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France

THE MURDEROUS PAINTER

Fifteen years ago, I visited the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. I happened upon the section devoted to 19th century painting where there was a rather small painting, remarkably well painted, of a man who looked young and yet whose diabolical energy – horridness, cruelty, meanness – struck me so, that it overwhelmed me….

THE MURDEROUS GARDENER

My aunt Bébelle, the Countess of Paris Isabelle d’Orléans Bragance, told me that when she was young she often visited one of her maternal aunts who owned a very beautiful villa on the banks of Lake Geneva. The aunt was especially proud of her garden, and of her roses in particular. One day, the aunt…

THE JOKESTER GHOST OF TAOS

  About twenty years ago, we visited the very beautiful city of Taos in New Mexico. We stayed at Luan House, which had been turned into a hotel. It was a magnificent villa built in the regional style popular during the 1920s and 1930s by an American art patron millionaire, Mabel Dodge. Everyone of any…

“THERE IS ROOM FOR ONE MORE”

I saw this story in a very old black and white film. I read it in a collection of stories published by Benson, and had read before that it in a collection of true tales, of which I cannot recall the author. It took place in England in between 1905 and 1910. A man is…


EXILED IN SAINT BERTRAND

Saint Bertrand de Comminges is a beautiful, old small city poised amongst the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is nestled amidst forests beyond lowlands full of History. A cathedral full of marvellous items dominates the city. Very old houses and private mansions line the twisty-turny streets. Bertrand de Got had been one of its bishops…

THE MAGICIAN’S CHAMBERMAID

  Over twenty years ago, Marshal Alan Brooke’s descendants invited me to their castle in Northern Ireland. Theirs was a courageous and enterprising household; they had decided to restore the family domain and open it to the public. They were endearing, welcoming, intelligent and warm. The surprising thing is that I cannot remember the name…


THE BEGUM

During one of my trips to India, I met a rather unique maharani. Her husband owned India’s most beautiful library, which was filled with ancient manuscripts about medicine and botany. She was short and round. She wore real Christmas decorations wrapped around her neck as a sort of necklace. And yet on each of her…

PHOTOS OF THE SPANISH ROYAL FAMILY

Infant Alfonso of Orleans and his wife princess Beatrice of Great Britain, uncle Ali, aunt Bee. He belongs to the Spanish branch of the Orleans family; he was an exceptionally gifted pilot, original, always unexpected, adored by his nephews and nieces, including me. She was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, a famous beauty like her…

Comte de Paris en aviateur_ Family of FRance_ Royalty_ Mickael of greece

FAMILY PORTRAITS OF FRANCE

Princess Francoise and me at the photographer’s in Tanger Once a week, my mother, and often with me in tow, would take an old green coach nicknamed the Valanciana in Tanger to attend political meetings, tea parties with some friends and run errands. During one of those visits, she took us to the photographer’s to…

Queen Anne1705, portrait bu Mickael Dahl_ England queen_ ENgland War_ Anne & Sarah_ Michael of greece chronicles_

ANNE AND SARAH

In the winter of 1711, neither France nor Louis XIV was faring very well. Frost was destroying the crops, it was so cold that people were dying in the streets, the Spanish War of Succession had been dragging on for over ten years, there was no more money, no more troupes, no more resources, no…