Thursday, July 18, 2019

From Tyranny To Freedom: The Sometimes Stranger than Fiction Life of a Noble and Notable Lady

From Tyranny To Freedom: 

The Sometimes Stranger than Fiction Life of a Noble and Notable Lady

Countess Viktoria-Luise of Solms-Baruth (1921-2003) led one of the most extraordinary lives imaginable.

Born to an extremely well-connected German noble family, her godmother and namesake was Viktoria-Luise’s maternal great-aunt, Auguste Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, the last German Empress and first wife of Wilhelm II. Viktoria-Luise was raised in a Germany reeling from the aftermath of defeat in World War I and she grew into adulthood during the dark days of the Third Reich. Her family was firmly against the Nazi regime, and eventually her father (and some other family members) was jailed because of his opposition to the insanely horrific policies of Adolf Hitler.

On the cusp of her 21st birthday, Viktoria-Luise wed her first cousin (their mothers were sisters) Prince Friedrich Josias of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. This union was of short duration due to the total incompatibility of their characters, but before divorcing the couple did have one child, Andreas, who his mother referred to as “my little prince.” Today Prince Andreas is the Head of the Ducal House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Now in his golden years, the Prince recently released his own compilation of memoirs (I did it my way). From what this reviewer has read and heard, Andreas seems to be much loved by the people of Coburg, the town of his ancestors which he has called home since he returned to Germany in the 1960s.

Not long after the defeat of the Axis Powers, a charming American army officer named Richard Whitten entered the scene. He and Viktoria-Luise fell in love and eventually married. This marriage brought much happiness and much change into Viktoria-Luise’s life. After living for a few years in Europe, the couple and their small children (Andreas and the couple’s young daughter, Victoria) moved to America.

The last chapters of this collection of reminiscences unfold as Viktoria-Luise (at times, quite hilariously) tells the reader of her adaption to life as a “normal” housewife in the United States. In addition to the different culture, she was faced with so many new responsibilities and situations, but she certainly learned how to “fit in” with the way of life in this country—all the while remaining conscious of her heritage and retaining close ties to all of her numerous royal and noble relatives in Europe. The book comes to a close in the 1950s; perhaps the author intended to share more, but simply ran out of earthly time.

If I recall correctly, these memoirs were written when Viktoria-Luise was an elderly lady living in Louisiana. Her personality jumps off the pages as when one reads her book. She is candid, funny (her sense of humor and self-deprecation made me burst into laughter several times), honest and “sharp as a tack.” It is almost as though you are sitting with her in her living room listening to her speak.

From Tyranny to Freedom—Memoirs of My Life is truly a top favorite on my shelf.

Read Viktoria-Luise's story and you will not fail to be charmed by this amazing woman.

Countess Viktoria-Luise of Solms-Baruth

One can purchase From Tyranny to Freedom—Memoirs of My Life by either ordering directly from Eurohistory or by visiting Amazon: 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Marital History of Hereditary Prince Johannes of Schwarzenberg

The Marital History of the Hereditary Prince of Schwarzenberg

Hereditary Prince Johannes of Schwarzenberg

Nadia Weiss
In the Autumn of 2006, a grand wedding was planned for Hereditary Prince Johannes "Aki" of Schwarzenberg (b.1967), only son of Fürst Karel of Schwarzenberg (b.1937) and his wife Therese (b.1940; née Countess zu Hardegg auf Glatz und im Machlande). Karel of Schwarzenberg was for some time the Czech Foreign Minister. Aki's bride-to-be was Nadia Weiss (b.1975), a society journalist who had studied psychology at university. Aki and Nadia's marriage was to take place in August 2006 at Meran. 350 guests were invited.

Fürstin Therese of Schwarzenberg
Unexpectedly (to the public), the week after the wedding was supposed to have taken place, Fürstin Therese of Schwarzenberg announced that the union of her son had been indefinitely postponed. According to German magazine Bunte, Hereditary Prince Aki had discovered that Nadia had been in a relationship with another man for seventeen months, at the very same time that she was in a relationship with Aki and had become his fiancée. Needless to say, the couple went their separate ways.

