Tuesday, April 13, 2021

People Royals and People William and Kate 10 Joyous Years


People magazine has joined the royal market with a new quarterly publication, People Royals.  Spring 2021 is the first issue and features the Duchess of Cambridge on the cover.    This 96-page magazine has interesting articles, not gossipy, on the Duchess of Cambridge, an interview with the Prince of Monaco, an excerpt from Ingrid Seward's recent biography of Prince Philip, William and Catherine's pandemic train tour, an excellent profile of Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth's christening and Meghan's fashions.

I could have done without "What Tea Time Means to Me" by Sarah Ferguson.  She is a former royal, a divorced wife.  Yes, please include articles on the York princesses, but leave Fergie on the cutting floor!

I would love to see more non-British royals featured in upcoming issues.  The focus is largely the current royals so do not expect to see many historical pieces

The newsstand price is $12.99.  If you subscribe now, you can get 4 issues for $20.00.  I plan on taking advantage of this offer.



With a play on How's it Going and How it started, People has published  William and Kate 10 Joyous Years A Royal Marriage.  This 96-page Anniversary Edition looks at the first ten years of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's married life.

This is a carefully crafted book that provides readers with how they met, their romance and wedding,  parenthood, the Middletons, the jewels, and a prescient chapter on Elizabeth and Philip's 10th anniversary.  

William and Kate is lavishly illustrated with photographs.  This publication will be appreciated by contemporary royal historians and fans of the Cambridges.

The newsstand price is $14.99.

Both publications are available where books and magazines are sold including bookstores, newsstands, and supermarkets.

And one of the best Wedding publications!

Philip: A Final Portrait By Gyles Brandreth


British biographer Gyles Brandreth is the author of Philip: The Final Portrait, which will be published in the United Kingdom on April 27.  The publisher is Coronet.

I expect more news about this book, especially for an American edition, in the new few weeks,


 Brandreth also is the author of Elizabeth and Philip: Portrait of a Marriage, which was published in 2005.  


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Correspondence of the Russian Grand Duchesses

Romanov enthusiast George Hawkins is the editor-cum-publisher of  Correspondence of the Russian Grand Duchesses Letters of the Daughters of the Last Tsar, which is available solely through Amazon.  Mr. Hawkins is also responsible for the translations of the letters, most of which were written originally in Russia,  A small selection of the letters were written in English.

The letters, which were written or received by Olga, Tatiana, Marie, and Anastasia, were sent between 1901 and April 1918, two months before the Imperial family and their retainers were murdered by the Bolsheviks in July 1918.  The four young women corresponded with family members as well as total strangers, including several Americans who wrote "fan" letters.

But what is missing from this book of letters is historical context.  Why did Olgas's first cousin, Prince Waldemar of Prussia, call her Kunigunde in several letters?  In December 1914, students from  girls' school in Tomsk wrote to Tatiana about the war and how the troops are "glorifying Russia and the Tsar and freeing the oppressed."  

It would have helped to understand the time period if the editor had fleshed out what was happening in Russia and the first world war when this letter was written.

Perhaps my first question should be: who are the readers of this book?   How is the book being marketed?  Will this book be of interest to more than the armchair enthusiasts of the grand duchesses or will historians add this book to their libraries?

These questions can be easily answered.   It was a joy to read these letters as there are more insights into the personalities of the four young grand duchesses, but  ... and this is a big but ... this compilation has little value to historians, researchers, biographers, and scholars because the author has not included citations, footnotes, and most egregious, an index.  I wanted to refer back to a letter but decided against it because I could not find it.  But I wanted to cite the letter, which was between Olga Alexandrovna and one of her nieces because several people were mentioned in the letter.  No footnotes identifying the people.

The historical value of the letters is diminished by the lack of perspective and citations.  Historians want to know more about the situations that brought about these letters and about the reasons why the letters were written.  Why did S.N. Zvolyanskaya refer to Tatiana as Tsarevna, for example?

One letter had me in giggles,  Grand Duchess Xenia writes to Tatiana: "my poor granddaughter is not very well she has some kind of stomach infection and is weak.  Her obnoxious are still in  P. and I don't know when they will return.).  The letter was written in July 1917.   

Xenia's comment left me wondering more about the obnoxious parents, Prince Felix and Princess Irina Yusupov, especially in the context of Xenia's letter.  What had they done to deserve the tongue lashing?

So many questions?  Not a lot of answers as all we have are the letters and little else. 

I hope that Mr. Hawkins can revisit his work to flesh out the stories behind the letters and turn this into a more scholarly tome.  Adding perspective to the correspondence will strengthen the correspondence's historical value and offer more access to the book.

