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Family secrets

Royalty in all shapes and forms


The patron of the epoch who built the grandest palaces was without a doubt Catherine II of Russia. With unlimited resources at her disposal, she could build colossal homes, grander than all the palaces of Europe. In fact, Catherine was only imitating her predecessor, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great. The latter was…

The Countess of Palmyra

I discovered Palmyra in the winter of 1964. It was cold, terribly cold. We were staying at the Queen Zenobia Hotel, the only hotel around. This structure, located amid the low and crumbling ruins of the area, had been built by Countess Margot d’Andurain. Margot, a French woman, had long ago married a garrison officer in Palmyra,…

The Love Story That Led To World War I

Many years ago, when I began attending the Salzburg music festival, I became well acquainted with my distant cousins, the Hohenberg princes. I was particularly fond of them. They were friendly, funny, and lively. They were also the grandchildren of one of most history’s most famous tragedies. At the end of the 19th century, Archduke…