Monday, March 30, 2020

Grand Duchess Kira of Russia

If the first world war had not swept away the thrones of Russia and Germany, the marriage between Grand Duchess Kira of Russia and Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia would have been a grand dynastic alliance.  As war clouds gathered once again over Europe, the marriage reminded many of a Europe past, when the Romanovs and the Hohenzollerns reigned supreme.   But in 1938, the Soviet Union was nearly two decades old, and the German Kaiser Wilhelm II was living in exile in the Netherlands.  In Wilhelm’s native Germany, Adolf Hitler was moving inexorably closer to establishing total hegemony over the European continent.

Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, 31,  was the second son of Crown Prince Wilhelm and Crown Princess Cecilie. As the second son, his future was largely his own to make, as the burden of inheritance was on his older brother Wilhelm’s shoulders.  This changed in 1933, when Prince Wilhelm, married Dorothea von Salviati.  As Kaiser Wilhelm II did not approve of his grandson’s marriage, Wilhelm was obligated to renounce his rights to the throne, and, more important, to his position as the future head of the House of Hohenzollern.  (In 1940, Prince Wilhelm was killed in action, leaving behind his widow, and two young daughters.)

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  Until his brother’s marriage, Louis Ferdinand had few family obligations.  His grandfather had encouraged Louis Ferdinand to see the world.  He received a Ph.D. in Argentina, and he had a rather public affair with the French-born film star, Lily Damita, whom he followed to Hollywood.  He learned about American productivity when he worked for Henry Ford in Detroit. Louis Ferdinand was smitten with Lily Damita and planned to run off to Mexico to marry her.   Louis Ferdinand eventually came to his senses when he realized that Damita was exploiting her relationship with him for publicity purposes.

Louis Ferdinand returned to Germany where he got a job with Lufthansa.  He was also conscripted into the Luftwaffe, although Prince Louis Ferdinand did not support National Socialism and Adolf Hitler.

Wilhelm’s renouncement emphasized Louis Ferdinand’s need to make an equal marriage.

Family connections had a lot to do with the first meetings between Prince Louis Ferdinand and Grand Duchess Kira of Russia.   Kira’s mother, Victoria Melita, and Kaiser Wilhelm II were first cousins, as both were grandchildren of Britain’s Queen Victoria.

Louis Ferdinand and Kira were third cousins through Louis Ferdinand’s maternal grandmother, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, whose first cousin was Kira’s paternal grandfather Grand Duke Wladimir Alexandrovitch.

Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia was born on May 9, 1909, at the family’s apartment on the Avenue Henri Martin in Paris. She was the second daughter of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia and Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh.  Her birth coincided with her parents’ return to Russia after their marriage was finally acknowledged by their cousin, Emperor Nicholas II.

Nicholas did not originally give permission for the marriage as Victoria Melita and Kirill were first cousins.  There was no question about Victoria Melita’s suitability as the wife of a Russian Grand Duke.  Her father was the second son of Queen Victoria, and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in his own right until his death in 1900.  Her mother, Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, was the daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia, whose brother, Wladimir, was Kirill’s father.  The Orthodox Church forbids the marriage between two first cousins (as well as second and third cousins), and, thus, Nicholas could sanction an otherwise equal marriage.  Victoria Melita was also divorced from her first husband, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and By Rhine, although none of the statutes in the Fundamental Laws refers to divorce.

Despite her royal connections, Victoria Melita’s divorce and her affair with Grand Duke Kirill made her a social pariah.   The situation was made worse for Ducky, the family nickname for the Malta-born Victoria Melita, by the fact that her former sister-in-law, Alix, was married to Nicholas II.  Alix and Ducky were also first cousins.   The Tsar was a first cousin to Kirill and to Victoria Melita.

It was a tense situation for all.  Kirill and Ducky were married by a Russian Orthodox priest in October 1905.  Shortly afterward, Kirill was stripped of his title, his military ranks, everything connected to his Imperial position. He was also cut off from his imperial appanage.  The newlyweds did not have to worry about money, as they received substantial support from Kirill’s parents and Victoria Melita’s mother.

Kirill and Ducky settled into an apartment on the Avenue Henri Martin in Paris, although winters were spent at the Chateau Fabron, which was owned by Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna.

The couple’s first child, Maria, known as Mashka, was born at the Edinburgh Palace in Coburg in January 1907.  A few weeks before Maria’s birth, Victoria Melita, baptized according to the rites of the Anglican church, and confirmed in the Lutheran church, was received into the Orthodox church.

This was a major decision for Victoria Melita, as she understood the importance of her act.  The following year, her mother-in-law, Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna, “at her own spiritual prompting,” also joined the Orthodox church.  When she married Grand Duke Vladimir in 1874, Marie Pavlovna chose to remain Lutheran.  Circumstances, however, would make the Grand Duchess change her mind. 

Empress Alexandra’s youngest child and only son, Alexis, suffered from hemophilia, and it seemed unlikely that Alexandra, already the mother of five children, would have another child.   The next in the line of succession was Nicholas’s younger brother, Michael, who was unmarried in 1908. (His proposed marriage with Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh, Ducky’s youngest sister, came to naught as he was not permitted to marry his first cousin).  Michael was followed in the succession by his uncle, Grand Duke Vladimir, and his three sons, the eldest of whom was Kirill.

Nicholas eventually came round to accepting the marriage.  On July 15, 1907, he issued a decree that conferred the title of Grand Duchess on Victoria Melita.  She would now be known as Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna of Russia.  Kirill’s privileges were also restored. 

