Saturday, December 25, 2010

No Sign of Engaged Couple at Royal Christmas

Kate has chosen to spend her last Christmas with her family and Prince William also decided not to spend Christmas with his grandparents so that Kate wouldn't face pressure to go: Royal Christmas.

I hope to write a new post soon. Merry Christmas,everyone!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Empress's Escape



Empress Eugenie heard loud insults from the mob nearby. Too terrified to look out of the window, she wondered what to do. If she didn't escape she could be murdered like poor Marie-Antoinette! She knew that The Third Republic had already been declared.

Luckily, she still had friends amongst the Guards who helped her sneak out of the Palace in disguise and catch a cab to her dear friend, Dr.Evan's house. The American had been her dentist and friend for many years. She knew that he'd help her.She was desperate with little money left.

The Empress had to wait for Evans for two hours. Her impatience and anxiety almost drove her mad but she didn't know what else to do. Luckily they escaped without too much trouble. When they were stopped the Empress, dressed in black, pretended to be a lady on her way to the insane asylum who didn't want to go! After a long and tiring journey they reached Deauville. From here they hoped to flee to England.

Evans asked Sir John Burgoyne to take them across the Channel in his yacht. At first he refused, but his horrified wife insisted that he try to rescue the Empress. It was a rough voyage. The night was very dark, and the wind tore at the small boat. Everyone was seasick, except the deck-hands. Sir John thought that they were all going to die but eventually the night calmed down and they reached Ryde. Now the Empress could see the Prince Imperial who was at Hastings.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

From Courtesan to Countess



Celeste de Chabrillan led a long and amazing life. She rose from the bottom - a poor, working-class district of Paris - to marry a nobleman. During her youth she suffered abuse at the hands of her mother's boyfriends, became a prostitute, and even spent time in prison. In spite of all this, she managed to educate herself and write novels, memoirs, and plays. She even spent time in Australia because her husband became the French Consul here.

Celeste, the illegitimate daughter of milliners, endured her father's death at only 6 years old. Born in Paris in 1824, she grew up in a very poor area of Paris. Her mother's new lover beat both of them and the mother ended up in hospital at one stage. Advised to flee, she and Celeste walked to Lyon! The boyfriend unfortunately followed them, but he was killed in an attempted robbery.

They returned to Paris and formed a close bond. Young Celeste became apprenticed as a seamstress at 11 and an embroiderer at 14. Unfortunately, her mother couldn't resist bad men and the mother's second boyfriend attempted to rape Celeste. She fled and was given refuge in a brothel. This was raided and Celeste went to prison.

Her mother eventually rescued her but she didn't believe Celeste's story. The relationship became fraught. Celeste wanted to become a prostitute at 16 and register herself as one. The mother refused at first but she eventually relented, which is very odd.

Poor Celeste had a terrible time and found it difficult to leave. The madams of the brothels indebted the girls to keep them in line. Celeste left but life on the streets was, of course, worse.

Celeste and the Count

The beautiful Celeste pulled herself off the streets and became a dancer at La Mobille dance hall. She also learned to be an equestrienne and worked at the Hippodrome. She must have had quite a way with men because she attracted a Dutch baron and a Russian prince.

Unfortunately, she was badly injured at the Hippodrome and feared for her future. She relates that the Count 'rescued' her. She met the handsome playboy at the Cafe des Anglais, a restaurant frequented by the 'demi-monde'. Lacking money, the young courtesan decided to write her memoirs but she was to bitterly regret this.

Count Alexander de Chabrillan was a heavy gambler and needed to 'marry a dowry'. He couldn't find one, however, and fell more and more in love with Celeste. She refused to marry him. His family sent him to Australia to distance him from this unsuitable woman. He wrote loving letters and Celeste relented when he returned. This put his family into a rage so the couple fled to London where they married.

Life in Melbourne

Celeste didn't have a good time in Australia and longed to go back to Paris. She had attempted to have the publication of her memoirs stopped but word had even reached Australia. She found herself ostracised by snobbish colonial ladies who regarded her as a harlot.

The start of her stay here was ominous. After travelling out on the Croesus, she had to walk for two hours, her feet ankle-deep in mud, to reach their wooden hut in St.Kilda. She had to pay a fortune for a simple meal of ham and eggs on the way.

Her husband involved himself in the life of the colony. The couple held balls, attended social events, and Chabrillan presented books to the Public Library. He was well-liked here, but got into trouble for protecting a Frenchman involved in a duel. Celeste turned to writing further memoirs and novels, and educated herself with the help of a dictionary.

Celeste eventually returned but her husband died here. He was given a notable funeral. She bought a country property near Paris and held a Salon attended by such people as Garibaldi and Gambetta. She also acted and even managed a theatre. She even founded a home for poor girls. She also wrote more novels during the 1870's and 1880's. Unfortunately, she fell into poverty again but she was eventually granted a pension. Celeste de Chabrillan died at 85.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Expat Royal Brides

Not many expat royal brides are as happy as our Princess Mary. You can read about some of them here: Expat Royal Brides.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Girl Who Didn't Sell Oranges



She was called the ‘Muse of Paris’ by the Empress Eugenie. Beautiful and wealthy, she held famous Salons attended by artists and writers. She was a patron of the Arts, encouraging young and talented people. She also collected art and antiques.
Princess Mathilde Bonaparte loved her life in Paris, but she had a tough time getting there. Born in 1820, she was the daughter of a German princess and Napoleon’s brother, Jerome. She grew up in Italy, living in Rome and Florence. She enjoyed balls and parties and studied many languages. Her life may seem idyllic, but she lost her mother when she was very young. Her father was mainly interested in her as a useful pawn in the marriage stakes.

Her beauty attracted many suitors, and she set her sights on the romantic musician Liszt, at one stage. However, young Mathilde soon only had eyes for one man. Her cousin, Louis Napoleon, handsome and suave, attracted her attention and they were soon engaged. Louis was poor and in exile then, so Jerome didn’t approve. The engagement was broken.

Marriage to Prince Demidoff

After Jerome met the fabulously wealthy Russian Prince Anatole Demidoff he was extremely anxious to secure him for his daughter. The Prince was obsessed with the Bonaparte family and collected Napoleonic memorabilia. He made Jerome pay a large dowry for the marriage in spite of his wealth.

The couple lived in Russia for a short time where the Princess made a great impression on Tsar Nicholas 1, her mother’s cousin. He liked her beauty and bright personality. The Tsar even said that he would have liked her to marry his son!
The marriage turned out to be a disaster. The Prince abused poor Mathilde and kept his mistress, Valentine de St. Aldegonde. Mathilde entreated him to give Valentine up but he refused. Demidoff even slapped the Princess at a ball. This was called the ‘slap that was heard around the world’.

Mathilde eventually fled to Paris with her handsome lover Émilien de Nieuwerkerke, who became director of the Louvre, and her jewelry. Finally the marriage was annulled. The Tsar made the Prince settle a large allowance on the wronged Mathilde. She even had trouble keeping her jewelry which Demidoff was demanding. She could now fulfil her long-held dream of living in Paris and being a prominent figure in the world of arts and fashion.

Mathilde in Paris

Mathilde helped Louis Napoleon financially with his coup against Louis Philippe. She played the role of the Imperial Princess for her old lover. Mathilde probably still held a flame for her old fiancée but Louis Napoleon wanted a young, untouched bride to be the Empress. He met the lovely Spanish Eugenie at one of Mathilde’s Salons.

The Princess appears to have had a great time in Paris. She wore the latest fashions by designers such as Worth. She held Salons attended by writers, such as Dumas and de Maupassant. She employed Theophile Gautier as her librarian. She collected art and painted herself. She even painted with Giraud. She also had her handsome lover! After he died she lived and may have married another artist, Claudius Marcel Popelin.

