Thursday, December 19, 2019

Royalty Digest 4-2019 is now out!

Issue 4 (2019) of Royalty Digest Quarterly is now being sent to subscribers.   This is a worthwhile magazine to which you should subscribe.

You can subscribe annually or purchase individual issues.  A present to yourself.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Royalty Digest Issue 4 2019

The December issue of ROYALTY DIGEST QUARTERLY will go to print this week and should hopefully reach all current subscribers before Christmas.

This is an exciting issue where The Bonapartes play an important role. Other articles are

The Other Mrs Simpson (Lady Milford Haven) - by Marlene A Eilers

Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Geneva - by Elizabeth Jane Timms

Two Emperors and One King on the Water II - by Douglas Scott Brookes

The Royal Houses of France - A Family Album III: The House of Bonaparte - by Charlotte Zeepvat

The November 1918 Abdications, part V - by Bearn Bilker

The Six Stunning Infantas of Portugal - by Datiu Salvia Ocaña

Little-Known Royals: Prince Gustav of Denmark - by Coryne Hall

World Wide Web of Royalty

Would you like to continue your subscription to our magazine in 2020 - please renew at (Magazines)

Friday, November 22, 2019

Maria Romanov by Helen Azar

Maria Romanov Third Daughter of the Last Tsar, Diaries and Letters, 1908–1918  by Helen Azar, and  George Hawkins is now available.  The publisher is  Westholme.

My copy should be arriving shortly.

The Crown Dissected by Hugo Vickers

If you watching the Crown and want to find out the real story, the facts, rather than the fiction,  you must read Hugo Vickers's The Crown Dissected.

"Hugo Vickers is an acknowledged authority on the British Royal Family. He has commented on royal matters on television and radio since 1973 and worked as historical adviser on a number of films. He is the author of books on the Queen Mother, the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Andrew of Greece (Prince Philip's mother) and Queen Mary all of whom are featured in the popular Netflix show, The Crown.

Now, in this sequel to The Crown: Truth & Fiction Vickers separates fact from fiction in season 3 of this television series. Episode-by-episode analysis dissects the plots, characterisation and historical detail in each storyline. Vickers tells us what really happened and what certainly did not happen.

The Crown: Dissected also includes commentaries on seasons 1 and 2."

Thursday, September 26, 2019

De Habsburgs en de Coburgs

De Habsburgs en de Coburgs (Helios) in 1984 following the marriage to Princess Astrid of Belgium and Archduke Lorenz of Austria on September 22, 1984.

The couple recently celebrated their 35th anniversary.

This Dutch-language book on Habsburg and Belgium royal marriages including the marriages between members of both families.  Astrid was the fourth Belgian royal to marry a member of the Habsburg Imperial family.  The others were   King Leopold II who married Archduchess Marie Henriette of Austria, Princess Charlotte of Belgium, the wife of Archduke Maximilian, and  Princess Stephanie of Belgium and Archduke Rudolf, the son and heir of Emperor Franz Josef.

The photos are black and white: historical and modern. 

I understand the book was also published in French. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

the newest issue of Royalty Digest

The third issue of 2019 was sent to the printer today - a week late for which we apologize - and will be sent out sometime next week to all with current subscriptions to the magazine.

The family album this time is ORLÉANS with 108 unique illustrations and six detailed pedigrees. A treat for anyone interested in this great dynasty which gave France a king for 18 years ...

Marlene Eilers Koenig writes about the marriage of King Peter II and Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia - while Douglas Scott Brookes (a new contributor to our magazine) starts a series of articles based on the diary of Philip, Prince of Eulenburg and Hertefeld, a close friend of the Kaiser, who accompanied him on many visits to Royal courts all over Europe.

More November Abdications by Bearn Bilker and a new Little-Known-Royal by Coryne Hall are of course also included as well as an article by Elizabeth Jane Timms featuring Princess Maximiliane of Bavaria.

If you have not renewed your subscription yet and want to receive this stunning issue, please do so now.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Royal Roundup

Juan Soto.

Summer is nearly over, which means baseball is moving rather quickly toward the post-season and my beloved Nats hold the first Wildcard spot -- fingers crossed.

