Review: The Kaiser’s Last Kiss aka The Exception by Alan Judd

The Story

Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany’s deposed Emperor, is living out his days in exile at Huis Doorn in the Netherlands. He and his controversial 2nd wife, Hermine, live in a sort of gilded cage–able to travel freely only 15 miles from home.  Born Queen Victoria’s eldest grandchild, Wilhelm now spends his days railing at Juda-England, as he now calls his mother’s country, chopping wood, smoking, and feeding the ducks.

When the Nazi’s invade Holland, the Kaiser is given an SS security detail headed by Martin Krebbs, a young officer not sold-out on the SS or Nazi ideals, but who none-the-less discounts the idea of an “interior” life.( “You were what you did; the rest was froth.“) All the same, he arrives not sure he cares about an old Emperor–he wants to go back to the war.

Not long before the Nazis’ arrival, a new well-educated maid, Akki, joins the staff at Huis Doorn and the Kaiser takes a liking to her. She has lovely hands and hands are sexual thing to him–a part of a woman’s beauty and sensuality. And, she is very well-educated and respectful.

Trouble arises, as you can imagine! To say more would be to spoil the story.

The book is now a movie starring Christopher Plummer as the Kaiser. The movie’s trailer is at the bottom of this post. The story has been re-titled The Exception. Names have been changed, too.  (I have not, yet, seen the movie).

What I Liked

I thought Judd’s portrayal of the twisted, lonely, and often deluded Kaiser, was excellent. He also captured the personality of the scheming Hermine as well. I thought each of the major characters were believable. More depth would have been nice, but the story was very compelling as is. He did not bog the story down in too much historical minutia–even though I’m a reader who often enjoys that. This kept the story moving at a fast clip.

What I Didn’t Like

If you’re going to write a book–even a novel–on royalty get a grip on titles and forms of address! If you don’t know, look it up! Judd was all over the place with this and it was annoying.  Even though real life added some confusion, he should have figured out how the staff would properly address the Kaiser and his wife. By all the residents at Huis Doorn Wilhelm and Hermine were treated exclusively as Emperor and Empress. When the Nazis were present they insisted he was simply Prince Wilhelm. Yet Judd never could get it right. This was irritating.

The other thing that I wasn’t so happy about was that the beginning of the book seemed to mostly be just retelling parts of this video:


My Verdict

Overall, this was a great fast-paced story and I enjoyed it. But for the title thing I had to knock it down a bit in my rating.

3.75 Stars

The Kaiser’s Last Kiss  (aka The Exception) by Alan Judd



What if… Diana at 50 and Beyond

Embed from Getty Images

NOTE: This post originally appeared June 29, 2011 on my old blog. It has been updated.


Of all the “what if'” articles, blog posts and novels, I think a June 2011 issue of Newsweek magazine does the best job in guessing what would have become of Princess Diana had she lived to see her 5oth birthday [which is this Friday].

Here are some of my own guesses–some the same, or nearly the same, a few different from Newsweek’s. As readers of this blog know I was not a fan of the late Princess. I found her vapid, self-serving and other uncomplimentary things. I did not, however, accept that everything wrong with her was her fault. So, here goes:

Embed from Getty Images

Continue reading “What if… Diana at 50 and Beyond”

Smokin’ Hot Royals for Valentine’s Day

Top Ten Tuesday returns next week.

Photo by Hulton Archive on Getty Images

This is possibly the sexiest photo of a royal smoking ever taken! King George V.

Wow! Sizzle!

For Valentine’s Day I thought I’d play a bit of a prank on you! Smokin’ hot royals–all photos of Royalty smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars!

Royals of the Past

King Edward VII

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here.

King Edward VII–as King and, earlier as Victoria’s heir and Prince of Wales, shown smoking.

It’s is King Edward VII, as Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who graced cans of Prince Albert Tobacco–the brand my late grandfather loved. A later-in-life image of him graced the boxes of King Edward cigars!

King George V

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here.

George’s wife, Queen Mary, was known to smoke small cigars. Their two eldest sons, King Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor) and George VI (the present Queen’s father) both died of smoking-related illnesses.

The bottom photo shows the two future kings (left, with their sister Princess Mary) and George smoking while holding the hand of his then youngest son (ultimately his 3rd son) Prince Henry (Duke of Gloucester)

All four of George and Mary’s four surviving sons (Prince John died at age 13) would become heavy smokers. Their son Prince George, Duke of Kent, would become a heroin addict–he recovered thanks to his brother, David. Harry, the toddler holding George’s hand in the last photo, was thought by many, including brother David, to be an alholic.