Princess Mathilde did take her royal role seriously enough to form a charity, however. She founded a house for sick and disabled girls which she called ‘Asile Mathilde’. She also established scholarships for writers and artists.
Princess Mathilde was thankful for her wealth and lovely life. She remarked that: “If it weren’t for him [Napoleon 1], I’d be selling oranges in the streets of Ajaccio.”

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We Await Queen Kate

Yes, I will call her Princess Katherine soon. I just liked the title. A royal wedding! Bliss! I hope to study every aspect of it. I am very excited because Kate Middleton and I share a common ancestor. It will be good to be related to our future Queen.

In the meantime, wonderful Mandy at The Royal Representative has lots of news about it.

I know that I have been a bit 'slack' lately - I hope to write some new posts soon.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Sainted Princess


(The Palace of Camerino by Anthony Paglialunga)

Would you give up the splendid life of a princess to become a nun? I wouldn't! However, Camilla da Varano did. She has recently been canonized. You can read her story here: The Sainted Princess.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tea at Trianon: Marie-Amélie, the Last Queen

In the wonderful book about the artist, Renoir, Renoir, My Father, his son tells how Renoir grew up in a poor area of Paris near the Louvre. The little urchins used to call Queen Marie-Amelie 'good Queen Amelie' because she would throw them sweets from the window! Here is an interesting post about her life by Elena Maria Vidal: Tea at Trianon: Marie-Amélie, the Last Queen

Sunday, October 17, 2010

R.I.P, Marie Antoinette

Yesterday was the anniversary of the beautiful Queen Marie Antoinette's execution. One only has to read one of the better-written and thoroughly researched biographies of this poor Queen to learn how defamed she has been throughout history.

I am including a link to a free biography of her famous dressmaker and milliner here:
Rose Bertin.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Adventures of President Grant's Great-Granddaughter


(Library Canada Archives)

Imagine experiencing the glamour of the Imperial Court in Vienna and being presented to Empress Elisabeth! Julia Grant, the great-granddaughter of the Civil War general and President Ulysses S. Grant, had this adventure and many more. This beautiful and clever woman became a Russian princess, fled the Revolution, and wrote many articles and books.

Born at the White House in 1876, she was the daughter of the President's son, Frederick, who was a diplomat. She remembered her grandfather who died when she was ten and described him as grave and serious but kindly. She was apparently very fond of him.

Frederick became the U.S. Ambassador to Austria-Hungary when Julia was older. She learned fluent Austrian in Vienna and made her debut at the Imperial Court. She must have also learned the accomplishments of most educated, upper-class American women and become quite cosmopolitan.

Although the family returned to New York, Julia traveled to Europe with her socialite aunt, Bertha Palmer, who was involved in the Chicago World's Fair, when she was about 19. She met a handsome, young officer in Rome from an aristocratic family. Julia and Prince Michael Catacuzene, who was attached to the Russian Embassy in Rome, soon fell in love.

They married at one of the Astor houses, Beaulieu in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1899.
There were two services - the Episcopalian one at this house and a Russian Orthodox one. Julia's wedding dress was described in the New York Times as 'severely cut and quite simple'. It was made of rich, white satin. She also wore a tulle veil with real orange blossoms attached to it.

After the wedding, the couple divided their time between their apartments in St.Petersburg, their country estate in the Ukraine, and a home in the Crimea. Prince Michael worked for Tsar Nicholas II. Julia knew many famous people in Russia and wrote some books about her time there. One, Revolutionary Days, is available as a free download from a few different web sites. It is supposed to be quite lively and has had good reviews.

During World War One, Prince Michael led a force of 15,000 men in the last great cavalry charge. He was wounded and again given an important role by the Tsar. However, the Revolution of 1917 endangered the lives of all aristocrats. The couple and their children were lucky enough to flee - Julia had to hide her jewels in her clothes. They settled in Sarasota, Florida, where the Prince became Chairman of the Palmer Bank.

Unfortunately, Julia and the Prince, eventually divorced after having three children.
After their divorce in 1934, Julia went to live in Washington where she lived a very social life and wrote her articles and books. The Prince stayed in Sarasota where he married again.

The Princess died at 99, a great age even now!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The English Mistress


Why did the Countess de Beauregard, the owner of a magnificent house and a fortune, leave a large sum of money to young girls who had been the victims of seduction? Who was this mysterious Countess? Perhaps she had a shady past and this was the reason for her bequest?

Elizabeth Howard, born Elizabeth Ann Harriett, did indeed have a nefarious past, which probably didn't make her happy, even though she became wealthy. Her adventures began when she was fifteen and decided to run away with a famous jockey. She lived with him in London, and decided to change her name to Howard. Perhaps she was ashamed or perhaps she just liked the name better. Who knows?

Her next lover was Major Mountjoy Martyn, a wealthy Guards officer. She became his mistress when she was eighteen. Here she had a grand house and servants. She also had a son, which pleased the Major. When she was asked who the son's parents were by the Registrations Office she named her own parents. She quickly stated: 'Plumber', when asked her son's father's occupation. Either Martyn didn't want to appear on the Birth Certificate as the son's father, or Lizzie didn't want him to be named as the father. However, he lavished gifts on Lizzie and liked having a son. Martyn was soon for 'the chop', unfortunately.

Lizzie became an actress at the Haymarket Theatre but even a career wasn't enough for her. This ambitious girl was after better things! Lizzie fell madly in love with Napoleon III at a party held by Lady Blessington in London. The darkly handsome, but short prince, impressed many women. Even Queen Victoria seemed to rather like his looks! The French prince was then in exile in England. Lizzie began living with Napoleon and his two sons. They were the sons of his former laundress. She also hired tutors so that she could befit her new status.

Lizzie's money helped Napoleon stage his return to France where he became President and eventually Emperor. She lived near the Palais Elysee where she was set up as his mistress. She wanted to be Napoleon's Empress, but she was to be disappointed.

Napoleon sent Lizzie on a secret mission to England soon after becoming Emperor. While she was there he sent men to ransack her house and destroy any evidence of their relationship. He had decided to marry the beautiful Eugenie de Montejo instead.

Lizzie was furious. She made him repay the large sum of money that she lent him. He also made her a countess and also gave her son a title. This acquisition probably helped Lizzie finally get married, but she made a bad choice. Lizzie's new husband was Captain Clarence Trelawney, an English horse breeder. The marriage was unhappy, probably because Trelawney used Lizzie's money for his business, and they eventually divorced.

Lizzie died in 1865.Her bequest to the home for girls indicates that she must have had some regrets, in spite of her money and luxurious life.

Magical Enchantments Blog

This blog lives up to its name! It has an enchanting design, and inspiring words. I am very interested in Katherine Swynford so I especially enjoyed this review of Katherine by Anya Seton.

I hope to write a new post today!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Emperor and the Actress

Emperor Franz Joseph and Katharina Schratt had a long relationship: The Emperor and the Actress

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Marie Mancini's Pearls

During their courtship, Louis XIV probably gave Marie a pair of lustrious drop-shaped pearl earrings. You can read all about them here: Marie Mancini's Pearls.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Louis XIV's First Love


Marie was horrified and frightened. Her dying mother had threatened to put her in a convent because she lacked classical good lucks. Marie was religious, but she didn't want to go to a convent!

Luckily, the dark and slender teenager captured the attention of the nineteen year old King. This surprised everyone at the glittering French court because Marie was not pretty. Many people at the court thought that the younger girl had cast a spell on the King, including his pious mother, Queen Anne.

Louis, well-educated and interested in intelligent conversation and the arts, found a soul-mate in Marie. She was unusually well-educated and cultured for an upper-class French woman of the sixteenth century. She liked painting, music, and literature. She admired the plays of Corneille, especially Le Cid. Louis was happy to find a young woman who shared his love for the arts.

