Saturday, November 27, 2021

Prince Philip Revealed by Ingrid Seward


It was expected that there would be a flurry of new books published to commemorate Prince Philip's 100th birthday last June.  The prince died on April 9, just two months short of his centenary.   

Prince Philip Revealed was written by Ingrid Seward and was published by Atria Books in 2020.  To say that this book is a disappointment is an understatement.  Truly an understatement as this is an example of a book being rushed out without taking the time to check the facts.

Is Prince Philip Unrevealed a good book?  No.  While I was not expecting a scholarly tome on Philip's life, I also did not expect a mishmash of words on pages masquerading as a poorly researched biography, crying out for a capable editor. 

Ingrid Seward is Majesty Magazine's editor-in-chief and has been writing and reporting about royalty for decades. She would have access to the best and most accurate sources, but this accuracy is largely not on view in this book.  She devotes nearly an entire chapter to the rumors about Philip's infidelity, even including the ill-founded comments by one writer who claimed that Philip had an affair with Princess Alexandra, the queen's first cousin.  

This was disputed by more responsible writers nearly 30 years ago.  Alexandra and Elizabeth are very close so it is unlikely that Alexandra, whose mother, Marina, was Philip's first cousin, had an affair with Philip.

Philip certainly appreciated women, including his wife. This is not a surprise as he was close to several formidable or strong women while growing up.  This included his grandmother, the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, his four sisters, and Lady Zia Wernher.  

There were rumors of an affair with Zia's daughter, Sacha, the Duchess of Abercorn.  They were close friends but their relationship, platonic or not, ruptured, and the Duchess was largely frozen out of Philip's circle.

Unfortunately, far too many facts were left out of the book.  A good editor would have worked with Ingrid, asking her to make sure her statements were correct.  She describes two of Philip's sisters as the eldest sister.  Only one can be the eldest!   

The book is rife with mistakes and inconsistencies.   Here are the mistakes I found:

page 16:  "However, Louis had married Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, and being a Grand Duke of Hesse himself, he was considered too German to be head of the Royal Navy in wartime." 

  Seriously?  Grand Duke of Hesse himself? Goodness, gracious.  Victoria was the daughter of the late Grand Duke Ludwig IV and Hesse and By Rhine. Her younger brother, Ernst Ludwig, was the last reigning Grand Duke.   Prince Louis was Ludwig IV's first cousin, the son of his younger brother, Prince Alexander who married Julie von Hauke, a Polish countess.  This marriage was morganatic.  Julie was created Princess of Battenberg. Their children and male-line descendants were styled as Prince or Princess of Battenberg.  

Hardly a Grand Duke, Ingrid.  Nor was Philip's grandmother, Queen Olga, the niece of Nicholas II.  She was a granddaughter of Nicholas I and a first cousin twice removed to Nicholas II.  

This is very, very sloppy.  

page 16:  Prince Louis was created Marquess of Milford in 1917, the same year as King George V changed the house name to Windsor.   Not three years earlier.

page 17.  The Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was a British Princess by birth: Princess Augusta of Cambridge, elder sister of Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck, and Queen Mary's favorite aunt.  Augusta was Queen Victoria's first cousin.  

Julie von Hauke was not a commoner.  Her father was made a count by Nicholas I in 1829, 4 years after Julie's birth.

Page 20.  Prince Louis of Battenberg was the grandson of Grand Duke Louis II of Hesse and By Rhine, not Hesse-Darmstadt.  Louis II was also the grandfather of Victoria's father, Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and By Rhine.

page 21:  Princess Alexandra of Hesse (and by Rhine) did not marry Nicholas II.  Her name was Alix.  She took the name Alexandra Feodorovna when she converted to Orthodoxy.

page 26  Princess Anastasia's will was rather straightforward as her husband and several family members benefited from her inheritance, But it was her sister-in-law, Princess George of Greece and Denmark (Marie Bonaparte) who paid a lot of Andrew's bills.  She also lent Andrew one of her homes in Paris. 

Page 28.  Ingrid describes Cecilie as Philip's ELDEST sister.  Really, Ingrid?  Cecile was the third of the four daughters. Margarita was the eldest.  

Page 32.  Cecile married Georg Donatus, not George Donatus,   Sophie's husband was Christoph, not Christophe.

page 35.   Theodora married in August 1931. Philip was on summer holiday.   

page 46-47 Lady Zia (her style after the marriage) had to marry money as her father had lost his fortune after the Russian Revolution.  Yes, it is true Philip was very close to Lady Zia and her children and not merely because she was Nada's sister. 

Nada and Zia's father was Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovitch of Russia.  Zia was also a great friend of King George II of the Hellenes, who was Philip's first cousin.