At least for the question of succession, Kirill’s position at court was further enhanced when Grand Duke Michael married morganatically in 1911, a year after his future wife birth gave birth to a son.  Michael did not lose his right to succeed to the throne, but as his marriage was unequal, according to the Fundamental Laws, his wife and children were not considered members of the Imperial Family.   It did not seem conceivable at this time that the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty would come to an end in a cellar in Ekaterinburg only seven years later.  But Kirill’s ambitious mother, Marie Pavlovna, sensed that the throne would eventually devolve on her eldest son, Kirill, and his family.

Nicholas II Alexandra, their five children, and the servants who had remained with them were all shot to death in the early hours of July 17, 1918.   One month earlier, Nicholas’ brother, Grand Duke Michael, who had become the emperor after his brother’s abdication, was executed along with a manservant.

Michael’s son, George, was not eligible for the succession, the next in line to the vacant throne was Grand Duke Kirill, who with his wife, Victoria, and their three children, were living in Finland, in relative safety.  After Kirill had declared his allegiance to the Provisional Government, he and his family were given permission to leave Russia.  They were allowed to take only a few possessions with them.  Ducky sewed precious jewels into the family’s clothes.  Their departure had been “quietly arranged,” by Alexander Kerensky, the head of the Provisional Government.    Grand Duke Kirill and his two daughters left in one car for the train station.  Victoria, then seven months pregnant, left in a second car, taking a different route to the train station.

The exit documents were presented, and the family got on the train with little fuss.    Princess Kira, who was eight years old at the time, remembers that their travel passes “were respected and we were not molested on the way.”

The little girl also noticed the lack of imperial trappings in the car – “red carpets, special comforts.” 

  The family stayed for two weeks at Haiko in Borgo (now Porvoo, Finland), at the villa of friends before moving into a rented house in town, where on August 30, 1917, Ducky gave birth to a son, Wladimir.

It was not an easy exile for the family, as the situation in Finland soon disintegrated into anarchy.  By the end of the year, civil war spread throughout the country.  Even the most basic food essentials, including milk and sugar, were difficult to obtain.   The country was in a state of collapse, but Kirill and Victoria refused to leave, as they still believed that Russia would emerge victoriously, and the monarchy would be restored.    The French government and the King of Sweden made overtures to the Grand Ducal couple to assist their departure.  But the family would not leave Finland.

        In March 1918, the Bolshevik government signed the Brest-Litvosk treaty that ended the war between Russia and Germany.  Finland’s civil war also ended, and the country was now, for the time being, in German hands.  Although they were largely safe from the Bolsheviks, life in Finland continued to be difficult for Kirill and Ducky and their three children.

    Ducky was able to keep in contact with several relatives including her sister, Crown Princess Marie of Roumania, and her first cousin, Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden, who sent food and clothing parcels.

In a letter to her Aunt Marie, Kira described her family’s plight.  “ We go for long walks and hunt for mushrooms in the woods.  There are many wildflowers in bloom.  Each Friday we go to the cinema.  On Saturday we have games.”

Kira could not hide her sadness from her aunt Missy, whom she barely knew.  “I often wonder if we will ever go away from here.  We are getting so dreadfully homesick but I suppose we are better off here. When there is no more sugar I think we will miss it very much.  Our lessons keep us occupied, otherwise, we are rather bored sometimes.”

The family lived in Finland until the summer of 1919.  Kirill had received permission to stay in Finland for another year, but he and Ducky decided that it was time to move closer to family.  The couple was painfully aware that the Bolsheviks controlled Russia, and there would be no return to their previous, well-heeled life.  Most of their private fortune was gone, as the Soviet government had appropriated everything that had once belonged to the Imperial family.

         Once on German soil, the family stayed for two days with Ducky’s sister, Alexandra, the Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg before traveling to  Munich for a reunion with Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, a still proud and haughty woman, although she had lost almost everything, including her home and her Romanov wealth. It was a brief reunion as Marie died in October 1920.  She left  Chateau Fabron and the Edinburgh Palace to Ducky and Kirill, where they decided to settle, although Germany was also now a republic.

          Thus, Coburg became the family home.   Money was always tight, although relatives, such as Aunt Missy, were able to provide assistance.   Ducky reestablished close relationships with her sisters, especially Marie, and Beatrice, who was married to King Alfonso XIII’s cousin, Infante Alfonso of Bourbon-Orleans.   Marie and Beatrice’s children were the same age as Maria and Kira.     Marie – now the Queen of Roumania – had once described her nieces as “two splendid children, well-grown, solid, with lovely hair, and perfect skin and as superlatively groomed as English ponies.”

Until her sister married and the death of her mother in 1936, Kira played the  Balalaika in the family’s orchestra.    She was also a competent pianist, preferring Chopin, and she had a “great devotion also for Beethoven and Wagner.”

Kira also enjoyed painting, a talent she had inherited from her mother, who painted flowers and landscapes.   She had a great passion for reading, and she described herself as a “voracious reader,” who preferred Tolstoy to all other writers, although she found Dostoevsky “unsurpassed as a writer of novels.”
She shared with her future husband a love of the outdoors and riding horses.  “The biggest compliment ever paid to me was when in America, during a tiring riding expedition, our host called me a ‘good sport’,” she said in a 1938 interview with the Associated Press.

As a great-granddaughter of a Russian emperor, Kira was born a princess of Russia with the qualification of Highness.  The circumstances of her elevation to the Grand Ducal rank and the qualification of Imperial Highness remain rooted in controversy.
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In 1922, Kira’s father, Grand Duke Kirill issued a manifesto, in which he declared himself `Curator of the Throne.’  Two years later, he assumed the title of Emperor and elevated his two daughters and son to the rank of Grand Duchesses and Grand Duke with the style of Imperial Highness.   On September 20, 1924, The New York Times was one of the first newspapers to report Kirill’s second proclamation. The paper reported a Berlin dispatch to the London Daily Mail stating that Kirill had signed a `proclamation declaring himself "Emperor of All the Russias.”'

