Monday, November 5, 2018

Carolina of Orange-Nassau: Ancestress of the Royal Houses of Europe by Moniek Bloks

Dutch writer Moniek Bloks' first book, Carolina of Orange-Nassau, Ancestress of the Royal Houses is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

From Amazon:  "Carolina of Orange-Nassau (1743 – 1787) was born the daughter of William IV, Prince of Orange, and Anne, Princess Royal and was thus the granddaughter of King George II. It was upon the King's orders that she was named after his wife, Caroline of Ansbach. She was the first of Anne and William's children to survive to adulthood. When her father was at last made stadtholder of all seven united provinces, Carolina was included in the line of succession, in the event she had no brothers. A brother was eventually born, but due to his weak health, she remained an important figure. Carolina married Charles Christian of Nassau-Weilburg and suffered the loss of half her children, either in childbirth or infancy. Despite this, she acted as regent for her minor brother while heavily pregnant and remained devoted to him and the Dutch republic. Her children married well and her descendants sit upon the royal thrones of Europe, truly making her a grandmother of Europe."

The book will be published in paperback by Chronos Books.
The UK's release date is January 25, 2019. The US release date is February 5, 2019.

Miss Bloks lives in the Netherlands.  She runs the History of Royal Women blog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Kenneth Rose's diaries to be published in November

Kenneth Rose (1924-2014)  was the author of the acclaimed biography, King George V. 

His diaries will be published the UK in November  in two volumes.   The first volume will be released in the US on December 18.

If you are looking to get me a Christmas present,  please look no further.  I would love to add the two volumes to my library.

Monday, September 24, 2018

New English language books about the Danish monarchy

New books about King Christian IX and Queen Louise, King Frederik VIII and Queen Lovisa, KIng Christian X and Queen Alexandrine and King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark IN ENGLISH!!!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Roundup of royal titles

It has been a crazy summer.  Got a lot of reading done, but found little time to sit down and write a few reviews.  Some of my readers know that I am a huge (yes, obsessive) fan of the Washington Nationals.  I am a devoted, passionate baseball fan.

I have a half season plan (40 games) but usually attend about 50 or so home games .. and now starting,  the final homestand.  Seven games.  I will be at them all.  No post-season for the Nats. 

In May I went to England for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  A roundup of books about Harry and Meghan and the wedding will be the topic of another post.   I also spent a long weekend in July at Winterthur in Delaware and Longwood Gardens just over the border in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. 

Both are former DuPont estates.  Both are well worth visiting.

I very much enjoyed The American Princess The Many Lives of Allene Tew (Amazon Crossing: $24.95) by Dutch historian Annejet van der Zijl.  The American translation was done by Michele Hutchinson.

Allene Tew (1872-1955) was born into a pioneering family in Jamestown, New York, but her father never found the same financial success that his siblings and other relatives achieved.   Allene lived on the cusp of the desire to achieve more for herself.  Surely, a good marriage would get her out of Jamestown ...and that happened, but not the way Allene planned.  She met Tod Hostetter, a scion of a wealthy Pittsburgh family ... but they had sex before the wedding ... an unplanned pregnancy ... and a shotgun wedding.

Allene was not the bride that Tod's parents would have wanted for their son. Despite's Tod's wealth, they were  social pariahs until Tod decided to start his own yacht club near Newport, Rhode Island, thus offering competition to the Vanderbilts' club.

 The couple had three children before Tod's untimely death in 1902, leaving Allene a wealthy woman.   She would marry four more times.  Two of the marriages ended in divorce,  one -- her great love Anson Burchard -- left her even wealthier, and the last two marriages were to nobleman:  German prince Heinrich XXXIII Reuss, a widower, and the last a Polish count Pavel Kotzebue.

(Heinrich's first wife was Princess Viktoria Margarete of Prussia, a niece of Empress Auguste Viktoria, who had died a few years earlier, living her husband with two young children.)

Blessed with a brilliant financial acumen and good advisers, Allene's wealth increased and survived the Great Depression.  She faced tragedy head-on.  Her second child, Verna, died at age 2 while her eldest and youngest children, Greta and Teddy, both died in 1918, the former, who was pregnant with twins, succumbed to the Spanish flu, while the latter was killed in action in the waning days of world war I.

