Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Three Books on Danish monarchs

"She might not be as pretty as your Olga, but she is smart, and she can turn the whole house upside,"  Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark wrote to his younger, brother, King George of the Hellenes, after the announcement of Frederik's engagement to Princess Louise of Sweden and Norway.

This was a dynastic alliance, not a love match.  Louise quickly learned Danish but never got on well with her in-laws, King Christian IX and Queen Louise thought her "boring and introverted."

Birgitte Louise Peiter Rosenheigh is the author of Frederik  VIII and Queen Lovisa, a 60-page English language biography, one of three books published by Danish Royal Collection.

There have been very few English-language on Danish royals, so it is a joy to be able to acquire these books.  The other two books are  Christian X and Queen Alexandrine and Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid and both were written by Jens Gunni Busck.

The format is the same for all three books.  A brief, concise biography of the three kings and their consorts complemented by a good selection of historical selection of photographs from the Danish royal archives.

After the German invasion of Denmark,  Crown Prince Frederik, who had to stand in for his father, who had been severely injured in a riding accident, had to officially support the new regime, but privately he maintained contact with the Danish resistance.  With the assistance of the national hospital, he staged a fake bout of appendicitis to avoid a trip to Germany to avoid meeting Hitler.

All three kings predeceased their spouses.  Alexandrine and Ingrid eschewed the title Dowager Queen, preferring to remain styled as Queen with the permission of the sovereign.

The writers provide a lot of detail  -- the facts, just the facts, but well-sourced facts --in 60 pages.  I enjoyed all three books even though I knew I was not reading a complete biography.  Each book has a bibliography, although all the sources are in Danish, as expected.

The books are available for sale at the palaces in Copenhagen, but you won't have to travel to Denmark to purchase them.   Amazon offers all three books, usually with a timeframe for delivery.   Christian X and Queen Alexandrine was scheduled to arrive between late December and mid-January. It arrived in mid-December, much to my surprise.

These books are definite needs for serious royal libraries.  Not wants, but needs.

I consider these books to be handy for quick reference. 

Amazon is also now offering Christian IX and Queen Louise, which I hope to add to my library in a few weeks.


Friday, December 21, 2018

Alix an Gretchen (Aix and Gretchen)

In 2002,  Alix and Gretchen (Briefe der Zarin Alexandra Feodorowna aus den Jahren 1891-1914 an Freiin Margarethe von Fabrice) was published in Darmstadt.  This book included letters between Alix and Gretchen until the outbreak of the first world war and family photos that belonged to Gretchen's granddaughter, Rottraut von Prittwitz and other family members.  The book was privately printed with limited distribution.

Fast forward to 2018.  Darmstadt publisher Justus von Liebig Verlag has published the book a hardcover edition with more text and images, again from Gretchen's family's personal collection.

Gretchen was a special lady-in-waiting to Princess Alix of Hesse and By Rhine. Ten years Alix's senior, Gretchen was also a good friend to the young princess. This friendship continued after Alix's marriage to Nicholas II.

The correspondence flourished with letters, postcards, and telegrams.  New photos of the two women's growing families were sometimes also included in the letters.

The outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914 led to an abrupt break in the correspondence.  For Alix, who had made few friends in Russia, the loss of her friend Gretchen, must have been difficult to cope with especially as Gretchen was someone who understood her.

The new edition also has a new introduction by German historian Thomas Aufleger, who specializes in the Hesse and by Rhine grand ducal family, and Rotraut von Prittwitz's original forward.

The book is in German and there are no plans for an English translation.   Personally, I think an English translation is warranted because the correspondence offers a different insight, a softer impression of Empress Alexandra,  a royal whose personality and demeanor were ill-suited to be the consort of the Russian emperor, who was equally unprepared to be Emperor.

Alix's connection to Gretchen maintained a line to her past in Darmstadt where life was more simple and without the pressure of the Russian court.

This book is available solely through the publisher. The price is 24.80 Euros.  Postage is extra.  For postal prices outside Germany, please contact the publisher at

The book is not available through Amazon.  I think the publisher should consider investing in a better distribution system for this book because it is warranted.  I also think that an English translation would not be too costly for the publisher.

Justus von Liebig should be able to do more to get Alix an Gretchen out beyond Darmstadt.  It is a disservice to do otherwise.