She also shared a love of riding with Louis. According to Antonia Fraser, Marie looked irresistible in 'black velvet edged with fur, including a matching hat above the huge dark eyes that were her best feature." Marie and Louis could finally be alone when they went riding together.

Marie's only claim to fame was that she was Cardinal Mazarin's niece. The imposing Cardinal was still one of the main 'powers behind the throne' at this time, and a good friend of Queen Anne. She and the Cardinal wanted a much better marriage for Louis. They had their eyes on the Spanish Infanta, a much more suitable prospect.

When Louis thought of marrying his 'Galatea', Queen Anne decided to put a stop to the romance once and for all. She spent an hour alone with the young man in her Appartment des Baines. Louis knew what was best for him and submitted fairly easily.
Queen Anne told Madame de Motteville: "One day Louis will thank me for the harm I have done him." 1.

Louis gave Marie two lovely farewell gifts: Henrietta Maria's pearls and a cute spaniel puppy. She made a grand marriage, but it was destined to be unhappy. Marie married the Italian Prince Colonna. He was surprised that she was still a virgin, because of the wild reputation of the French court. He said that he didn't expect to find 'innocence among the loves of kings.'2.

1. Fraser, Antonia, Love and Louis XIV, The Women in the Life of the Sun King, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, p.52.

2. Ibid.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Princess Mary's Best Friend

Amber Petty, Princess Mary's pretty, blonde best friend, recently held a huge party to celebrate her fortieth birthday. Princess Mary was the special guest and one of Petty's 'life' maids.

The radio announcer and journalist decided to make her special friends, 'life' maids because she's never been married and she wants them to share her journey through life. This was a lovely idea.

Although Petty is probably best known as Princess Mary's best friend, she has had an impressive career. Recently made the Communications Director for the agency, Fnuky, she has interviewed many famous people and appeared on the TV programme, Sunrise. She also wrote columns for the magazine, New Idea.

She wrote about kissing a 'toyboy' at a New Year's party and stripped off for a campaign about 'women's body issues'. As many women were photographed for the radio campaign, she thought that it was only fair that she joined them!

Petty has had a few boyfriends but I don't think that she has one at the moment. Perhaps Prince Frederick has a handsome, wealthy, aristocratic friend? He has to be nice too, of course!

Party Outfits

Petty wore a long, fairy tale gown with a scalloped hem to her party in Adelaide. It was a gorgeous dress, but I haven't found out who the designer was.

I preferred her outfit to Princess Mary's. The Princess wore a dark, strapless jumpsuit. It was quite stylish but I just like pretty dresses.

Amber Petty has an interesting blog at

Amber Petty and she also has a cool Facebook page. You can see photos there.

I hope to write a historical post soon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Princess's Fight For Her Life


"I already told you. I don't know," Princess Elizabeth exclaimed.

She laid her head in her hands, then she quickly lifted it again and straightened her shoulders. She must not let these interrogators get the better of her!

The harassed Princess knew that her governess, Kat Ashley, and her servant, Mr.Parry, had told what they knew about her relationship with the handsome, ebullient Admiral, Thomas Seymour. They had told Tyrwhit about the Admiral's visiting her in her bedroom in the mornings and annoying her while his wife was asleep. She hadn't wanted the much older man's attentions and ran away. However, she was only a young teenager attracted to a very handsome man and she had let him hug her in the garden at one stage. His wife, Katherine Parr, sent her away after that.

Did her interrogators also know that? She prayed not. She had been suspicious that Seymour wanted her because he had his eye on her throne, but she'd been very careful not to let herself get too involved with him. She was also very fond of Katherine Parr, her late father's wife, and she felt very guilty about upsetting her.

The interrogators told the Lord Protector that there wasn't enough evidence to convict the young Princess of treason. He was angry but understood that they 'could not get anything out of her'. She had convinced the Council that she would never have considered marriage without their approval.

When Thomas Seymour was beheaded Princess Elizabeth is supposed to have remarked: "There dies a man of much wit and very little judgement." The young Princess was not to have a peaceful existence after this, however. It was one of the first of her many struggles before she attained her throne.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sisi's Masquerade



The Empress Elisabeth paced the long room restlessly. The Emperor was away and she felt tired of the stuffy, old palace! She longed to go out and dance. It was carnival season in Vienna. 'Sisi' imagined the shimmering lights and the romance of the balls. She persuaded her lady-in-waiting, Ida von Ferenczy, to go with her to a masquerade.

"Don't look so worried, Ida," Sisi exclaimed, as Ida wondered what would happen if anyone found out.

"It will be fun."

Sisi donned a bright yellow mantle and hood while Ida wore a crimson raincoat. Sisi thought that they were adequately disguised in their black satin and lace masks. She took Ida to the mirror and said, "No one will recognise us!"

They felt very alone at first, surrounded by crowds in masks enjoying themselves. Sisi thought of going home but a tall, fair, young man suddenly greeted them. He escorted them into the ball. The young man, a minor government official, wondered if the strange woman with the lovely voice was an aristocrat. He became suspicious when she asked him many questions about the Emperor and Empress.

When Sisi asked him her age, he replied: "Thirty-six." This frightened the Empress who wondered if he recognized her. When she started to leave, he persuaded her to stay and gave her his card. He told the young grandmother that she could contact him.

The young man was Herr Friedrich List Pacher von Theinburg, who remembered this night all his life. The Empress did write, using the pen-name, 'Gabrielle'. They kept up a long correspondence and von Theinburg eventually found out that the letters were indeed from the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Married with a family, he eventually stopped the correspondence, although it was perfectly innocent. The Empress sent him this poem:

The Song of the Yellow Domino

Do you think of that night still in the glowing ballroom?
Long, long ago, long ago,
where two souls once met,
long, long ago, long ago,
where our odd friendship began.
Do you, my friend, still think of it at times?
Do you think of the words, so intimately trusting,
that we exchanged by the loud dance music?
Oh, only too fast our time dwindled away,
a press of the hand yet, and I had to fly.
I did not dare unveil my face to you,
but I did show my soul to the light.
Friend, that was more, that was more!
Years have gone and drawn away,
but they will never unite us two again.
Questioning at night I look at the stars,
none gave me back help or answer.
Soon I came near to you, soon again far away.
Are you already lingering on another star?
If you live, then give me a sign by day,
that I may scarcely hope, but can await.
So long ago, so long ago!
Let me wait no more,
wait no more!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Australian Model and the Royal Scandal


Men stopped to stare at Patricia Tuckwell on the street because she was so beautiful. The young Melbourne girl was also very talented, joining the Sydney Symphony Orchestra when she was only 16. Her beauty and talent would lead her to a life very far from Australia.

Tuckwell left the orchestra to marry the photographer, Athol Shmith, in 1947 when she
was 21. She became a model and was nicknamed 'Bambi'. Tuckwell was also one of the founders of the Mannequins' Association of Victoria.

The couple had one son, Michael, but their marriage only lasted nine years. They were divorced in 1957. Tuckwell continued modelling, but she'd always wanted to go overseas. She set off on an expedition that would change her life forever.

The young woman arrived at the Milan airport only to find that her flight to Paris was cancelled by fog. While she waited for a bus transfer to Turin, she caught the eye of George Lascelles, the seventh Earl of Harewood, and a close relation of the Queen. He was married to Marion Stein and had three children.

The couple sat together on a flight to Paris and the Earl almost fell in love 'at first sight'. He was unable to forget the beautiful Australian, who was equally attracted to him. They were both very musical - the Earl worked for the opera, and 'Bambi' was a violinist.

The Earl of Harewood's Affair

The model and the earl soon began an affair. Harewood told his wife but she wanted to stay married and refused to grant him a divorce. The earl continued his affair discreetly, but he obtained a house for Schmith in London. The house was not far from his family's London house!