For now, however,  just enjoying reading and savoring this compilation, 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

A new biography of Princess Olga


Robert Prentice is the author of Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, which will be published by Grosvenor House.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

New Magazine - People Royals out in March



For Immediate Release 

February 23, 2021 

Kate Middleton’s 'Power,' Fergie Spills the 'Tea' & Rita Wilson's Diana Moment: Inside PEOPLE Royals!

PEOPLE Royals hits newsstands on Friday, March 5

(NEW YORK) - Introducing PEOPLE Royals — a new quarterly publication focused exclusively on all things royal. You can find the premiere issue of PEOPLE Royals at your local newsstand on Friday, March 5 or subscribe at peopleroyals.com/launch.

In the inaugural issue, Kate Middleton defines herself as a "millennial Queen-in-the-making," Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York gets personal over a cup of tea and singer-songwriter and actress Rita Wilson shares her memorable encounter with Princess Diana 25 years ago. Plus, looking for your new favorite cocktail? Try the Queen's favorite drink. Read ahead for a sneak peek!

Kate the Great: How the Future Queen Is Defining Herself

At the 10-year mark in her royal career, Princess Kate has firmly established her voice. If the current Queen, 94, has embodied the very English stiff upper lip throughout her long reign, the millennial Queen-in-the-making, 39, has chosen a modern path: feelings are to be validated, mental health is to be prioritized, and laughter is to be encouraged. And like parents around the world, she's doing this all while homeschooling 7-year-old George, 5-year-old Charlotte and 2-year-old Louis. There is no doubt that Kate faces pressures uniquely her own: She is the wife of one future King and raising another. To add to the pressures, there was also the resignation of her brother-in-law Prince Harry and sister-in-law Meghan Markle from royal duty. The move left Kate as the only senior royal woman of her generation. "Kate is now the only real possible provider of the glamour factor," says historian Sarah Gristwood, author of Elizabeth: The Queen and the Crown.

As she continues to straddle two very different types of leadership, she does so under the scrutiny of the world's eyes. "You can look through 10 years of pictures of Kate Middleton and there are no off moments," says Elizabeth Holmes, author of HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style. No, she's not likely to speak out on issues royals have avoided for centuries, including politics and personal struggles. But in a turbulent world too often rocked by unrest, she can be counted on as a beacon of stability. "There is a tremendous power in being consistent and making people happy," says Holmes. "There aren't that many powerful people who can do that." For more, including Kate's 5 rules of parenting, check out PEOPLE Royals.

What Tea Time Means to Me by Sarah Ferguson

"Teatime has always been an important part of our family day, where we can take time to share news," the Duchess of York writes in an exclusive essay. "When my girls were younger, we would sit and chat about their day at school, any achievements or concerns they might have. We would have a magical feast of finger sandwiches, cocktail sausages, biscuits, scones with clotted cream and jam and bite-size cakes. Of course, afternoon tea food became more adult as the girls grew older, with smoked-salmon sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches replacing the Traffic Light ones, but the basic ethos was the same: a time of sharing." For more, including the Duchess of York's tips for brewing the perfect cup of tea, check out PEOPLE Royals.

That Time I Met…Princess Diana by Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson is a singer-songwriter, actress and producer whose new single, "I Wanna Kiss Bob Dylan" is out now. Her song "Everybody Cries" is featured in the film The Outpost.

"I was around 7 months pregnant with my youngest son at the premiere of Apollo 13 in London [in 1995]," Wilson shares in an exclusive interview. "We met the princess, and then we were all eaten in a small screening room. [My husband] Tom [Hanks] was sitting next to her and got up to say a few words. As he walked back to his seat, Diana held the seat down for him, and it was just this sweet gesture that was very spontaneous and thoughtful and not something you would consider a princess doing. She was that kind of warn and accessible.

"I was sitting next to her later that evening at dinner, and because I was pregnant, she said, 'Do you need anything? Can I get you a cushion? Are you comfortable? How are you feeling? Are you able to eat?' She asked all the questions that you would ask someone who was expecting a child and had been through a really long night and dinner. She understood what that was like and how you'd really rather be in bed no matter who is sitting next to you. And by the way, I wouldn't have rather been in bed!" For more, including the "shocking" moment that made Wilson's "heart ache" for Diana, check out PEOPLE Royals. 


Sunday, February 7, 2021

Hermine An Empress in Exile by Moniek Bloks


Princess Hermine of Schonaich-Carolath's relationship with Kaiser Wilhelm II began when her young son, Georg Wilhelm wrote a letter to the exiled former Emperor.  He thought that the recently widowed Wilhelm looked lonely and he wanted the former Kaiser to know that when he wanted to "fight for you when I am a man."

