marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Grandmama of Europe

Grandmama of Europe: The Crowned Descendants of Queen Victoria by Theo Aronson

Adventures, anecdotes, stories -- this is not the history of Europe through its kings and queens but the family history of the kings and queens themselves.  Lovely stuff.

It's divided into three parts:  during her lifetime, between her death and World War I, and from World War I to the 1960's. There is a certain tendency of certain kinds of stories to congregate at a time.

Queen Victoria's insistence on not considering political matches against the young people's will.  Her haughty contempt when her German relatives objected to her descendants marrying, of all things, offspring of a morgantic marriage.  What the queen of England thought good enough for them was indeed good enough.

How Queen Victoria asked her daughter whether she used chloroform and when the abashed daughter admitted it, talked of how she had used it for her last and would surely have used it for them all if only it had been invented soon enough.

The Tsar rising out of his sickbed -- soon to be his deathbed -- to don his uniform to welcome Alexandra to Russia, because as soon as she marries his son, she will be the Tsarita, a fact that none of his court except him seems to remember.

King Edward paying a state visit to Paris and succeeding in charming the French, making the Entente workable with his new popularity.

The theatricality of Queen Marie of Romania.

Queen Sophie and King Constantine, with their own subjects in revolt, facing the French bombardment.  King George objected strenuously -- Greece was neutral and they were attacking them for their loyalty -- but was unable to stop it.  They had to flee.  After the war, they were brought back by a plebiscite, an overwhelming one.  Sophie thought it too exuberant to last.  Wise, they were out on their ears again soon enough.  Greece tried to go to their sons, but ended up a republic.

Spain, where the republicans lost the election and so set out to overthrow the monarchy by force.  At least, they called themselves republicans.  Methinks they missed the point somewhere.

Prince Carol of Romania swearing away his claim to the throne -- and then coming back after his father's death.  His son Michael, on hearing his father called king, immediately asked, "How can Papa be King when I am king?"

A queen showing her guest her vineyard when there's an explosion and placidly wondering whether it was a bomb or the dynamite for her new vineyard.  An aide comes rushing up to say it was the dynamite but too much was used -- what a pity, she observed, since it's now much too steep for the vineyard.

How Maud ended up Queen of Norway:  by marrying into the Danish royal family.  When the Swedish king dissolved the government and could not form another, Norway said it showed he was no longer king and went looking for another.  Royalty were quite annoyed at the dismissal, but were reassured that they did, after all, want a king, and naturally they went looking in royal houses.  Greece, after all, had gotten Scandinavian kings because royal blood was more important than the country's.

Lady Louise Mountbatten (the name translated from Battenberg during World War I) and how the Swedish royal family (despite their recent rise) needed proof she really was royal.

There were seven monarchies in Europe at the time this book was written.  Five monarchs were descended from Queen Victoria, and two were closely related to her.
Tags: families: matrimony, families: other, families: parent/child, history reviews: 19th century-wwi, history reviews: post wwii, history reviews: world war ii era, politics, secondary source, world-building: social structure

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