Surprisingly, the couple made a conscious decision to have a child together, after some years together. Their son, Mark, was born while the Earl was still married.

The Earl of Harewood Divorces

The scandal shocked the royal family, especially when the Earl's wife eventually decided to divorce him for adultery. He married his model in 1967 in America after they had had an eight-year affair. Schmith had found being the 'other woman' humiliating, so the couple was extremely pleased to be married at last.



The couple paid a high price for their indiscretion, however. They were not invited to Princess Anne's second wedding and the Earl was out of favour with the Queen. It wasn't until 1981 when the Queen attended the 50th anniversary of the English National Opera, that they knew that they were again considered part of the family.

The Earl told People magazine that it had all been worth it. "Infinitely", he answered. He did regret causing people pain and thought that a 'quick, sharp split' might have been better.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Post Soon

I've been a bit ill for a while. I had the dreaded migraine. Now I have a cold and a sore foot.

However, I hope to write a new post soon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Diva and the Duke




When the famous Australian opera singer was visiting New York on one occasion, she was invited to lunch with the singer, Yvette Giblert. She sneered at the idea, saying that Gilbert might be invited to sing one of her couplets during dessert for a fee.
Gilbert replied that she understood. "I am only of humble birth", she said, "but Madame Melba is, of course, a member of the French royal family!"

This l'esprit d'escalier referred to Nellie Melba's long-ago affair with Louis-Phillipe d'Orleans, the son of the Pretender to the French throne. The lovers met in 1890. Melba and the Duc were mad about each other, even though there were many obstacles in their path. The Duc was ten years younger than the 31-year old Melba and engaged to a European aristocrat. Melba was married, but separated from her wild aristocratic husband, Charlie Armstrong. She also had a young son. The Duke was Catholic and Melba was Protestant. Even if Melba divorced, it would be impossible for them to marry.

The lovers rode through the Vienna woods and waltzed to Strauss music. The Duke had followed her to St. Petersburg, Brussels and London where they were glimpsed sharing a box at the Opera. Unfortunately, Melba's teacher's daughter, Blanche, hated her and told a journalist about the affair. The scandal broke and created an uproar. Charlie threatened to sue for divorce and Melba was told that as a divorced woman she would be banned from singing at Covent Garden. Luckily, Charlie was eventually calmed down somehow, and he obtained a quiet divorce from Texas years later.

The Duke went on safari to Africa for a few years after he and Melba separated. He eventually married an Austrian Arch-Duchess, but the marriage was unhappy. He and Melba stayed in contact during the rest of their lives. Although Melba had a few lovers, perhaps including the artist, Rupert Bunny. The Duke was the great love of her life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Posts

I've been very busy this week, but I hope to write new posts next week!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

King Harold's Residence Found!

The ancient residence of King Harold of Denmark was discovered recently by archaeologists near the famous Jelling runic stones. Harold was called Harald Blåtand in Denmark, meaning dark-skinned and tan.

This king is well-loved by many Danes because he united Denmark and Norway and he converted Denmark to Christianity. Born in 911, King Harold was the son of King Gorm and his wife Thyra. Thyra was rather interested in Christianity but remained pagan.

When Gorm was defeated by the German king, Henry 1, he was forced to tolerate his Christian subjects. Harold only accepted Christianity when Denmark was finally defeated by Otto 1. Otto forced Harold to convert and Harold was baptized by a German with the strange name of Poppo. Harold must have taken to the new religion in the end because he built a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity and he built a monument which said that he converted the country to Christianity.

When his sister's Graafeld's husband,Erik Blood Axe, was assassinated, Harold took over Norway. He was slain himself in 986.

Harold was nicknamed 'Harold Bluetooth' and Ericsson's famous Bluetooth technology, which unites 'the worlds of computers and telecom' is named after him.

You can read more about Harold here: Harold Bluetooth's Royal Palace

The King's Secret Matter by Jean Plaidy

This is a sympathetic portrayal of Catherine of Aragon who suffered so much at the hands of Henry VIII. Plaidy paints a vivid picture of the splendour of Henry's court and the life that Catherine is forced to endure after her downfall.

Catherine is depicted as proud and determined to fight for her daughter's legitimacy. She is a very loving wife and mother, and remains very fond of Henry even when he subjects her to great trials. She is, perhaps, shown as a little bit too saintly, but Plaidy does an excellent job of making the reader feel very sorry for her.

Plaidy's character analysis of Henry is also excellent. He could be kind and loving, but quickly change to being nasty. His mercurial nature must have been extremely frightening! Henry was capable of turning against people very quickly, and the fear of death became ever-present for those close to him.

Plaidy also wrote well about Wolsey, but I got a bit tired of reading about him. He wasn't a very likeable character, and I wasn't especially interested in reading about his thoughts. Plaidy probably thought that this made the story clearer, but I am not sure that it was necessary.

I enjoyed this book and thought that it was one of Plaidy's better novels. The story is depressing and the reader knows that at the start. This probably made the novel even harder to write because many readers like happy endings. This book is worth reading if you like historical novels set in Tudor times.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Six Wives by David Starkey


This is a clearly written and interesting book in which Starkey attempts to get rid of many misconceptions about Henry VIII's wives. These misconceptions have existed for centuries. Catherine of Aragon has always been regarded as saintly, for example. Although Starkey agrees that she was very religious, he does think that she probably lied about her first marriage. She did spend a long time with Henry's brother, Arthur, who was quite healthy. It is unlikely that the marriage wasn't consummated.

He also writes sympathetically about Katherine Howard. She is usually regarded as a rather stupid tecenager, but Starkey's book shows that she really wasn't stupid. She also had a mind of her own and spoke up for some people whose lives were in danger.

I did think that Starkey got carried away by speculation at times. He writes that Anne Boleyn, for example, had her bed hung with richly embroidered crimson velvet of the 'Bed of Alancon'. He thinks that Anne may have wanted this because she got the Duke of Alancon mixed up with the French duke, Longueville, captured by the English during Henry's war with the French. Catherine had written that she would exchange the coat of the dead King of Scots, killed in the great battle of Flodden, for the Duke. Starkey thinks that Anne may have regarded the relic as a symbol of Catherine's finest hour, and appropriated it for herself. This seemed to me to be rather a stretch. Perhaps Anne just liked the beautiful fabric?

One reviewer wrote that Anne was Starkey's favourite, but I didn't think so. He annoyed me by attributing ulterior motives to her at almost every turn. The passage about the bed was just one example.

He also appeared to dislike Jane Seymour, who didn't seem to have too many qualms about Anne's death. His view of her was more understandable, I thought.

This was not a riveting book. The beginning was a bit dull but Starkey got into his stride when he started writing about Anne Boleyn and the book became more interesting. Most people who like to read about Henry's fascinating wives will enjoy it.

NB: I also posted this review at my Book Addiction blog.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crown Princess Victoria's Wedding

Here is a pretty video of photos of : the Swedish princess's wedding. You can view many photos here and read about what all the royal ladies wore at: .Crown Princess Victoria's Wedding and the Triumph of Style.

The all-important question! What do you think of the dress?

I hope to write an article soon - it will probably be on a historical subject

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII's Rebel Sister



Queen Margaret of Scotland was certainly an interesting woman! I'm hoping to read a book about her one day. Here is my article about her: Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII's Rebel Sister.

I am writing too many posts about women, so I must try to write more about men! Henry V of England might be my next choice.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Theresa Tallien

Juan Cabarrus, the Minister of Finance for the King of Spain, was in a panic. His beautiFul daughter, who was very young, was attracting the attention of men. He needed to marry her off quickly.

He chose Juan Fontenay, a French aristocrat. Theresa, only fourteen, was probably not pleased, because Fontenay was short and not good-looking. However, she was presented at Court and she probably enjoyed the sumptuous life of luxury to which she was introduced by her husband. They had a son, Devin.

