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The Unusuals


Exploring the unexplored

THE BOURBONS OF BHOPAL

Many years ago, I stumbled upon the trail of a branch of the Bourbon dynasty, which would have settled down in Bhopal, India. It was hard to find traces, proofs, and yet the story appealed to me. I conducted long researches. If Bourbon they were, they did not belong to the official genealogical tree of…

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LADY JANE DIGBY

One woman became the very picture of romanticism, in this time when so many men, so many women aspired to be romantic. She was not a queen, although she reigned on the desert. Jane Digby was born into English aristocracy. Her father was a lord who possessed a vast castle. She was raised like all…

THE MISSING ADVENTURER

Ever since my childhood, I have heard of Percy Fawcett. In spring 2017, a wildly promoted movie retracing his life came out on all screens. This English aristocrat from the beginning of the 20th century was, like many of his compatriots, irresistibly drawn to adventure and travelling. Amazonia was his magnet, with its immense and…

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THE DRUNK MINISTER

He was a Secretary of State for the Foreign Affairs in the United Kingdoms. He was one of the most brilliant ministers, one of the most skilled, one of the most efficient, one of the most reliable, but also, out of all the government, the one most prone to drinking. It was because of this…

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BERNADOTTE

He was a Gascon soldier from the Revolution, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. He had grown up and made his path during this troubled period through the shear strength of his wrists, his wit and his military genius. He had gotten into contact with Bonaparte, but the latter, in some ways, was jealous of him as Bernadotte bested…

A GREEK FOR THE CONQUEST PERU

His name was Pedro de Candia and I discovered his existence in a fascinating book “The Royal Commentaries of Peru” written by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, which my friend Samantha introduced to me. The author is the son of a Spanish conquistador and an Inca Princess. He therefore knows both the Spanish and Inca…

Palace of Strelna

Saint Petersburg, Russia This palace was built for Peter the Great by architect Le Blond. Its park stretched from its terraces to the Baltic. It was passed down to numerous members of the Imperial Family before belonging to my great-grandfather, the Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich, and then to his son, Konstantin Konstantinovich. I absolutely wanted…

THE FORGOTTEN TREASURE OF THE LAST TSAR

When Kerensky had seized power in Russia during the Revolution of February 1917, he had interned the tsar, the tsarina and their five children in the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo. He had tried to send the prisoners to England, but King George V, first cousin of Nicholas II and first cousin of the Empress,…

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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…

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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,…