I have a half-season plan (40) games.  By the end of the regular season on September 29, I will have attended about 50-55 games.  If I am not at the game, I am watching the Nats on TV or I was traveling (to the UK, to NYC to see The Treasures of Chatsworth exhibit at Sotheby's  and the Nats at Citifield, to -- Pittsburgh -- 6.5 hours on a bus -- to see the Nats play the Pirates) or I was at the pool.

I am now finding time to sit down and write about the books that I have been reading this summer.   The royal books, of course, but I do read non-royal books as well.

One of my Twitter followers, who was visiting Buckingham Palace in August to see the Queen Victoria's Buckingham Palace exhibit (which opened in July), sent me a copy of the companion book. (Thank you so much).

  Queen Victoria's Buckingham Palace was written by Amanda Foreman and Lucy Peter (Royal Collection Trust.)  This is a 130-page book that also functions as the catalog to the exhibit.   The exhibit focuses on Victoria's life at the Palace - as a wife, mother, grandmother, and, of course, queen, as Buckingham Palace was a home and the primary seat of the official life of the monarchy.

Foreman and Peter are excellent writers - and their research is impeccable.  The illustrations are excellent .. almost as good as being at the exhibit.


 Last December, I reviewed three books on the Danish sovereigns that were published by Historika with the support of the Danish Royal Collection.  These concise biographies were published in English and are sold at the royal palaces in Denmark.

The only book that I had not seen was Christian IX and Queen Louise, which was not in stock when I ordered the other three books.   I now have a copy.

Jens Gunni Busck wrote the text of the book, which focuses on Christian and Louise's lives and the political and constitutional issues that led to Christian's succession to the throne.  This book is not an in-depth study of Christian's life, but it is a competent and precis accounting of the primary events of their lives.  Unfortunately, there are few books in English on the Danish royal house

For time being these little but well-written books will have to suffice.  The book does include a bibliography, but most of the sources that the author consulted are in Danish.

I have also discovered a new royal historian, whose books are entertaining and well-researched, strong popular histories with excellent bibliographies, too.

Melanie Clegg focuses on royal women.  Two of her most recent books are Scourage of Henry VIII The Life of Marie de Guise and Margaret Tudor The Life of Henry VIII's Sister.  Both books were published by Pen & Sword.


 Henry VIII had briefly considered Marie of Guise as a wife, but she chose his nephew, James V of Scotland, the son of his older sister, Margaret.   The marriage lasted for only four years as the king died four days after Marie had given birth to a daughter, Mary.

This is the first biography in English on Marie for more than forty years.  It would be a difficult life in Scotland as the mother of an infant queen.  Marie would have to straddle the uniqueness of Scotland's political life, trying to balance motherhood and raising a young queen in Scotland.

Scotland's political tensions were tinged with the rising tide of Protestantism which had the support of Elizabeth I.  In her final hours of life, John Knox was"preaching against her" in the streets of Edinburgh, while his assistant prayed with Marie during the final hours of her life.

Melanie Clegg gives a voice to Marie, a woman, widowed twice, first at age 21, who had to use her intellect and charm, at times, to straddle the different factions in Scotland and the fear of an English invasion, as Regent for her daughter, who would be sent off to France as the bride of the future King Francois II of France, who died after only two years of marriage.

I was even more impressed with Clegg's most recent book, Margaret Tudor The Life of Henry VIII's Sister.  Margaret, not Henry, is an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II as the British Royal family descends from Margaret through both surviving children:  King James V and his half-sister, Lady Margaret Douglas, as their children, Mary and Henry, Lord Darnley, married and became the parents of James VI, who succeeded his kinswoman, Queen Elizabeth I, as King of England, thus reigning in two countries.

Margaret's marriage to King James IV of Scotland was arranged by her father, King Henry VII, as a proposed alliance between the two kingdoms.  But that is not how the marriage would turn out.  James was killed in the Battle of Flodden Field after only ten years of marriage, leaving Margaret with a 17-month-old son, a toddler king,

It was far from an easy life for Margaret, the daughter of the English king, and she found quickly that she had to depend on Archibald Douglas for protection.  She married him within a year of James' death.

Margaret was a truly tragic figure.  Her second marriage ended in divorce and she married for the third time  She had no support from her son nor her brother.  She careened from one poor choice to another, desperate for financial and emotional support.