"The Russian laws of Succession to the Throne," Kirill stated in the September manifesto, "do not permit the Imperial Throne to remain vacant after the death of the previous Emperor and His nearest Heirs has been established.  Also, in accordance with our laws, the new Emperor becomes such on the strength of the Law of Succession."

Succession to the Imperial throne was described in the Fundamental Laws, also known as the Pauline laws.  Article 53 states that "on the demise of an emperor, his heir accedes to the Throne by virtue of the law of succession itself, which confers this right upon him.  The accession of an emperor to the Throne is counted from the day of the demise of his predecessor."  Thus, Kirill as the next male Romanov in line to the throne became the new Emperor of all the Russias.

Although one may question the insensitivity of the timing of his announcement -- the Dowager Empress was still alive -- Kirill was the legitimate heir to the throne, and thus entitled to make such a pronouncement.

The Fundamental State Laws of the Russian Empire on the Succession to the Throne (the Pauline laws), codified by Paul I and revised by Alexander III in 1888, included detailed rules on matters of marriage, titles, inheritance, and succession to the throne.

As Kirill was the de jure Emperor, his children were entitled to grand ducal rank. This is found in Article 146, which provided for "the title of Grand Duke, Grand Duchess (daughter) and Imperial Highness belongs to the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and, through the male issue, to all the grandchildren of an emperor."

While most members of the exiled Romanov family supported Kirill’s decision, despite their personal feelings toward him, some cousins continued to maintain Kirill had no right to be the Tsar, even in exile.

As Grand Duke Kirill’s political activity increased, it became apparent that he and his family no longer could remain in Coburg. Germany had established relations with the Soviet Government, which made Kirill’s position a precarious one.    Although the Bavarian government refused to expel Kirill, they made it clear that he was no longer truly welcome in Coburg.    In the spring of 1926, the family moved to St. Briac in Brittany, where they purchased a small villa. The house was given a Breton name, Ker Argonid, which translates to Villa Victoria.

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Money remained a problem, and Victoria Melita was able to “keep the household going, and to pay for the education of their children,” by selling her own paintings of “exquisite watercolors from her beloved garden.”

          Kira’s elder sister, Maria did not join them in Paris.  In 1925, she had married Hereditary Prince Friedrich Karl of Leiningen, the son and heir to the Prince of Leiningen, the head of a very wealthy mediatized family.  Kirill and Ducky were disappointed in the marriage.   They did not consider Friedrich Karl, a mere serene highness to be suitable for a Russian Grand Duchess, even though Friedrich Karl’s father was a grandson of Queen Victoria’s older half-brother.  Nonetheless, Maria was happy in her marriage and was already the mother of an infant son.

   In 1927, Kira, a “raven-haired beauty,” turned eighteen years old.  It was time for the young Grand Duchess, who had been educated by tutors and governesses, to move into the important social circles to find a suitable husband, preferably one with a grand title ... and money.

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European papers published stories that Kira was going to marry King Boris III of Bulgaria.  The rumors were inevitable as many believed that Boris was looking for an Orthodox bride.  But he had his heart set on a Roman Catholic princess, Giovanna of Italy, although, in 1929, the marriage faces several obstacles due to the Princess’ faith.  The New York Times reported that “talk has now arisen here of a possible alliance between the King and the Grand Duchess Kira Vladimirovna, the 19-year-old daughter of Grand Duke Cyril, recently recognized as the head of the Romanoff family by a considerable section of Russian royalists.”

(King Boris and Giovanna married in 1930. )

This is the first part of the chapter, Grand Duchess Kira, that was published in 2004 in the book The Grand Duchesses.  The book is out of print.

If you liked this article, perhaps you can buy me a coffee

Saturday, March 28, 2020

HSH Prince Nicolaus zu Bentheim-Tecklenburg (1925-2020)

@Nikolaus zu Bentheim

HSH Prince Nicolaus Moritz Casimir zu Bentheim-Tecklenburg died on March 26 at his home in Herzebrock-Clarholz. He was 95 years old.

Prince Nicolaus was the second child of HSH Adolf Moritz Casimir Karl Adalbert Hugo Arthur, 5th Prince of Bentheim-Tecklenburg, and HSH Princess Amélie of Schönburg-Waldenburg.   He was born at Rheda on March 12, 1925.   He married Countess Franziska von Hoyos, Baroness von  Stichtenstein (1921-2009) on September 15, 1951 at Werenwag bei Hausen.   The marriage was childless.

He served in the German military and was taken prisoner by the Allies.  After his release, he studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy for two years, graduating in 1947.   His first job was as an assistant designer for the State Opera in Munich.

After a trip to Italy in 1949,  he returned to Germany to attend the Cologne School of Art.  He and his wife lived in Rome for more than 30 years where he painted and also worked as a graphic and trade fair designer.

The prince, who used the name Nicolaus zu Bentheim, was known for his surrealist paintings.

Prince Nicolaus is survived by his younger sister, Princess Gustava, Countess von Hothenthal and Prince Heinrich, and numerous nieces and nephews, including HSH Moritz, 7th Prince of Bentheim-Tecklenburg.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Trooping the Colour 2020 - won't be traditional

@Marlene A Eilers Koenig

“In line with Government advice, it has been agreed that The Queen’s Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead in its traditional form.”

