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France

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…

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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…

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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…

THE DIGESTIVE OF THE TIME OF THE WAR_Michael_of_greece_digeen temps de guerre

THE DIGESTIVE OF THE TIME OF THE WAR

My mother’s first cousin, the Duke of X, was as charming as he was jovial. During the Second World War, like so many Frenchmen, he and his whole family sought refuge in the family castle in the country. At that time, the question of where the ingredients and foods that appeared on the table came…

A Shadowy Affair ( final part)

I found the Marquis and the Marquise, cheerful and welcoming, in an 18th century living room on the ground floor in which were hung beautiful, family portraits. I hastened to accept the port and the cheese sticks that were offered me. It seemed, at least, that the ghost had not managed to leave his mark…

A Shadowy Affair (part 2)

I felt the cloud thicken. I felt that I had fallen victim to a disease – at the time there so many about which we knew nothing. So the conviction was born inside me that I was to die young. All this is an image, you understand, but I imagined finding myself in the middle…

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A GHOST STORY AS TOLD BY THE PRINCESS PALATINE

Elisabeth Charlotte of Bavaria, Princess Palatine and the second wife of Louis the 14th’s brother and the Duke of Orleans, or ‘Monsieur’ (the traditional title given to the eldest living brother of a French king), is one of my favourite ancestors. Larger-than-life; sincere; courageous; she would share her thoughts with everyone; she enjoyed cold cuts,…

“A Shadowy Affair” ( Part 1)

Castle Beaumont La Ronce “This is my best friend’s parents’ castle,” my lovely little niece, Adelaide, told me, “It is haunted by a great lady who was murdered over questions of money. Those who were arrested and executed for the crime were, however, innocent and the true assassins were allowed to escape for they had…

Family portraits of France

Princess Mathilde Bonaparte She was first cousin to Napoleon III. A great lady under the Second Empire, she was even more so under the Third Republic. The whole wide world would visit her in her hotel on Rue Courcelles and in her Château de Saint Gratien, amongst whom many intellectuals and many artists. She was…