Clegg has a strong foundation in history and this appreciation is on view in her books.  She is popular, rather than a scholarly, historian, focusing on the personality and the narrative.  This is not a bad thing, of course.  Scholarly biographies are appreciated, especially for the depth of the research,

A popular historian focuses on the subject and the events and other people that shaped the subject's life.

I look forward to reading more of Melanie Clegg's books.  I recommend you read them as well.  You might also check out Melanie's blog, Madame Guillotine

Monday, September 9, 2019

Meghan: Royal Duchess and Mother

Delighted to see a Pitkins  book about Meghan.  If you have to ask what a Pitkins book is ..  let's just say, Pitkins are concise, factual books.

The Pitkin was published on August 13.

Meghan: Royal Duchess and Mother was written by Halima Sadat.  Brian Hoey, the author of three biographies of Princess Anne, wrote the forward.  Sadat also wrote  Harry & Meghan:The Royal Wedding.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Jewels of Queen Marie by Diana Mandache

Romanian historian Diana Mandache's latest book is called Bijuteriile Reginei Maria, which translates to the Jewels of Queen Marie.

The text is in Romanian - and there are no plans to offer an English translation, but the book has many photographs.

The book has been published by Editura Corint.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Memoirs of Emily Loch: Tsarina Alexandra and the Christian Family

If you are looking for insight into the lives and personalities of Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and their daughters, Princess Helena Victoria and Princess Marie Louise and Princess Christian's niece, Princess Alix of Hesse and By Rhine,  you might want to consider reading  The Memoirs of Emily Loch, who was Princess Christian's lady-in-waiting.

Emily's diaries were edited by her great-great niece Judith Poore.  This book was first published in 2007 by  Librario Publishing Ltd.

The book is out of print but you can find copies through third party sources, such as book dealers selling on Amazon.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Recommended books on Prince Albert

Embed from Getty Images 

 Here is a list of recommended biographies on Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, who was born 200 years ago today - August 26, 1819, at Schloss Rosenau.


Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Young Victoria by Deirdre Murphy

I have read a great many books about Queen Victoria and I have my favorites.  And now I can add one more book to the "favorites" list.

The Young Victoria (Yale University Press) offers a refreshing new view of Queen Victoria before she succeeded to the throne.

The author is Deirdre Murphy, the late Senior Curator at Historic Royal Palaces and the Curator of the fabulous Victoria Revealed exhibit at Kensington Palace, which closed earlier this year to make way for two new exhibits commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria.

Tragically, Deirdre died on May 28, 2018, of breast cancer. She was 42 years old.  The new exhibitions at Kensington Palace and this book are her legacies.

The Young Victoria offers a tantalizing and new insight into Victoria's life.  Sheltered by her dominating mother (who was in turn dominated by her Comptroller John Conroy), both of whom hoped to control Victoria when she succeeded to the throne, especially, if William IV died before Victoria reached her majority.

As we know, William IV died on June 20, 1837, nearly a month after  Victoria celebrated her 18th birthday on May 24th.

This book serves as a semi-catalog to the new exhibitions as there is no official catalog.  The Duchess of Kent was determined to keep her younger daughter in the public eye even though she was equally determined to keep her away from King William and Queen Adelaide.   The Kensington System was designed to keep the princess under the control of her mother and Conroy, as well as her governess Baroness Lehzen.  Victoria, however, could be a willful and determined little girl, much to the disappointment of her mother and tutors.

Lehzen was the "benchmark by which Victoria would measure all her companions throughout her long life," according to Murphy.  Victoria wrote: "She devoted her life to me, from my fifth to my eighteenth year, with most self-abnegation, never taking one day's leave."

Murphy delved deep into Victoria's young life, dipping into diaries, papers, and other materials, focusing on those who were close to her, including her older sister, Princess Feodora.

The Kensington System, established by the Duchess of Kent and Conroy, was set up to control Victoria but keep her in the public eye.   In 1830, when William IV succeeded his brother, George IV, as king, Victoria slipped into the heiress presumptive position, and her mother and Conroy chose to go on the road, presenting the 11-year-old princess to the nation.   William and his wife, Queen Adelaide, were keen on maintaining contact with the young princess.  The king went so far as to suggest that Victoria's name be changed to Charlotte or Elizabeth.