Wilhelm II responded with two letters and a photo.  One letter was for Georg Wilhelm and the other for his mother.  He invited both of them to visit him in Doorn.   The meeting between Wilhelm, whose wife had died a year earlier, and Hermine, was propitious.   Her trip to Doorn was set for early June.   Wilhelm was smitten and proposed marriage.  They were engaged in October and married on November 5, 1922.

The marriage did not meet the approval of most German monarchists and Wilhelm's children.  Hermine, a Princess of Reuss by birth, was widowed in 1920, when her husband, Prince Johann Georg, only 46 years old, died after a long illness in 1920.  It is easy to describe Hermine as a formidable woman, ready to multi-task by raising five children and run her late husband's estate, Saabor.  She would also have to walk the uneasy steps of a younger second wife, who had neither the approbation nor affection of Wilhelm II's family nor most monarchists.

Hermine was eager to join Wilhelm in his exile at Doorn.  Unlike Wilhelm, she had the ability to visit Germany, to check on her older children at school, and check on Saabor.   Her visits to Berlin, especially, allowed Hermine to cultivate access with leading Nazi officials as she was an early supporter of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism.   

With the self-confidence that she could muster, Hermine ingratiated herself with Nazi officials as she believed Hitler would restore her husband to the throne.   This never happened.    The Netherlands was invaded by the Germans in 1940. Hermine welcomed the German soldiers.

Wilhelm II died at Doorn on June 4, 1941.  Hermine was once again a widow.  Although she would visit Doorn several times before the end of the war,  Hermine divided most of her time between her estate in Silesia and an apartment in Berlin's Old Palace.

She was forced to leave Schloss Saabor in January 1945 and fled to her sister's home in Rossla.  The Americans were advancing and she thought her family would be safe.  She dismissed the threat of Soviet troops, which is what happened.  

Hermine's final two years were spent in Soviet internment in Frankfurt-am-Oder.  She died in August.

Although Hermine is mentioned in numerous biographies of Wilhelm II, she has not been treated to her own biography until.  Dutch historian Moniek Bloks is to be commended for her honest portrayal of Hermine in Hermine An Empress in Exile, which was recently published in paperback by John Hunt/Chronos Books.

Blok has made meticulous use of original source material, including Hermine's autobiography, Days in Doorn (1928), and shines a light on Hermine's life.  She does not hold back with the negatives: family dynamics and her support for Hitler.

Hermine's life changed inexorably when her son sent his letter to the former Kaiser.  If she had not married Wilhelm, it is unlikely that anyone would have been interested in Hermine.  She would have remained at Schloss Saabor or married another minor Prince.  Her marriage to the former German emperor brought press coverage on both sides of the Atlantic.  She was sought out for interviews even after she ended up interned by Soviet troops.

This is Moniek Bloks's second book.  Her first book, Carolina of Nassau, was published in 2019 by John Hunt/Chronos. 


She is best known for her blog, History of Royal Women, where she writes about "amazing women."  I can only imagine what amazing woman will be the subject of her next full-length biography.


Battle of Brothers by Robert Lacey


I want to apologize to people who bought this book on my recommendation.  I said to several people that Robert Lacey is a respected historian.  His book on Queen Elizabeth II is excellent and highly regarded,

Battle of Brothers will never be highly regarded.  It won't be long before this book ends up on remainder tables.  Please, just walk by, don't buy it.  This book is one of the worst royal books that I have read in a long time.  

Seriously, it is really bad,  Lacey is the Historical Consultant to The Crown, but it is apparent that he is not helping the program, which is consistently inaccurate.

It appears that Lacey was handed a pile of tabloid news clips and proceeded to write a book based on quotes from the Sun, the Daily Mail, and other tabloid newspapers.  He also cites Kitty Kelley's error-filled The Windsors..  [I am cited in the acknowledgments of this book only because the author attended one or two of my lectures at the Smithsonian.  She did not learn anything, however.]  

Lacey highlights the issues between William and Harry as only a tabloid writer can do, but when you cite largely only tabloid stories, you lose credibility.  No substance, just scandal.

And now the mistakes:  

page 6.   Although Prince Charles was not the first heir to the throne born without the Home Secretary witnessing his birth.  Clement Atlee's government decided that the Home Secretary was no longer needed, but, facts matter.   The Home Secretary's last royal birth was on December 25, 1936, when the Duchess of Kent gave birth to Princess Alexandra.  The Home Secretary was not present for the births of Prince William of Gloucester, Prince Michael of Kent, and Prince Richard of Gloucester in 1941, 1942, and 1944, respectively, due to the second world war.

Although the Duchess of Gloucester was first to give birth at the Lindo Wing in 1974, it was Princess Anne, not Charles, who was the first royal to allow photographers to snap her when she left the Lindo Wing in 1977 with her son, Peter Phillips.  She was also photographed leaving with Zara in 1981.