Tzar Nicholas II

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here.

George V’s Double First Cousin, Tzar Nicholas II, smoked. It’s easy to forget just how wide-spread smoking way in the days before anti-anxiety medications. Did you know that his wife, Tzarina Alexandra was a maternal Aunt of Prince Philip?

Kaiser Wilhelm II


George V, Nicholas II and Wilhelm II were all grandsons of Queen Victoria–first cousins. Here is the Kaiser, late in life and in exile, smoking. His left arms was damaged at birth and withered.

King Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here.Top right and bottom right, I believe, are from LIFE magazine.

Smoking was a big part of the image of Britain’s most popular Prince of Wales and it’s first young bachelor King in centuries–Edward VIII. As Duke of Windsor it continued to add to his sophisticated style. Cigarettes, cigars and pipes–he smoked them all. Ultimately, throat cancer killed him. I would imagine, given the times, that the Duchess probably smoked in private.  Did you know he was always known by the last of his 7 names–David?

King George VI

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here.

The present Queen’s father, known as Prince Albert, Duke of York, before becoming King and renaming himself George V, was a very heavy smoker. His wife, known to us as Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, even changed the way formal dinners were “run” so that he could smoke between courses. Not surprisingly, 65 years ago last week George VI died of lung cancer. Like his brother David he smoked tobacco in any form, but favored cigarettes above all.

Princess Margaret

Cigarette holder photo: found at  Coat photo: Getty via Daily

Like FDR, Princess Margaret was known for her long cigarette holder–a device she used long after it became an affectation, long after the rest of the world had jettisoned them. Cigarettes and alcohol were mainstays of the Queen’s sister’s troubled life. She, too, died of smoking related causes. Like her Uncle Harry (Duke of Gloucester) she suffered strokes and like her father she had to have part of a lung removed due to cancer.

Royals Today

Prince Philip


NO, Philip no longer smokes. His bachelor party in November of 1947 was supposedly the last time he smoked. He quit at his bride-to-be’s request. Might explain his incredible longevity! His Uncle, Earl Mountbatten (pictured with cigar looking away), loved cigars. Philip’s mother (Mountbatten’s sister) and his Mountbatten Grandmother (sister of the Last Tzarina–Alexandra) were chain smokers. When Philip’s mother spent her last few years at Buckingham Palace, people knew where she was by the clouds of smoke and the thunderous coughing.

His Royal Hotness, Prince Harry

Photo credits Rex via and  unknown found via flickr

I couldn’t find a smoking picture of Prince Harry that was anywhere near as smoldering as the one of his Great-Great-Grandpa, George V that began this post. But, the hipster Royal is a fairly heavy smoker. His father, Prince Charles, is strongly opposed. Somehow, I’m sure (pardon the pun) that Papa’s objections likely fuel the fire! A real lad’s lad, our Harry. Most of his gals have been smokers too. Sadly, young women today still fall for the myth that smoking keeps you slim. Both Prince William and Catherine (Kate) smoked as students. They have either given it up for the children now or hide it very well. Did you know that Prince Harry’s real name is Henry? Like his late, great-great Uncle, the late Duke of Gloucester, he is always known as Harry.

Princess Eugenie of York


 Photo source:

Prince Andrew’s younger daughter has frequently been seen smoking. It’s very fashionable again, sadly. Eugenie says you pronounce her name as in “Use your knees.” Cute. Did you know she had to have surgery to correct a curvature in her spine? She is now a patron of spinal disorder charities.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Riding photo:  Poolside–Rex via

Some sources say she gave up smoking, but in her pre-royal days she smoked like a factory. Very ironic given Prince Charles is such a rabid anti-smoking fiend that he had a “No Smoking” sign in the Kensington Palace home he shared with Diana.

Other Royals

Denmark: Queen Margarethe of Denmark, aka “The Great Dane”

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here. The Top Left is likely from Getty Images but found via  The bottom is from Tim Roake of Rex Shuttlestock. I will update this to reflect other credit as I am able.

Since childhood (upper left) Margarethe has wielded a mean lighter–in this photo she is lighting for her mother, Queen Ingrid. The cute, pre-Pinterest photo of Her Majesty and her now husband, Prince Henrik is an adorable one for Valentine’s Day. Did you know Her Majesty is a cousin of both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip?

Nearly the entire Royal Family of Monaco smokes! Possibly not Albert and Charlene–she was an Olympic athlete after all, but the rest of them are frequently seen smoking. I’m not sure about anyone else.

