Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee 2012

Of course, there will be a plethora of new books about Queen Elizabeth II, her reign, her family in honor of her 60th anniversary on the throne.  Here are several of the new and upcoming titles:

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Archduke's Secret Family by Daniel A.Willis

In 1996, Dan Willis published The House of Habsburg: The Descendants of Maria Theresia of Austria.  As with many royal genealogies, the book was not  complete as Dan was unable to contact some of the living descendants.

He was also stumped by one branch, the descendants of Archduke Ernst (1824-1899), was a son Archduke Rainer, who represented one of the many junior lines of the Habsburg dynasty.

Ernst has provided a challenged to royal genealogists.  Dan decided to take up the challenge to answer so many questions.  Did Ernst marry Laura Skublics, and what happened to their children?  Are there descendants living descendants?

The Archduke's Secret Family

The answers to these questions is in Dan's newest book, the superbly terrific The Archduke's Secret Family

Ernst and Laura, met in a park in Budapest. It was love at first sight for the archduke,  and he was determined to be with Laura.  But Ernst's kinsman, Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, tossed a few obstacles in the archduke's way in order to keep the lovers separated.  

Laura, who had two children by her first husband, gave Ernst two daughters and two sons.   Tragically, for Ernst and for the children,  Laura died young.   Archduke Ernst could not publicly acknowledge his four children.  In an instant, he became a friend, and the children were raised in a foster family, who were financially supported by Ernst's brother, Rainer.

So did the children ever find out their true roots?  In order to learn the answer to this question, and see how a dogged, determined royal genealogist managed to overcome several language barriers (Hungarian is not an easy language to learn), make his way through dusty archives and poorly maintained cemeteries,  order The Archduke's Secret Family.  

A little hint:  the book includes family photos, biographical and genealogical details.   Ninety four pages. 

Another hint:  this book is  not sold in bookstores. Dan has made the book available through Amazon.  You can click on the link or the photograph to order the book.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our Queen by Robert Hardman

Robert Hardman, the Daily Mail's Royal correspondent, is the author of Our Queen, scheduled for publication on October 6.
The publisher is Hutchinson and the price is £20.00.   The book does not have an American publisher at this time.  Americans (and others outside the UK) can order from Amazon.co.uk.   Your US account information works with Amazon.co.uk - and you can be billed in U.S. dollars.    So if you want to order the book, click on the link at the top of this post.   I will earn a few cents (and  mean a few cents) from Amazon products ordered through my links, my stores and my search portals!!!!   

Hardman's earlier book,  A Year with the Queen, is available on Amazon

Honour and Fidelity by Zoia Belyakova

Honour and Fidelity is the first book about the Dukes of Leuchtenberg, one of the junior branches of the Russian Inperial Family. The author of this excellent book is Zoia Belykova, the Russian historian who specializes in the Romanovs.

Maximilian Beauharnais, 3rd Duke of Leuchtenberg, was selected to be the husband of Grand Duchess Maria Nicolaievna, daughter of Emperor Nicholas I. It was a marriage encouraged by Maximilian's mother, Princess Augusta of Bavaria.

The marriage took place on July 2, 1839. Maximilian was given the style of Imperial Highness. Although he remained Roman Catholic, he agreed that their children would be raised in the Orthodox church.

The well-educated Duke of Leuchtenberg undertook numerous in Russia, but he was not happy in Russia. His private life was fodder for gossip. Both the Duke and the Grand Duchess had affairs.. Marie's relationship with Count Grigory Stroganov probably before the premature death of her husband, and he, not Maximilian, may have been the natural father of the younger Leuchtenberg children.

Maria and Maximilian were the parents of seven children: Alexandra, Maria, Nikolai, Eugenie, Yevgeny, Sergei and Georgy.

Alexandra died as a child. Maria married Prince Ludwig of Baden. Their son, Max, was the last Chancellor of Imperial Germany. Eugenie was the wife of Prince Alexander of Oldenburg. It was their son, Peter, who married Grand Duchess Olga of Russia, a marriage that was never consummated, and eventually dissolved by divorce.
It was Maria and Maximilian's eldest son, Nikolai, caused great consternation in spite of his "exceptional abilities." He was a favorite of Alexander, and showed great promise, but it all fell apart when he contracted a morganatic marriage.