It was her friendship with Princess Armgard of Lippe-Biesterfeld that led to Allene and her husband, Pavel,  offering their assistance and support in bringing together Armgard's son, Prince Bernhard, and Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, heir to the Dutch throne.   Allene also became friends with Queen Wilhelmina.   Allene and Pavel attended Juliana's wedding.  Juliana asked Allene to be one of the godmothers to her first child, Princess Beatrix.

The American Princess is a competent and well-researched biography, heavy on the facts.  I was intrigued by Allene as I knew little about her.  Van der Zijl is a methodical researcher and writer, but what is missing from this book is Allene's own voice.

I do not know if Allene left diaries or correspondence, apart from the few letters quoted in this book.  More of Allene's own words would certainly enhance the quality of the book,  as well as more photographs.  But neither quibble diminishes that this is a good book.  It is nice to see a biographer select a subject that few people know about.

 Penny Junor's biography of the Duchess of Cornwall, The Duchess  (Harper: $28.99)  is a very good read. Yes, this is a favorable toward Camilla kind of  biography, but Junor does not stint on the criticism and issues Charles and Camilla faced, alone and together.

Junor offers an honest appraisal of Diana, as well - a fair portrait, not one that paints Diana in a necessarily bad light.

I found The Duchess to be a fair and honest biography, strong on facts, not innuendo, and the best biography so far on Camilla.  We are decades away from a 600-page biography, replete with footnotes and citations, on the Duchess of Cornwall.

I would not describe this book as explosive, however, despite what the British cover states.


Looking for a meaty royal history?  I suggest picking up a copy of Sarah Gristwood's Game of Queens  (One World). The subtitle is The Women who made the Sixteenth Century.  Royal women used their positions in power struggles that led to real power - from Isabella of Castille and Anne de Beajeu to Anne Boleyn, culminating with her daughter, Elizabeth I and the impressive, but lesser known Jeanne d'Albret, whose role in the Protestant Reformation has been largely forgotten.

Sarah Gristwood is a serious historian.  Game of Queens ticks all the boxes.  Well-written, well-researched and ... a study of amazing women, whose stories were told with compassion and insight by one of the best historians writing today. 

Bravo to the scholarship!

Another roundup to appear toward the end of next week ...well, that is the plan.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Together: Our Community Kitchen

HRH The Duchess of Sussex has written the foreword for a new book,  Together: Our Community Kitchen,  which features 50 recipes fromt he Hubb Community Kitchen.  Hubb means love in Arabic.

From Amazon's site: 

"Together celebrates the power of cooking to connect us to one another.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, a group of local women gathered together to cook fresh food for their families and neighbors.

Over the chatter and aromas of the kitchen they discovered the power of cooking and eating together to create connections, restore hope and normalcy, and provide a sense of home. This was the start of the Hubb Community Kitchen.

Together is a storybook of this West London community, showcasing over 50 delicious recipes from the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen and including a foreword by HRH The Duchess of Sussex.

The women invite you to make their favorite simple dishes—many handed down over generations— from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean for you and your loved ones.

Every dish tells a story of history, culture and family, and each has been developed to use few ingredients and easy methods so that anyone can cook these personal recipes.

Together features mouthwatering recipes including Green Chilli and Avocado Dip, Coconut Chicken Curry, Eggplant Masala, Persian Chicken with Barberry Rice, Caramelized Plum Upside-Down Cake, Spiced Mint Tea and lots more.

This stunning charity cookbook is a homage to life, friendship and togetherness.

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will help the Hubb Community Kitchen to strengthen lives and communities through cooking."

Mignon by Diana Mandache

Romanian historian Diana Mandache has written a book on Queen  Marie of Yugoslavia, consort of Alexander I.

Marie, known as Mignon, was the second daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie of Romania.

The  book is in Romanian.  I am told there are plenty of photographs. 

The book is published by Curtea Veche.   The price is  70 Lei (about $17.00). I will be ordering a copy in  few weeks and will review here. 