This book is a labor of love, a detailed breakdown of Victoria's "melancholy childhood" that shows Deirdre Murphy's devotion to her subject.

The detail is precise, a front-row glimpse into Victoria's early years.

Most of the illustrations are from the Royal Collection.   The Young Victoria is a true classic that will be appreciated and savored for generations. 

Deirdre Murphy deserves all the praise, all the honors, for writing a truly great book that provided inspiration for the new Victoria exhibits.

The Young Victoria will be appreciated by historians and general readers alike.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Two books about Cumberland Lodge

During my recent visit to the UK (and Windsor Great Park),  I talked my way -- with my friend, Katrina, into Cumberland Lodge, once the residence of Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein.  Princess Christian was Queen Victoria's 5th child - Princess Helena.

The Lodge is no longer a royal residence, but is leased to a charitable foundation.

The history of the estate is fascinating.  Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough lived in the original house, when she was the Ranger of Windsor Great Park.  The current building is named for Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, second son of King George II.

Helene Hudson's Cumberland Lodge: A House Throughout History offers a comprehensive accounting of the Lodge and its residents through the present day.

Sarah Robinson's  Glorious Seclusion: Cumberland Lodge and Windsor Great Park in the Life in the Nation Paperback, which I bought from the receptionist at Cumberland Lodge, is a more concise history of the house.

It was at Cumberland Lodge where in 1936 King Edward VIII's Private Secretary, Alexander Hardinge, met with Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to discuss the plans for the abdication.

Both books are well-illustrated and offer insight into residents of Cumberland Lodge, especially Prince Christian and Princess Helena and their family.

I have added both books to my library.

Cumberland Lodge is located in Windsor Great Park, south of the statue of George III.

We walked from Savill Garden through the Cumberland Gate to the Lodge, and around to the back as well, then headed down to the Prince Albert Statue, past Smith's Lawn and the Guards Polo Club to the Cumberland Obelisk and back to Savill Garden parking lot where we left the car.

You may wonder what the distance is from the Copper Horse statue of George III, which is the northern end of the Long Walk to Windsor Castle.  The distance is 2.65 miles.  Thus, Cumberland Lodge is located approximately three miles from Windsor Castle.

Purchasing through my Amazon links (not just books) or clicking on adverts helps  me earn a few pennies.  I use the monthly profits to pay my cell phone bill.  Thanks. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Ira The Life and Times of a Princess by Nicholas Foulkes

HSH Princess Virginia Carolina Theresa Pancrazia Galdina zu Fürstenberg is the epitome of an It girl, a true socialite,  made the cover of Life magazine, when she was only 16.  This cover story was about her marriage to Prince Alfonso zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg. 

Virginia, who has always been known as Ira, was close to her cousin, Count Rudi of Schönburg-Glauchau, a close friend of Prince Alfonso (the two were major founders of the Marbella Club).  Rudi told her about Alfonso's romance with Princess Christina of Hesse, a niece of Prince Philip, and they were about to announce their engagement. 

Then the 31-year-old Alfonso met the sloe-eyed Ira, and he was smitten.  Christina was pushed aside and Alfonso and Ira became engaged.  Ira's parents, Prince Tassilo and Clara Agnelli, were divorced.  Agnelli, a member of the Fiat family, had run off with an Italian actor, leaving Ira and her two brothers, Egon and Sebastian, torn between warring parents.

The marriage between Alfonso and Ira was a social coup - but one wonders how Ira's parents allowed for their very attractive 16-year-old daughter marry a 31-year-old man.   Their honeymoon was very much a press adventure.  Ira soon became pregnant.  In November 1956, she gave birth to her first son, Christian.  A second son, Hubertus, was born in 1959. 

Ira admitted that she was not a good mother.  She found motherhood to be "isolating and lonely." This is not a surprise.  Ira was very much a part of the rich and famous, but she was not prepared to be wife or a mother.

The marriage was over within months of Hubertus' birth.  They divorced in 1960.  A year later, she ran off with a Brazilian industrialist,  Francisco "Baby" Pignatari.  Ira met Baby Pignatari while skiing in Italy in late 1959.   Alfonso filed charges of adultery against Baby and was obtained custody of the two boys.