Although Maria was married morganatically to Count Stroganov (a marriage in secret), she could not bear the thought that her eldest son had married unequally.

For most of the rest of his life, Nikolai lived a largely nomadic existence with his wife and two sons. Thanks to family connections, Nikolai settled in Bavaria at Castle Seeon. He also owned several other properties in Bavaria.

Duke Nikolai continued to write to his mother-- the letters are included in the book -- but he never received her blessing for his marriage.

Belyakova is an expert historian, and a very good storyteller. She focuses on each of Maria and Maximilian's children in one chapter. The life stories of several grandchildren, Duke Nikolai of Leuchtenberg, Duke Georgy, Prince Peter of Oldenburg, and Daria Yegenia of Leuchtenberg, the daughter of Yevgeny, 5th Duke of Leuchtenberg and his morganatic wife. In 1893, young Dolly, a free spirit of sorts, married Prince Leo Kochubei, and became the mother of two sons.

Dolly was at the center of St. Petersburg society, but she may have been banished to France in 1905, following comments about Nicholas II and his wife. She eventually returned, divorced Prince Leo. Her second husband, a battleship commander, Baron Vladimir Gravenitz, kidnapped Dolly and the married her. Nicholas II decided not to punish Gravenitz, after learning who he had married.

Dolly was no longer welcome at court, She was too eccentric. This marriage soon collapsed, and the good baron may have committed suicide. She resumed her maiden title Countess Beauharnais, but soon evolved into Daria Leuchtenberg.

She went to Bavaria, where she became a citizen, but by 1918, she was back in Russia, ready to be a good Communist. She married for a third time to Viktor Markezetti. They became good Soviet workers and were executed in 1938.

By the 1930s, the Leuchtenberg descendants were scattered across the globe, in Germany, the US and Canada, far from the Soviet Union, but remaining essentially Russian.

The book also includes the previously privately published memoirs of Duke Georg Nicolaievitch.

This book is further enhanced by the publication of many previously unseen photographs, provided by several descendants. Belyakova was also able to draw on correspondence, diaries and other documents.

Inspiration for the book's title was provided by the Dukes of Leuchtenberg's motto, Honour and Fidelity.

The book, published by Logos in St. Petersburg, is a very limited edition: 500 copies in English and 500 copies in Russian. The English translation was done by P.R. Williams.

This book is not available from Amazon. I believe the only bookstore that still has copies is Van Hoogtraten in the Hague. The price is 43.90 Euros.


It is definitely worth the effort to add this book to your library.  One can fault some of the translations, what cannot be faulted is the brilliant scholarship.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New book - Our Insane Family

Well,  not exactly new ---
From Dynasty Press' website

Our Insane Family, by Frederick the Great's sister Princess Wilhelmine of Prussia

Translated from German by Queen Victoria's daughter, HRH Princess Helena ( HRH Princess Christian) now edited
and updated by HRH Princess Katarina of Serbia, Lady de Silva

Wilhelmine of Prussia's no-holds-barred memoirs give a penetrating insight into the bizarre upbringing she and her brother Frederick the Great suffered at the hands of an insane father and a callous mother. Almost unbelievably, the family was forced to go hungry and to dress in tatters, while their father ploughed the considerable resources of the state into creating the Prussian Militaristic Machine which would cause several European wars in the future, including the Franco-Prussian War and the First and Second World Wars.

(Click here to order for the US:  Our Insane Family )

These memoirs were translated by Queen Victoria's daughter Helena, with the approval of her sister Crown Princess Victoria and brother-in-law Crown Prince Frederick of Germany (the parents of Kaiser Wilhelm 11) as a covert warning to Europe of the dangerous direction in which Bismarck and Emperor Wilhelm 1 were steering the German Empire.

[Click to order for the UK:    Our Insane Family  ]

This edition includes an illuminating and unique Foreword and updated Introduction by HRH Princess Katarina, Lady de Silva, a descendant of these historical figures, explaining the objectives of the author, Wilhemine, in penning such witheringly frank memoirs, and the translator, Helena, in translating into English for widespread dissemination a tale which was by then unknown even in Germany, and which, under more ordinary circumstances, they would have suppressed. However, these supporters of constitutional monarchy and liberal government were intent on warning the world of the dangers of absolute monarchy and unchecked militarism, and hoped that by disseminating these memoirs throughout the English-speaking world, they could bring pressure to bear upon the direction the German State was taking.