Use the right click of your mouse to translate if you are using a computer.  I have ordered several of Diana's books from her publisher, which accepts credit cards.  The total cost for the book and postage is about $35.00.

Mignon will not be translated into English.  Diana is fluent in English, but  I think her publisher does not think a bi-lingual text will be successful. 

Amazon offers a selection of Diana's  books.  The books on Cotroceni, Bran, and Balcicul are especially good.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Buckingham Palace: the Interiors.

Interior designer Ashley Hicks has a fabulous book coming out later this month.  Buckingham Palace: the Interiors.  He took the photos and wrote the text.  Ashley has great connections.  He is a godson of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose mother, Princess Alice, was the eldest sister of Ashley's maternal grandfather, Earl Mountbatten of Burma.   Ashley's mom, Lady Pamela Hicks, and her older sister, the late Patricia, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma.  The two sisters were childhood friends of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

Ashley's father is the late interior designer David Hicks.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Eva McDonald +

Sad news to report.  Eva McDonald, who co-wrote several books on the the Romanovs, has died.  Her son, Michael, posted the news about his mom's death on her Facebook page.

She was 73 years old as she was born on December 2, 1944.   I believe she died in Palm Beach, Florida.

When I have more information, I will post it.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Hodder buys world wide rights to the Quest for Queen Mary

"Hodder buys world rights to Queen Mary hit

Rights - Non Fiction Thursday, 09 August 2018

Boutique publisher Zuleika has sold world rights to The Quest for Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy, edited by Hugo Vickers; 'destined to be a classic' says Hodder.

The book was first published by Zuleika Books in March and has since received exceptionally good reviews. According to Hodder's acquisition statement, 'The Quest for Queen Mary is the full collection of unexpurgated notes by James Pope-Hennessy for his highly admired official biography of the Queen's grandmother, Queen Mary, published in 1959.

'His notes of meetings with royalty, members of court and retainers, taken over three years and which took him all over Europe, are so indiscreet they were kept private for 50 years and have only now been published in full. They are edited and annotated by the acclaimed royal biographer Hugo Vickers.

The book is currently available via Zuleika's website for £20 (the cover price is £30) but there is a six-day wait due to 'significant demand'.

This means Hugo's fabulous book will reach an even wider audience.

Publication  date is September 20.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Death of a Romanov Prince

Terry Boland is a retired Russian teacher in Australia with a deep appreciation for Romanov history.  He is correct when he writes that that "thousands of words" have been written about the Romanovs, especially Nicholas and Alexandra and their family.

Boland points out that there other members of the Imperial Family who wanted to use their wealth and privilege to help their country.  There are far more books and articles on the bad boys of the family, including Grand Dukes Boris and Andrei.

Prince Oleg Konstantinovich of Russia was only 21 years old when he was killed in action six weeks after the start of the first world war.   Boland describes Prince Oleg as a poet, a "literary genius," who was determined to do something worthy for Russia.   We do not know what his life would have been like if he had survived the war.  Three of his brothers, Ioann, Konstantin, and Igor, were thrown into a mineshaft near Alapayevsk in July 1918, along with Grand Duchess Elisabeth.  The young prince was the fifth of nine children of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich of Russia and Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenberg, a German princess who remained Lutheran after her marriage.

Boland has spent some years researching Oleg's brief life and this research had led to a new book, Death of a Romanov Prince ($48.95).   But is Oleg's life worthy of a book?   No, not really. He may have been the most intelligent of all the Romanovs,  but his short life gets buried in this 230-page book, which really should be titled The Family of Grand Duke Konstantine Konstantinovich.

The first four chapters are about Oleg's paternal and maternal family, his eight siblings, the family's palaces and the holidays in the Crimea. Finally, in chapter 5, we get to learn about Oleg, his education, his military training, his engagement to his cousin, Princess Nadezhda Petrovna of Russia, the war, and his death and funeral.

I applaud the initiative of writing outside the Nicholas and Alexandra box, but I feel that the Boland's material would have made a far better article for Eurohistory Journal, where Oleg's life story would be the center of attention.  In this book, it is more of a case of where is Oleg?

