Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Coburgs of Europe: A Thorough Review

A nice, thorough review of my latest book, by Coryne Hall,

“The Coburgs of Europe. The Rise and Fall of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s European Family,” by Arturo E. Beéche. ( 376 pages, over 500 photographs.

The Coburgs were described by Bismarck as ‘the stud farm of Europe” and reading this enthralling book will show you exactly why. Beginning with the 1777 marriage of Duke Franz Friedrich Anton and Augusta of Reuss-Ebersdorff, Arturo Beéche takes readers on a fascinating journey showing just how their descendants extended into the European monarchies in the wake of the Napoleonic wars, thus changing the course of history.

To form an idea of the sheer scope covered it is worth remembering that by the end of the nineteenth century the descendants of Franz Friedrich Anton and Augusta occupied the thrones of Great Britain, Belgium, Portugal, Bulgaria and the ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; and they provided consorts for Prussia, Mexico, Austria, Saxony, Hohenzollern, Romania, Hesse and by Rhine and Hohenlohe-Langenburg. By the twentieth century they had reached Sweden, Italy and Luxembourg as well. To cover all this in one volume is an impressive achievement. 

The mainstay of the family was Duchess Augusta. Forced to approach the hated Napoleon in support of her eldest son, she wrote: …’the happiness of my children is well worth the sacrifice and I will do it quite willingly.’ She lived up to this rule, determined that her family of nine children would achieve political greatness. In 1796 her daughter Juliane married Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich. Although the marriage was unhappy, it enabled Juliane’s brother, the dashing Prince Leopold, to join the Russian army. In London in 1816 he married the Prince Regent’s daughter Princess Charlotte of Wales. After his wife’s death in childbirth Leopold went on to become the first King of the Belgians, thus founding the Belgian branch of the Coburgs. As the uncle of the young Queen Victoria he became one of the most important and influential members of this extraordinary family.

One of the most spectacular marriages was that of Augusta’s son Ferdinand and the Hungarian heiress Antonia von Kohary, which brought the immense riches of the Koharys into the family. This inheritance made the Coburgs the third largest landowners in Hungary until just after the First World War. Their descendants, raised as Catholics, became the Saxe-Coburg-Kohary line. One son married Queen Maria II of Portugal; a grandson, Ferdinand, later became Tsar of Bulgaria. It was one of Antonia’s discontented relatives who supposedly pronounced a curse on the Coburgs. Whether you believe this story or not, thirteen princes descended from Duchess Augusta’s family predeceased their own fathers. 

It is fascinating to note that haemophilia may have made its first appearance in the sons of Augusta’s eldest daughter Sophie and her husband the Count of Mensdorff-Pouilly, long before the disease appeared in the family of Queen Victoria. The union of Duchess Augusta’s two grandchildren Victoria and Albert is of course the most famous Coburg marriage and during Victoria’s reign the family’s influence reached its zenith. In 1917, to erase the family’s German roots, George V renamed the royal house, thereby cutting British links with the house of Coburg. Despite the family motto ‘venture nothing; keep everything’, the Coburgs began to lose some of the thrones they had so famously achieved. Many of the Vienna branch of the family in particular found they were struggling for survival as they lost much of their former wealth and position. Dispossession and dispersion of assets became the lot of several members of the family as war took its toll. As just one instance of the havoc war can bring, the current Head of House Prince Andreas was brought up in America and had to relearn his native German language when he returned to Coburg as a young man.

An unusual addition is a chapter on ‘The Women of Coburg’, which focuses on twelve Coburg princesses who married monarchs, Crown Princes or heads of mediatised dynasties. This refreshing idea allows the author to investigate how the Coburg net spread even wider and how various European monarchies link back to the Coburgs through the female line, which is normally ignored in favour of male line descent. 