Aki Schwarzenberg and Diana Orgoványi-Hanstein
Four years later in 2010, happy news arrived from the Princely House of Schwarzenberg in the form of the upcoming marriage of Hereditary Prince Aki to artist Diana Orgoványi-Hanstein (b.1971), the daughter of Attila Orgoványi-Hanstein (d.1987) and Britta Winternitz (1941-2015). Diana's paternal grandmother was Baroness Maximiliane von Berg (1908-?), and through this connection Diana was a great-great granddaughter of August Thyssen (1842-1926), of the well-known Thyssen family. Hereditary Prince Aki and Diana had known one another for twenty years, but their romance had begun over the year and a half before their engagement.

Hereditary Prince Johannes and Princess Diana of Schwarzenberg after their wedding
Aki of Schwarzenberg and Diana Orgoványi-Hanstein were wed on 20 March 2010 at Neuberg an der Mürz, Styria. Diana's mother Britta helped immensely in the planning of the wedding and celebrations. Diana decided to wear a dirndl, while Aki wore Styrian costume for the event. Amongst the guests were members of the Furstenberg, Hohenlohe-Oehringen, and Reuß families. The Schwarzenberg/Orgoványi-Hanstein union ended in divorce after several years; the couple did not have children.

Hereditary Prince Johannes and Princess Francesca of Schwarzenberg at their marriage
In 2017, the upcoming nuptials were announced between Hereditary Prince Aki to Francesca Riario-Sforza (b.1974) of that old Italian noble family. Francesca studied sociology and works as a scriptwriter and editor. The bride's parents are Paolo Riario Sforza (b.1935) and Maria Gaia La Greca. Aki and Francesca were married at Murau, Styria, on 8 April 2017. As the couple do not have children, the eventual heir to the Schwarzenberg properties would be Hereditary Prince Aki's first cousin, Prince Ferdinand (b.1989).

Johannes and Francesca of Schwarzenberg

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Prince Boris of Bulgaria Completes His Degree in London

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Prince Boris of Bulgaria (b.1997) has recently received his degree from the Wimbledon College of Arts. The prince previously attended the Lycée Français Molière in Villanueva de la Cañada near Madrid. Like most in his family, Boris is a polyglot: he speaks Spanish, French, English, and some Bulgarian. Boris is an avid sculptor and creator of a number of recent artistic installations.

Wedding of Crown Prince Kardam of Bulgaria and doña Miriam de Ungría y López in 1996
The Crown Princely couple with their first son Boris
Crown Prince Kardam and Crown Princess Miriam with their sons 
Prince Boris of Bulgaria with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía of Spain

Prince Boris is the eldest son of Crown Princess Miriam of Bulgaria (b.1963; née de Ungría y López) and the late Crown Prince Kardam (1962-2015), who married in 1996. Boris was joined by a younger brother, Prince Beltran, in 1999. Prince Boris of Bulgaria is the heir to his grandfather King Simeon II of the Bulgarians (b.1937).

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Countess Marianne Bernadotte, Aunt of Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf, Celebrates Her 95th Birthday

Countess Marianne Bernadotte

Today, Countess Marianne Bernadotte marks her ninety-fifth birthday. Marianne is the widow of the late Prince Sigvard of Sweden (1907-2002; later Prince Bernadotte and Count of Wisborg), who she married in 1961. She was born Gullan Marianne Lindberg on 15 July 1924 at Helsingborg; her parents were Helge Lindberg and Thyra Dahlman. Marianne's brother Rune suffered from dyslexia, which led to Marianne becoming interested in the treatment of those with the reading disorder. Her marriage into to a member of the Swedish royal family led to a further advocacy in this area when she realised that her nephew King Carl XVI Gustaf and his children Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Carl Philip also deal with dyslexia. 

Toto Tchang

Marianne Lindberg began her career as an actress in the theatre. She studied at the Royal Dramatic Theatre's acting school Dramatens elevskola, from which she graduated in 1948. In 1947, she married Gabriel "Toto" Anthoine Gustav Tchang (1919–1980), the son of a Chinese Ambassador in Stockholm. The couple had three children: Robert (1948-2012), Richard (1950-1952), and Marielle (b.1953). Marianne and Toto divorced in 1957. Marianne has become a champion for children having sufficient access to vision healthcare as a result of her second son, Richard, going blind before he died before reaching his second birthday. In this vein, Countess Marianne Bernadotte founded The Sigvard & Marianne Bernadotte Research Foundation For Children’s Eyecare in Sweden in 1990. The foundation now has an office in the United States as well.