Padding the book with terrific photographs from the Eurohistory collection enhances the overall concept of the book,  but the book is supposed to be about a Romanov prince who died in the first world war.   It is not.

This is not to say that the book is bad because it is not bad.  The writing is good and Oleg's life -- when you finally get to it -- is interesting. Death of a Romanov Prince focuses on one of the junior branches of the Imperial House of Russia, and not one prince, which is why the title is misleading.  Oleg's abbreviated life is out of focus.

The publisher and the writer should have sat down with an editor to focus on what they wanted to present.  The book is a bit disjointed in places, especially with repeated information in different chapters.

I enjoyed spending time looking at all photos -- and the photos will offer an introduction to Grand Duke Konstantin and Grand Duchess Elizabeth's extended families.   The book would have been a lot better if the text had been massaged into a more organized structure.  Oleg's life should have been the focus of the opening chapters and then include the information about the rest of the family, parents, siblings, fiancee, cousins.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Quest for Queen Mary edited by Hugo Vickers

James Pope-Hennessy's Queen Mary, is arguably the gold standard for royal biographies.   The commission came from Sir Owen Moreshead. the Royal Librarian, on the recommendation of Lady Cynthia Colville, the late Queen's long-serving lady-in-waiting, some months after the death of King George V's consort in 1953.

It would not be an easy task for the experienced biographer to bring to fruition the  resplendent life of May of Teck.   Few Queen consorts have an official biographer.  But Queen Mary, daughter of Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, a first cousin of Queen Victoria, and Duke Franz of Teck, a morganatic scion of the house of Württemberg, was certainly worthy of the attention.

Writing an official biography allows the biographer to have access to personal papers and to people involved in the subject's life.  Pope-Hennessy met and talked with people who knew Mary in her various stages of life - from Württemberg cousins to courtiers and her surviving children, including the Duke of Windsor.  This journey - to homes in the UK and abroad - became the quest to learn more about Queen Mary.   Pope-Hennessy embarked on a massive project, sifting through all of the conversations, all of the papers, to write what is a comprehensive, yet very open biography of Queen Mary.

Mary's personality was largely formed by her own interactions with her family and with travel and life experiences.   Pope-Hennessy was perfectly placed to write an insightful and in-depth profile of the formidable queen.

This was achieved through Pope-Hennessy's interviews and copious notes.   Not everything made the final version of the biography.  His notes and papers for the biography were not allowed to be published for 50 years. 

The interviews were considered  "confidential."  Pope-Hennessy believed that the interviews were a "not interesting study of moral psychology as it was and as it largely remains today."

It would take a skilled biographer in his own right to sift through and offer a contemporary perspective on Pope-Hennessy's conversations in his quest to find the real Mary.    Acclaimed biographer Hugo Vickers is the perfect person to take on the challenge of bringing Pope-Hennessy's quest to our time,  60 years after the book's publication.

Hugo separates The Quest for Queen Mary  into two sections:  The Commission and Interviews.  The former was written by Hugo while the interviews were conducted and written by Pope-Hennessy.

Hugo provides extensive footnotes for all the interviews, which will prove helpful to new readers who are unfamiliar with many of the references to events and other people mentioned in the interviews.

The interviews offer further insight and history, and a but of humor, too.  The Queen's niece, The Duchess of Beaufort told Pope-Hennessy that May was "very proud of her legs and ankles.  As a girl she would jump on a sofa at games so people could see them."

The Duchess also noted that Mary was "fundamentally very very German."

According to her third son, Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, Queen Mary loathed Balmoral. "Hated it.  She had nothing to do in Scotland," he said.

The Quest for Queen Mary is one of the best royal books in the last few years.  One caveat.  Please do not read this book unless you have read Queen Mary at least one time.   A further appreciation for this biography will come after reading The Quest for Queen Mary.

It is rare for a biographer to share his research after the publication the book.  The Quest for Queen Mary is a historical treat. Savor it.   After reading this book, you will have a further appreciation for the magnificence that is James Pope-Hennessy's Queen Mary.

Hugo Vickers and James Pope-Hennessy have allowed us - the readers and historians and biographers - to be be the flies on the wall. 

