King Leopold II of Belgium, the first cousin of my French great-grandparents, is the subject of this exceptional photograph, dressed in a costume from the Court of Louis XIV. He earned a terrible reputation owing to his treatment of the indigenous population of the Congo, which he made his personal property. For a long time, Belgium refused to accept the gift of the Congo that the King offered to the state.
Every year, Queen Olga of Greece would leave Athens for her Russian homeland. In Odessa, the imperial train would be waiting to bring her to Saint Petersburg where she would rejoin her family. She is pictured here in the salon room of the train, resting her face gently upon her hand.
My grandparents, the Duke and Duchess of Guise, along with their son, Henry, the Count of Paris, in the halls of the Vatican in the 1930’s. The powerful royalist party, Action Française, had been quarrelling with the Church, and was subsequently excommunicated. My mother acted as mediator in an attempt to secure a raprochement between the family and the Vatican. She negotiated with the Cardinal Secretary of State, Eugene Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII. A strong friendship was formed between the two, and ultimately, the visit secured reconciliation.