On 30 July 1961, Marianne married Prince Sigvard Bernadotte (former Prince of Sweden) in a ceremony at Stockholm. Sigvard was the second son of the eventual King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden and his wife Princess Margaret (née Connaught/Great Britain). For Marianne, it was her third marriage; for Sigvard, it was his third. The couple remained together until Sigvard's death in 2002 at the age of ninety-four. 

Sigvard and Marianne Bernadotte

Countess Marianne Bernadotte and her husband Prince Sigvard met designer Pierre Balmain in 1962; this let to a lasting friendship between the countess and the French haute couturier, who often created outfits for Marianne. In 2017, the Stockholm art museum Millesgården held a four-month exhibition on the fashion of Countess Marianne Bernadotte: the exhibit was opened by her grandniece Crown Princess Victoria. 

Prince Carl Philip of Sweden with his great-aunt Countess Marianne Bernadotte
Countess Marianne Bernadotte with her grandniece Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden
Countess Marianne Bernadotte and Queen Silvia of Sweden
Although her husband Sigvard had a strained relationship with his family, his widow maintains close ties to King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia, and their children. Marianne attended the 2010 wedding of Crown Princess Victoria, the 2013 wedding of Princess Madeleine, and the 2015 wedding of Prince Carl Philip. Since the death of Countess Gunilla Bernadotte (widow of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte) in 2016, Marianne is the only surviving daughter-in-law of King Gustaf VI Adolf and the only surviving aunt of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Embed from Getty Images

We wish Countess Marianne Bernadotte good health and many happy returns of the day!

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Friday, July 12, 2019

New Photograph of the Belgian Royal Family to Mark 60th Wedding Anniversary of Albert and Paola

The Belgian Royal House today released an image of King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium with their three children, eleven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild (with another on the way). Only Prince Joachim of Belgium, the second son and third child of Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz, was missing. The photograph was taken last week in the South of France.

King Albert and Queen Paola celebrated sixty years of marriage on 2 July.

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Noble Couplings That Were Not To Be: Hereditary Prince Gustav of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Elvire Pasté de Rochefort

Noble Couplings That Were Not To Be: 
Hereditary Prince Gustav of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Elvire Pasté de Rochefort

Princess Benedikte of Denmark, Fürst Richard of S-W-B, Elvire Pasté de Rochefort, Prince Gustav of S-W-B

On 16 August 2000, the Danish royal house announced the betrothal between Prince Gustav of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (b.12 January 1969; eldest of three children and only son of Fürst Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Princess Benedikte of Denmark) and Elvire Pasté de Rochefort (b.Paris 13 March 1968). Elvire is one of two children of Hervé Pasté de Rochefort and his wife Hélène Rodocanachi.

The wedding between the pair was to take place in Paris in Spring of 2001. 

During a press conference in late August 2000 at Schloss Berleburg, Gustav and Elvire recalled that they first met at a wedding two years prior. Elvire was his dinner partner. The engaged couple revealed that it was not love at first sight. Elvire said that Gustav proposed to her on 23 July 2000. After their wedding, the couple planned to live in London for several years before moving to Schloss Berleburg.

On 25 November 2000, it was announced that the religious wedding of Prince Gustav of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and his fiancée, Elvire Pasté de Rochefort, would take place at the Église de Saint Louis, Hôtel des Invalides, in Paris on 12 May 2001. A few months later, in March 2001, the news broke that the marriage of Gustav and Elvire had been postponed because of practical problems (logistics, accomodation, security). The union was expected to still occur in Paris at a later date.

Finally, in July 2001, Elvire and Gustav confirmed that their engagement had been called off.

On 30 April 2005, Elvire Pasté de Rochefort married Christophe Clamageran.

For many years, Prince Gustav of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Carina Axelsson have been in a relationship.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Royal Mail from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the Birth of Their Son

In today's post arrived a lovely photo card from Kensington Palace. The image on the front was taken by Chris Allerton on 8 May when TRH The Duke and Duchess of Sussex presented their son, Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, to the world for the first time. Born on 6 May 2019 at Portland Hospital in London, the newest great-grandchild of HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was only two days old when his parents allowed the world to share in their happiness by seeing the infant with his parents at Windsor. We wish all the best to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they join the ranks of many sleep-deprived parents of newborns!

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