But it was the Duchess of Kent was the first British royal to pose for photographers after leaving King's College Hospital with her newborn son Lord Nicholas Windsor in July 1970.  The Duchess was also the first British royal to give birth in a hospital.

Page 7 No, Mr. Lacey, Frogmore Cottage was never a "collection of cottages."  At some point, during the second world war or shortly afterward that Frogmore Cottage was converted into 5 staff apartments.  In 2018, I wrote a detailed history on Frogmore Cottage.


Page 8. Lacey does not provide Harry and Meghan with any favors.  He makes rather snide comments about their "deluxe, five-star instincts" when writing about Meghan giving birth at Britain's "most expensive delivery facility, the US-owned Portland Hospital." He cites several celebrities giving birth at the Portland but neglects to mention the York princesses, Beatrice and Eugenie, who were born at the Portland.

And there is the laughable mistake that Lacey made on page 188, "so here was the first reason why Catherine Middleton is due one day  to be Queen Catherine the Sixth."

Mr. Lacey, consorts do not get regnal numbers. Only the sovereign is entitled to a regnal number.  The Duchess of Cambridge will be the sixth consort named Catherine or Katherine or Katheryn.  But she will not be Queen Catherine VI.  

Let's move to page 197:  "As the son of Diana's friend, Lady Carolyn  Herbert, Pelly had been close to both princes from childhood."

No, no, no, Mr. Lacey,  Guy is not the son of Lady Carolyn Herbert.  He is the son of the late John Gurney Pelly and Vanda Joan Allfrey.  They married in 1973 and were the parents of three sons, Sam, James, and Guy.  

Lady Carolyn Herbert, only daughter, and youngest child of the late 7th Earl of Carnarvon.  In 1985, she married John Warren.


Lady Carolyn and her husband have three children, Jakie, Susanna, and Alexander.  For three years, Guy dated Susanna.  Their relationship ended in 2010.

Research matters.  Try it.  Hire a fact-checker if your publisher is too cheap to keep one on speed dial.

The Prince of Wales' Private Secretary Clive Alderton did represent at the Sandringham Summit/  Lacey appears to not know that Alderton was not actually at Sandringham, or even in England, that weekend.  He was an active participant in the summit, but he was in Bucharest that weekend, representing Charles at the 30th anniversary of Her Majesty Margareta's first visit to Romania.

How do I know this?  I was also in Bucharest.  

And then there is this one on page 339:  "Windsors from Edward and Sophie Wessex to Anne's children had successfully managed the trick of mixing commerce and royal connections."   Anne's children are not royal and do not carry out official engagements.  Prince Edward's Ardent Productions had a few successes but was a financial liability and Sophie's discomfiture after her interview with a "reporter" from the News of the World posing as a sheik, led to a discussion of their working life.   

The Queen asked her then Lord Chamberlain Lord Luce to guidelines for working royals.   The Luce Guidelines, primarily designed for the Earl and Countess of Wessex, were announced on July 8, 2001.  The guidelines have never been implemented as the Wessexes were persuaded to give up their careers and become full-time working royals.


If Lacey wanted an example of a royal with a successful career, he needed to look no further than the Duke of Gloucester.   As the younger son of the late Duke of Gloucester, Prince Richard was never expected to be a full time working royal.  He got a degree in architecture and was working as an architect when his older brother, Prince William, was killed in a plane crash in August 1972.  

Richard gave up his career.  He and his Danish-born wife, Birgitte, quickly became working royals, taking on numerous patronages and charities, especially after the death of his father, the Duke of Gloucester in June 1974.  

Robert Lacey describes Harry and Meghan as a "bizarre exercise in self-indulgence," but blames Sir Edward Young for their decision to leave their jobs.  He adds: "I am sure you found them a nightmare.  They were  -- and remain -- a deeply flawed fairy tale  But could not say exactly the same of the monarchy you serve?"

Sir Edward is the Queen's private secretary, treated as a mere shadow of the Queen's previous Private Secretary Sir Christopher Geidt. In fairness, the queen did bring Sir Christopher back to the Palace to help guide the Sussexes.

Lacey's reliance on tabloid stories makes it difficult to truly understand the issues between William and Harry.  Yes, their mother died when they were young, but that does not mean that they would always be close.  It is time to stop using Diana's death as an excuse.

Battle of Brothers is a bizarre exercise in royal writing.  To say I am disappointed is an understatement.  I expected better from Robert Lacey, but it appears his historian crown is slipping.  

I have not said this in a long time.  This book has no merit.   It doesn't even have an index.

Give this book a miss!