This was 1788 and danger was on its way. Fontenay fled the Revolution, leaving his young wife in peril from the ruthless French revolutionaries. Even though she divorced him in 1791, Theresa was jailed because she was the former wife of an aristocrat.

She actually went to prison twice. On the second occasion, she met and became friendly with the charismatic Josephine, the future wife of the Emperor Napoleon. She also met Jean Tallien, a revolutionary leader, and seized her chance. Even though he was pock-marked and unattractive, she became his mistress and had a daughter, Thermidor, to him. She was nicknamed 'Our Lady of Thermidor' because she used her influence to free many prisoners.

Theresa sent her lover a message: "I had a dream last night that you were no longer a coward, and I was free." After reading this, Tallien made an impassioned speech against Robespierre and managed to oust him from power. He also married Theresa. This marriage also failed, however, and they were divorced in 1802.

Theresa didn't act like a woman educated by nuns. She had many lovers, including Paul Barras and Gabriel Ouvrard. Eventually she married the Comte de Caraman, the 16th Prince of Chimay, and had several children with him.

She was famous for her salon and friendly with many in the artistic and intellectual world in Paris.

Henry VIII and The Lord's Prayer

In 'The Tudors', an enjoyable but rather historically inaccurate TV series, Henry VIII introduces the doxology into The Lord's Prayer. I became interested in whether he really did do this. You will find the history of the prayer here: The Lord's Prayer.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Young Bess by Margaret Irwin

Young Bess by Margaret Irwin

By the time that this book begins, young Princess Elizabeth has had a lot to cope with, including her mother's brutal death, different stepmothers, and her father's changing moods. She has, understandably, become guarded and somewhat distrustful. Now she finds herself dealing with her father's death and her feelings for Thomas Seymour.

Ebullient, handsome Thomas Seymour, played brilliantly by Stewart Granger in the movie, is the real star of this book. Mercurial and ambitious, he has his eye on the Crown and he falls in love with the young Princess. This naturally upsets his sweet wife, the late King's widow. Elizabeth struggles with her feelings, torn between her love for Thomas and her love for his wife, Katherine. Thomas Seymour, has 'wit, but little judgment' and his love for Elizabeth places him in great danger. It also places him in grave danger, from his equally ambitious brother, the Lord Protector.

The rivalry between the two brothers and their different characters is described with great analytical skill. The Lord Protector is cold and jealous, but he is also idealistic and he does a lot to help the common people. Which aspect of his character will win?

Elizabeth comes into her own when her love for Thomas means that she has to fight for her very life. Her courage and brilliance shine in the last section of the book.

Margaret Irwin's book describes the Tudor period in vivid detail and it's sure to please most lovers of historical novels. However, some may find the novel too full of historical detail and the style rather breathless and old-fashioned. She descends into purple prose at times, but some of the writing is luminous and some of the scenes are memorable. These include the scene in which Cranmer walks in the garden and thinks about his late friend and master, his beloved King.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna

Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna died a few days ago at 95. You can read her obituary here: Grand Duchess Leonida

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Born to Rule by Julia Gelardi

Born to Rule by Julia Gelardi

The five queens, granddaughters of Queen Victoria, led tempestuous lives in turbulent times. They lived through wars and revolutions. Some were accused of treason; one was even cruelly murdered for it.

Julia Gelardi tells the story of the five queens clearly and vividly in this interesting book. She gets rid of misconceptions, and vindicates their reputations. I found the story of Queen Sophie, the Queen of Greece, who suffered greatly because she was the Kaiser's sister, and reviled by the Greeks and the English because she was supposedly sympathetic to Germany during the First World War, especially enlightening.

I knew a lot about Empress Alexandra of Russia before I began the book, but I had not read much about the others. All of the Queens deserve their own biographies, but putting them all together and comparing their influences, similarities, and differences was an excellent idea. I liked to read about how the different Queens handled their roles and adapted to the political situations in their countries. Queen Marie of Romania was probably the most outstanding in her ability to adapt and her strength of character. It was interesting to compare her with the Empress Alexandra, who was a much weaker person, and remained too aloof from her people.

This book was a sympathetic portrayal of the five Queens, and I enjoyed the book greatly. I am interested in reading more of Julia Gelardi

NB: This post is also on my Book Addiction blog.

The Rose of Christendom



The beautiful Princess Mary Tudor was once called 'the Rose of Christendom' by a French admiral. You can read about her here: Mary Tudor, Queen of France.

The Duchess of Suffolk and Charles Brandon were friendly with Katherine of Aragon and didn't approve of Anne Boleyn. They took Katherine's side in 'the Great Matter'.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Princess Who Ran Away With A Gypsy


Beautiful Clara Ward had an interesting and tempestuous life. She married four times - her husbands included a prince. She was also reportedly the mistress of King Leopold of Belgium. Ward once wrote in her diary that she'd rather marry a murderer than live a boring life - she didn't want to be ordinary and she certainly wasn't!

Ward was the daughter of a millionaire lumberman with holdings in steel and silver mines and steamships. He was the wealthiest man in Michigan. Her father died when she was only 2, leaving her brother in charge of the family's inheritance.

The lovely heiress met the Prince de Caraman-Chimay in France when she was quite young. He was fifteen years older, not very handsome, and not very wealthy. But perhaps that doesn't matter if you're a prince! She charmed the older man and the couple married in Paris when Ward was only 17.

She was the toast of Paris, although she shocked society with her unconventional ways. The princess also liked to spend her money - she had an annual income of $50,000.00 and she reportedly spent it all!

Although the couple had two children, Ward remained restless. She caught the eye of King Leopold of Belgium, who 'showered her with attentions.' When she ordered him to bring her an ice, he immediately obeyed!

Clara Meets Her Gypsy

The princess liked to dine at elegant restaurants in Paris with her husband. She became mesmerized by a young Hungarian gypsy who played the violin at one of these restaurants. The princess ran away with the rather poor Hungarian gypsy, whose name was Rigo Jancsi. They married in 1904.

There was great interest in this 'beautiful couple' by the media. Unfortunately, the princess's husband was an opportunist. She spent bucketloads of money on her gypsy. She built him a white marble palace in Egypt, a $5,000.00 violin, and lots of jewels.

Clara eventually had to obtain money by desperate means. She appeared at the Folies Bergere and the Moulin Rouge in skin-tight costumes. She called these her 'poses plastiques.' Toulouse-Lautrec even painted the couple.

Jancsi was unfaithful so the princess eventually divorced him. Her last two husbands were Italian, Peppino Ricciardo, and a station-master. She met the station-master when she travelled on one of the trains that passed through the station.

The princess died at only 43 in 1916.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Oh-La-La Challenge





Violets for the Emperor: The Life of Louisa de Mercy-Argenteau by Therese de Caraman-Chimay
This biography was dedicated to the author's favourite horse, so I didn't have high hopes for it! After all, even 'Mr.Ed' couldn't read! It was nicely-written, however, and very enjoyable.

Louisa was a beautiful princess with golden hair who travelled to St.Petersburg and Vienna in search of a husband. She had a grand time and many suitors pursued her. She failed to fall in love, however, and eventually settled on the handsome and wealthy Comte de Mercy Argenteau. Unfortunately, she found him quite boring, but she had a lovely daughter to compensate!

Her husband worked for the Emperor Napoleon II. Louisa impressed the Emperor with her beauty and charm, and grew very fond of him. When war with Germany eventuated, she found herself in a world of intrigue, and involved in negotiations with the Prussian Emperor and the dreadful Bismarck.

Louisa and the Emperor were probably platonic friends, according to this book. She is described as lacking passion, and she probably didn't want any scandal. Empress Eugenie was very jealous so Louisa didn't want to upset her too much!

Louisa was very talented musically and became friendly with the famous composer, Liszt. She also gave many Russian composers their big chance, apparently. The story of Louisa's influence on music only comprises a short part of the book, which is a pity.

