Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Buckingham Palace The Interiors by Ashley Hicks

As Ashley Hicks celebrates the birth of his second son, Horatio,  let the rest of us celebrate, cheer, or gaze in awe of the fabulous photos of Buckingham Palace in Ashley's latest book, Buckingham Palace The Interiors (Rizzoli: $55.00)


Hicks, the son of the late interior designer David Hicks and Lady Pamela Mountbatten, certainly has the connections to take his camera inside Buckingham Palace.   His mother is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh's first cousin, so it is not a surprise that the Duke is Ashley's godfather.

This book has stunning visuals, superb photography of the Palace's rooms and art objects.   A no.ted interior designer in his own right,  Hicks focuses on the history of the Palace's interior design and artworks - from paintings to sculpture.

The photos are superb with detailed close-ups of objets d'art, painting, tapestries,  as well as full views of many of the palace's staterooms.

The Queen gave her permission for this book and the Prince of Wales wrote the foreward.  He wrote that is exactly fifty years since the publication of John Harris, Geoffrey de Bellaigue and Oliver Millar's "magisterial tome."  Charles adds that he was "delighted that Ashley Hicks has now brought his informed perspective and creativity to respond to these rooms, marvellously captured in atmospheric photography, and supplemented by a fresh history of the Palace."

The photos evoke the imposing, stately history that fills Buckingham Palace from its origins from the Queen's House to Buckingham Palace, the residence of Britain's sovereigns from George IV to Elizabeth II.

Hicks wrote the informative and descriptive text, as well as taking the photographs.

Buckingham Palace The Interiors is fabulous .. a great book that you will want on your cocktail table to pick up every few days and marvel at Hicks' resplendent photography.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Carolina of Orange Nassau by Moniek Bloks

Sometimes the best things come in little packages -- or in the case of Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau -- the best things are under 100 pages.

Carolina of Orange-Nassau (Chronos Books) is Dutch historian Moniek Bloks' first book.  She does not disappoint.

Princess Carolina (1743-1787) was the eldest surviving child of Willem IV, Prince of Orange and Anne, Princess Royal, who was the eldest daughter of King George II

Pregnancy was difficult for Princess Anne, as she had several unsuccessful pregnancies before giving birth to Carolina, named for her maternal grandmother, Queen Caroline.  The succession laws for the seven united stadtholders in the Netherlands, headed by Carolina's father, was made hereditary for the house of Orange.  Female succession was also approved, thus Carolina remained in line for the succession, even after Anne gave birth to a son, Willem, in 1748.

Carolina's descendants remain in line to the Dutch throne until 1922 when the Netherlands government promulgated a new constitution.

A marriage was arranged with Prince Carl Christian of Nassau-Weilburg, a German prince.  The early years of the marriage were spent in the Netherlands as Carolina's position as in the succession remained important when her brother was a minor and unmarried.

Bloks offers her readers diligent research with access in the Dutch royal archives (with the permission of King Willem-Alexander), where Carolina's papers are located.  Unfortunately,  the collection of Carolina's letters is not complete, as Bloks acknowledged.

Carolina was very much a bluestocking, well-educated and well-read,  She was also a connoisseur of music. She met Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when he was nine years old. The Princess of Weilburg had heard about the child prodigy and wanted to meet him.  When her younger brother, Willem, attained his majority at age 18, Carolina asked Mozart to compose music in honor of the occasion.

In 1778,  Mozart came to the Weilburg court, which Carolina considered a "crowning moment" for her husband's principality.

The Princess of Nassau-Weilburg was only 44 years old when she died after a brief illness.

Moniek Bloks packs a lot into a little book, which is an informative study of an exceptional woman who never forgot that she was Dutch.

Carolina of Orange-Nassau is available in a paperback edition.