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Princess Maria Teresa of Bourbon-Parma (1933-2020)

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HRH Princess Maria Teresa of Bourbon-Parma died today at the Hôpital Cochin Paris. She was 86 years old.   The cause of death was COVID-19. The announcement was made by her younger brother, HRH Prince Sixte Enrico of Bourbon-Parma.  The princess had become ill eight days earlier and was admitted to the hospital yesterday.  She was in excellent health only ten days earlier and had been caring for her two sisters with the help of a nurse.   Princess Maria Teresa remained in the apartment in quarantine for a week before being transferred to the hospital.  She was infected by the nurse who cared for her sisters.

Princess Maria Teresa (Marie Thérèse Cécile Zita Charlotte) was born on July 28, 1933, at Paris, the third of six children of HRH Prince Xavier, Duke of Parma and Piacenza and Madeleine de Bourbon-Busset.

The princess never married.  She is survived by four of her siblings:  HRH Princess Francoise (Princess Edouard Lobkowicz), TRH Princess Cecilie, Princess Marie des Neiges, and Prince Sixte Enrique of  Bourbon-Parma, and six nieces and nephews,  Prince Carlos Xavier, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, HRH Prince Jaime of Bourbon-Parma, HRH Princess Margarita of Bourbon-Parma, HRH Princess Maria-Carolina of Bourbon-Parma (the children of the late HRH Prince Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma and Piacenza) and HRH Princess Irene of the Netherlands) and HSH Prince Charles-Henri Lobkowicz and HSH Princess Marie Gabrielle Lobkowicz, a nun with Little Sisters of the Poor in the United States.)
TRH Prince Sixte Enrico and Princess Maria Teresa,  courtesy of HRH Prince Sixte Enrico

The Princess lived in Madrid since she was 28 years old.  She was a passionate supporter of Carlism and was nicknamed the Red Princess because she espoused leftist causes.  Empress Zita of Austria (nee Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma) was her aunt and her godmother.

In 2014, she spoke with the French newspaper, Liberation. The Princess said her father never reigned in Spain, but "fought all of his life to put his dynasty back in the throne."  She shared with her late brother, Carlos Hugo and his wife, Princess Irene, in the "oppression of financial capitalism,"  and became an "effervescent activist of this leftist Carlism, which dreamed of an oxymoronic socialist monarchy."

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Princess Maria Teresa said: "For us, the socialist idea was not the class struggle but the permanent search for consensus."

Her passion for Carlism never came to fruition.  In the late 1970s, she pursued a decorate in Hispanic Studies at the Sorbonne, and then a doctorate in Sociology in Madrid.  One of her dissertation subjects was "Religious overdetermination in the political field in Ireland" and the only royal highness to subscribe to Liberation, a left-wing French newspaper.

She lived alone.  According to her sister, Cecile,  Marie Teresa enjoyed her independence.  No affairs.   Cecile responded: "She has a very high requirement. If an opportunity had arisen, she would have seized it. But nothing in line with her aspirations has distracted her from her independence cult. ”

In an interview with L'Eventail, also in 2014, to promote her book, Les Bourbon Parme, une famille engagée dans l'histoire,  the princess said of her support for Carlism.  "Through Carlism, I tried to evoke the problem of Spain and in the broader sense that of Europe. We have been very involved, my brother Charles-Hugues, my sisters Cécile and Marie-des-Neiges, in the rebirth of this movement which I hesitate to call "party" because it is a word that does not suit all-to -fact. If you call it that, it is very old because it dates back to 1833. Since its creation, it has consistently defended certain claims. The movement still exists as a party, but when my brother succeeded my father and was considered a legitimate king, we obviously had to leave him. Today, it is my nephew Charles-Xavier who embodies continuity. He also wrote a document when King Juan-Carlos abdicated, not a criticism but rather a proposal for a solution to the expectations of Spanish society."

Princess Maria Teresa wrote seven books, all on Carlism and her family. None have been translated into English.

The funeral will take place on Friday, March 27.  The official announcement was released by her nephew, the Duke of Parma and does not include her eldest sister, Francoise, and her children and her younger brother, Sixte Enrico.  This is due to several decades-long estrangement between the three princess and their late brother, Carlo Hugo, and Princess Francoise and Prince Sixte largely due to political issues.


Archduke Karl fully recovered from Covid-19

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From Archduke Karl:

"I have just received a notification that the quarantine has been lifted after a negative corona test. After being infected with the Covid 19 virus, I am officially healthy again after almost three weeks.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who sent me wishes for recovery through various channels. Even if this removes the domestic quarantine for me, it is not a return to normal life for me either. The location makes it necessary to stay at home. This is the best way to curb the spread of the virus.

In all organizations in Austria in which I hold a management function, the events have been canceled for the next two months. Including the VI. Otto von Habsburg symposium, which should be devoted to the topic of "freedom".

Now we have to take responsibility in freedom, take care of ourselves and thus our fellow human beings and stay at home."

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Breaking News Prince Albert of Monaco tests positive for COVID-19

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AP reporting that Prince Albert II of Monaco has tested positive for COVID-19.

The palace states that the 62-year-old sovereign is doing well and still working at his desk.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Three Brazilian Princes test positive for COVID-19

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Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza, Prince Imperial of Brazil, announced earlier today that three of his younger brothers,  Prince Antonio, 70,  Prince Francisco, 64,  and Prince Alberto, 62,  have all tested positive for COVID-19 and are all undergoing treatment, according to Pro Monarquia, the official organization for the Imperial house of Brazil.

" We are experiencing the outbreak of one of the biggest epidemics in our history. In Brazil, this epidemic is growing and tends to contaminate a very large number of Brazilian people. He even reached the Imperial family: my brother, Antonio, who follows me in the line of succession, my brothers Alberto and Francisco, have all been tested positive for the coronavirus," Dom Bertrand said in a statement. "Do not get obsessed with the coronavirus, on the contrary. With all prudence and tranquility. We have to act with prudence, know where to be, what to do, what are the remedies, when to see the doctor. Let us know how to trust, more than ever, in Divine Providence."