Credit: Dynasty Press

As a historical document of rare prescience, this edition, with the updated Foreword and Introduction, is unsurpassable.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jewels of the Romanovs Family and Court

First the good news.  Stefano Papi's Jewels of the Romanovs Family & Court is a stunner.  This is the kind of book you would like to have on the cocktail table.  Luscious, superb photography, where the jewels jump right off the pages,  a true visual treat. 

Interest in the Romanovs continues to fascinate historians and others who have been captivated by the great wealth, the internecine family squabbles, the palaces, and revolutions that led to the collapse of the 300 years of Romanov reign and the assassination of Nicholas II and the murders of his wife, children and other members of the Imperial family.  

Don't forget the jewels!   Magnificent jewels, diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, pearls.  Some lost forever.

Stefano Papi is an internationally respected European jewelry specialist, who has worked for Christie's and Sotheby's.  He knows a lot about jewels.  He doesn't know a lot about the Romanovs,  which means there are a number of glaring errors in the text.   He states that Grand Duchess Olga accompanied Nicholas and Alexandra to Tobolsk, but in fact it was Grand Duchess. 

The book is broken down into six chapters that focus on Nicholas and his family,  the Romanov relations, the Jewelled stars (Marie of Romania, Princess Marthe Bibesco, Nancy Leeds, the downfall of the Tsar, and what happened after the revolution: dispersal and survival.  

The chapter on the Romanov relations is the most fascinating.   Empress Alexandra's smalls box was certainly filled with amazing jewels from massive strands of pearls to stomachers to tiaras.  Many of Alexandra's jewels were lost at Ekaterinburg or broken up after the Soviets began making inventories of the jewels they found.

But the glitz and glamour was not confined to Alexandra or her mother-in-law.  Other  members of the family also owned amazing jewels, especially several distaff members, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of the Duke of Edinburgh,  Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir,  Grand Duke Serge, and Grand Duke Paul,  both of whom showered jewels on their wives.

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna was particularly blessed with jewels.  She owned a dazzling array of tiaras, including a waterfall tiara made by Chaumet and  the spectacular kokoshnik tiara.  Maria received it as a wedding gift in 1874.   This tiara was inherited by her daughter, Helen, who married Prince Nicholas of Greece. and Helen sold it to Queen Mary.   Queen Elizabeth II often wears this tiara.

Many of Maria Pavlovna's jewels survived the revolution, and were divided among her three sons and her daughter.   Some of the jewels have gone to auction.  Others are in the possession of the descendants of Helen's three daughters, Olga, Marina and Elisabeth.    Maria Pavlovna's eldest son, Kirill, married Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh,  who was the daughter of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna.  

Ducky and her older sister, Queen Marie of Roumania, were often seen in wearing amazing pieces of jewels.many

Princess Paley, the morganatic wife of Grand Duke Paul, received many jewels from her husband.   Other Romanov relations/friends with absolutely fab jewels include Princess Zenaide Yusupov, whose son, Felix, married Princess of Russia, daughter of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, and the Duchess of Leuchtenberg, the wife of Prince Eugene Romanovsky, 5th Duke of Leuchtenberg, son of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaievna, eldest daughter of Nicholas I.

So what happened to the jewels.  Some disappeared, others were plundered, but the Soviets did provide an inventory of the jewels that they found, including many of Empress Marie's jewels.  The Soviets sold some pieces at auctions in the late 1920s, and they destroyed the jewels from the time of the last Tsar because they "considered them to be modern and not of historic importance."

Grand Duchess Ella gave her jewels to Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the younger, who, in turn, sold them to King Alexander of Yugoslavia. His wife, Marie, a granddaughter of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, often wore the pieces that were once given by her maternal great-uncle to her mother's first cousin.

Jewels of the Romanovs Family & Court was published by Thames & Hudson ($75.00/£42.00).  Visually stunning, but the text could have been a lot better.

You will also enjoy William Clarke's book, Hidden Treasures of the Romanovs.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just Published - The Archduke's Secret Family

From the jacket blurb " He defied an Emperor to be with her. She found the love she had been seeking in his arms. Their passion would ignite the imagination of an Empire.