Ira's second marriage lasted for only three years.  She  never remarried, although she has had numerous lovers.  After the death of Princess Grace, Ira became the companion of her second cousin, Prince Rainier III of Monaco (they share a common great-grandmother, Lady Mary Douglas) , and there were numerous reports that they would marry, thus making Ira the Princess of Monaco.  The reports were a bit premature. The couple remained close friends.

The very essence of her  life  has been  captured in the sumptuous Ira The Life and Times of a Princess, which a visually stunning and well laid out tome, that comes with a slip cover for easy placement on a shelf or a cocktail table.

Princess Ira is certainly a social creature who has parlayed her beauty and personality into a fulfillment of being true to herself.  She appeared in B movies in the 60s, became the It Woman for fashion designers including Karl Lagerfeld.

As a "prominent European socialite,"  Ira moved in all the right circles, knew all the right people.  London remains a favorite habitat, but Ira feels at home in numerous countries.   She never needed to marry money as she is wealthy in her own right, thanks to her mother's Agnelli inheritance.

She is a free spirit, unfettered by the norms of society.  Nicholas Foulkes describes her as a woman with "charisma, an endearing personality," with an appetite for the good life.

Ira herself says "My life is colourful... I lived on the spot.  I lived day by day. My plan was to enjoy life..."   Her life has been  a full color palette that she has fully embraced,  and no doubt, she has more to do, more life to embrace.

Princess Ira never got to be a consort, but she remains one of the elegant queens of the international jet set.

Ira The Life and Times of a Princess  was published by Harper Collins  with the support and approval of Princess Ira.  Nicholas Foulkes wrote the text.  The photos of the Princess from infancy to present day are from her own collection as well as agency photos.   A dazzling display of biographical images.

Nicholas Foulkes likes in London.

Monday, July 1, 2019

50th anniversary of the Investiture of the Prince of Wales

Embed from Getty Images 

 Here is a selection of  monographs and other items that commemorated the Investiture of the Prince of Wales on July 1, 1969.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

20th anniversary of the wedding of the Earl and Countess of Wessex

Prince Edward, now Earl of Wessex, married Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones on June 19, 1999 at St. George's Chapel.  Today is the their 20th anniversary. 

Here is a small selection of commemorative books still available.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Windsor Castle: A thousand Years of a Royal Palace

I had a chance to browse this book, Windsor Castle: a Thousand Years of a Royal Palace, which is said to be the definitive history of Queen Elizabeth II's favorite home.

The book is massive and would have put me over the approved weight allowance for my suitcase.

From Amazon:  "When we envision the British monarchy, one of the first things that comes to mind is Buckingham Palace, with its gilded gates and changing of the guard. But it is Windsor Castle that can claim pride of place as the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, dating to the earliest days of the monarchy, a symbol of strength and magnificence over a nearly thousand-year history of sieges and soirées alike. Witness to both great moments in the country’s history and those that threatened to destroy it, the castle has become a symbol of English culture and architecture. Throughout England’s history, Windsor Castle has stood fast and evolved, much like the monarchy that inhabits it to this day.

The magisterial Windsor Castle: A Thousand Years of a Royal Palace illuminates the castle’s past using evidence from archaeological investigation and documentary sources, and is illustrated with paintings, drawings, and both historical and specially commissioned contemporary photographs, as well as stunning reconstructions of the castle’s past appearance which bring this essential piece of English history to life. "

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Two Royal Journals that you should read

Royalty Digest and are quarterly royal history journals that are published in Sweden and the USA respectively.

Neither journal is available electronically.  The only way to read them is to subscribe.

In full transparency, I write for both journals.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Modern Monarchy by Chris Jackson

Are you looking for a new book to put on your cocktail table, a book that looks nice and will also appeal to your guests when they sit down on the couch.

I have a recommendation for you.  Modern Monarchy The British Royal Family.  The text and photographs are by Chris Jackson.

Yes, the name Chris Jackson is familiar to you.  He is the guy with the very expensive cameras who shows up a lot at royal events in the UK and on tour.   For the last 15 years, Jackson has been Getty Images Royal Photographer.   Great job.

Terrific book.  Just take your time, turning page after page of superb photos of members of the British royal family at official events as well as official photos and at relaxing.  More than 250 pages of color photos.

A lovely, lovely book.

Modern Monarchy was published by Rizzoli.