Happy Valentine’s Day cough, cough, cough

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Favorite Memoirs


My high school favorites


I’ve taken a little liberty with the word “memoir” for these are all parents’ memoirs of sons. At this age, I adored my big brother and his friends and dreamed of having four sons.

Eric–is the story of a tall, easy-going soccer star at UConn who dies of leukemia. His mother, Doris Lund, wrote children’s books and did illustration work and his father did freelance work too. This was as much a revelation to me as leukemia. Eric’s story  became popular in our high school because a classmate of my brother’s died of the same disease at about the same age.

Journey tells of historian Robert Massie’s namesake son’s life with hemopheilia–the catalyst for him writing his best-selling Nicholas and Alexandra. He took the “business” side of the disease–the insurance, the blood drives, while his now ex-wife Suzanne, the loss of whose influence as his editor and research shows clearly in his later books, wrote about mothering a child with such a (then) debilitating illness. She rages elogently at those imagining her beloved son was abused and at the times he was cruelly exclued  way back in the early 60’s before anyone had heard of the color teal or what a teal pumpkin was and why it was important. Mother’s like Suzanne Massie paved the way for the so many of the inclusive ideas we embrace today. Their son, Bobby–who in middle age would be shown on a PBS program as no longer having the AIDS virus he contracted thru tainted blood products used to treat his illness–writes with his parents’ joint passion and precision about his side of things as well. Coming only a few years before HIV/AIDS hit the scene and decimated the hemophiliac population of the world, this book did a lot to champion patients’ rights, humane hospital rules on visitors, awareness of the impossibility of our medical insurance system for those with debilitating illnesses.

For me, it showed three brilliant people overcoming so much horror. I loved that Suzanne learned Russian during all of this as an “escape.” I loved that she taught ballet to earn a little badly needed money and most of all, I loved her intellectual world–the work at Time-Life, the research for her husband’s book (and subsequently for her own books). She did all this while baking Christmas cookies and, oh yes, raising two other children.

Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther is the moving story of a 1940s teenager, Johnny, and his battle with a malignant brain tumor. I was fascinated by him–he loved chemistry and pursued science with a passion most young men reserve for sports and girls. He attended a prestigious Eastern board school, too, so that also appealed. Again, though, aspects of his parents lives caught my attention–of course his father, renown journalist John Gunther, was known for his socio-political surveys known as the Inside books–Inside Europe,–showing the impact of Nazism and Inside the U.S.A. They are still classics. There is a decent movie version of the Death Be Not Proud–it brought Robbie Benson to the world’s attention. I used to have it on VHS. Death Be Not Proud You can watch the movie here:

College memoir favorites


Stop-Time was assigned in my first literature and writing class. My class had the theme self-discovery. I’ve always been grateful that my Mom helped me register–I was completely overwhelmed by the course schedule. (I still had to endure four hours of waiting in line at I.U.’s famous “cattle drive” registration at the field house, but at least I knew how it all worked and got decent classes.) “Coming of Age” books are usually sweet, boy discovers girls or girl discovers boy type OR they are kids overcoming adversity. This one is the latter. I can still smell the dog poop as he cleaned it up. I can still take the joy of going off to college. And I shared his love of jazz. Like another book we read, the Autobiography of Malcolm X,  this book showed how the other half were forced to live–those who were born because their parents had sex and not because they wanted children. It showed how little control kids have over their lives. Stop-time by Frank Conroy.

Ten Days That Shook The World was a “One Sitting Wonderful”  book. I read it along with taking a Russian history class–it was a fabulous optional title. The movie Reds came out the same year.

Royal Memoirs



The two Alices–Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone and “Princess” Alice, Duchess of Gloucester were formidable royal ladies. The first Alice (Athlone) was the daughter of Queen Victoria’s hemophiliac son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany. Her brother, Charles Edward, thru a series of bad family decisions, ended up taking the tiny throne of Saxe Cobrug Gotha and becoming a rather notorious Nazi. But what fascinated me about this Alice was that she traveled by bus, took a banana boat to the Bahamas and never had a hair out of place from it. Her book does show HER age–her views are very Raj, very racists but also, sadly, very characteristic of her time and “station in life.” Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone Memoirs.

The Second Alice and former King Edward VIII tell marvelous stories of their very, very grand Edwardian childhoods. This Alice was the Daughter of one of Scotland’s largest landowner and premier Duke’s–the triple AND double-barreled Montague-Douglas-Scott family, i.e. The Duke of Buccleuch & Queensbury!  She had a very adventurous life as a young adult in Kenya as well. She married Edward VIII’s younger brother, Henry, a few weeks before the King abdicated to marry Mrs. Simpson. Memoirs of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester.

