Crown Princess Mary of Denmark wears.

[A review from last year, which includes my frequent lament about lack of translations .http://royalbooknews.blogspot.com/2016/06/wilhelm-ii-und-seine-geswischer-by.html ]


A third reason is source material.  If you are writing an authoritative, well-researched book on the Spanish royal family, you need to speak Spanish and be able to access those sources.    John van der Kiste writes competent and interesting books on non-British royals, but admits he is hampered in his research because he is limited to English-language sources.

This has been a major problem for most Anglo-American royal biographers who have written about non-British royals.  If you do not read Danish, you cannot write about the Danes because you cannot access primary or even secondary sources,

The publisher of the Dutch royalty magazine, Vorsten, made an attempt to break into the Anglo market with The Crown, a quarterly journal that included Vorsten articles translated into English.  Unfortunately, the magazine ceased publication after two issues.


http://royalbooknews.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-crown-new-royal-magazine.html

Money is the fourth reason.   Most published authors do not make a lot of money.  Bestsellers of course make money for authors and publishers.  Authors need literary agents who negotiate a decent contract with a publisher - who then sells foreign rights, which means more money for a writer.

A writer who does not have an agent will make less money. However,  literary agents charge fees, which are paid by the author out of the author's advance and royalties.

http://writersrelief.com/blog/2014/02/standard-commission-practices-payments-literary-agents/

A good publisher might give the writer an advance on royalties.   A writer won't get further payments from the publisher if the publisher does not make money on the book.  Royalties are paid only after the publishing company has earned back the money paid to the writer.  Only after this will royalties be paid.

From The Business of  Publishing: "Typically, an author can expect to receive the following royalties: Hardback edition: 10% of the retail price on the first 5,000 copies; 12.5% for the next 5,000 copies sold, then 15% for all further copies sold. Paperback: 8% of retail price on the first 150,000 copies sold, then 10% thereafter."

This statement usually applies to the larger houses.  A smaller house will probably pay less.

A book on Crown Princess Victoria in English is unlikely to sell 5000 copies, which means a publisher is unlikely to sign a contract to publish the book.  Why?  No profit.

Of course, a writer could go the vanity press (self-publishing) route.   Numerous caveats here.  No one checks a manuscript for veracity.  The owners of vanity presses will pay authors even less than the legitimate publishing house.

The  number of English-language British royal books being published has gone down in the past several years.  Books about William and Catherine do not sell .. and we do not need more books on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.    Far fewer scholarly royal biographies are being published, certainly on  post Georgian royals.  The Tudors remain popular, both for biographies and historical fiction.  

I would love to see a new biography on Queen Alexandra, the consort of Edward VII.   The most recent biography was written by Georgina Battiscombe and published in 1969.  There is unlikely to be another.  Why?   Queen Alexandra did not leave a paper trail.  She destroyed her correspondence and other papers.

And the final reason:  living royals are works in progress so difficult to write competent and authoritative books about them,  It is easy to write books that do not have footnotes and a lot of photographs, but these books are largely fluff and cannot be taken seriously.

I have been reviewing and writing about royal books for more than 35 years -- and I am a published author and I write about royal for several magazines  -- so I feel competent to make these comments.

It also should be noted that most books on the British royals, past and present, have not been translated in other languages.

In conclusion,  a royal watcher might say that  I would love to read a book in English about Crown Princess Mette Marit    Publishers need thousands of these readers.  

I love reading and writing about royalty, and I admit my standards are high.  I do not care who designed the Duchess of Cambridge's shoes or that Crown Princess Victoria wore the same jacket to three different events.  That is not royal writing.

A writer who specializes in royalty needs to know history, access sources (called research), and should be able parse and disseminate the role of the royal within the context of social, familial and political events.   If you want to write about a  non-British royal with authority,  you need to be able to read foreign languages.   I cannot write a good article about Crown Princess Victoria's life because I do not understand Swedish,

In conclusion, don't expect to see British or American publishers seeking  out writers to produce books on living non-British royals.




Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Romanovs Royal Collections Volume II by Coryne Hall & Arturo Beeche




Yes, of course you are asking yourself the question:  Do you need, really need another
 book of  photographs of the Romanov Family?    Well, the answer is yes,  you need to have The Romanovs, which is the second volume in Eurohistory.com's Royal Collection Series.
So what to we have here?   For starters, the book has nearly 300 pages of photographs from Art  Beeche's Eurohistory archives,  In the past few decades, Art has acquired an impressive array of royal photos through auctions, acquisition and gifts.   One of the more important collections that Art has acquired came from the late Grand Duchess Helen of Russia, who married Prince Nicholas of Greece.

