Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Beautiful Princess of Braganza

Anita Rhinelander Stewart reminds me of Consuelo Vanderbilt. Like Consuelo, the beautiful and wealthy Anita entered a match which was probably arranged by her ambitious, socialite mother.

Born in 1885, Anita had a rich father who was a lawyer and managed various trusts. Anita's mother divorced him and married James Henry Smith, nicknamed 'Silent' Smith.
He had inherited fifty million dollars from an unmarried uncle. He settled one million dollars on Anita. Soon after the marriage Smith died and left Anita's mother and Anita large amounts of money.

Anita met Prince Miguel of Braganza in Paris and married him three months later. Crowds flocked to see the great occasion. This was the first royal wedding in Scotland since the days of the Stuarts. Anita and the Prince married at Tulloch Castle near Dingwall on a fine day, September 15, 1909. National flags brightened the streets. The bride wore a lovely chiffon dress and a 'historic lace veil over a wreath of orange blossoms'. The veil was attached to a diamond and sapphire cluster given to her by the Prince.

Anita's mother settled the Prince's gambling debts, which amounted to over $800,000.00. Surprisingly, Anita remained Protestant. I read in various articles that Anita was created Princess of Braganza by the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph but Marlene of 'Royal Musings' has researched her extensively and writes that this information is wrong.

The marriage was not happy although the couple had three children, Miguel, Nadjeda,and John. Nadjeda committed suicide when she was in her thirties.

Anita returned to America with her children during the First World War. The Prince fought for the Kaiser, which probably annoyed Anita. (One hopes that it did!) She lived in NYC and set up a photographic studio. She remained on good terms with her husband, who also returned to America. He died in 1923.

The princess died in 1977 at 91 on the anniversary of her marriage to Prince Miguel.

I found a picture of Anita Stewart in this article from the New York Times: The Engagement of Anita Stewart

Marlene at Royal Musings has another article about the rather disreputable prince:
Anita Stewart's Poor Bargain

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Courtesan Who Became A Princess

My new post at Suite 101 is about a courtesan who became a princess: Liane de Pougy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

La Mode Illustree

I hope to do a new post soon. In the meantime, I've found some wonderful photos and portraits of royalty, Edwardians and Edwardian fashion: La Mode Illustree

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Political Princess: Gayatri Devi

Indian princess Gayatri Devi could have just relaxed in her life of luxury. Instead she won three elections, ran a stud farm and started schools for girls. She was also a campaigner for democracy and women's rights. The princess died aged 90 on July 29 this year.

Raised in an opulent palace with 500 servants, she spent holidays in London and Europe. There her family mixed with the British Royal family and the social elite.

At just 20 she married Sawai Man Singh, the Maharaja of Jaipur, in a famous wedding in 1939. His family looked down on her Cooch-Behar connections and her family didn't like his already having two wives. The handsome young man had been practically forced to marry these wives so he spent most of his time with the princess who was called one of the ten most beautiful women in the world. A writer in Vogue called her 'a dream in sari and jewels.'

The Maharaji ruled over more than two million people until India's independence from Great Britain in 1947. The princess set fashion trends, met Jackie Kennedy and other important people, and held extravagant parties. She was painted by Cecil Beaton.

In 1962 she won a seat in parliament, gaining one of the largest majorities in Indian history. She won elections three times but eventually she had a conflict with Indira Gandhi over Gandhi's socialist policies. She was put in jail for five months on what many thought were trumped up charges of tax-evasion.

Her husband died on the polo field in 1970. In 1975 she retired from politics, but she continued to support charities, run her farm, and run the Maharani Gayatri Devi College, one of the schools that she started. The talented princess also wrote books, including her memoirs, A Princess Remembers.
She tragically had to face the death of her only son, Jagat Singh, who had abused drug and alcohol in the nineteen-nineties. She remained resilient, however, still entering society. She loved cricket and riding. The princess wanted to see the Keira Knightley film, 'The Duchess', according to actress, Sharmira Tagore, who married the cricketer, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.
The princess, 'a picture of beauty and grace', will be greatly missed.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Antonia Fraser Mourns Marie-Antoinette

The distinguished biographer, Antonia Fraser, tells The Guardian that the Tatler got it wrong: The Tatler Got It Wrong About Me and Marie Antoinette .

I hope to write a longer post soon!
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