Zia's two daughters, Gina and Marilyn, were childhood playmates of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. Their older brother, Alex, was  Philip's mentor.

48:  Georg Donatus, known as Don.  Of course, Ernie was known as Uncle Ernie.  He was Alice's uncle, the younger brother of her mother (Philip's grandmother) Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven'

 Again, Christoph, not Christophe of Hesse.  and he was known as Cri, not Chri.

Neues Palais  Not Nues.

49:  Ingrid gets it right this time when she describes Margarita as Philip's eldest sister but forgot to correct the earlier mistake when she describes Cecile as the eldest sister.    But she trips up again when she writes "they were married at Schloss Weikersheim."    Gottfried and Margarita were married in civil & religious ceremonies at Schloss Langenburg, not Schloss Weikersheim.

The Lutheran wedding took place in Schloss Langenburg's chapel.

I had to laugh a bit with this sentence: "History does not relate who paid for the lavish receptions for each of Philip's sisters' weddings, but it certainly beyond  Andrew's means."   

 Indeed, Andrew did not pay for what we now call receptions.  The four women married into wealthy families, especially Hesse and By Rhine and Baden, and three of the four sisters married the heirs to the heads of the families.   None of the receptions were grandiose affairs.

The guest list for Sophie's wedding was limited to the bride and groom's families. Margarita's wedding also had a small guest list as the wedding received little press, even in the Weiner Salonblatt, a weekly Vienna society newspaper.  Cecile and Theodora's marriages were covered in great detail in this publication.  

[The Weiner Salonblatt is a great source for royal and noble social events in the first half of the 20th century.  I found the publication helpful when I wrote my article, Four Sisters, Four Weddings, which was published last year in Royalty Digest.]

50:  the two brothers-in-law who were "confirmed Nazis" were Prince Christoph of Hesse and the Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg,  Prince Berthold never joined the Nazi Party and Don and Cecilie only became members a few months before their deaths.

55:   Although George Milford Haven was Philip's guardian, his grandmother and the Wernhers were more involved in his life.  It was only when he entered Dartmouth that Uncle Dickie began to pay attention to him.  Before this, Dickie and Edwina were too busy with their own social lives to take a real interest in Philip.

75:  Here Ingrid writes about Philip's naturalization, but neglected to mention that the naturalization was unnecessary because he was a British citizen from birth as he was a non-Catholic descendant of the Electress Sophie of Hannover.  This was due to the 1707 Sophia Naturalization Act, which gave citizenship to her Protestant descendants in perpetuity ... well, until the 1949 British Nationality Act, but the SNA remained valid for Sophia's descendants born before 1949.   

Readers need to know these facts as it is important for the biographer to provide context.

A year before Philip's naturalization, another descendant of Queen Victoria,  Prince Friedrich of Prussia, a grandson of former Kaiser Wilhelm II, used the Sophia Naturalization Act to get his British passport.  He was studying in England when the second world war broke out.  Friedrich was interned in England and Canada before returning to live in England, where he met and married Lady Brigid  Guinness, daughter of the very wealthy Earl of Iveagh.

79:  the people of Wales did not give a gold nugget to use for Elizabeth's wedding ring.  In 1923, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon's wedding ring was made from Welsh gold from the Clogau St David's mine.  There was enough gold in that nugget to make three more rings:  Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, and the Princess Royal.

83:  3rd Marquess, not Third Marquess.

101: What was the reason for this sentence: "On July 4, 1949 -- American Independence Day -- Princess Elizabeth's personal standard few from the roof of Clarence House for the first time."  There was no need to include American Independence Day as the event (the flying of the standard) was not relevant to what was happening on the other side of the Pond."

103: Malta "unsuitable for small children."  So no children were living in Malta when Philip was based in Malta?  in 1927, the Duke and Duchess of York did not take baby Elizabeth with them on their overseas tour because they were traveling by ship and would be gone for several months.   The same information is repeated on the next page.  Elizabeth did not move to Malta with her husband although she made several visits to the island while Philip was stationed there.

113:  The original Broadway stars of South Pacific were Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, not Enzo Pinza. When the musical opened in London in the fall of 1951, Emil de Becque was played by Wilbur Burns, not Ezio Pinza.  This means the King and Queen and Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh did not see Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, but Mary Martin and Wilbur Evans.

Embed from Getty Images

140:  Princess Alexandra was the last royal baby to be born in the presence of the Home Secretary. Although King George VI announced that the Home Secretary would not be present when the then Princess Elizabeth gave birth to Prince Charles,  Prince Wiliam of Gloucester, Prince Michael of Kent, and Prince Richard of Gloucester were all delivered without the presence of the Home Secretary due to the Second World War.