The Quest for Queen Mary was published by Zuleika  Books.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Books about Friedrich III

Friedrich III, German Emperor and King of Prussia, died  on June 15, 1888.

Here are several recommended books about his life.   Patricia Kollander's book, albeit pricey. is the best of these books.  Highly recommended.

If you order any of these titles through my links, I make a few pennies ... you can also use the search boxes on the right to order from Amazon ... not just books.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Harry & Meghan Royal wedding books and magaznes

There are already a selection of royal wedding publications -- and there will be more.   This post provides the  links to books and magazines available on Amazon and  If you click on the links and order from these links -- or use the search box on the right -- I make a few pennies per sale ... seriously, a few pennies, but it does add up.   When I reach £25.00 in earnings from, I receive a £25.00 gift card.  It takes a few years to reach this amount.

You can order whatever you want from Amazon, but please use the search boxes to start your searches and purchases, as this is how I earn pennies ... the search boxes or the direct links on Royal Books or Royal Musings.   Thanks and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Crown from the Crowd Now available.

"Commissioned by Photobox, Europe’s largest photographic community, The Crown from the Crowd is a ground-breaking project to create a unique photographic biography and picture archive of the Royal Family - as seen exclusively through the camera lens of the Great British Public over the last century.

Jennie Bond, who served as the BBC’s Royal Correspondent during 14 of the most turbulent years the monarchy has endured, led a nationwide search to plunder the people’s archive of unseen photographs of the Royal Family taken at any one of the estimated 50,000 royal engagements since the Second World War.

The public response was overwhelming with over 2000 photographs submitted dating back to pictures of Queen Victoria taken in the 1890s. The book features over 250 images across eight chapters ranging from Country Life to Pomp & Ceremony, each with a fascinating introduction by best-selling author and social historian Dominic Sandbrook.

Created to commemorate the forthcoming Royal Wedding, the first edition of The Crown from the Crowd will be presented to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as a ‘gift from the people', ahead of their big day on Saturday 19th May.

The Crowd from the Crowd is available to buy from Tuesday 8th May for £25 with 100% of the profit donated to Help for Heroes.

The book is not available in stores.  The only way to order it is through the publisher.  Postage is higher outside the UK.    On top right is the tab My Photobox.  Click on that and then click, Join Now.  You need to have an account to order the book.

The book was inspired by Karen Anvil's marvelous photo of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Sandringham.

@Rose O'Brien

@Paul Ratcliffe

@David Butler 

@Marlene Koenig

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Harry & Meghan Love Story Coloring Book and Harry and Meghan Paper Dolls

It is no surprise that book and magazine publishers are rushing out Harry and Meghan royal wedding publications.  Royal Book News will try to report and review on what I find here in the USA and in May in England.  Yes, I will be in Windsor for the wedding.

So far my favorites are Harry and Meghan A Love Story Coloring Book ($9.99) and Harry and Meghan Paper Dolls ($9.99) from Dover Publications, which has been publishing paper doll books for decades.  I remember getting the Charles and Diana Paper dolls book back in 1981.

Dover has paid attention to detail with both publications.  The paper dolls are a delight.  Immaculate detail has been paid to Harry and Meghan's outfits.

Eileen Rudisill Miller has drawn 14 outfits including Meghan's engagement dress, her Christmas dress, the coat and dress that she wore in Nottingham and Henry's Blues and Royals uniform.  Each costume includes the designer information and where it was worn.

Oh, I wish I were a little girl!   The adult in me, however, says it is better to display the Paper Doll book as the drawings are so good.

I am glancing at the coloring book and wondering ... where are my crayons?

Little girls and ... yes, we big girls will enjoy the paper dolls and the coloring book.  Seriously, I need crayons.

Kudos to Dover!!

Dover is offering readers of Royal Book News and Royal Musings a 25% discount on orders.  Please use the code WDBD when you order  -- and you must use the link below for this special promotion.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Dynasty by Christina Oxenberg

Christina Oxenberg visited Serbia for the first time in 2014.  This visit offered a profound change in her life that would lead to an inspired introduction to her own heritage - half American, half royal.