I found Louisa very likeable and I'd like to read more about her. This was a very interesting biography, but it's hard to know how much of it is true. It reads more like a novel than a biography. There is a lot of dialogue in the book and I think that this might have been made up by the author.

Eugenie is presented as being very unlikeable. She had too much influence over Napoleon politically, and she was difficult, according to this book. I haven't read much about her yet, so I don't know that much about her character.

This was a sweet book. I recommend it if you're interested in this time in French history and French royalty.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Princess Grace Exhibition

The Princess Grace Exhibition at London's Victoria and Albert Museum enchanted Skirmish of Wit.

I love looking at the photos of Princess Grace's beautiful clothes. My favourite is the outfit from Rear Window. Unfortunately, I can't wear dresses like this because fifties-style full skirts don't suit me! After I'd tried on a few of these dresses, the saleslady said: "You need to wear A-line dresses. I knew that they wouldn't suit you!"

Which outfit is your favourite?

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Devoted Daughter



Nicknamed 'Baby' by her devoted mother, Princess Beatrice was Queen Victoria's last child. She was a merry and amusing, but quiet child. Queen Victoria was incredibly attached to the little girl and indulged her more than her other children.

Beatrice's father died when she was only 4. She became withdrawn when her father died. Her only company was her brother, Prince Leopold, who was a haemophiliac so he had to be somewhat protected. This must have been hard for the little princess to understand. She grew up to be very shy.

Princess Beatrice declared that: "I shall never be married." "I shall stay with mother," she said. Queen Victoria may have had other ideas when Beatrice was young because there were rumours that she wanted the princess to marry Louis, Prince Imperial, Empress Eugenie's son. Unfortunately, the good-looking young man was killed in 1879 in the Anglo-Zulu War.

Queen Victoria wanted Princess Beatrice to stay with her after that, and keep her company. She was very surprised when the princess fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg. There were many recriminations but Beatrice insisted on the marriage. For a long time, mother and daughter communicated by written notes!

Princess Vicky intervened on Princess Beatrice's behalf. She reminded the Queen that Beatrice was lonely. She said that her mother had often told her how lonely she was before she met Prince Albert. Queen Victoria also liked 'Liko' so she gave her permission for the marriage.

The Queen insisted that the couple live with her and that the Prince should give up his career in the Army. She wanted Princess Beatrice to remain her unofficial private secretary and confidante. The couple agreed and they were married in 1885. In 1886 their first son, Alexander, was born. Soon they also had a daughter, Victoria Eugenie, who had a 'meeting with destiny' ahead.

Princess Beatrice had two more sons, Leopold and Maurice. Her husband died of fever in 1896 at the Battle of Ashanti. Poor Princess Beatrice was utterly distraught and acted very strangely for a time. Eventually she continued her charity work for the Red Cross and she became governor of the Isle of Wight. (This position was inherited from her husband.)

The Princess lived to see her daughter become Queen of Spain. Unfortunately, in 1931 Republicanism was on the rise in Spain and King Alfonso XIII decided to abdicate in order to avoid civil war. Queen Ena died ten years before her grandson became King of Spain.

Princess Beatrice had a sad life. Two of her sons died. Maurice was killed in the Great War and Leopold died of haemophilia. By this time, she'd also lost many of her siblings.

In 1931 the Princess fell and broke two bones in her arm. She declined after that, suffering from lameness and cataracts. Her last two years were spent at Branbridge Park, Sussex, with Helena's daughters.

Queen Ena arrived to say goodbye to her mother when she became ill for the last time. A converted bomber was sent to fetch her from Switzerland because it was 1944. Princess Beatrice was 87. She is buried at the Isle of Wight beside her husband.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tudor Mania Challenge

Tudor Mania Button

The Tudor Mania Challenge run by the wonderful Marie Burton. I am going to enter this. I have started too late, however, so I'm very unlikely to win the prize!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Doll Dressed by Princess Vicky

Are you interested in buying this
beautiful doll dressed by Princess Vicky? I wonder what price it will fetch?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Empress's Brooch

One of Empress Catherine of Russia's brooches has just been sold for an enormous price. Read about it here: Empress Catherine's Brooch. There's certainly something about emeralds!

I hope to write about Princess Beatrice tomorrow.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Queen Victoria's Child of Anxiety


Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were very concerned when they noticed that their eighth child, Leopold, was thin and weak and bruised very easily. They were horrified when the diagnosis was haemopilia - a hereditary bleeding disease.

Their 'child of anxiety' was born on April 8, 1853. Queen Victoria was inclined to be over-protective of this sickly child who wanted to play normally with his brothers and sisters. He was easily injured and often prevented from playing games because of the danger. Prince Albert was more understanding and a mentor to his son without being too protective. He would ride and walk with his young son.

Leopold was clever, amusing, and curious. He showed some talent in art and enjoyed playing the piano which he was also good at. He learned to read quickly and liked reading. He impressed his mother with his lack of shyness and intelligent conversation and he helped her entertain guests.


Queen Victoria was so pleased with him that she gave him the Order of the Garter a year earlier than her other sons. She liked his persistence and dedication to learning in spite of his illness.

Leopold studied art, science, and modern languages at Christ College, Oxford. He started to acquire an extensive library and collected ceramics and art. He was a cultured man who became friends with Arthur Sullivan and Charles Dodson. He enjoyed the theatre, concerts and the opera.

The delicate young man tried constantly to stand up to his concerned and dominating mother. She didn't want him to travel overseas because of the danger but she gave him permission to visit Italy in 1878. Leopold loved the Continent and wrote to Queen Victoria that he didn't want to return to visit Balmoral. This shocked the Queen who suggested that he stay upstairs at Buckingham Palace instead! Leopold was not to be swayed and stayed longer than he originally intended in Paris.

Queen Victoria respected him more after this and let him travel abroad more often. Leopold toured Canada and visited the US with his sister, Louise, and her husband, the Governor-General of Canada.

Leopold tried not to let his illness stop him from being involved in royal duties and charities. He was very interested in furthering education and supported many educational institutions, such as The Royal Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. He also supported the establishment of a Royal College of Music. The Queen chose him to help her with her private correspondence and despatches. Bertie, the eldest son and heir to the throne, was not pleased about this.

When Leopold was 28 he was created Duke of Albany. He decided to look for a wife. He may have been interested in Alice Liddell's sister. She became engaged to one of his closest friends but tragically died. Leopold was a pall-bearer at her funeral.

He married Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont, Queen Emma of the Netherland's sister. She was not afraid of Queen Victoria and stood up to her, even though her children usually didn't. In 1883 their first daughter, Princess Alice, was born.

Leopold wanted to be Governor-General of Canada or Australia but the Queen vetoed these ideas. He carried on with his charities and royal duties in England instead but he couldn't sustain the fight against his tragic illness. Harsh winds blew in the February and March of 1884 and Leopold was advised to go to Cannes for his health. He slipped on a tiled floor in Cannes and hit his knee. Two days later he died. The Duchess was pregnant with their second child. Charles Edward never knew his father.

Princess Alice lived to 98 - she had the longest life of the Queen's grandchildren.

The Duke of Westminster's Beautiful Boxes

I would love to be given these luxurious boxes. The Duke of Westminster gave them to the gamine and ambitious Chanel.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Fairy Princess





Princess Patricia's parents chose the name 'Patricia' for her because she was born on St.Patrick's Day in 1886. Her first name was 'Victoria' after her grandmother, Queen Victoria.

The Princess lived in different countries during her childhood and adolescence. Together with her parents and older siblings, Princess Margaret and Prince Arthur, she lived in India and Canada.

