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.


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.


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.
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