This book is a sheer joy to read- a fascinating tale of power, influence, scandal, regicide and even suicide, with a narrative that moves along at a cracking pace. As for the photographs – well, where to start? There are over 500 pictures in this book, many of them lent by descendants of the Coburg family and never seen before, encompassing almost every European royal family. These wonderful shots of people at weddings, christenings and family gatherings are supplemented by pictures of the palaces all over Europe that Coburg descendants occupied. The result is simply breathtaking.

Throughout the book the enthusiasm of the author for his subject shines through. The Coburgs of Europe is as much a tribute to the passion and knowledge of Arturo Beéche as it is to the remarkable Coburg family itself.
This is a fascinating trip through the courts of Europe that no student of royal history can afford to miss.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Facebook Group: Join – King Christian IX and His Descendants!

Join us:

Denmark: 150 Anniversary of the House of Glucksborg

On 15 November the House of Glucksborg celebrated the 150th anniversary of its accession to the Danish throne.

On 15 November 1863, the former Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderbug-Glücksburg, who by then had been created Prince of Denmark, succeeded his distant kinsman King Frederik VII (1808-1863), who left no descendants from any of his three marriages.

In 1828 he married his cousin Princess Vilhelmine Marie of Denmark (1808-1891), but the marriage ended in scandal and divorce three six years later. There were no children from this union. Seven years later Frederik married secondly, his new wife being Duchess Caroline Marianne of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1821-1876). This second union also ended in divorce seven years later. Two years later he married thirdly, this time his bride being a lowly seamstress by the name of Louisa Christina Rasmussen (1815-1874), whom he created countess Danner. By then it was apparent that Frederik VII, who had succeeded his father King Christian VIII early in 1848, was not going to produce an heir.

Prince Christian of Glücksburg was the candidate chosen, among a few others, to succeed the the King or his uncle Prince Ferdinand (1792-1863), in case he succeeded the wayward Frederik VII. As Ferdinand died in Spring 1863, his death cleared the way for Christian to become Frederik VII's direct successor.

Prince Christian had married the former Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel, whose own mother, Princess Louise Charlotte of Denmark, was the closest female relation of King Frederik VII. With her Christian fathered six children: Frederik, Alexandra, Vilhelm, Dagmar, Thyra and Valdemar. This couple and their healthy brood were destined to become Denmark's new royal family upon the death of King Frederik VII.

The story of Christian and Louise's offspring is not unknown by many of our readers. King Christian IX's began in 1863 and lasted until his passing in 1906. He was succeeded by his eldest son, King Frederik VIII, who ruled until 1912, when he died in Hamburg while out for a stroll.

The other five siblings had equally interesting lives. Alexandra married the Prince of Wales in 1863 and in 1901 became Queen Consort. Her husband, Edward VII, ruled for nine years, Alexandra surviving him until 1925. Vilhelm became King George I of the Hellenes in 1863. He married Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna in 1867 and reigned over Greece until his assassination in 1913, just days before celebrating his Golden Anniversary on the Greek throne. Queen Olga survived him until 1926. Dagmar was engaged to Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich, eldest son of Tsar Alexander II. He, however, died of spinal meningitis in 1865. Both families urged Dagmar and the new Russian heir, Alexander Alexandrovich, to find it within themselves to like each other enough to commit to marriage. They did and with time became a devoted couple. He succeeded in 1881 upon the assassination of his father and reigned until his early death in 1894. Alexander III was only forty-nine years old when he died of nephritis. Dagmar, who by then was better known as Marie Feodorovna survived her husband, as well as the nightmare of the Russian Revolution, and died peacefully at Hvidøre, the seaside villa she had called home since arriving in Denmark after escaping the bolsheviks.

The two youngest children of Christian IX and Louise led quieter lives. Thyra, who got herself in trouble as a young woman, managed to save her reputation by discretely dealing with her unplanned pregnancy and later making a great dynastic marriage to Crown Prince Ernst August of Hannover, also known as the Duke of Cumberland. The couple lived quietly between his estate in Gmünden, in the Austrian Alps, and their home in Vienna, where the Cumberlands were treated as reigning royalty by their friend Emperor Franz Joseph. Ernst August died in 1923, Thyra survived him by a decade. Of their six children only three left descendants.