The book is separated into 10 chapters:  the  Romanov Dynasty, Alexander II, Alexander III (& three of his younger children: George. Michael and Alexandra), Nicholas II, the Senior Grand Dukes Vladimir, Alexei, Sergei. and Paul and their families; Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaievich and the Konstantinovichi Grand Dukes;  Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaievich and his descendants; Grand Duke Michael Nikolaievich and his descendants; Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaievna and the dukes of Leuchtenberg, and Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich and his descendants.

Yes, the entire Romanov clan - from formal group shots and formal portraits to family snaps, such as a rare image of Nicholas II wearing mufti.   Many of the more informal photos come from Grand Duchess Helen's albums.  Family dynamics aside, Grand Duchess Helen tried to maintain a cordial relationship with Nicholas and Alexandra.  This was difficult as Helen's brother, Kirill, was married to Princess Victoria  Melita of Edinburgh, whose first husband, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and By Rhine, was Alexandra's older brother.   A precarious situation as Ducky had been Alix's sister-in-law, but was also her first cousin.

Most photo books focus solely on Nicholas and Alexandra, with the familiar and oft-used photos.This book offers a photograph record of every branch of the Romanov dynasty from 1845 until 1917 -- the end of the Romanov dynasty.  This book includes many unpublished photos.  A real treat.

One of my favorite photos is on page 143, a full page group photo of Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna, widow of Grand Duke Vladimir with her children and their families.  The photo was taken in 1912.   Marie's five granddaughters are featured prominently, all dressed in white, several clutching dolls.

A lot more care has been shown in the editing and layout of this book, which is a good thing, as I tend to whine about such things.,

What makes this book special, however, is the care paid to each branch of the Imperial Family.  Nicholas and Alexandra and OTMAA  usually get star attention.    In The Romanovs, we get to meet all of the family, the aunts, the uncles, first cousins, second cousins, thanks to Eurohistory's impressive photo archives.

British biographer Coryne Hall and Arturo  Beeche are the co-authors of The Romanovs.   Coryne has written several books on Romanovs, including a biography of Empress Marie Feodorovna, and she knows her subjects  well.

Do I recommend this book?   Yes, absolutely!   This is a history of a once proud dynasty, brought down by revolution and hubris seen through the eyes of a camera lens.

Don't rush through this book.  Take your time.  Relish and appreciate the portraits and the family snaps.

You will not regret purchasing this book.




Monday, May 1, 2017

Castelul Bran by Diana Mandache



Romanian royal historian Diana Mandache has a new book out entitled  Castelul Bran which is about Bran Castle, once Queen Marie's residence, and then the home of her youngest daughter, Princess Ileana, and now owned by Ileana's younger son, Archduke Dominic.

I just ordered a copy of the book from the publisher, Curtea Veche.  The price of the book is 49 Lei + 51 Lei for international postage.    Total cost: just under $24.00.
http://www.curteaveche.ro/balcicul-reginei-maria-diana-mandache.html


The text is Romanian.  I expect Diana will have included many photographs, always a good thing.

This is her third palace book.  The first two were about Cotroceni and Balcicul.

http://www.curteaveche.ro/carti/noi-aparitii/castelul-bran.html


http://www.curteaveche.ro/cotroceniul-regal-diana-mandache.html

It is easy and safe to order online.    If you are using Google, hit the translate into English (right click with your mouse) and the pages are translated into English.

The payment page had a button to translate into English.  Easy peasy.

Your orders should have in 2 - 3 weeks!

I have not seen this book -- just ordered it a few minutes ago -- but I am sure it will be very good as Diana is a historian par excellence.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Books about Greece by Arthur Gould Lee

When I was checking Amazon earlier today for books about Queen Frederica, I noticed a copy of Arthur Gould Lee's biography of Queen Helen of Romania for sale for under $20.00.  Seriously?

This book is rare, and copies have sold for a lot more than $20.00  I paid more than $20 for the book.
The book is also available from Amazon.co.uk.

Gould Lee's bio of King Michael of Romania (Helen's son) is also available, starting at $36.00.  Yes, a relative bargain.

If  you have been looking for these titles, here is a chance to get both for decent prices.  Frankly, there not that many copies exant, as neither book was a bestseller, and both books were published in limited editions in the United Kingdom.