It sounds like a promotion for the latest romance novel, but this story is no work of fiction. Archduke Ernst of Austria, cousin of Emperor Franz Joseph, fell in love and started a family with Laura Skublics. However, she was not born into the right family to be considered a suitable bride for an Archduke. Some say they married anyway. But did they? The Archduke’s Secret Family seeks to answer that very question as well as learn the fate of their children and their descendants."

I will have a review of this book in the next few weeks.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Die Habsburger Ohne Reich by Dieter Kindermann

In November 1919, Emperor Karl I of Austria lost his job.  The new rulers  -- Socialist politicians -- provided no compensation  nor severance pay.  Karl and his family left the country to live in exile with limited resources. 

Karl and his wife, Zita, lived peripatetic lives following exile as they tried (and failed) to regain the Hungarian throne. After Karl's death in 1922,  Zita turned her attention to regaining the throne for the couple's eldest son, Otto.

Otto's hopes and dreams were carried outside of Austria.  He and his family were forbidden to return to Austria unless they recognized the republic.  Some Habsburgs, largely from collateral lines, did that, and settled into more normal lives, establishing careers, raising families and eschewing politics.  To this day, members of the Habsburg family are not permitted to run for political office in Austria.

Dieter Kindermann, a political journalist for an Austrian newspaper, has written a well-researched book, Die Habsburger Ohne Reich Geschichte Einer Familie seit 1918 (K&S: 22.90 Euros).  This German-language book does answer the question: so what happened to the Habsburgs.

This book was published several months before the death of Archduke Otto, who was givven a state funeral in Vienna.  Resigned to the fact that he would never reign in Austria, Otto, who lived in Bavaria, devoted his life to Pan-Europeanism.  Today,  his younger son, Archduke Georg, lives in Hungary with his wife and children.  Archduchess Gabriela is the German ambassador to Georgia, and Archduchess Walburga has been a member of the Swedish parliament since 2006.  She is married to a Swedish count.

Kindermann also examines some of the lesser known members of the family, including Ulrich Habsburg-Lothringen, a morganatic descendant, who has been fighting an uphill battle to run for office in Austria.   Most of the book, however, deals with Otto and his career and family.  Otto von Habsburg, who eschewed his archducal title, played an active role in European politics for nearly all his life 

K&S is a Viennese-based publisher.  There are no plans to translate the book in to English.   There are about a dozen or so black and white photos.  I wish there were more. 

Although the Habsburgs have not reigned for nearly 100 years now, family members still find ways to serve.

Royal weddings Königiche Hochzeiten

Royal Weddings Königlichen Hochzeiten is an absolutely stunning book with an English-German text published by TeNeues ($45.00), where royal weddings are the main attraction.  The cover of this edition is the balcony kiss between the newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which does not come as a surprise. This new, revised and updated edition was published shortly after Prince William's wedding.

(The first edition featured the newly married Prince and Princess of Wales on the cover.)

The German text was written by Friederike Haedecke.  Julia Melchior was responsible for the English translation.

Royal Weddings (English and German Edition)  

This book is breathlessly beautiful with stunning color and black and white photographs, which more than complement the text.  

Fourteen weddings are covered in this book:  Victoria and Daniel and Carl XVI Gustaf and Silvia of Sweden,  Haakon & Mette-Marit,  Frederik and Mary,  Willem-Alexander and Maxima,  Beatrix and Claus,  William and Kate,  Charles and Diana,  Elizabeth and Philip, Rainier and Grace, Felipe and Letizia, Juan Carlos and Sofia, and Naruhito and Masako.  (The publishers might have waited a few months to have included a chapter on Albert and Charlene of Monaco.)

Each wedding is treated with a separate chapter, providing details about the romance, the wedding, and these details are enhanced by superb photos, many of which come from private sources.  One photograph of Mette Marit getting ready for her wedding as her veil was attached to the tiara was taken by Queen Sonja.  Lovely.

Royal Weddings (English and German Edition)

Both authors are German and have covered royal programs for German television. As we have seen with the recent Prussian royal wedding,  there is still an interest in royal weddings, even when the bride and groom are members of non-reigning families.   But on the other hand,  the marriages of the sovereign or the heir of a reigning royal house will bring new attention to the royal house.  