The final two are tell-all books, but tell-all done with a modicum of respect, by Prince Charles’ first valet, the late Stephen Barry. I assume he got away with it since he was dying when they came out. They’re a fun read. Royal Service and Royal Secrets

You can join in the Top Ten Tuesday Fun at The Broke and The Bookish.

Get Ready for Indian Summers, Season Two!

It’s no secret that I’m an Anglophile–oh not 1000%. I understand fully about colonialism–after all I spent a few years in a former British Colony that  didn’t fare well after independence.  Like sharecroppers here, it is still pretty much tied to the U.K. economically.

India, and what is today Pakistan, however, loom large on the world’s stage. The partion of India and Pakistan into two countries lit a fuse that has exploded in war at various times since 1947. You may not know that Prince Philip’s Uncle–Prince Charles’ mentor and “honorary Grandfather,” Lord Mountbatten, was the man who “gave away India,” and lit the fuse.

But all of that is still to come–many years in the future in Indian Summers, which is up to 1932 this season. At this point India is making serious noise about independence. Tired of having their riches taken back to Britain, tired of being second class citizens in their own country, a revolt is brewing.

Here are a few items that might interest you if you are a fan of this series.



Raj Quartet    Jewel in the Crown

Back in the 1980’s, when it was still Masterpiece Theater, PBS ran  Jewel in the Crown.  Taking as its name the famous statement about India’s place in the British Empire, it’s a fabulous sprawling 70’s-80’s mini-series with a stellar cast. Drawn for the four novel series by Paul Scott (known collectively as the Raj Quartet) is set a little later–1940’s when the War is stretching the British Empire to the breaking point. Britain must have India’s cooperation to stay in the war. It features the seemingly obligatory cross-cultural romance and all the intrigue that goes with that. I read devoured the books in Peace Corps in that former British Colony I mentioned at the start of this post. So much to love here! You can probably find it on Youtube or from the library, but it is also available for a small fee on Amazon’s video service.  Jewel in the Crown.

E.M. Forster’s novel, A Passage to India, is set the 1920’s–the beginning of the end of the Raj. The great Dehli Durbar of 1912 is now but a memory. Indians are starting to be vocal about their dislike of their colonial masters.  A mystery, wrapped in various culture clashes, makes this a tremendously compelling book. A Passage to India.

One of the most interesting things about this film is the producer–another relative, this time by marriage, to Prince Philip. John Knatchbull, the late Baron Brabourne, produced the film. His father, Michael, the 5th Baron Brabourne, was Governor of Bombay and, later, of Bengal.  John, the 7th Baron (the 6th was killed in World War II) married Prince Philip’s first cousin, Lady Patricia Mountbatten–herself daughter of India’s last viceroy and architect of the partition of India and Pakistan.

This story takes place a bit earlier than Indian Summers–in the 1920s. The film is lavish with lush locations, an outstanding cast and a very compelling story.  Passage to India.

PBS also gave viewers The Last Viceroy–the story of the partitan and Indian (and Pakistani) independence, highlighting (obviously) the role of Lord Mountbatten–Prince Philip’s uncle. There are times when the dialogue is unbelievably stilted–such as when it is revealed that Lord Mountbatten (often called by his old title–“Lord Louis” or his life-long nickname, Dickie) mentions “Plenipotentiary Powers.”  All that means is he gets to be King–er, um, dictator,….make all the decisions without contacting the Secretary for India or the Prime Minister back in London.The series emphasizes how very stressful the whole thing was for Lord and Lady M–for example the servants and their caste system disputes meant that Lady M was forced to give up and clean up after her dog–and there were LEGIONS of servants around the place. Stick with it, it does get better! It was all so tense and so stressful though that the Mountbattens HAD to get away in November to be at the wedding of Prince Philip and the then Princess Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey. Well, the groom’s side (Dickie was strictly eligible to be on EITHER side) would have been pretty sparse since all his sisters had married Germans….. (A funny bit of trivia here is that this show–well, the Viceregal robes and all the regalia that the Viceroy wore in the show, are mentioned in the wonderful novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson.)

Freedom at Midnight is the classic journalistic account of the transfer of power from the United Kingdom to newly independent Pakistan and India. This is no boring, academic tome. This is history as it was being made.