Of course, if you do order, please use the links here.   Thanks.


Books: Queen Frederica of the Hellenes (1917-1981)

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of HRH Princess Friederike of Hannover, third of five children (and only daughter) of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Brunswick-L√ľneburg (nee HRH Princes Viktoria Luise of Prussia).

Friederike was born at Blankenburg on April 18, 1917.  She died at Madrid on February 6, 1981.

Here is a selection of books by and about Frederica, King Paul I and the Greek royal family.




Please note: I make a few pennies if you purchase any of these books or anything from Amazon by clicking on the links or using the search boxes on Royal Book News or Royal Musings.

http://royalmusingsblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2017/04/queen-frederica-of-hellenes-born-100.html

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Kaiser's Confidante Mary Lee, the First American-born Princess



Richard Jay Hutto included Mary Lee in his book, Crowning Glory: American Wives of Princes and Dukes (2008), and noted that her entry ran for only three pages.  He remained fascinated by the American woman, whose two marriages brought her great wealth and great connections at the Prussian court. This fascination led to further research and discovery of papers and other documents relating to Mary's live

Mary Esther Lee was born on October 3, 1837, the youngest child of David Lee, a New York merchant, and Ann Phillips.  Lee died in 1852, leaving a large fortune to his widow and five children.  Ann took her family to Europe, where her daughters would find noble husbands.  Mary was living in Paris with her sister, Josephine, the wife of Baron August von Waechter, the King of Wurttemberg's ambassador to Napoleon III, when she met Prince Friedrich of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1800-1865).

Friedrich was the the third child of  Friedrich Christian II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, and Princess Louise of Denmark. His elder brother, Christian, renounced his rights in favor of his son, Friedrich, who married Princerss Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, a niece oof Queen Victoria.  This couple's eldest daughter, Auguste Viktoria, was the wife of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

One of Friedrich's nephews, Prince Christian, was married to Princess Helena, third daughter of Queen Victoria.

Friedrich was  nearly 37 years Mary's senior.  She had numerous suitors, but it was the Prince was smitten by her "charm and beauty."  He also appreciated that she was unconventional -- for the mid-1800s.   Nor did he need to marry her for her bank account.  He was immensely wealthy in his own right.

The marriage did not receive the approbation from Friedrich's family.   As the marriage would be morganatic,  Friedrich renounced his princely titles (which he would not have been able to share with Mary), and was created Prince of Noer by Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, a good friend.     Mary would be the Princess of Noer.

The couple were on an extended honeymoon, when in Beirut, eight months later, Friedrich became ill and died.   Mary became a very wealthy widow, inheriting the modern day equivalent of $60 million, from her husband's estate.   She remained a widow for nearly eight years, until April 1874, when she married Count Alfred von Waldersee.

Devoutly religious, Mary used her wealthy for largely philanthropic purposes.  She also had developed friendships with Friedrich III of Germany and his British wife, Victoria, whose sister, Helena, was married to Mary's late husband's nephew, Prince Christian.   During this time, Mary became a mentor to her great-niece, Auguste Viktoria, the daughter of the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein.   In 1881, Auguste Viktoria married Kaiser Wilhelm II, the son of Friedrich III.

The American-born Mary became one of the Empress' closest confidantes, although Mary preferred to be in the background.

Richard Hutto's research led him to Lee family papers, diaries and correspondence that provided the majority of the research.

I enjoyed The Kaiser's Confidante very much, although I though the book could have had a better editor.  A few times, Hutto writes the same thing twice, separated by several paragraphs.

This little quibble should not deter anyone.  The Kaiser's Confidante is excellent reading, and well-worth the price  -- and most important, a book you will want to add to your royal book collection.

Mary Lee,  Princess Noer,  Countess von Waldersee, was certainly known to her contemporaries on both sides of the Atlantic, but her personality, her friendships, her philanthropy, her conservative religious beliefs, have been largely shunted aside.  Her mentoring of Princess Auguste Viktoria, easing the way toward marriage with Wilhelm II, led her into the inner sanctum of the Imperial Court.

It is the research that stands out which makes this book fascinating reading.  After finishing this book, I thought about how unique Mary was  -- to be a rich American woman, married into the German aristocracy, who had the ear (and friendship) of the  German Emperor and Empress.

