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Peter

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I have just finished reading these online. The Infanta, the youngest child of Isabella II, did not like being royal at all and makes no bones of the fact. She did however like some of her royal relatives, and it is interesting to read her personal reminiscences of for example Edward VII, Wilhelm II and Nicholas II, all of whom she knew well and admired. I do not recommend the last chapter, containing her republican and indeed socialist political thought, but she mostly eschews presenting these views explicitly in earlier chapters. Those chapters are well worth reading for, among other things, quite different views of Wilhelm II and Nicholas II to those one generally sees.
royalcello

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Looks interesting; I've started already. Thanks.

It's funny how while for a Spanish princess born in the 19th century to be a republican was an act of rebellion, today for an American born in the 20th century to be a monarchist is also an act of rebellion. She didn't like being a princess in a kingdom; I don't like being a citizen of a republic.
Ethiomonarchist

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The Infanta was a rather outspoken and interesting character.  I will make a point of picking up this book.  She isn't the first example of a republican of royal blood, (Phillipe Egalite anyone?), but she's certainly one of the more interesting ones.
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royalcello

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An example of the incoherence of republicanism: she complains, perhaps not entirely without justification, about how in 19th-century Spain it didn't much seem to matter what the monarch did or who won the elections; the real power was in the hands of the political bosses. So the solution is to give those sorts of men even more power and make one of them head of state? Whatever.
Peter

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I think you will see later on that she felt that when a monarch was of the quality of her brother Alfonso XII his position really did enable him to make a difference. His early death renders the question moot but, as Infanta Eulalia, I feel he had made a fair start on being a really great king for Spain. Also, she certainly would not have been in favour of a boss or a boss's creature as president of a renewed republic, but only of a genuinely democratic leader. As things were, she thought her brother by far the best choice as head of state, as will become clear. That last chapter I referred to is dreadful, really don't bother with it, and if you do then I fully agree with the scrawl on the last page. Up till then I question some of her opinions and judgments, though not her general goodness of heart, but am chiefly fascinated by her accounts of these historical monarchs she actually knew, and read the book for that.
DavidV

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Quote:
Originally Posted by royalcello
An example of the incoherence of republicanism: she complains, perhaps not entirely without justification, about how in 19th-century Spain it didn't much seem to matter what the monarch did or who won the elections; the real power was in the hands of the political bosses. So the solution is to give those sorts of men even more power and make one of them head of state? Whatever.


All very true. It is often said that the "Bourbon Restoration" period (1876-1931) represented a decadence of "liberal elites" in Spain, the final successors to the idealists of 1812 and 1820. It was undoubtedly a highly flawed (and corrupt) elite, which does not reflect on the royal family or excuse its opponents one iota. Carlists tend to be very critical of that period. Gerald Warner (whose Carlist sympathies are no surprise) wrote that it was a ruinous period for Spain.
Peter

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I have been looking through another royalty-related book online, The Sunny Side of Diplomatic Life 1875-1912 by a 19th-century American lady, Lillie Greenough. Her second husband was the Danish Ambassador at several different courts, and the book consists of her reminiscences, with many delightful royal anecdotes. Lillie Greenough was a famous singer of the day, and there are also many musical reminiscences, including meetings with for example Liszt and Verdi. It is not perhaps a book to read steadily through, but taken a bit at a time there is a lot to savour and enjoy, particularly if both royalty and music interest you as they do me.
royalcello

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Sounds interesting!

 

(Imagine being interested in both royalty and music...)

Peter

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Weird combination, isn't it? I have by no means read all of the book yet, not even half in fact, and that is with a fair bit of skimming. It's not that it's terribly written, it's actually quite charming, but it takes an epistolary form, the epistles concerned being to various family members, so they do at times dwell on matters of little interest except to those personally concerned. My skimming then was in search of the musical and monarchical meat, and there is plenty of both. Some very nice photographs too.

Here is a sample anecdote, not first-hand but related to the author by Christian IX of Denmark, so royal in its origin as well as content. It occurred in a discussion of the new Danish subject's efforts to learn her new home's language, and concerns the similar efforts of Queen Désirée of Sweden and Norway to master Swedish (which she never accomplished, and nor for that matter did her husband):

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"I've been told," the Queen said, "that you have a splendid voice and sing wonderfully. You must come some day and sing for me; I love music." Then we talked music, the most delightful of subjects. The King came in. He was also perfectly charming, and as kind as possible. He is about sixty years old, but looks younger, having a wonderfully youthful figure and a very handsome face. The King preferred to speak French, but the Queen liked better to talk English, which she does to perfection.

"Have you learned Danish yet?" the King asked me.

"Alas! your Majesty," I answered, "though I try very hard to learn, I have not mastered it yet, and only dare to inflict it on my family."

"You will not find it difficult," he said. "You will learn it in time."

"I hope so, your Majesty—Time is a good teacher."

He told me an anecdote about Queen Desiree, of Sweden, wife of Bernadotte, who on her arrival in Stockholm did not know one word of Swedish.

She was taught certain phrases to use at her first reception when ladies were presented to her. She was to say, "Are you married, madame?" and then, "Have you any children?" Of course, she did not understand the answers. "She was very unlucky," the King laughed, "and got things mixed up, and once began her conversation with a lady by asking, 'Have you any children?'"

The lady hastened to answer, "Yes, your Majesty, I have seven?"

"Are you married?" asked the Queen, very graciously.


Oh dear.
royalcello

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Thanks for the discovery Peter; I'm loving it!
royalcello

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Something odd I just noticed. The letter regarding the marriage of Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin to Crown Prince Wilhelm is dated June 6, 1906, and placed after the January 1906 letter mentioning the death of Christian IX. But Wilhelm and Cecilie were married on June 6, 1905. I wonder if when putting the book together Mrs. de Hegermann-Lindencrone somehow got mixed up, or if she had written the wrong year originally.
Peter

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The book was published in 1913, with the author approaching 70 (she lived to her mid-eighties). I'm certainly not suggesting she might have been senile, but a certain vagueness as to dates and sequence of events would not be surprising. I know I get that way sometimes, and I'm nowhere near 70 yet! Also, though no one is credited, it is possible that someone else might have done the selection and compilation and misread the date. Whatever, there was clearly an error at some stage, but the account of the festivities is doubtless accurate and certainly lively; rather more so, I suspect, than they were. I was very pleased to hear that you were enjoying the book, and I hope you still are.

PS Something else a bit odd, indicating that things may well have got a little mixed up along the way. Immediately after the account of the festivities, and apparently part of the same letter, a meeting with 'Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, cousin of the Emperor' is described. I was slightly taken aback by the informality of the title, then realised this must be a Sigmaringen, confirmed in the next paragraph by a reference to 'his uncle, the King of Rumania'.

Now, the Crown Prince's marriage was on 6th June 1905 as you say. Wilhelm's father Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern, died two days later, on 8th June, and actually in Berlin. It is possible of course that the death was sudden and unexpected, but usually there would be some period of illness and you would not expect his son and heir to be making social visits. Maybe all this actually was in 1906? Of course I worked out the cousinhood, third cousin twice.
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