Prince Valdemar (1858-1939), the family's benjamin, married Princess Marie d'Orléans, a niece of the Count of Paris, France's royal claimant. Although the couple had five children, Valdemar also had a long-lasting relationship with his own nephew, Prince George of Greece, from whom he was inseparable. Their liaison was an open secret within the family and everyone simply dealt with it. It was what it was. They were cautious and discrete, their wives put up a stiff upper lip; their children were close to each other; life went on. Marie died in 1909. Valdemar survived his wife by three decades.

Christian IX and Louise, their children and their descendants deserve a dynastic biography in English, similar to my work on the Coburgs!

Four Danish kings: Christian IX holding Frederik IX, Frederik VIII and Christian X, the baby's father.

 King Frederik VII

  King Frederik VII

Crown Princess Caroline of Denmark.

Princess Vilhelmine Marie of Denmark.

Countess Danner.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Leuchtenberg: The Dowager Duchess of Leuchtenberg Has Died

MONTEREY – H.S.H. Olga Duchess von Leuchtenberg de Beauharnais passed away Tuesday evening at 9:30 p.m. of complications from a stroke. She was born in Zgurowka, Russia on November 15, 1926. She leaves behind her daughter, Lisa Duchess von Leuchtenberg de Beauharnais Craft; her husband, John Craft and their children, Tasha Dandrea and her husband, Tony, Nicholas Craft, Jonathan Craft and Andrew Craft. She also leaves behind her sister, Galina and her family of Canada and Australia and her cousin, Valentina.

She was the best mother that any one could ever have and adored her grandchildren, daughter, and son- in-law. She will be terribly missed!

A memorial service will be held this Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at the Casa Munras Hotel in Monterey in the Marabella Room. - 

See more at:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

EUROHISTORY: Issue XCV – Volume 16.5

As we prepare to send the next issue of EUROHISTORY to print this coming week, I am able to publish the cover.

Articles inside the latest installment of our royalty journal include, among others:

1. Four Generations of Monarchs

2. Grand Duchess Alexandra Georgievna of Russia

3. The Wedding of Prince Jaime of Bourbon-Parma

4. A Gathering of Coburgs

5. The Marriage of Prince Arthur of Connaught and the Duchess of Fife


Issue XCV will begin mailing December 2 (USA, Canada, Latin America, Australasia and Asia). All European magazines will mail from either London, The Hague and Coburg by December 9.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Coburgs of Europe – It's here and shipping to pre-sales today!

It's here!

THE COBURGS OF EUROPE Book Signing at Hoogstraten English Bookstore

Our friends at HOOGSTRATEN ENGLISH BOOKSTORE ( have invited me to do a book signing there on December 7, 2013.

I will be signing copies of my latest book, THE COBURGS OF EUROPE, at HOOGSTRATEN ENGLISH BOOKSTORE on that day from 200pm-500pm.

I am delighted by the invitation and hope to see many of our Dutch EUROHISTORY clients, subscribers and friends!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spain: No Proof of Wrongdoing for Infanta Cristina

The Spanish prosecutor involved with the NOOS case announced that there is no proof that HRH the Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, Infanta doña Cristina of Spain, participated in any illicit behavior.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saxe-Coburg & Gotha: New Additions to Genealogy

New additions to Coburg genealogy:

Descendants of Hereditary Prince Johann Leopold...

Peter Karl Eduard (born 4-10-1964) divorced Kathrin Kempin on 27-8-2001.

He married secondly at Hamburg-Altona, on 14-6-2002, Johanna Thompson, born in Cuxhaven on 27-7-1977. They have a daughter, Louisa Ava Dawn Prinzessin von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, born on 12-7-1998.

Malte Georg Albert (born 1966) and his wife Nicola Friederike von Seydlitz-Kurzbach had a son, Albert Nicolas born 20-6-2011.