 Prince Antonio is in the hospital.  Prince Alberto's wife, Maritza, also as the virus.

The 79-year-old Prince Bertrand is the heir apparent to his older brother, 81-year-old Prince Luiz.  The elderly princes are the sons of the late Prince Pedro Henrique (1909-1981) and Princess Maria Elisabeth of Bavaria (1911-2011).  They married in 1937 and were the parents of thirteen children.

Prince Antonio is second in line to the Vassouras branch of the Imperial house.  He is married Princess Christine de Ligne, daughter of the late Antoine, 13th Prince of Ligne and the late Princess Alix of Luxembourg, youngest daughter of the late Grand Duchess Charlotte.   (Christine's brother, Michel, the 14th Prince of Ligne, is married to Antonio's sister, Princess Eleonora.)

Prince Antonio and Princess Christina had four children:  Prince Pedro, who died in the Air France crash in June 2009,  Princess Amelia, Prince Rafael, and Princess Maria Gabriela.

Princes Francisco and Alberto renounced their rights to the throne when he made non-dynastic marriages.   Prince Francisco and his wife, Claudia Regina Godinho, are the parents of three daughters.   Prince Alberto is married to Maritza Ribas Bockel and they have two sons and two daughters.

Princess Beatrice cancels wedding reception

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The Telegraph is reporting that that Princess Beatrice and Edo Mapelli Mozzi have canceled their Buckingham Palace wedding reception on May 29.  The garden reception was to have taken place after the private wedding at the Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace.

“Princess Beatrice and Mr Mapelli Mozzi are very much looking forward getting married but are equally aware of the need to avoid undertaking any unnecessary risks in the current circumstances.

“In line with government advice for the UK and beyond, the couple are reviewing their arrangements for 29th May.

“They are particularly conscious of government advice in relation to both the wellbeing of older family members and large gatherings of people.

“Therefore, the planned reception in the Buckingham Palace Gardens will not take place.

“The couple will carefully consider government advice before deciding whether a private marriage might take place amongst a small group of family and friends.”

Monday, March 16, 2020

My latest article for BBC History Extra

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Would like to share with you my most recent article for BBC History Extra -

Working royals.

The first article was on Charles & Camilla.  I have another commission, but won't say anything until it is published.

Archduke Karl tests positive for Covid-19

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Archduke Karl of Austria, the 59-year-old head of the House of Habsburg, has tested positive for the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

From his home in Lower Austria, the archduke told a reporter from the Austrian newspaper,  Krone, that he said felt weak, but was optimistic.   "Don't panic, the Austrian authorities are acting  excellently," he said.  "I am doing reasonably well.  You feel a little depressed like a fly, but the symptoms do not go away quickly."

He believes he caught the infection in Geneva, as many of the attendees were from Milan.

"I had cough and lung problems, which I reported to the local officials," Karl said.  "A team in protective suits  did the five minute test."

 The day after, a policeman gave the archduke the news that the test was positive."

Karl is at his home and offered his thanks to "everyone who looked after me very nicely and correctly."

The archduke travels the world as a cultural officer. He is quick to offer appreciation for Austria's professionalism in dealing with the coronavirus.  The reporter asked him if he was worried or fearful?

"I am in contact with the family, the three children and friends over the phone and the computer.  Business as usual, that is, a normal working day."  But for the archduke, noted:  "Not really, as I am usually not at home for so long."

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Two new QVDS in the Leiningen family.

Well, two new QVDs in the Leiningen family.

HSH The Hereditary Princess of Leiningen gave birth to a daughter, HSH Princess Alexandra Viktoria Luise Ehrengard, on February 28, 2020, at Frankfurt-am-Main,  the day before Leap Year.   The confirmation is from the mother.

The former Princess Viktoria Luise von Preussen, the daughter of the late HRH Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia and Ehrengard von Reden, married HSH Hereditary Prince Ferdinand of Leiningen.

Princess Alexandra is a four-time descendant of Queen Victoria.

HSH Princess Isabelle of Leiningen, the wife of HSH Prince Hermann zu Leiningen, gave birth to a son, Leopold Konstantin Rainer Andreas was born on October 16, 2019, at Coburg.

The infant prince was baptized on January 5, 2020, at Amorbach's Lutheran church.

The godparents were Leopold Ferch,  HSH Princess Cecilia of Leiningen, daughter of HSH Prince Karl-Emich of Leiningen and his first wife, the late HSH Princess Margarita of Hohenlohe-Ohringen, and Count Konstantin von Schönborn.

Leopold Ferch is the eldest child of Baroness Alexandra von Holzhausen (daughter of HI &RH Archduchess Maria Magdalena of Austria, Princess of Tuscany) and Christian Ferch.

Hereditary Prince Ferdinand and Prince Hermann are the sons of HSH Andreas, Prince of Leiningen, and his wife, HRH Princess Alexandra of Hanover.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Queen Margrethe II cancels 80th birthday celebrations

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A release from the Danish royal house regarding Queen Margrethe II's 80th birthday celebrations, which have been canceled.

The Queen's 70th birthday celebrations were also

"Her Majesty The Queen has returned this evening from her annual winter holiday in Norway. In light of the spread of COVID-19 and the consequences of this for the society, The Queen has decided to cancel all of the Royal Danish House’s planned activities and events in connection with the upcoming 80th birthday in April. The royal family’s participation in other items on the official program in the coming weeks is also cancelled.