Royal marriages are no longer arranged to ensure the peace between two nations.  Today, royal marry for love.  Crown Princess Victoria was not afraid to show her love for Daniel Westling, and that love shone brightly on her wedding day.   It was actually amazing to see such emotion from a royal bride.
Royal Weddings  UK edition.

I think the authors said it best with " 'Royal Weddings' portrays the unforgettable marriage celebrations of monarchs and heirs to the throne with all the individual touches which give their unique character to every royal wedding."

The US price of the book is $46.00 and the UK price is £25.00.  The book is also available from Amazon.de (35.00 Euros).

Royal Weddings - Königliche Hochzeiten

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kaiser Kinder by Jörg Kirschtein

Kaiser Kinder is a real treat!  An entire  book about the children of Kaiser Wilhelm II: Crown Prince Wilhelm,  Prince Eitel Friedrich, Prince Adalbert, Prince August Wilhelm,Prince Oskar and Princess Viktoria Luise.  In German.   

Kirschtein devotes a chapter to each of the children,  a biographical sketch enhanced by many photographs of the children and their families and their homes.   The Potsdam-born Jörg Kirchstein sheds light on intriguing details about the Kaiser's children.  Turns out, Prince Eitel Friedrich was not gay.  His marriage to Duchess Sophie Charlotte of Oldenburg was not happy, and they divorced.  But he was not alone after the divorce.  He was in love with Countess Madeleine von Mellin (1891-1958), who was recently divorced from her husband.  They remained a couple until Prince Eitel Friedrich's death in 1942.
It was August Wilhelm, "Auwi", the committed Nazi, who turned out to be homosexual.  His sexual proclivities put a great strain on his marriage to Princess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein.  The couple were also first cousins.  Empress Augusta Viktoria may have played a role in arranging the marriage between her niece and her son.  
Auwi served the Nazis' faithfully throughout the war.   In April 1945,  Prince August Wilhelm  was arrested  by the Americans.

In 1913, the youngest son, Prince Joachim,  fell in love with Princess Elisabeth of Urach  She was not of equal rank, so Joachim could not marry her.  He was  devastated by his parents' decision.   Three years later, he was married to Princess Marie Auguste of Anhalt, a marriage that was arranged, as Joachim never stopped loving Princess Elisabeth.  Five years after, Joachim's marriage, Princess Elisabeth married Prince Karl of Liechtenstein.

Kirchstein also makes sure to include information (and photos) on the former wives, Sophie Charlotte and Alexandra Victoria and Joachim's widow, Marie Auguste, who was largely impoverished during her final years.  In order to make ends meet, she would adopt people for money.  The most famous is Robert Lichtenberg, who became Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, who is now married tp Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Many of the photos in this book are previously unpublished, or at least not seen by me -- and I have seen a lot of Prussian photos.  This collection is superb.  Some of the photos were postcards.  Several family members provided photos from their family albums.    A superb display of photos.   Even one of Madeleine von Mellin.

Kaiser Kinder die Familie Wilhelm II. in Fotografien was published by Matrix Media, which is owned by Prince Heinrich of Hanover, a grandson of Princess Victoria Luise of Prussia.  The price is 34.90 Euros.

 There are  no plans to translate the book into English. This should not be a problem because the book is fabulous, thanks to the unique photographs.

Kirschtein is also the  author of Cecile Deutschlands letze Kronprinzessin, which is also a delight, but sadly, the book is no longer available, even though Amazon.de

There are several  books about the Kaiser's children, written by their governesses, and published during and after the first world war.

One book is Potsdam Princes by Ethel Howard.  This book was first published in 1915.  I was able to locate a copy some years ago, but the book has since been reprinted. (It's out of copyright, which makes reprints easy to do.)    The link here is for the reprint.

Unfortunately, E.L. Brimble's In the Eyrie of the Hohenzollern has not been reprinted, and is very difficult to find.  About five or six years ago, I found a copy of the book by using addall, which is an excellent source for locating out-of-prints.   The seller was a dealer in Australia, and I think paid about $6.00 for the book.  A real bargain.

Right now, there are  two copies for sale through http://www.addall.com/ .  The sellers are dealers in the UK and in Germany.   Each copy is more than $40.00, but --- snap them up because this book is difficult to find.  I spent years trying to track down a copy. 

This link is for the reprint of Potsdam Princes. 
Potsdam Princes

Anne Topham was Victoria Luise's governess.  She wrote several books about her time as governess.