India Remembered is the memoir of Mountbatten’s younger daughter, Lady Pamela Hicks (mother of India Hicks who is everywhere these days on tv and elsewhere) who was 18 and newly sprung from a wartime British girls’ boarding school.  It was hoped that she would write more about her mother’s well-known and very visible affair with Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister.  Given the stories she willingly tells in her second book, it’s surprising that she deemed this one only a loving friendship, claiming ridiculously, that they could never have been alone with all the servants around. Right…. But anyone bold enough to say they never liked their own mother (and with good reason if you read the second book!) I guess can have her way.

Left photo shows the broiling hot Dehli Durbar–or coronation–of King George V and Queen Mary (grandparents of the present Queen) in 1911. Can you imagine sitting in all that FUR in the Indian sun? These were not folks to trifle with. The had GRIT.

Read more about the REAL Jewel in the Crown–the famed Koh-i-Noor Diamond shown Queen Alexandra’s crown, here.

Royals Who Lost Parents Young

Embed from Getty Images

Recently, both Prince William and Prince Harry have spoken of the pain and grief of losing Diana–20 years ago next year. But what about other royal children? Have others lost a parent? The answer is yes–and within the lifetime of the current queen and the generation before her.

The Kent Children

Photos are embeddable from Getty Images  but reduced in size here.

72 years ago this week, the Queen’s youngest (surviving)  paternal uncle, Prince George, Duke of Kent, was killed in a plane crash leaving 3 children without a father. Those children are today’s Duke of Kent (the “other” Prince Edward–named for his Uncle, Edward VIII), his sister Princess Alexandra of Kent and their brother Prince Michael of Kent. Prince Edward was then the nation’s youngest Duke. Prince Michael, born on the 4th of July, was named Michael George Charles Franklin–the last being for his war-time Godfather, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.

This royal tragedy was hardest on Prince Edward–Eddie as he is known in the family. His Uncle, King George VI, became almost a surrogate father to him. He had a difficult time growing up–so much so that his mother, Prince Philip’s cousin the former Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, removed him from Eton and sent him on to Le Rosey in Switzerland where his fellow pupils included King Albert II of Belgium and the Aga Khan. For Alexandra, just that much younger, and for baby Michael, the loss did not resonate as strongly. Eddie spent much of his life at school or fobbbed off on tutor Giles St. Aubyn (“tutor” in this case is an archaic term for a “male minder”–a younger man who keeps track of his aristocratic, or in this case royal, protege for a living).


Fate would deal Eddie another blow. His uncle, George VI, died when Eddie was just a 16 year-old schoolboy.

In the photo (right) right, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, is seen in the top hat, walking in the procession with his uncle (and Godfather) the disgraced Edward VIII (aka, Duke of Windsor).  Photo source unknown, but possibly Getty.

The Hesse and by Rhine Royal Family

Before the Duke of Kent’s tragic death, an air crash claimed the lives of Prince Philip’s sister, Princess Cecilie of Hesse  and her husband (also his mother) and three of their four children (one of whom was born at the time of the crash). The surviving child was Princess Johanna–Prince Philip’s niece. Johanna’s elder brothers, Alexander and Ludwig, were killed in the crash as the family traveled to their Uncle’s wedding in London where the boys were to be little paige boys in the ceremony.

 Photo sources: I believe these to be in the public domain.

The photo top right is the couple with their first three children, Alexander, Ludwig and baby Johanna. At the bottom right is the funeral procession–the blonde boy in the front row, carrying his top hat, is Prince Philip–Queen Elizabeth’s husband. His sister, Cecilie, is shown in the lower left corner.

This story had another tragedy yet to come. Although she survived the crash by being left at home with her Nanny and other relatives, little Johanna (who was adopted by her Paternal Uncle and his brand new wife–the wedding went ahead privately and they rushed back to Darmstadt to adopt the surviving child) died of meningitis only two years later. Johanna is shown at the top left with her surviving Uncle–adoptive father, Prince Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, and her adoptive mother, the former Miss Margaret Geddes who was English.

 The Battenbergs

396ed241550fcd99d0834187e72c1ac1Prince Philip’s Great Uncle, Prince Henry of Battenberg, married the Great-Great Aunt of both Philip and Queen Elizabeth–Queen Victoria’s ninth and youngest child, Princess Beatrice. The couple were allowed to marry on the condition that they lived with the Queen. Therefore Beatrice and Henry’s four lively children were perhaps the best know to Victoria of all her many (40+) grandchildren. They are shown, looking suitably somber, in the  photo at the left–obviously taken not long after their father’s death.