The Kaiser's Confidante is published by McFarland ($35.00)



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Now out: The Romanovs by Coryne Hall and Arturo Beeche








From Amazon:

"This is an illustrated history of the Russian Imperial Family between 1845-1917. The book's selection of photographs, 621 images in total, handsomely spread over 296 pages, ends immediately after the fall of Tsar Nicholas II in 1917. This work is unique in that it chronicles all branches of the Romanov dynasty, including some of the female lines that did not settle abroad. Using several photographic collections previously owned by various Romanovs, the authors took special interest in providing the reader with an amazing pictorial history of the famed Russian Imperial Family. All branches of the family are covered: the descendants of Tsar Alexander II, the descendants of Grand Dukes Nicholas, Konstantin and Michael Nikolaievich, as well as the descendants of Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich and his niece Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaievna, Duchess of Leuchtenberg. Many of the images used by the authors have not been used in any of our prior books. The vignettes and text included in every chapter provide the reader with a keen and insightful microscope into the lost world of the Romanovs! With over 620 images!"


Currently available from Amazon.  Soon to be available on Amazon.uk

Hope to be reviewing it soon.

[Please use this link to order the book. It will help provide me with a few pennies per order!]





Wednesday, February 15, 2017

HRH Princess Sophie of Romania's photographs - as postcards







HRH Princess Sophie of Romania is a gifted photographer, and she specializes in the landscapes and people of Brittany in France.  Now you can order 36 of her photos (as postcards) in gift boxes, which are for sale in Romania.  The postcards are available from Curtea Veche publishing house.  Yes, you can order from the Bucharest-based firm without any problems.  I have ordered several royal books from the publisher.

The postcard collection is titled Ultramarine.
The postcards are approiximately 5x7 inches in size.


This coming spring Princess Sophie will be having her first Romanian exhibition  of her photographs.   The exhibition will take place in Bucharest.  The postcard collection will be available for sale at the exhibition (and is also on sale at bookstores in Romania.)

The exact date and place of the exhibition has not been announced.

The price of the postcard gift box is 40 Lei.  This is about $10.00 plus postage.




 http://www.curteaveche.ro/carti/noi-aparitii/postcards-ultramarine-principesa-sofia-a-romaniei.html



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Coloring Kate




Do you like the Duchess of Cambridge ... do you like to Color?

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/princess-kate-coloring-book-sale-kensington-palace/story?id=45443633




Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Royal Magazine collection for sale

A longtime friend of mine, Susan Grindstoff is downsizing and selling her "extensive collection of Royalty Digest issues from 1993-2001 available for sale. Also for sale are copies of The Imperial Russian Journal, The European Royal History Journal, Atlantis Magazine, Royalty magazine, and Majesty magazine." You can contact Susan at heronblue92@gmail.com Update: the copies of Atlantis have been sold. UPDATE: This is what is left for sale --Royalty Digest: issues from 1993-1998, Vols. III-VII. ( $1 each) --Imperial Russian Journal: four issues from 1997-2001 ($5 each) --Royalty Magazine: six issues from 1989-1992 ($5 each) --Majesty Magazine: July 1989 issue ( Vol. 10, No. 3) @ $5

Albany One Dynasty, Two Destinies




Eurohistory's latest book, Albany One Dynasty, Two Dynasties focuses on the the descendants of Prince Lepold, Duke of Albany, the youngest son of Queen Victoria,

Prince Leopold. a hemophiliac, married Princess Helen of Waldeck und Pyrmont  in  April 1882.  The following February, the Duchess of Albany, gave birth to a daughter, Princess Alice.  Prince Leopold was in Cannes for his health in March 1884, when he slipped and fell, hurting his knee.  He died on March 28, leaving behind a year old daughter and a young widow, who was five months pregnant with their second child.

Charles Edward was born posthumously four months after Leopold's death,  He succeeded to birth to Leopold's peerages, and was the 2nd Duke of Albany.  The two young Albany children were raised to be loyal members of the British royal family.  Alice and Charlie were firm favorites of their grandmother, Queen Victoria.

Charlie's life took a new path after the death of his first cousin, Hereditary Prince Alfred of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who committed suicide in early 1899.  Young Affie was the only son and heir apparent to his father, Prince Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and his British peerage, Duke of Edinburgh,

The next in line in the Coburg succession was the Duke of Connaught, Victoria and Albert's second son, who had one young son, Prince Arthur.   Neither the Duke nor his son professed any enthusiasm for Coburg so they chose to renounce their rights in favor of the young Duke of Albany, then a student at Eton,

The decision was made for the young man,  No say.  But it was a decision that was made for him, and it was a decision that would change his life.  The Duchess of Albany noted that she would have to turn her very English son into a good German.