Christina is the younger daughter of the late Howard Oxenberg and Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, herself the daughter of the late Prince Paul of Yugoslavia and Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark.

While her older sister, Catherine, focused on an acting career,  Christina became a writer and published several books, including Taxi and Royal Blue.   Now living in Key West, Florida,  she has taken her wanderlust to a new dimension in her latest book, Dynasty (Quartet Books: £20.00), a delightful tale, combined with the history of the Karageorgevich family and Christina's own life.

Prince Paul was the only child of Prince Arsene Karageoregivich and Countess Aurora Demidova, a Russian heiress.  Prince Paul inherited his mother's fortune, including property in Italy.   Arsene and Aurora's marriage soon collapsed and both parents largely abandoned their son and Paul was raised by the future King Peter I of Serbia, the father of Alexander III.

Arsene and his male-line descendants, however, do not have dynastic rights, according to the house law, established in the early 1930s.

Paul studied in Britain,  became friends with members of the British royal family and aristocracy.  He was a noted art collector and he was pro-British.  He married a Greek princess, Olga, whose younger sister, Marina married the Duke of Kent, thus furthering the ties between the two royal houses.

In Serbia,  Alexander married Princess Marie (Mignon) of Romania, the second daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, a British princess by birth.  Paul's life changed inexorably in 1934 when Alexander was assassinated during a state visit to Marseilles.  Alexander had prepared for the possibility that he could die before his eldest son, Peter, reached his majority, and, in his will, named Paul as one of three regents for Peter.

This is not a straightforward history of the Serbian royal house.  Christina Oxenberg is taking readers through her journey as she learns about her family's history, embracing it with such delight.

At times, Christina repeats herself -- telling the same story in separate chapters -- and also leaves us hanging with a reference to Queen Marie's relationship with her eldest son without further elaboration.

I love that Christina quotes from her grandmother Princess Olga's diaries. [Christina, have you thought of editing your grandmother's diaries for publication?]

Paul's Regency ended abruptly when Peter, approaching his majority, took control.  Within days the Germans marched in Yugoslavia and the royal family went into exile. In 1945,  Marshal Tito ended the monarchy.    The British government turned on Paul. He spent the war under house arrest in Kenya and South Africa.   It took a lot of persuading for the British government to allow Olga to come to England to spend time with Marina after the death of the Duke of Kent in an air crash in 1942.

Thanks to the valiant fight of Christina's mother, Princess Elizabeth,   Prince Paul's good name was restored.

I wish Christina had included footnotes for the many names in her book.  I know who Lady Zia Werhner was, but will the average reader.  The publisher should have made sure that the book was indexed allowing researchers to go straight back to a reference without having to spend time turning pages to find what the reference.

There are a few silly mistakes including saying Queen Marie was born in Bucharest.  She was born in Gotha, where her mother, then Crown Princess Marie of Romania, was staying as she had been a naughty girl and King Carol had banished her from the court.

That said,  Dynasty is fascinating and an enjoyable read.  I have been to Serbia three times as the guest of Crown Prince Alexander, who was very helpful to Christina as she embraced her own Serbian heritage.  I appreciate Christina's inquisitive nature to learn more about Serbia, a stunningly beautiful country, and embrace her family's role as members of the royal family.  She has no better advocate than her mother, Princess Elizabeth, who was the first to return to live in the country, and now lives in her parents' villa, which was returned to her several years ago.  Elizabeth worked tirelessly for years to bring out the truth about her father, fighting to open British government records. 

It suffices to say that Winston Churchill and others were rather open about smearing Paul's good name.  Elizabeth succeeded in making this public and proving the British were wrong.

