Friday, April 19, 2019

The best books about Prince Philip

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Now that Prince Philip is the longest living descendant of Queen Victoria,  it is a good time to recommend a few biographies of Philip - the ones that I think are the best.

Tim Heald's  Philip: Portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh is perhaps the closest to an official biography that will be published in Prince Philip's lifetime.   The early life of Prince Philip was eloquently portrayed in Philip Eades's Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life and Basil Boothroyd's Prince Philip An Informal Biography, which included conversations with the Queen's consort.  Boothroyd's book was published in 1971.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Coming out in soon : Ira: The Life and Times of a Princess

I am looking forward to this book,  Ira: The Life and Times of a Princess, an authorized biography by Nicholas Foulkes. I look forward to reading and reviewing it after the book is published the UK in mid-June.  The US publication date is mid-June  It is now available for pre-order.

HarperCollins is publishing the book in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

HSH Princess Virginia Carolina Theresa Pancrazia Galdina of Fürstenberg was born in 1940, one of three children of Princess Tassilo of Fürstenberg and Clara Agnelli, daughter of Eduardo Agneli, an Italian businessman.

The Princess has always been called Ira.   Her paternal grandparents were Prince Karl Emil of Fürstenberg and Countess Mária Matild Georgina Festetics de Tolna, a member of a Hungarian noble family.  Maria's mother was Lady  Mary Victoria Douglas-Hamilton, whose first marriage to Prince Albert of Monaco, son of Charles III, ended in divorce, They had one son,  Louis II, Prince of Monaco.

Lady Mary was the daughter of William,11th Duke of Hamilton and Princess Marie of Baden.  Her marriage to Prince Albert was annulled before he succeeded to the Monegasque throne.

After the death of Princess Grace,  Princess Ira was often the companion of Prince Rainier, who was her second cousin as Lady Mary was their great-grandmother.  Rainier was the grandson of Prince Louis II and Ira was the granddaughter of Countess Maria.

 Ira's brother, Prince Egon, was married to the designer Diane von Fürstenberg.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

available for Pre-order Maria Romanov: Third Daughter of the Last Tsar, Diaries and Letters, 1908–1918 by Helen Azar

Helen Azar's latest book is now available for pre-order:  Maria Romanov: Third Daughter of the Last Tsar, Diaries and Letters, 1908–1918

From Amazon "In the twilight of the nineteenth century, a third daughter was born to Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra. Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna—known to her family and friends simply as “Mashka”—grew into an empathetic, down-to-earth girl, unaffected by her imperial status. Often overshadowed by her two older sisters, Olga and Tatiana, and later, her brother Alexei and younger sister Anastasia, Maria ultimately proved to have a uniquely strong and solid personality. In Maria Romanov: Third Daughter of the Last Tsar, Diaries and Letters, 1908–1918, by translator and researcher Helen Azar with George Hawkins, Mashka’s voice is heard again through her intimate writings, presented for the first time in English. The Grand Duchess was much more than a pretty princess wearing white dresses in hundreds of faded sepia photographs; Maria’s surviving diaries and letters offer a fascinating insight into the private life of a loving family—from festivals and faith, to Rasputin and the coming Revolution; it is clear why this middle child ultimately became a pillar of strength and hope for them all. Maria’s gentle character belied her incredible courage, which emerged in the darkest hours of her brief life. “The incarnation of modesty elevated by suffering,” as Maria was described during the last weeks of her life, she was able to maintain her kindness and optimism, even in the midst of violence and degradation. On a stuffy summer night in 1918, only a few weeks after her nineteenth birthday, Maria was murdered along with the rest of her family in a cellar of a house chosen for this “special purpose.” Two sets of charred remains, confirmed to be Maria’s and her brother Alexei’s, were not discovered until almost ninety years later, separately from those of the other victims of the massacre. As the authors relate, it is still unknown if these remains will ever be allowed to be laid to rest."


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Romanovs Adrift by Greg King and Penny Wilson

Am looking forward to reading Greg King and Penny Wilson's new book,  The Romanovs Adrift, which was just published by

And yes, there is now advertising here on Royal Book News and Royal Musings.

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.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Princess by Jane Dismore

When I first heard about Jane Dismore's Princess (The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II) I hoped it would complement Philip Eade's Young Prince Philip: His Turbulent Early Life.  The Eade biographical was a masterful study that provided a lot of new and comprehensive information about the young Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark.

 Dismore's book is well-researched with plenty of endnotes and an excellent bibliography.  She certainly did her homework with a conscientious and precise culling of facts from diverse sources.

I was pleased to see that Dismore corresponded with Lady Butter (Myra Werhner) as I want to see more biographers and historians acknowledge that Philip and Elizabeth grew up other together, were in the same small social circle that included Myra and her siblings, Georgina and Alex.

At times,  Princess is a compelling read, although  I found Dismore's writing style a bit dismal. The premise is good: focusing on Elizabeth's early life before she succeeded to the throne, but I would have preferred a book where I did not have to force myself to finish reading it.

It is a good read, well-researched, but not in the same league as Philip Eade's superb book on Prince Philip's early years.

The book has been published in the United States by Lyons Press: $26.95