The Duke of Saxe Coburg and Gotha died in August 1900.  Charlie was the new duke, although he was a minor, and would reign under a regency until his 21st birth in July 1905, when he reached his majority,  Shortly afterward, he married Princess Viktoria Adelheid of Schleswig-Holstein, a niece of Empress Auguste Viktoria,  The marriage was arranged by Wilhelm II.

Alice and Charlie remained close, although their lives diverted after Charlie succeeded in Coburg.  In 1904, Alice married Prince Alexander of Teck, a brother of the Princess of Wales.  Close family connections.  Alice's first  cousin, the future George V, was also now her brother-in-law.

As Charlie settled into marriage, fatherhood, and the duties as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha,  Alice and her husband became active members of the British royal family, representing the Crown at home and abroad.

The first world war placed the siblings on opposite sides.  In November 1918, Charlie lost his throne,  but would soon find a new purpose:  national socialism.   By the early 1930s, Charlie was a committed Nazi, and Hitler used him to cultivate friendships in the UK, including the future King Edward VIII (who was Alexander and Alice's nephew.)

The two writers - Robert Golden (Alice) and Arturo Beeche (Charlie) - offer the largely familiar histories of the two royals, as this book does not pretend to be a biography of either Alice or Charlie.   Alice's royal life and sense of duty is on view here, but her own role as a hostess for Charlie during his visits to England -- he would stay at her country home where he entertained British fascists.  (Alice left out a lot in her autobiography.)

The book also focuses on many of Alice and Charlie's descendants.  Alice and Alexander, who was created Earl of Athlone in 1917 after giving up his German titles, had three children, two sons, Rupert, a hemophiliac, who died at age 20, and Maurice (who lived for only a few months) and Lady May who married Henry  Abel Smith.  Charlie was the father of three sons, Johann Leopold, Hubertus, and Friedrich  Josias and two daughters, Sibylla and Caroline Mathilde.

It was Sibylla who made the grandest of marriages.  In 1932, she married Hereditary Prince Gustav Adolf of Sweden,  Their son is Carl XVI Gustaf, the present Swedish sovereign.)

This book, as the frontispiece proclaims, a "photographic history of the descendants of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Albany." Although most of the photos come from Arturo Beeche's magnificent royal photograph archives, many of the photos of Alice's descendants were provided by Robert Golden. It is nice to see a varied selection of photos  Lady May's three children - their weddings and their growing families.

I am disappointed that the two writers did not include information on all of the living descendants or even mention  that Alice's great grandson, Ian Liddell-Grainger is the first descendant of Queen Victoria to be elected to the British Parliament.  I enjoyed seeing the photos of Elizabeth Abel Smith's marriage to Peter Wise,  She preferred to be out of the limelight, and be a mother,  Tragically, the couple's only child, Emma, was born severely disabled, and lived for only a few months.  This is noted in the text, but what is not included is how Emma died.  She was killed by her mother (more precisely, Elizabeth ended her daughter's suffering.)

The Wise marriage ended soon after Emma's death.  A true tragedy.

The chapters on Charlie and his children are well-written and documented with more photographs, many previously unpublished.  Far less detail (text and photos) on Charlie's eldest son, Johann Leopold's whose morganatic marriage led to losing his right of succession and inheritance of the estate, and his younger daughter, the thrice married Caroline Mathilde.   Most of Calma's descendants live in the US, with nary a mention.

Quibble aside, I can recommend Albany One Dynasty, Two Destinies, with some reservation, as I quietly vent that the text could have been better if the authors had included all of the descendants.   This could have been easily accomplished with several sentences, and this would have made the book inclusive and a bit more comprehensive.

The purchasers of this book will be more interested in the photos -- and let me add that the photo selection is outstanding -- but one final vent:  it would not have been difficult to include citations or footnotes for the quotes as well as a bibliography of source material consulted.

The easiest way to purchase the book is through Amazon, as there are only a limited number of bookstores that carry Eurohistory's titles.



Friday, January 13, 2017

Antony Armstrong-Jones (1930-2017) : A selection of books


Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon,  has died at his home in London. He was 86 years old.

Here is a selection of books about and by him. Lord Snowdon was one of the great photographers of the 20th Century.