About the current crisis, The Queen states:

“Denmark and the international community stand in a very difficult situation right now.  We all have a special responsibility to show consideration for each other and together contribute to helping Denmark successfully get through the very big challenges the country faces. I therefore appeal that we all follow the government’s and the authorities’ directions and take care of each other.

I would like to direct a heartfelt thank you to the Danish healthcare personnel and the authorities, institutions, businesses and individuals displaying great decisive action and care for the Danish people so that we, together, can get through this difficult time.”

Upon arriving home in Denmark, The Queen has, as planned, taken up residence at Fredensborg Palace, where The Queen will remain for the time being."

Ten years ago,  a number of Queen Margrethe II's invited guests for her 70th birthday celebrations were unable to fly in for the birthday celebrations due to the ash from a volcano in Iceland, which led to closed airspace throughout the world.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Edward and Sophie in West Mersea

all photos @Ken Stone

Thank you to Ken Stone for allowing me to use his photos of TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex in West Mersea today.

It is the Earl of Wessex's 56th birthday.

The photos are the copyright of Ken Stone, and may not be reproduced without his permission.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Twins in the summer for Christian and Alessandra of Hanover

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HRH Princess Alessandra of Hanover is pregnant with twins,  according to reports Bunte.  The Peruvian-born designer lives in Madrid with her husband, HRH Prince Christian of Hanover, younger son of Prince Ernst August of Hanover and his first wife, Chantal Hochuli.

The babies are expected sometime this summer. 

The first pregnancy report came from the Spanish magazine, Hola.

Prince Max Emanuel of Thurn und Taxis (1935-2020)

HSH Price Max Emanuel Maria Albert Paul Isabella Klemens Lamoral of Thurn und Taxis was the eldest son of HSH Prince Raphael Rainer Karl Maria Joseph Antonius Ignatius Hubertus Lamoral (1906-1993) and HSH Princess Margarete  Charlotte Klementine Maria Alexandra Melanie of Thurn und Taxis (1913-1997).

Prince Max Emanuel was married twice.  Both marriages were considered non-dynastic.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Queen Adelaide

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 "You will do William good."  The words of comfort to Princess  Adelaide of Saxe- Meiningen came in a letter from her mother-in-law Queen Charlotte shortly after Adelaide's marriage to her son, Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence and St. Andrews.

Even King George III's formidable consort knew that the delicate task of restoring respect to the Royal Family's name rested with the young new Duchess of Clarence.  None of George III's sons had spotless reputations.  Nor for that matter did their wives. There was no question that the Prince Regent would ever reconcile with his wife, Caroline, even after their only child, Charlotte, had died in childbirth.  The Duke of York's wife preferred the company of her dogs to her husband. The reputation of the Duchess of Cumberland was considered so scandalous that Queen Charlotte refused to allow her daughter-in-law at court, even though Frederica was also her niece.

The Duchess of Clarence was a breath of fresh air for the House of Hanover.

Princess Amalie Adelheid Luise Therese of Saxe-Meiningen, Duchess of Saxony, was born at Meiningen on 13 August 1792.  Her birth brought great joy to her parents, Duke Georg I of Saxe-Meiningen, and his wife, Princess Luise Eleonore of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.  The Duke and Duchess had been married for ten years and had almost given up hope of ever having a child.  Two years later, a second daughter, Ida was born.  In 1800, the family's happiness was made complete when the much-wanted heir, Bernhard, was born.

Bernhard was only three years when his father died and he became the sovereign of the tiny duchy, north of Coburg and nestled deep in the Thuringian mountains.  Duchess Luise Eleonore was named Regent until Bernhard reached his eighteenth birthday.

Duke Georg had believed strongly in providing formal education for his daughters and insisted that Adelaide and Ida were taught Greek and Latin.  Reading the classics was a part of the princesses' formal education, although, for early 19th-century German princesses, this was not a normal or traditional education.

But even bluestocking princesses had few opportunities to avail themselves, apart from a marriage to a German prince from one of the neighboring duchies. When Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach came to Meiningen in search of a wife, Duchess Luise Eleonore hoped that he would choose the elder and plain Adelaide.  But it was the younger and prettier Princess Ida who accepted the Prince's offer of marriage, which took place in May 1816.  Adelaide was delighted by her sister's engagement.  As she approached her 25th birthday, she knew that her own chance of marriage was diminishing quickly.  What she did not know was that her mother and a family friend were conducting secret negotiations with King George III's third son, Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence.

The engagement between Prince William and Princess Adelaide was announced on 19 April 1818. If Adelaide had any apprehensions about her future life, she did not show it.  This well-read princess was no doubt aware of the dissolute nature of George III's sons.

The Duke of Clarence, at 52, was "the least educated of the British princes," while his future wife was described as a "small well-bred, excellent little woman."  Adelaide also had "a sense of duty [which] was one of the wonders of the age."
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William had very little to offer a wife except for the possibility of becoming Queen Consort of the United Kingdom and Hanover.  The third eldest of George III's son, William never expected to remain so close to the throne.  He had in fact chosen a career in the Royal Navy and was created Duke of Clarence and St. Andrews only after he threatened to stand for Parliament unless his father conferred on him a royal dukedom.

The death of George III's only legitimate grandchild, Princess Charlotte,  in childbirth in 1817, meant that Prince William was again in third place in the succession.

“Sailor Bill" or "Silly Billy" as William was known in the then tabloid press had enjoyed a series of love affairs before he settled down to comparative domesticity at Bushy Park with the actress Dorothy Jordan, who presented him with ten FitzClarences in fifteen years.  Supporting his mistress, their five sons, and five daughters, as well as Dorothy's children from previous relationships, was a costly endeavor.  To make ends meet, he would need to make a sacrifice, and that sacrifice was Dorothy Jordan, who after 20 years of living with William, was deserted by her royal lover. William needed a more permanent alliance.  In 1813, he began a serious search for a wife, preferably beautiful, young, and rich.

