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Family Portrait, III

My mother Françoise with Amédée of Savoie, the Duke d’Aoste, her first cousin and brother-in-law.

21Everyone loved Amédée d’Aoste. He was tall, handsome, without airs and graces, and always of a warm manner. He was also a war hero. His mother, Helen of France was the sister of my grandmother Isabelle and, what’s more, he had married the sister of my mother, Anne of France. A profound friendship and deep bond united the first cousins. Named by Mussolini the viceroy of Abyssinie, he defended the colony against the English troops. Vanquished and taken prisoner, he died in a British internment camp in Kenya.

 

Official arrival at the airport of Amman, Jordan, Spring, 1964

16King Constantine of Greece, my cousin, sent me on official visits to invite various monarchs to his wedding. I began in Jordan. I was received at the airport by Prince Muhammed, the brother of the king of Jordan, with whom I ceremonially inspected a brigade of honor guards. King Hussein welcomed me most pleasantly. This warm and reserved man, rather short, impressed me greatly with his powerful personality, astonishing courage, and conquering charm.

 

The Count and Countess of Paris, riding horseback in the Forest of Soignies, Brussels, 1930.

17My mother’s brother, Henry, Count of Paris, found himself exiled from France as the nominal heir to the throne. He was living with his parents, my grandparents, in Belgium. He loved to ride horseback through the woods with his wife, Isabelle d’Orléans Bragance, a distant cousin. At the time, the young couple was particularly in love.

 

The return of the monarchy in Greece after World War II, Athens, September, 1946.

18The invasion in 1940 of German troops forced the royal family into exile. At the end of the war, and despite the tentative seizing of power by communist partisans, liberated Greece voted by referendum in favor of the return of the monarchy, represented here by King George II to the left, and his brother Paul and sister-in-law Frederika. The day of their return in Athens, they appeared at the balcony of the old Royal Palace looking over the Place de la Constitution. A number of months later, on April 1, King George II died from an embolism. When announced on the radio, many thought it was an awful joke. He was succeeded by his brother Paul and his sister-in-law Frederika. George II was both my godfather and my first cousin, despite the difference in age. This austere man of duty, reserved and tenacious, was held in the highest esteem.

 

Funeral of King Paul of Greece, Athens, March, 1964

19The King Paul, my first cousin, but whom I called my uncle given our difference in age, died after a long illness. He was universally mournedHe was well regarded even by adversaries of the monarchy. Cultivated, courteous, benevolent, and always smiling, he understood more than any over sovereign of the dynasty the Greek mentality, and made himself immensely popular. Above all, he was a wise and humane man. His funeral procession was followed by an immense crowd. Here, his coffin rests on the prolonge d’artillerie making its way up Ermou Street. Atop the coffin, we see the royal crown, carved for King Otton, the first ruler of independent Greece. In the background is the small Byzantine church of Kapnikarea, so beloved by Athenians.

 

The Count of Paris, the Pretender to the throne, leaving in exile, 1886

20Philippe, Count of Paris, was the grandson of King Louis Philippe, who had abdicated the throne in his favor during the Revolution of 1848. At the time, he was only 10 years old. He was engaged, amongst other things, with the Union troops during the American Civil War. He was permitted to return to France after the fall of the Second Empire in 1871, although he unnerved the republic with his popularity, and the influential means at his disposal. In 1886, he betrothed his eldest daughter Amélie to the heir to Portugal, the Duke de Bragance. For the occasion, he held a huge reception at his Parisian residence, l’Hôtel Matignon, today the seat of the French Prime Minister. This reception had so much radiance and so many personalities that the Republic, out of fear, quickly voted a law exiling the head of the House of France and his heir. The Count of Paris was forced to submit. He left his château d’Eu in Normandy and embarked in Tréport on a steamship bound for England, his place of exile. In the photo, the carriages carrying the exiled, along with his wife and children, arrive at the ship.

 

 

 


by Prince Michael of Greece

3 comments on “Family Portrait, III


  1. Apostolos Tsakpinis

    Michel de Grece is one of my favourite authors! Always breathtaking wellwritten, sometimes even with lots of humour, articles, books, posts, about old times, royals, ghosts, memories, history persons-sometimes relatives at the same time! Pls accept my congratulations YRH!



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