In 1895 one of the many “Little Wars” of Victoria’s reign started. Known as the Ashanti War, it was in West Africa and named for the principle ethnic group in the area. Prince Henry went off to fight. Sadly, he died of malaria before he reached the war. His body was supposedly preserved in rum so it could be returned to England for burial. His death left  Princes Alexander (known as Drino), Leopold (a hemophiliac like his name sake Uncle, Victoria’s youngest son) and Maurice, who would die in World War I as well as a daughter who grew up to be Queen Ena of Spain. Ena, hereself, was nearly killed by a bomb on her wedding day! But wait! There’s more! 4 of Ena’s sons tragically inherited hemophilia from Queen Victoria who was a carrier and one was rendered deaf by illness. (Photo is in the public domain).

Royal Olympians

Note: The Official Olympic Logo is not to be used by bloggers, even those earning no money like me. So, I’m not using it. You’d think they’d WANT folks talking about it!


Source: Hopewell

In Rio right now athletes, their friends and families, celebrities and royalty are assembling for the the 2016 Summer Olympic Games which open Friday. To put us all in the mood for the Games, I’m profiling the various royals who have competed in the Summer and Winter Olympics Games.


British Royal Family

Sources: Left–AP, Right

Princess Anne and Mark Phillips at 1976 Olympics (left)

Princess Anne awarding daughter Zara a Gold Medal for Equestrian, London, 2012

The British Royal Family has the makings of an Olympic dynasty! The Queen’s only daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal, her ex-husband, Mark Phillips and their daughter, Zara Phillips Tindall have all competed in Equestrian at the Games. Who knows? Maybe Zara’s little girl, Mia, could compete too? Of course her Dad, Mike Tindall, is a rugby legend–maybe she’ll compete at the games in Rugby 7s–a new sport at the Rio games this year. Here’s how the family has done in Olympic competition.

Summer Olympics

Mark Phillips

1968 Olympics in Mexico City: Reserve Rider, did not compete but received Gold medal as a team member.

1972 Olympics in Munich: Team Member,  Gold medal in mixed 3-Day Eventing.

1976 Olympics, Montreal: Reserve Rider.

1980 Olympics, Moscow–boycotted by Britain

1988 Olympics, Seoul: Team Member, Silver medal in mixed 3-Day Eventing.

Princess Anne

1976 Olympics, Montreal. Team Member. [No Medal.]

Zara Phillips [Tindall]

2012 Olympics, London: Team Member, Silver in mixed 3-Day Eventing.

Winter Olympics


The Queen’s first cousin (also a cousin, by birth, of Prince Philip as well) Prince Michael of Kent was a “non-traveling, reserve member” of the British Bobsleigh Team for the 1972 Sapporro, Japan, Winter Games.

Photo source





Royal Family of Monaco

Monaco could also have a royal Olympic dynasty on its hands. Both Prince Albert II and his consort, Princess Charlene, are both Olympians. Who knows what the future may hold for the couples adorable twins, Jacques and Gabrielle?

Winter Olympics



Prince Albert II of tiny Monaco competed for his country in five consecutive Winter Olympics in the 2 and 4 man bobsleigh. He did not win any medals.

Photo source: Getty [embeddable]


Summer Olympics



As Charlene Wittstock, as she was then, competed in swimming for South Africa at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. She did not win any medals.

Photo source: Getty [embeddable]


Greek and Spanish Royal Families

King Olympics


Constantine receives his Olympic Gold Medal

Summer Olympics

It’s not secret that sailing is an incredibly expensive sport just like equestrian. For that reason it should be no surprise that many royals have competed in Olympic Sailing. Former King Juan Carlos of Spain (1972), his wife Queen Sofia (1960, as a Princess of Greece) was a reserve member of the Greek sailing team, their son, Filipe VI, (1992) and daughter daughter Princess Cristina (1988) ALL competed in sailing (years are in parentheses). None received medals.  Queen Sofia’s brother, King Constantine II of Greece,  competed on the 1960 Greek team and won the nation’s first Olympic Gold medal in decades.

Infanta Cristina’s husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, competed at three Olympics in Team Handball winning  2 Bronze team medals.

Norwegian and Danish Royal Families

Summer Olympics

Source: Left Unknown Right Getty

Olav V in 1928 (2nd from left) and his son, Prince Harold at the 1964 Games

Father and son, Olav V (a grandson of King Edward VII of England) and his son, Harold V, both competed in Sailing. Olav won a Gold medal at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. Harold was not so lucky. He did not win any medals at the 1964 Tokyo Games.