Nicknamed 'Princess Pat', she
was an attractive and charming girl who was matched with many suitors, including the kings of Spain and Portugal, Alfonso and Manuel. She was also matched with the Russian Grand Duke Michael. She apparently refused to even be in the same room as Prince Alfonso. According to the New York Times, this enabled her beautiful cousin, Ena, to seize her chance. She apparently begged her reluctant uncle, King Edward VII, to let her marry the future King.

She'd been associated with so many suitors that she was surrounded by an aura of romance. The press nicknamed her 'the fairy princess.'



Princess Patricia in Canada

Princesss Patricia's father became the Governor-General of Canada in 1912. As her mother was ill, 'Princess Patsy' hosted parties and dinners for her father. The Canadians liked her charm and love of outdoor sports so she became popular in Canada. She also did a lot of charity work.

The family returned to England and the Princess's mother died in 1917. However, the Princess became the Colonel-in-Chief of a Canadian regiment named after her, the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. The Princess designed their badge and colours. She personally embroidered the first colour of her regiment.

Princess Patricia's Marriage

Princess Patricia eventually married the naval commander, Captain Alexander Ramsay, in Westminster Abbey. She relinquished her royal titles becoming Lady Patricia Ramsay but she remained in the line of succession. They eventually lived in Ribsden Hall in Windlesham which she inherited from her aunt, Princess Louise.

The couple had one child, Alexander. He also became a Captain in the forces and lost a leg in World War Two.

Princess Patricia's Art

Like her aunt, Princess Louise, 'Patsy' was a talented artist. She was taught by A.S. Hartrick, who had known Gaugain and Van Gogh. The Princess travelled to many different countries with her husband and liked to paint tropical landscapes.

She left over 600 paintings behind when she died in 1974.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Interview with Anne Sebba: Part Two

Here is the second part of my interview with the author of American Jennie: Anne Sebba

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Military Prince


Prince Arthur, the eighth child of Queen Victoria, informed his family that he wanted to be a soldier at a very young age. 'Artur wants to be a soldier,' he told them.

He was fascinated by everything that was military. He loved to play with toy soldiers representing British and Prussian regiments. Little Arthur also liked to read about the military - he especially liked to read about the Duke of Wellington.

He was a strong and healthy child so the family agreed that this would be a good career for him. The Prince was educated by private tutors. He attended the Royal Military College at Woolwich when he was only sixteen. He was kept away from his flirtatious brother, Edward, who was staying at the barracks. Edward might be a bad influence! After graduating the Prince became a lieutenant in the British Army.

In 1874 when he was only 24 Arthur became the Duke of Connauught and Strathearn and the Earl of Sussex. He also inherited the duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha but he renounced this and handed it to his great-nephew, Prince Charles.

Career

Prince Arthur served in South Africa, India and Canada. When he was only 19 he was stationed in Montreal and took part in an action against the Fenians.

He became the a Divisional Commander 1883-86 in India and Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army 1886-90. He returned to England after this and found it a bit dull after the exotic life in India. He was also very disappointed that he was not made the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. The government apparently thought that he was too inexperienced. However, his friendship with Leonie Leslie made him somewhat more cheerful.

Prince Arthur became the Governor-General of Canada in 1912. He and the Duchess were very popular in Canada. Their daughter, Patricia, was especially popular.

When war was declared the Prince saw the troops off. The Canadian Prime-Minister didn't care for this - he thought that it was beyond the Prince's duties.

The Duchess was very ill during the Prince's time in Canada and had to go back to England for two operations. She died in 1917.

After his return from Canada in 1916 the Prince was based in Aldershott where he was a commander in the army.

Marriage

Prince Arthur married a Prussian princess, Princess Margaret Louisa, in 1879. Queen Victoria didn't approve at first. He was her favourite son and she saw no need for him to marry at all! She had had enough of the arrogant Prussian royal family.

However, she found Louisa to be a charming girl and very sweet. The couple had three children - Margaret, Arthur, and Patricia. Sadly, Margaret, who became CP of Sweden, and Prince Arthur both died before their father.

There were rumours about the Duke and Leonie Leslie, Jennie Churchill's sister. The Duchess liked this vivacious woman too, however, and didn't want her to end her friendship with the Prince. (I think that they were probably just platonic friends but it's a mystery.)

Leslie remained friendly with the Prince after his wife died and helped him a great deal.

Prince Arthur lived a very long life. He died at 91. He was sympathetic with young Edward VIII during the abdication crisis but worried about the kind of 'Queen' that he wanted to marry. He was pleased to see King George VI succeed.

He died at 91 in 1942.

Interview with Anne Sebba


Anne Sebba, the author of American Jennie, very kindly agreed to let me interview her for Suite 101. Here is the first part of the interview: Interview with Anne Sebba.

Monday, March 29, 2010

CP Mary More Popular Than Oprah!

'Our' CP Mary is more popular than Oprah and Bono according to this article in the San Francisco Sentinel: Popular CP Mary

I also like her hat!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

An Artistic Princess


A piece of very stale cake went on sale last year at a Birmingham antiques fair. It dated from Princess Louise's wedding to the Marquess of Lorne in 1871 and was offered for 145 pounds. The slice was one-inch thick and protected by parchment. Whoever bought the cake was advised that it would not be a good idea to eat it! (I haven't been able to find out whether it was sold or not.)

Princess Louise, Queen Victoria's fourth daughter and sixth child was born in 1848. Regarded as the most beautiful of the Queen's daughters, she had rich brown hair and blue eyes. She also had a distinctive personality. When she was very young she showed her assertiveness by stating, "We are not royal children, we are uncles and aunts!"

Prince Albert, Princess Louise's father died in 1861 when the princess was very young. She suffered great grief but soon found the atmosphere at Court very gloomy and started to become rebellious. However, she served as her mother's unofficial secretary and Queen Victoria was very pleased with her.

Princess Louise did find time for artistic studies, however. She was a talented painter and sculptor and attended the National Art Training School which was founded by Prince Albert. She was also good at playing the piano and dancing.


A Husband For Louise

Queen Victoria soon wanted to find a husband for her lovely daughter. Princess Vicky invited the Princess to Berlin but Louise disliked the Prussian men. She found that they lacked a sense of humour and were rude and arrogant to her. They found her too self-confident and independent for her. The Queen didn't want her to marry a Prussian anyway for political reasons.

There was trouble when the young Princess fell in love with the Rev.Duckworth, her brother Leopold's tutor. The Queen dismissed him. There were even rumours of an illegitimate child and there was a DNA case about this a couple of years ago.

The Princess eventually fell in love with John, the Marquess of Lorne, to great consternation. This was because he was only a subject, not a royal. Prince Edward was especially upset and didn't think that the young man was suitable.

However, Queen Victoria was pleased with the match because it meant that the Princess could remain nearby.

The Marriage of Princess Louise

Princess Louise married the good-looking, mild-mannered young man in 1871 in St.George's Chapel, Windsor. She wore a dress of white satin and a veil of Honiton lace which she designed herself. Her wedding cake weighed over 225 pounds (102 kilograms) and took three months to create.

The marriage was unfortunately not a very happy one. There were rumours that the Marquess was gay and the couple remained childless. There were also whispers that the Princess had affairs. These were allegedly with Bigge, the Queen's assistant private secretary and Edgar Boehm, the sculptor. There is no proof of this, however.

Canada

The Marquess became Governor-General of Canada in 1878. The couple lived in Ottawa.
Princess Louise became very homesick and wasn't very happy in Canada although she liked many Canadians and kept in touch with her Canadian regiments after she returned to England. The couple liked Quebec better in Ottawa. They had a summer house there.

Princess Louise devoted time to her beloved arts and charities. She founded the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and wrote an operetta.

The couple had a nasty sleighing accident in Canada. The Princess was knocked unconscious and suffered concussion and shock. She may also have had a piece of glass in her ear.

Alberta and the stunningly beautiful Lake Louise are named after the Princess.