Matilda Empress Queen Warrior by Catherine Hanley

Oh, I do I love a good scholarly biography.  By good, I mean a well-researched, well-documented and eminently readable biography by a biographer who has immersed herself into her subject matter.

Catherine Hanley's Matilda Empress Queen Warrier is a superb book.  I could not put it down.  Matilda (1102-1167) was the daughter of King Henry I of England.  As a young child, she married the future Henry V, Holy Roman emperor.  The emperor died in 1125.  The young childless widow returned to Normandy where her father arranged for her to marry Count Geoffrey of Anjou.

Five years before Matilda's only legitimate brother, William was among three hundred passengers, who died in the White Ship disaster.  Henry wanted Matilda to succeed him.   There were no laws that would prevent female succession, but the situation was far more complicated.   There were other candidates.  Henry I's eldest brother, Robert Curthose, had a son William, who was a possible candidate, as was another first cousin, Stephen, the daughter of Henry I's sister, Adela and her husband Stephen of Blois.

On two separate occasions, Stephen swore to uphold Matilda's claim to the throne, but when Henry died in 1135, Stephen broke his promise and with the support of the English church claimed the throne.

During the next few decades, Stephen's reign suffered through challenges from church, the French and family members including Matilda and her husband and her half brother, Robert of Gloucester, who led a rebellion against Stephen.

The skirmishes and rebellions led to a civil war with Stephen and Matilda jockeying for power.

But Stephen was a "natural follower rather than a leader," and this lack of true leadership would lead to his downfall.  Matilda was far more successful in compromise and seen as the "voice of reason."    When Stephen died in 1154, he was succeeded by Matilda's son, Henry, who reigned as Henry II.

She was a formidable woman and took an active role "in the military aspects" if the campaign to win the throne.    Hanley writes that is Matilda "had not doggedly pursued and fought for her rights," the succession of the English throne might have looked very different. Without Matilda's determination, there would not have been a Plantagenet dynasty.  Or Tudors. Or Stuarts. Or. Hanovers. Or Windsors.

Matilda was also a "politically active queen mother," a role that was enthusiastically shared by her daughter-in-law, Eleanor of Aquitaine.   She also provided that precedent proving that female inheritance was legitimate.

As "the master of her fate and the agent of her own destiny,"  Catherine Hanley's final statement notes that Matilda "deserves to be remembered.

I will say the same thing about Hanley's book.   Matilda Empress Queen Warrior deserves to be read.  This is a consummate study of a woman whose right to the throne was usurped by others, yet she remained determined to be a warrior for her family, especially, her son, Henry.   She may not have won her rightful crown, but she lived long enough to see her son succeed to the English throne.

Matilda Empress Queen Warrior was published by Yale University Press.

80th anniversary of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth's visit to North America

In May 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were the first British sovereigns to visit Canada and the United States. Here is a selection of books about the visit.

The Mistresses of Cliveden By Natalie Livingstone

Some months ago, while waiting in the checkout line I spotted The Mistresses of Cliveden  on the sale table, which is right by the checkout line. I am sure the store has placed this table near the checkout for a reason.    I rarely spot anything of interest in the books on the sale table, but this book caught my eye because I visited Cliveden in May 2018.

Only five miles from Windsor Castle,  Cliveden is a stately home and estate.  The home is now a five- star hotel and the estate is owned by the National Trust.  It is one of the most popular National Trust properties. 

Cliveden has been the home of several families and members of the royal family.  Natalie Livingtone, a Cambridge-educated journalist, is married to billionaire property developer, Ian Livingstone, whose  company owns Cliveden's hotel lease.

Cliveden's history during the reign of Charles II when the Duke of Buckingham had an affair with Anna Maria, the Countess of Shrewsbury.  Anna Maria was a former prostitute.  As one's cuckolded husband was wont to do,  Lord Shrewsbury challenged the Duke to a duel.  Lord Shrewsbury was killed.

There have been several houses on the estate. The present day house was built in 1851 after the previous mansion had been destroyed by fire.   In 1893, Cliveden was purchased by William Waldorf Astor, an American millionaire, who became a British citizen and created Viscount Astor.  He gave the estate to his son, Waldorf, on the occasion of his marriage to Nancy Langhorne.

Lord and Lady Astor gave the estate to the National Trust in 1942.  They remained in the house until 1968.

