Friday, August 28, 2015

Prince William of Gloucester and his family: Books

Britain's Channel 4's documentary on the late Prince William of Gloucester (1941-1972) brings the need for a post on books about the prince, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, and his family.

Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucesters, memoirs are delight ... two different volumes.  Noble Frankland's biography on Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, is dry, with an intense snore factor.  Readers need to fight their way through the book, as it is interesting.  Difficult to spice up the life of a dull, military-minded prince.  

Giles St. Aubyn's Pioneer Prince was commissioned by the family after the death of Prince William in a plane crash.   Lisa Sheridan's Prince William of Gloucester (published in 1945) is currently unavailable (on Amazon or  There are copies available from dealers (   Use the out of print search box.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cotroceniul Regal by Diana Mandache

Romanian historian and biographer Diana Mandache is worthy of a bigger (international) audience.  She has written several English language books, but the majority of her work is in Romanian. 

Earlier this year,  I reviewed Diana's previous book, Balcicul Reginei Maria, which was about Queen Marie's beloved summer palace, now in Bulgaria.
Following the success of the earlier book,  Diana turns her attention to the palace of Cotroceni.  This new book,  Cotroceniul Regal, is a truly competent, well-researched study of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie's family home.

During the eighteenth century, Cotroceni was the home of Serban Cantacuzino and other Romanian aristocrats before being acquired by King Carol I shortly after his arrival in Romanian.  The palace became the primary residence for Carol's heir, his nephew, Ferdinand, and his British-born wife, Princess Marie of Edinburgh, and their growing family.

It was during this period that Cotroceni became King Ferdinand and Queen Marie's official residence.  The palace was also used by Kings Carol II and Michael, but Cotroceni's hay day was during the reign of King Ferdinand, when the palace was modernized.

Communist governments largely destroyed the interior of the palace, as furniture and library books were destroyed.  An earthquake in 1977 caused further damage to the palace's exterior.  It was only after Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu returned from an official visit to Buckingham Palace that restoration work on the palace.

all photos courtesy of Diana Mandache

Don't be put off by the Romanian text.  Yes, it would be nice --- actually awesome -- if Curtea Veche would publish the book with a Romanian and English text, thus reaching a larger market.   Diana is an excellent historian, so I am absolutely sure that this text is informative and historically accurate.
The photos remain the reason to purchase this book.  The majority of the photos come from the Romanian National Archives, Kent State and Mrs. Mandache's private collection.  Queen Marie was fond of posing for photographs in the palace gardens.  All of the photographs are black and white.
The primary focus is on Ferdinand and Marie, but Diana Mandache offers a complete history of the palace's royal residences from Carol I and Elisabeth to King Michael.
The price of book is 50 Lei (under $13.00).  Curtea Veche's site is secure. Use your browser's translation button to order the book.  Postage brings the cost of the book to about $25.00.  A real bargain.  A must have.
At this time, Amazon is not selling this title, although one can order Balcicul Reginei Maria.

Come on Curtea Veche,  you can publish these books with Romanian and English texts ... you will sell more copies.  Seriously. Think about it as Diana Mandache, a respected historian, needs a wider audience.