Princess Louise Returns

The couple returned to England in 1883. Lorne became a Liberal MP but joined the Unionists to the Princess's chagrin. She favoured Irish Home Rule. Princess Louise also supported the suffragettes and women's rights. She wrote to Josephine Butler and visited Elizabeth Garrett.

They spent much time apart and Princess Louise became rather keen on her sister Beatrice's husband. She joined the social circle that revolved around her brother, King Edward VII. They were very fond of each other. This is also when the rumours about affairs with other men began.

The couple reconciled in 1911 and the Princess was devastated when the Marquess died in 1914. She complained about being very lonely and wondered what the Marquess was doing!

She continued with her artistic works and many charitable activities until she became very ill. She was even known to visit hospitals on the spur of the moment. The Princess lived at Kensington Palace until she died at the advanced age of 91 in 1939. She had been teased by the King about her obsession with physical fitness and replied that she'd 'outlive them all.' She lived the longest life of the Queen's children so she was right!

I think that Princess Louise was one of the most interesting of the Queen's daughters. She wasn't as admirable as Vicky or Alice but I like her devotion to the arts and charities and she had a memorable personality, obviously.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Over The Top Award




Since we last met I've walked around the Golden Mount in Bangkok, been lost in beautiful San Gimignano, lamented being snowed in in Venice, and had a sleepless night on a train from Venice to Paris. I apologise for being away for so long but I had a lovely holiday.

Now that I'm back I hope to write about Princess Louise this week.

Kittie Howard of The Block has very kindly given me the Over The Top Award and asked me to pass it on to five blogs that I like. Here they are:


Ms.Lucy of Enchanted by Josephine

Hels of ART and ARCHITECTURE, Mainly

Cheryl of The Princess Palace


The Aesthete's Lament

Evangeline of Edwardian Promenade and

Catherine Delors of Versailles and More

There are many other blogs that I love so I may add some more later.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Princess Helena



Princess Helena, born on May 25, 1846, lived a quieter life than some of her sisters. Queen Victoria remarked that Helena was lucky to live in England, away from wars and strife.

Little Helena was the 'tomboy' of the family. She liked riding, walking and swimming. She also enjoyed taking things apart. When she was on boats she wanted to know how everything worked. She was close to her brother, Alfred, and his early death at a relatively young age devastated her.

Helena suffered being Queen Victoria's 'crutch' in the Queen's old age. After Princess Alice married, Helena carried out secretarial and other duties for the Queen. Queen Victoria loved having one of her daughters nearby and wanted Helena to remain in England.

Queen Victoria also wanted the Princess to get married so she became determined to find Helena an amenable husband. Helena was the plainest of Queen Victoria's daughters so this wasn't an easy task. Queen Victoria was impressed with Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, who she thought was a 'gentleman' and quiet. He was a good friend of Fritz and Vicky. Princess Alexandra was strongly against the match for political reasons, but Queen Victoria regarded Princess Helena's marriage as more important than political considerations.

Prince Christian was fifteen years older than Princess Helena, 34, and penniless. He was easy-going and agreeable, however, and the marriage appeared to be happy. They were married long enough to celebrate a golden wedding anniversary.

Like Princess Alice, Princess Christian devoted herself to charities. She was one of the founding members of the Red Cross and the President of the Royal British Nurses' Association. She also founded the Royal School of Needlework. She hosted free dinners for children and the unemployed - this was a progressive cause in those days. She also founded a nursing home.

Princess Christian was also quite cultured. She played the piano and her friends included Jenny Lind and Clara Butt.

She had a dominating personality and could sometimes be embarassing. The Archbishop of Canterbury wanted the congregation to pray during a national dock strike for God to interceed. Princess Christian said in a penetrating whisper, "That prayer won't settle any strike!"

The couple had six children. Two of Helena's sons died - Prince Christian Victor died of enteric fever while serving in the Boer war and another son who was still-born.

Princess Christian died in London in 1923. Like Princess Alice, she was greatly loved because of her charitable work.

The images are from Wikimedia Commons. They are of Princess Helena and Princess Helena and Prince Christian shortly after their engagement.

Monday, February 8, 2010

New Post Soon

I hope to publish a new post this week.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Princess Alice of Hesse




Princess Alice, the second daughter of Queen Victoria, was open-minded and interested in intellectual pursuits like her sister Vicky. She was an interesting woman. Unfortunately, she had a very sad life.

The Princess was only a teenager when her beloved father died. She was very close to Prince Albert and nursed him a lot during his illness. She played the piano to him and read to him. When the grief overcame her she quietly left the room and came back when she had calmed down. "Her fortitude amazed their doctors and servants."

After the Prince died the poor Princess then had to take over many of Queen Victoria's duties and try and nurse her through her terrible grief. This proved impossible but the Princess was a great help to her.

Princess Alice's wedding to Prince Louis of Hesse, soon after her father's death, was more like a wedding than a funeral. Almost everyone dressed in black and spent the ceremony crying. Even the Archbishop who married the couple cried.

The Princess joined her husband in Darmstadt. Her marriage was not happy because Prince Louis liked military parades and shooting, instead of reading and cultural pursuits. He hardly ever read a book. Princess Alice was quite disappointed in him.

In spite of this, they had five children in quick succession. The children included Princess Alexandra, who became the tragic Tsarina, and beautiful Grand Duchess Ella, who was also killed by the Bolsheviks in a terrible way. Princess Alexandra's son, Alexai, inherited his haemophilia from his mother. Her brother, Fritti, was a haemophiliac. Princess Alice was distraught when the young boy fell out of the window and died shortly afterwards. She never really recovered from her grief.

The Princess devoted herself to charity work. Soon after her marriage there was a war between Austria and Prussia. Hesse was on the side of Austria which made Princess Alice and Vicki enemies. Princess Alice admired Florence Nightingale and nursed the sick and wounded with great devotion. After the war she continued her interest in charity work. She founded a mental asylum and worked for many charities, and established schools and hospitals.

She caused controversy when she became interested in a controversial theologian, David Strauss. He believed in the historical aspects of Jesus's life, but not the 'supernatural' aspects. Princess Vicky invited him to the palace and liked to discuss Christianity with him. Many Germans didn't like this, and the Empress Augusta even accused her of being an atheist.

Princess Alice was sickly. She suffered from severe headaches, neuralgia, and rheumatism. She wore herself out with her charity work. After her little daughter May died of diptheria, Alice soon caught it from her son, Ernest, who also had the illness. She died at only 35 on the anniversary of her father's death.

Queen Victoria wrote that 'the princess who behaved so admirably during her dear father's illness...should be called back on this very anniversary, seems almost incredible, and most mysterious.'

Princess Alice was greatly beloved in Germany and England because of her charity work. The Princess Alice hospital in Eastbourne was opened in her memory in 1883.

New Posts

I hope to write a new post tomorrow. Perhaps I'll do a few posts. I hope so!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Kaiser's Withered Arm

Do you think that things might have been different if the Kaiser hadn't had a withered arm? Christina Croft doesn't but I do. Thank you, Christina, for posing such an interesting historical question.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Prince Alfred's Royal Tour of Australia



A long time ago Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, conducted the first royal tour of Australia. He didn't have as pleasant a time as Prince William! Prince Alfred's Royal Tour of Australia.

Unfortunately, Queensland is still full of zealous officials!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Welcome Prince William!

Prince William Visits Australia - Day 1

Welcome to the very handsome Prince William who is visiting Australia. He visited Redfern which shows a caring side and he won the hearts of most of us, I am sure.

I hope that the 'Prince of Hearts' enjoys his stay.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Prince Alfred

I will write a new post on Queen Victoria's third child, Prince Alfred, soon.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Keyboard Problems!

My keyboard won't work on my laptop so I'm using another one. I stupidly got liquid on it. Any suggestions will be gratefully received.
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