Anna Maria was the first mistress of Cliveden.  The other women, Elizabeth, the Countess of Orkney, who was the mistress of William III:  the Princess of Wales (Princess Augusta of Saxe-Coburg), the wife, then widow, of Frederick, the Prince of Wales (parents of George III), Harriet, the Duchess of Sutherland , who mixed society with her interest in politics; and Viscountess Astor, the American-born Nancy Langhorne.

Sex and politics were at the forefront of much of Cliveden's history.  In 1961, Christine Keeler was taking a swim in Cliveden's pool, as she was a guest at a summer party hosted by Lord Astor. Keeler was only 19-years-old and reported to be the mistress of a Russian spy.  It as at this party where she met John Profumo, the Conservative Secretary of State for War.  Profumo was a married man but that did not stop him from embarking on an affair with Keeler, who was also sleeping with a Soviet naval attache.

When I visited Cliveden, I saw an small exhibition on the Cliveden women.  I have been fascinating with Nancy Langhorne for many years as she is an American and she was born in Danville, Virginia.

 The Mistresses of Cliveden brings alive the stories of these women, all of whom played important  roles within their society's hierarchy.  And yes, several women used sex to achieve or advance their goals.  They made history as well. Nancy Astor was first woman to take her seat in the British Parliament.

I would describe this book as a well-researched, detailed bodice-ripper-cum-serious-social history.

The Mistresses of Cliveden was published in 2015, but copies (hardcover and paperback) are available.

Schloss Cumberland Die Welfen am Traunsee & Herzog und Kaisertochter

May 24, 2019, was the 200th birthday of Queen Victoria.  Three days later, May 27, was the 200th birthday of Victoria's first cousin, Prince George of Cumberland, the only child of the Duke of and Duchess of Cumberland.

Victoria succeeded her uncle, William IV, in June 1837.  William was also King of Hanover, where the succession was based on Salic law (males only.)  The next in line was Victoria's uncle, Ernest Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland, who remained the heir presumptive to the British throne until November 1840 when Victoria gave birth to her first child.

So it was Uncle Cumberland who succeeded to the Hanover throne and George became the Crown Prince.  King Ernst August died in 1851.  Georg V was king until 1866 when Prussia took vengeance of Hanover as the King had thrown his support to Austria in its war with Prussia.

Prussia annexed the tiny kingdom as another Prussian province.  King Georg V and his family went into exile in Gmunden, Austria, where the king owned property.

Gmunden-am-Traunsee became the seat of the Hanover royal family.  King George V died in 1878.  Thew de jure king was his only son, Ernst August, who chose to be styled by his British peerage, the Duke of Cumberland.   He was married to Princess Thyra of Denmark, the younger sister of Queen Alexandra, Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia, King Frederik VIII of Denmark and King George I of the Hellenes.

The family's primary residence Königvilla was a bit too small for the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland and their growing family which meant that a new home was needed.  Between 1882 and 1886, Schloss Cumberland was designed by an architect and built, thus offering a new primary residence for the head of the House of Hanover.

The Duke of Cumberland's son, Ernst August, married Princess Victoria Luise of Prussia, only daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II.  Their marriage brought about a reconciliation between the two families.

Ernst August and Viktoria Luise became the Duke and Duchess of Brunswick and spent more time in Germany than in Gmunden. In 1930, the Schloss became a family museum.  During the second world war, the castle was appropriated by the Nazis and served as a military hospital until 1945.    Today the Schloss is owned by the state of Upper Austria and is now a residence/long term care for people with mental health issues.

Schloss Cumberland Die Welfen am Traunsee is a history and celebration of the Hanover (Welfen) Royal Family in Gmunden.  This 152-page book was written by Heinz Schiesser.

The focus is on the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland and the Duke and Duchess of Brunswick and their families in Gmunden.  Many of the photographs have never been published and come from the family's archives.

Herzog and Kaisertochter Ernst August von Hannover und Victoria Luise von Preussen, which was written by Peter Steckhan, complements Schloss Cumberland, as it focuses on the Duke of Cumberland's son, Ernst August, who succeeded as Duke of Brunswick in 1918 and his wife, Princess Victoria Luise. 

The title translates to Duke and the Kaiser's daughter.