The deaths of Princess Charlotte and her stillborn son made William's search for a wife even more urgent.

Of George III's seven sons who were still alive in 1817, only three were legally married.  The Duke of York, who was now second in line, had no children by his wife.  Fourth in line was Edward, Duke of Kent, then living a contented life with his longtime mistress, Julie St. Laurent.  A glimmer of hope to the succession rested with the Duchess of Cumberland who expected a child early in the year, but in January the duchess gave birth to a stillborn daughter and at age 39, Frederica was not expected to bear another child.

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Realizing a contentious situation could be created by a throne without young heirs, Parliament ordered the unmarried royal dukes to marry at once or lose their allowances.

Every proposal William made to several singularly eligible heiresses was politely declined.  With `the desire of the Prince Regent', William even tried to woo the widowed Grand Duchess Catherine of Oldenburg, a sister of the Russian Emperor Alexander I declined the proposal stating that a son of George III was not good enough for his sister, while Catherine thought William vulgar.

William's cousin, Princess Sophia of Gloucester, was also considered, but she was already in her forties and past the age of childbearing.

The Duke of Kent, who thought nothing of abandoning his paramour for the sake of his creditors, was also now looking for a wife. But George III's youngest son, Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, wanted no part of the marital sweepstakes, although he offered his help in finding a bride for William.

The Duke of Cambridge, who served as his father's Viceroy in Hanover, decided that Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel would be the perfect bride for his brother.  Cupid's arrow struck Adolphus instead and the confirmed bachelor found himself falling in love with the attractive princess.  They were married in April 1818 with William's blessing.

Finding a wife was proving to be a daunting task. Several German princesses turned down William's proposal before Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen accepted.  Instead of an attractive, young heiress he had hoped to marry, the Duke of Clarence was now engaged to a plain and poor princess from a provincial German duchy.

According to tradition, William could not be present when Adelaide arrived in England.  The Prince Regent, standing in for the incapacitated George III, welcomed the princess to her new country.  Also present was William's eldest son, George who was two years younger than Adelaide. He described his future stepmother as "the best and most charming woman in the world."

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Adelaide was also presented to William's aging mother, Queen Charlotte.  For years the queen had suffered degradation and humility caused by her childrens' outrageous behavior and was only too pleased by her son's choice of a bride.  This felicitous welcome by Queen Charlotte and other members of the family came as a surprise to Adelaide.

The couple was married in a double ceremony at Kew Palace on 13 July 1818 in the presence of the approving Queen Charlotte.  To counter criticism of fiscal irresponsibility, the Duke of Kent was married at the same time to Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg and Saalfeld.  The Prince Regent gave away both brides, and the program for the ceremony was printed in both English and German because the two new Royal duchesses spoke very little English.

Although Adelaide came to love all things English, she always spoke the language with a distinct German accent and would prefer to converse in her native tongue.

Adelaide may not have shared Dorothy Jordan's vivacious beauty, but she made a deep and lasting impression on the Duke of Clarence and she succeeded in making an honest man out of him.  She cleaned up his language and even made him more considerate of others.

The couple's first home was in Hanover because it was less expensive to live there than in London.  William had to swallow his pride when they settled in the Fürstenhof where he would have to yield seniority to his younger brother, the Duke of Cambridge, who was Viceroy.

It came as no surprise that the three new royal duchesses were all pregnant in the first months of 1819. What was unexpected was the announcement that the Duchess of Cumberland was also enceinte.

The Duchess of Cambridge led off the race for an heir when she gave birth to a son, George, on 26 March 1819 in Hanover. 

Adelaide's pregnancy had not gone well. Early in the year, she caught a cold that soon developed into pleurisy. The day after the birth of Prince George of Cambridge, she was delivered prematurely of a daughter.

Princess Charlotte Augusta Louisa of Clarence lived for only seven hours and was buried next to the body of King George I in the royal crypt.  Prince George of Cambridge's place in the succession was soon superseded by the birth of a princess, Alexandrina Victoria, to the Duchess of Kent on the 24th of May at Kensington Palace.  Three days later, the Duchess of Cumberland gave birth to a son, George, in Berlin.  (This youngest prince was destined to become the last King of Hanover.  Because of Salic law, which barred females from succession, Queen Victoria was unable to succeed to the Hanover throne.  This crown passed to the next in line, the Queen's uncle, the Duke of Cumberland.)

The succession was again secure.  It was hoped that more babies would soon join the nurseries. The Duchess of Cambridge obliged by presenting the nation with two princesses, Augusta in 1822 and Mary Adelaide in 1833.  Both Drina of Kent and George of Cumberland was destined to be only children.

Adelaide and William were saddened by the death of their daughter. By late summer in 1818 Adelaide was again pregnant, but during a trip to Calais in September, she suffered a miscarriage.

In January 1820 the succession was altered by the deaths of the Duke of Kent and King George III. The Duke of Clarence was now second in line behind the Duke of York.  The fatherless Kent princess was third in succession.

Childbearing proved to be difficult for Adelaide as she was burdened with ill health.  On 10 December 1820, she again gave birth prematurely to a daughter, who was named Elizabeth Georgiana Adelaide.   The little princess was a delight to her parents and the hope for Britain, but on 4 March 1821, Elizabeth died "from an entanglement of the bowels."