You will enjoy Christina's delightful journey, infused with history and family stories.  May I recommend that readers continue your own journey to learn more about the Serbian royal family. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Royalty Digest quarterly - yes you must subscribe

RDQ 1/2018 is being printed as we speak. This is a particularly fascinating issue, which you don't want to miss (so, please check the status of your subscription) Apart from Charlotte Zeepvat's family album, NORWAY this time, there is also an article about the Viceroys of Norwayd 1814-1891 by Trond Norén Isaksen.;Marlene A. Eilers Koenig writes about Grand Duke Kirill of Russia, while Elizabeth Jane Timms tells the story of Princess Alix of Hesse's visit to Harrogate, prior to her wedding to the Tsar of Russia. Infanta Beatriz of Spain - the elder daughter of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Ena - is the subject of an initiated biography by Datiu F. Salvia Ocaña and in the series "Little-Known Royals", Princess Dagmar (Jr) of Denmark is portrayed by Coryne Hall. Finally, and regrettably, we have to say goodbye to John Wimble's and David Horbury's magnificent series of Romanian Royal letters.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Darling Queen Dear old Bones

You have heard me complain ... many times ... about the lack of books on foreign royals in English.  I am talking about books published in languages other in English - and not translated into English.

There is a simple reason for this:  the market is not large -- not a  massive amount of readers - and good translations are expensive.  

Imagine my delight with the news of the publication of the correspondence of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and her governess Miss Saxton Winter: Darling Queen Dear Old Bones.

The book was published by Amsterdam University Press and edited by Emerentia van Heuven-van Nes.  Vivien Collingwood did the translation.

Saxton Elizabeth Winter was 30 years old when she was appointed as the governess in January 1886 to Princess Wilhelmina, heiress to the throne.  

The correspondence began in 1886 and continued until November 10, 1935, when Wilhelmina, addressing her letter to "My dear old Friend."   Saxon Winter was in England living with her sister in Saffron Walden.   

The queen offered news of her family, visitors and winter sports, ending her letter "with a hug ever your true old friend."   It was the last letter she wrote to her former governess,  Saxon Winter died at the age of 78  on January 29, 1936.

Wilhelmina's first letters to her governess where while Saxton was on holiday visiting her family in England,   The young princess always wrote in English.

Saxon Winter was a stabilizing influence on Wilhelmina, who succeeded to the throne in 1890 at the age of 10.   She remained with Wilhelmina until the latter turned 16 years old.   The book includes a lovely letter from Wilhelmina's paternal aunt, Sophie, Princess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.  

She wrote: "Let me tell you my deep sense of gratitude for all you did in the true interest of my niece."   

After Winter's dismissal,  Wilhelmina wrote long, loving letters to her former governess with news about her trips to her family in Germany and elsewhere.

[One of Wilhelmina's first cousins was Princess Alice of Albany, as their mothers were sisters.]

Queen Emma served as regent until Wilhelmina's 18th birthday in August 1898.  Saxon Winter was preparing to accept a new position as governess to Prince Carol and Princess Elisabetha of Romania.  [This new position was not satisfying for Saxon Winter, who did not get along with the children's mother, Crown Princess Marie, who blamed the governess for spreading gossip about her.]

When Wilhelmina became engaged to Duke Heinrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1900, she wrote to Miss Winter:  "Oh Darling, you cannot even faintly imagine how franticly (sic) happy I am and how much joy, and sunshine  has come upon my path."

With the exception of two letters,  there are no copies of correspondence between Wilhelmina between 1903 and 1921, which means we miss Wilhelmina's miscarriages and, finally, in 1909, the birth of Princess Juliana, the queen's only child, and the growing problems in her marriage.

Saxton Winter continued to correspond with Queen Emma, who often filled her about Wilhelmina in with more detailed correspondence.

Wilhelmina's relationship with her governess was based on friendship and love. Miss Winter offered unconditional support even after she left the Netherlands.  Her support provided the confidence that the lonely Wilhelmina needed.  An only child, a monarch at age 10, raised by a formidable, strict mother, who at times, was overwhelmed by the combination of duties as regent and mother, Wilhelmina learned from her governess the importance of duty in her life, a responsibility and dedication that she passed to her daughter, Queen Juliana, and granddaughter, Queen Beatrix.

Darling Queen Dear old Bones is an important book in the scholarly study of the Dutch monarchy.  There are so few books in English about the monarchy ... we need to cherish and applaud the decision to publish this book in an English-language edition as the correspondence was in English.  A Dutch language translation was published several years ago.