169: Margaret's wedding was not the first royal wedding to be televised.  In 1956, Grace Kelly's wedding to Prince Rainier III of Monaco was televised, reaching 30 million.    International live coverage was unknown as the first TV satellite was not launched until 1962.

170:  Antony, not Anthony.  Atria apparently could not afford fact-checkers or proofreaders.
252:  Aspasia Manos was styled as Princess Alexander of Greece and Denmark. 

254:  Georgina (Gina) was also a childhood friend of Philip. Sir Georg Kennard Bt. was her second husband.  Her first husband was Harold "Bunnie" Phillips, former lover of Edwina Mountbatten.

282.  Lady Diana's father succeeded to the Spencer earldom in 1975, six years before her marriage to Charles.  She was the daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer and her brother Charles as Viscount Althorp when she married.

356: Lady Louise Mountbatten.  Alexandra was not Queen of England. She was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.    Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy. 

There are no footnotes or endnotes for the numerous quotes.  The bibliography is extensive, but there are a few books that could have been left out.

More important, two major sources for Philip's life were not consulted: Young Prince Philip by Philip Eade and Grand Dukes and Diamonds by Raleigh Trevelyan, a history of the Wernher family.   

Fiammetta Rocco's profile of Prince Philip published in The Independent (December 13, 1992) is also a great source of information, as Prince Philip talked about the alleged affairs and other things.  

My verdict: do not waste your money on Prince Philip Revealed.   

Friday, November 19, 2021



 Here it is, the third and final edition of the complete genealogy of the Bernadotte dynasty, tracing all the legitimate descendants of Jean Baptiste Bernadotte (King Carl XIV Johan) and Désirée Clary, who became the King and Queen of Sweden and Norway in 1818. Although they only had one child, five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren, the number of descendants by October 2021 is an astounding 567. These are mostly to be found in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg - but there are also branches in France, Switzerland, Italy, UK, Greece, Spain, USA, and Australia. 

This new volume has 512 illustrations, mostly new compared to previous editions. The language, when needed, is English, but titles and countries are shown in their original form. As in previous editions (1992 and 2010), great efforts have been made to find complete information not only about all those that have married into the dynasty but also about their parents and in many cases grandparents, making this book unique among royal genealogies.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III by Andrew Roberts

 British historian Andrew Roberts tonight at Mount Vernon (George Washington's home) in a discussion about his new book,  The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III.   He discussed the British political situation, George's education, his relationship with his parents, his views of the revolution,  how he modernized the monarchy, his approval of the new USA (comments to John Adams), the problems with Prinny, and most important, emphatically stating that George III did not have porphyria, but was bipolar, as based on numerous recent medical articles.

Interesting to learn that Mount Vernon has a relationship with the Royal Archives and with King's College in London.

I cannot wait to read it.  Copies were available for sale and Andrew signed the copies afterward.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Informally Royal by Rodney Laredo


Rodney Laredo has written a gem of a book, Informally Royally Studio Lisa and the Royal Family 1936-1966 (The History Press), a lovely biography-cum-history of Studio Lisa, run by Lisa and Jimmy Sheridan.   The couple made their name in the 1930s with child portraiture.  As their reputation grew, the couple caught the attention of a "local and noted writer of books about dogs."   

The writer was preparing a book on royal dogs and "for the first time he wanted to decorate his text with photographs."  

He posed a question: would Lisa and Jimmy accompany him to 145 Piccadilly, the London home of the Duke and Duchess of York, and their two daughters, Princess Elizabeth, 10, and 6-year-old Princess Margaret.  

The new partnership nearly did not have a happy ending as the author of the book "betrayed" the Sheridans when he sold the copyright of their photos to the national papers. The author's actions were contrary to the use of royal images and copyright law.   Lisa and Jimmy wrote to the Duke and Duchess of York, "expressing their horror at what had happened," and offered their apologies.

The Duke and Duchess of York invited the couple to take another set of photographs, this time at Royal Lodge.  

  Embed from Getty Images 

 For the next 30 years (1936-1966), Studio Lisa was responsible for many of the iconic and informal royal photographs of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and their two daughters,   the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and their two sons, Prince William and Prince Richard and in the 1950s, photos of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their four children.   

Embed from Getty Images 

Lisa Sheridan's final royal portraits were taken in October 1965, informal shots of Prince Andrew and Prince Edward playing outside.

Sheridan, who suffered from a heart ailment for several years, died on January 26, 1966, from a stroke.  She was 72 years old.

Laredo, a New Zealander native, has written a charming book about the life and career of Lisa Sheridan, whose photography skills captured the natural essence of royal children.