Other Royal Families

There is an excellent list here on all the other minor European Royals and Middle Eastern Royals who have competed in both the Winter and Summer Games.


Do you enjoy Royal spotting at the Olympics? I sure do! I enjoyed all the royal pictures from the last Olympics–the one where James Bond sent the Queen on a Mission to open the Games. Here’s that great Olympic moment again, just for fun!


Sweet new Winnie-the-Pooh Story with the Queen and George



Image Source

Did you know the Queen Elizabeth is not only a contemporary of Downton Abbey’s Sybie, George and Marigold, but is an exact age-mate of Winnie-the-Pooh? To celebrate both British cultural icons’ 90th birthdays, a new story book has been released for FREE online.

Winnie the Pooh and The Royal Birthday tells of Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore all troop off to London to give the Queen a birthday present and a very special Pooh-Bear “Hum.”

But, that’s not all. A certain adorable little prince is at the Palace with his Gan-Gan. Yes, Prince George joins in the fun.

This is a sweet little story and royal fans of all ages will enjoy it.



You can read more about it here and download it from the link in the article. It is delightful. There is a read-along audio for it as well, but it may possibly be only for the UK–it would not play for me.
undefined on Disney Video

Happy Birthday, Ma’am! Mia steals the show and rightly so!


Source: Annie Leibovitz

While this photo is meant to show the Queen as an ordinary Granny and Great-Granny, albeit in a extraordinary setting, one little chap will eventually be at the center: Prince George. Today, though, it is all about the Queen. As the whole world likely knows, today she turns 90! In June, her husband, Prince Philip, will be 95. Extraordinary. Their four children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren are quite a mob. I love the way the little girls are dressed like Her Majesty. Adorable.

But of that group one is now an internet phenom and, guess what? It isn’t Prince George–that wonderful little human-clone of Grumpy Cat. Nope! It’s Mia Grace Tindall, the little lady holding her Great-Granny’s iconic handbag. And, rightly so! (By the way, they pronounce it MY-ah).

Britain  Princess Anne
FILE – This is a Oct. 21, 1950 file photo of Queen Mary, left, as touches the ear of her great-granddaughter, Princess Anne, held by her mother, Princess Elizabeth, when the infant Princess was christened at Buckingham Palace London, England. Princess Anne celebrates her 60th birthday Sunday Aug. 14, 2010. (AP Photo, File)

Why, you ask? The Windsors (or the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas) are a Matriarchy. Founded by the previous record holder for long-reigning-o’er-us, Queen Victoria, they then added a few formidable matriarchs thru marriage. The first was Victoria’s Granddaughter-in-law, Queen Mary whose genes we examined yesterday in terms of all the lookalikes she has generated within the family. The second was the Queen’s mother–known to most as the Queen Mother. She, appropriately enough, was Queen Mary’s daughter-in-law. While Queen Elizabeth II has not had such luck with daughters-in-law, it looks like the future George VII (or Charles III) has found just the right sort in Kate. Steel Magnolia, Iron Lady–call her what you like, but she’s right for the job.

So why is little Mia so important? Well, he Dad is a rugby superstar, but that’s not the real reason (though it is a good one to me!). She is the Granddaughter of the royal I call “The One True Heir.” Usually the hardest working of all the royals, the one who famously doesn’t do “stunts” like cuddle babies or tip the press off when she does something decent. This is Princess Anne or, to give her her formal title, The Princess Royal. And it was Princess Anne that was  chosen for the other big “shared” portrait this 90th birthday.


Source: Annie Leibovitz

Today people do not often know that at a very young age, Anne foiled a kidnapping attempt of which she and her then husband were the targets. This is not a lady to trifle with. She is the one Royal I have seen up close and in person. I saw her in Malawi when she visited the Agricultural Station library I was working in as a Peace Corps volunteer. She is amazingly beautiful in person–no photo does her justice. She is an tremendous force for good having worked more hours for Save the Children then Prince William has been alive–or so it seems.


Photos: Getty Images

Had Anne been born today, I imagine she’d have had a very, very successful military career. She is the first royal woman to walk in processions in uniform instead of riding in a carriage with the other royal ladies. It is just who she is. She is the very, very best of both of her parents. They adore her. Her children get on very well with her. She also won a famous battle her aunt, Princess Margaret, lost. She is married to a former royal equerry–he is her second husband, though like her brother Charles, it was after a scandal involving not leaked phone calls, but leaked love letters. Anne never batted an eye over the tempest in a teapot over her love affair. Appropriately enough for this made-for-00Status-lady he is a several years younger. A Royal Cougar. Fascinating.