  Over the next few years, there were several rumors of another royal birth, but a miscarriage of twins on 8 April 1882 was the Duchess of Clarence's final pregnancy. Unable to provide her husband with an heir, she gave her love to William's children and grandchildren, although she was often forced to mediate the petty squabbles that erupted between William and the FitzClarences.  She adored her nieces and nephews, especially Princess Luise of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, who suffered from a spinal disease.  Luise lived with her aunt and uncle until her death at age 14 in 1832.

William was desolate by his wife's inability to bear children. "I want to express my feelings at these repeated misfortunes to this beloved and superior woman," he wrote to George IV.

Adelaide was especially fond of the fatherless Kent princess, little Drina.  "My children are dead, but yours lives, and She is mine too," Adelaide wrote to the widowed Duchess of Kent soon after Elizabeth's death.  The estrangement between the Duke and Duchess of Clarence and the Duchess of Kent over the latter's insistence that Drina should be named as William's heir was yet to come.

The relationship between the two Royal Duchesses was still cordial when Adelaide arranged the marriage between her cousin Prince Ernst of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and the Duchess of Kent's elder daughter, Princess Feodora of Leiningen.  The couple was married at Kensington Palace in February 1828.  George IV offered to give the bride away, but when he failed to turn up for the ceremony, William stepped in.

By 1830 the friendship between the two women, born in neighboring German duchies, had deteriorated.  Determined to push for her daughter's status, the Duchess of Kent wanted William to proclaim Victoria as heiress presumptive.  The King declined. 

Young Victoria was not permitted to visit her aunt and uncle because her mother did not want her to be sullied by meeting William's illegitimate children.

In 1827 William was named Lord High Admiral and the couple moved from Clarence House to Admiralty House where the Duchess proved to be a popular hostess.

Only three years later on 26 June 1830, George IV died and William was proclaimed King.

King William IV and Queen Adelaide moved to Buckingham Palace.  During the first years of William's reign, Adelaide's popularity reached a zenith.  Her gentle manner and stabilizing effect on her husband pleased William's subjects.

"What a fortunate country this is to have such a queen.  She will be a saving angel for this country."     
But the domesticity of the royal couple sitting by the fire, Adelaide knitting and William napping and nodding "Exactly so, Ma'am," was not the scene in most of Britain's homes.  The Reform movement, which had its origins in Europe, had now spread to England. Adelaide, who feared reform, was convinced that the movement would mean the end of the monarchy.  She was encouraged in her beliefs by the Lord Chamberlain, Lord Howe, a fervent anti-reformer.

"We may think, we must think, we must not speak," the Duchess of Cambridge cautioned her sister-in-law in response to growing criticism of the Queen's comments.

Invective continued to flow.  One evening as she returned to the Palace from a concert, Adelaide was almost torn from her carriage by an angry mob.  Political cartoons depicted the queen and Lord Howe as lovers, although the accusation was without merit.

An editorial in The Times stated that  "a foreigner is not a very competent judge of English liberties and politics are not the field of female enterprise. " Another newspaper, with an equally derisive editorial, labeled Adelaide as "a nasty German Frau."

Adelaide did have her supporters.  One such group circulated a petition, "Appeal to the Honest Feelings on behalf of the Queen of England."  But after a long struggle in Parliament, the Reform Bill became law in 1832.  Lord Howe was dismissed from the court.  The Queen was furious.  "I have trusted in and built firmly on the king's love for me.  But unfortunately, he has not been able to resist the representation of his Ministers and yielded, and I fear it will be the beginning of too much evil," she wrote in her diary.

The queen's main concern remained with her family.  She was heartbroken when her niece Luise died and she was deeply frustrated by the Duchess of Kent who would not allow Victoria to visit Buckingham Palace.  Both Adelaide and William had enjoyed Victoria's presence.

  Adelaide continued to suffer from ill-health.  Following a visit to Meiningen in April 1837, she nearly died. The Duchess of Cambridge was asked to hold a drawing room for her.  William prayed that his wife would survive this illness.  Adelaide did recover, but soon afterward, William's own health began to decline.  He was determined to live long enough to celebrate Princess Victoria's eighteenth birthday on 24 May, when she would be free to reign without a Regent.  Less than a month later, on 20 June 1837, King William IV died in his wife's arms.

Victoria was now Queen and one of her first actions was to write a letter of condolence to her aunt Adelaide.

The Dowager queen soon withdrew from public life.  She moved into Marlborough House where William's children and grandchildren were welcome guests.  She visited Germany often to spend time with her family, but she preferred to travel further south to Italy where she could avoid the cold, damp British winters.  By tradition, Adelaide, as the Queen Dowager, was not present when Victoria was Crowned, but she was an honored guest at Victoria's wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in February 1840.  And she was delighted when nine months later, Queen Victoria gave birth to her first child, the Princess Royal, who was christened Victoria Mary Adelaide Louisa.  The baby's third Christian name was given in honor of Adelaide being named one of the godparents.

Queen Adelaide died at the home of the Marquess of Abercorn, Bentley Priory, on 2 December 1849.  "She is a great loss to both of us," Queen Victoria wrote shortly afterward.  "And an irreparable one to hundreds and hundreds."  The Queen, who was pregnant with Prince Arthur, was unable to attend her beloved aunt's funeral.  Prince Albert led the many mourners, and two of William's sons served as pallbearers.  Most of Adelaide's possessions were sold at auction, although Marlborough House was given to Victoria's eldest son, the Prince of Wales.

But Adelaide's most priceless possession, the marble statue of her infant daughter, Elizabeth, was left to Victoria, which was a poignant reminder to the young queen of a cousin who might have been in her place.

If you liked this article, .. I would love a latte ..

Friday, March 6, 2020

Mail Call

Finally caught up on all the Christmas and post-Christmas cards .. and now I can put them away in albums!