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Family secrets


Royalty in all shapes and forms

THE MAHARAJAHS OF INDORE

Prince Richard Holkar is the only male heir to Indore’s powerful dynasty of maharajahs. It is by no means an ancient dynasty, but revealed itself to be particularly remarkable and marked by rather original figures. Richard’s great-great-grandfather, the Maharajah of the time, was a local boxing champion.                …

THE EMPEROR AKBAR’S WIVES

  Like all great sovereigns, the Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great, had an immense harem, but only a limited number of wives. Naturally, one of them was a Muslim. And his favourite was the Princess of Jaipur. She was a Hindu, and her marriage with the Emperor was a symbol of his tolerance and above…

La Reine Victoria Eugénie

AUNT ENA’S EMERALDS

During the days of the Second Empire, Queen Victoria visited France and became friends with Napoleon III, and particularly with his wife, the Empress Eugenie. Although they came from very different backgrounds, cultures and traditions, the two sovereigns formed a close friendship. After the fall of the Second Empire, and the disastrous Franco-Prussian war of…

THE LAST RITES OF QUEEN CATHERINE

Like every good Italian, Queen Catherine de’ Medici was superstitious. She frequently sought to have her fortune told by her personal seer, Nostradamus, and her astrologist, Ruggieri. “When will I die?” “I do not know when you will die, but what I do know is that you will die near Saint Germain.”  It was a…

LOUIS-PHILIPPE’S ACCOUNTANT

Among the employees at the Palais-Royal in Paris, working for the Duke of Orléans, the future King Louis-Philippe, was a young, petty accountant, supposedly in charge of adding up various monthly expenses. In fact, he spent his time writing poetry in secret, which he hoped to one day transform into a stage play. One day,…

THE GRIEVING DUCHESS’S TOMB

Ferdinand of Orleans, the eldest son and heir of Louis-Philippe, died in his prime in an accident. When the horses of his carriage ran out of control, he threw himself to the ground to avoid disaster, but his head struck a stone and he died from a fractured skull.            …

The Wife of George IV

When the Prince of Wales, the future George IV of England, saw Princess Caroline of Brunswick for the first time he fainted. He was horrified by the fat, red-faced German he was destined to marry.  On top of that, he would have to abandon his attractive mistress, Mrs. Fitzherbert, who he had in fact secretly…

Yildiz, The Tunnel Maker

The architect’s wife was beginning to worry. It was getting late, and her husband still hadn’t returned from the palace. Her husband was one of Sultan Abdul Hamid’s architects. The architect and his wife belonged to an old and venerable Greek community in Constantinople. The Ottoman sultans showed great tolerance and sought the services of…

King Ferdinand’s Infidelities

Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies, had a poor reputation. Nicknamed the Nose King, owing to his formidable nasal appendage, he was seen as an ultra-conservative, and both cruel and stupid. He wasn’t properly educated by his private tutor the Duke of San Nicandro, as such he only spoke the Neapolitan dialect. He also…

The Iron Mask

I’ve heard the stories about the Iron Mask ever since my adolescence. Being an admirer of historical mysteries, I set off researching the subject. I have never been convinced of the importance of this mystery, or why it is such a mystery at all. During the reign of Louis XIV, there was a prisoner in…