Steckhan provides historical and biographical details on the Duke and Duchess of Brunswick from their childhood, the circumstances of their meeting through their marriage, the first world war, the end of the monarchy, the rise of National Socialism, the second world war and up through the 1950s following the death of the Duke of Brunswick in 1953.

Most of the photos in this book were new to me and come from the family's personal collection.

Both books were published by Matrix Media, a publishing house owned by Prince Heinrich of Hannover, a grandson of the Duke and Duchess.

The format for both books is the same: paperback, German text, and many previously unseen photographs. You do not need to understand German to enjoy these two books, which were published in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

My family comes from the Hanover area so I have a special fondness for the Welfen.  I have written articles on the Prussian-Hanover wedding,  Princess Frederica of Hannover (sister of the Duke of Cumberland),  the Cumberland Princesses (the daughters of the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland) and Ernst August vs Ernst August (the issues between the present head of the House and his son.)

I heartily recommend both books.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hitler and the Habsburgs by James Longo

I am of two minds about James Longo's new book, Hitler and the Habsburgs (Diversion Books).    I like the idea of a book about Hitler's personal vendetta against the children of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, whose assassination was a catalyst for the start of the first world war.  But I was driven crazy by the incorrect use of titles and a few factual errors, all of which could have been corrected by an experienced editor.

Franz Ferdinand's three children,  Max, Ernst, and Sophie, were not Habsburgs, but Hohenbergs.  The archduke's marriage to Countess Sophie Chotek was morganatic.  She was created Duchess of Hohenberg and her children had their mother's title and rank.  The children were excluded from court functions, even after their parents' deaths in June 1914.

The Hohenberg children were outsiders but this did not prevent Hitler, who loathed the idea of a multi-cultural empire, turned his wrath toward Franz Ferdinand's sons.  All three of his children were anti-Nazi, and they made their views known.

The children were raised by Sophie's family.   Their beloved family home, Konopiste, was appropriated by the newly Czechoslovakia, which has passed a law that allowed for the confiscation of Habsburg properties.  Konopiste had was inherited by Franz Ferdinand's children, who were not Habsburgs.

Maximilian and Ernst were arrested after the start of the second world war and both were imprisoned in concentration camps, including Dachau.  Their resistance to Hitler and National Socialism was based not only on their political and historical upbringing but also their deeply held Catholic faith.

Longo has done extensive research, digging deep into archives in Europe and the United States.  He also talked with Max, Ernst and Sophie's children and grandchildren, thus adding another layer of personal introspect.

But Longo trips - and trips a lot with the improper use of titles and a few glaring errors. He repeats several times the canard that women did not have succession rights to the throne.    Austria's succession law was semi-Salic, which meant that all the eligible archdukes were ahead of the archduchesses, who, traditionally, renounced their rights prior to their weddings.  These renouncement ceremonies were in the presence of the Emperor.

He describes Franz Ferdinand's half-sisters as his stepsisters.  (They shared a common parent, their father, which made them half-siblings).  Longo has serious problems with how to write titles.  He calls the mother of Max's wife, Countess Elisabeth Waldburg-Wolfegg as Princess Marie Lobkowicz Waldburg-Wolfegg.   He describes Napoleon's second wife as Empress Marie Louise Habsburg.   She was born an Archduchess of Austria, but she was Empress of France.

Waldburg-Wolfegg is also incorrect. The correct way to state the name is von Waldburg zu Wolfegg und Waldsee.  Elisabeth's father was not Maximilian IV. but the 4th Prince of von Waldburg zu Wolfegg und Waldsee.
George V and Mary were the King and Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, not  England.  Longo made this mistake several times.

My favorite mistake is Count Gutsverwaltung Nostitz-Rieneck, a grandson of Princess Sophie of Hohenberg,  Archduke Franz Ferdinand's daughter, who spoke to Longo about his memories of his grandmother.   One would have thought that Longo would have known that the Count's first name was Friedrich, not Gutsverwaltung, which is a German word for the administration office.

Now that I have vented about the sloppy parts, let me add that Hitler and the Habsburgs is worth reading,  Concentrate on the history and the subject matter and not the titles.

Adolf Hitler held onto his hate for Franz Ferdinand's family until he had the power to release his vendetta on the family.  They survived.  He didn't.