The book opens with the biography about the Sheridans, which is followed by a selection of Studio Lisa royal photos, informal, dignified, and irresistible.   This is one book you do not want to miss, a truly enjoyable read.

Informally Royal will make an excellent Christmas present for yourself or for someone you know who loves the British royals.

Lisa Sheridan's memoir, Cabbages and Kings, was published in 1955.

Thursday, October 7, 2021



Novi Sad, 07 October 2021 – The book "King Peter II Karadjordjevic" by Momcilo Vukovic Bircanin was presented today in Novi Sad. The patron of the first edition of this book in Serbia is HRH Crown Prince Alexander.

The book was first published in Munich, in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1975 by the author. This is its premiere Serbian edition and presentation to the domestic audience. The author was an officer of the Royal Yugoslav Army and personal secretary of King Peter II, who reveals many interesting stories and facts from the life of King Peter II that were unknown to the wider public.

Embed from Getty Images 

 In his opening words for the book, HRH Crown Prince Alexander stated: “It is with great pleasure that I have accepted to be the patron of this very interesting and also very important book about my father, HM King Peter II. Testimonies like this, that keep true and accurate remembrance of the past times are important for honoring our history, but also for securing our future, so the wrongdoings from the past are not to be repeated.

"From his earliest days, my father had been prepared for the most responsible role that awaited him – to be a servant to his people and his homeland. I always remember his words: "To us, the Karadjordjevics, the Crown was just a means to serve the people, not the goal of personal dynastic rule." The historic maelstrom of World War II sent him into unwanted exile, from which he never returned, although he wanted it with his entire being. After the era of the Kingdom, many lies and falsehoods were put on his name and his work, which finally begun to be taken away. Because the truth, no matter how hidden and suppressed, always comes to light. And the struggle for the truth, the aspiration to discover it, is always just and right because the truth is one of the most important foundations that our entire civilization stands on!”

Ph.D. Nebojsa Kuzmanovic, director of the Archives of Vojvodina, opened the promotion of the book about King Peter II, and Ph.D. Sasa Markovic, Dean of the Faculty of Education in Sombor of the University of Novi Sad, spoke more about this work and its significance.

all three photos HRH Crown Prince Alexander

The book is the result of cooperation between the Historical Archives of Uzice, Kraljevo, the Archives of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Archives of Vojvodina, the Archives of the Republic of Srpska, and the Association of Archival Workers of the Republic of Srpska. The Serbian edition of this book was prepared by the Director of the Historical Archive of Uzice, Mr. Zeljko Markovic. The publication of the book about our King Peter II is a continuation of the publication of the work of Momcilo Vukovic Bircanin, a kind of realization of the cooperation of archival institutions and the elucidation of the foundations of our history.

Unfortunately, the book has not been translated into English.  Bummer!!!!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Scholarly look at Romanov weddings

Russell Martin, an advisor to the Imperial House of Russia, is a full professor of history at Westminster College.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Charles Spencer talks about his new book, The White Ship


 From People Royals

For Immediate Release 

Sept. 16, 2021 

PEOPLE Royals Exclusive: 

Charles Spencer on His Newest Book: 'It's Game of Thrones Meets Titanic'

"Once people get over going back 900 years, it's a very recognizable story with fallible human beings," Charles Spencer tells PEOPLE Royals

(NEW YORK) – Charles Spencer tackles a screen-worthy chapter in royal history with his new book.

In The White Ship, historian and 9th Earl Spencer explores a disaster that changed the course of the monarchy forever: the maritime disaster in 1120 that killed 300, including King Henry I's heir, William Aetheling.

"It is Game of Thrones meets Titanic," Spencer tells PEOPLE Royals in the new fall quarterly issue, on newsstands now. "And once people get over going back 900 years, it's a very recognizable story with very fallible human beings."

In the book, which is already a bestseller in the U.K. and is set for release in the U.S. on October 19, Spencer examines the shocking brutality of Henry I, whose success at maintaining safety for his subjects at home came with the cost of his fearsome tactics with foes

"If you wanted to be a successful ruler in Europe in the 12th century, you had to make people scared of you," says Spencer.

Meanwhile, his heir William Aetheling was a fun-loving 17-year-old when his reckless partying led to the devastating shipwreck.

"It's the medieval version of drunk driving," says Spencer, "where the teenagers get riotously drunk and then encourage the crew, to whom they're entrusting their lives, to join in the drinking. And guess what? They hit a rock, the ship goes down and all but one person on board drowns.

"It's an incredible lesson," he continues. "The king, who insisted on going on his own ship with the grown-ups and then left his teenage son on board the most exciting ship, the White Ship, was tempting fate. It's certainly not his fault, but you can see how it happened."