Unlike her brother, Charles, whom she terms “too grand for the likes of us” [well, that sentiment] Anne has been known to take package discount ski trips with her children, to load her own dishwasher and makes a nice finishing-school-worthy cheese souffle which she has served her parents at dinner in her marital London mansion block flat. Her children thrived at Charles’s hated boarding school, Gordonstoun, (she’s on the Board of Governors) and they started their school years at the village school. Her old nanny famously resigned finding it too disconcerting to see H.R.H. make breakfast for her husband or toss laundry into the washer. She expected Downton Abbey apparently. (Never mind, Nanny still goes on vacation with them!)

Getty Images

So, it’s only right that Mia–Anne’s third granddaughter–is the sensation of this photo. Mia’s mother, Zara Phillips Tindall, followed both of her parents to the Olympics on the British Equestrian Team. (Zara also happens to be a Goddaughter of Andrew Parker-Bowles, Camilla’s ex-husband). (Yesterday I shared a favorite photo of the Queen, Anne and Zara.) While it has recently been confirmed that George has not yet been riding with the Queen, something tells me Mia has! She’s got the true makings of another Windsor matriarch, albeit a Mountbatten-Windsor-Phillips-Tindall one. (Photo at the left is Anne with Mia).

The adorable moment with Great-Granny’s purse was totally spontaneous. As the various proud parents, grandparents, equerries, ladies-in-waiting, nannys and whoever, tried to help keep the kids attention during the photo shoot, Mia simply did what toddlers do–she picked up Granny’s bag. And secured a place in history. The entire photo, of course, is delightful, but it is Mia who made it a sensation.

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

Well Done, Your Royal Highness.

Never Lose That Spark, Mia.


FYI: Here’s the Cougar, her guy and one of her grandchildren. Ordinary, modern grandparents out with the baby. Mia does not have a nanny.

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When you are Queen you get TWO birthdays?


Note: 1951 and Queen Elizabeth–as Princess Elizabeth–rode and took the salute owing to the King’s ill health. King Haakon of Norway, like King George V, was a grandson of King Edward VII. The two little boys on the balcony are Prince Charles and the current Duke of Gloucester, Prince Richard who is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Elizabeth has two birthdays? Obviously, the Queen was only born once. That was on April 21, 1926. The two birthday’s thing started with her father.



Sadly, King George VI  was born on a day that would eventually see three royals die. The most important of those was his Great-Grandfather, Prince Albert–husband of Queen Victoria. December 14 was also the day the Victoria and Albert’s daughter, Alice, died. And, eventually, another Great-Grandchild of Victoria’s, Princess Maud of Fife (a grandchild of Edward VII) died on that day as well.

So, with the combination of intense solemnity necessary for that date and the horrible December weather, George VI held his traditional birthday celebration in June. The Queen, though having the luck of slightly better April weather, choose to stick to it. I imagine, should he live to be King, that Prince Charles will do the same. William’s birthday is June 21 and George’s is in July so now real need to worry beyond the reign of George VII–the name Charles has claimed he will use as King.

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Trooping the Colour, which in 1972 was in memory of disgraced ex-King Edward VIII (aka The Duke of Windsor) who had recently died. Like his niece, Edward VIII was shot at while on horseback going to Horse Guards Parade where the Colour is Trooped. Both monarchs handled themselves with great dignity.  1972’s ceremony was also one of the three known times after the Abdication that Queen Elizabeth met her Aunt-by-marriage, Wallis, Duchess of Windsor.

Photos: Paphotos and (left) Getty

Queen Elizabeth is shown in black armband (left arm) talking with her son, Prince Edward who was named for Edward VIII’s namesake nephew and Godson, the current Duke of Kent. The other photo, shows the Duchess of Windsor, who was invited as a show of respect.

Today Trooping the Colour is one of only two events each year at which nearly the entire “First 50” or so in line to the throne gather. (The other  occasion is the Queen’s annual pre-Christmas family lunch). We see them all arranged on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the marching is over –waiting for the fly-past of World War II planes or RAF fighters trailing red, white and blue smoke. Very impressive.

Here is a clip from documentary Royal Family at Work which shows, at approximately 6:19, the family gathered behind the scenes–the late Princess Margaret’s son, Viscount Linley and his wife, are both shown keeping a real eye on their young children. Who can’t relate to that! Members of the family are shown greeting each other with European-style kisses on both cheeks as well. What I love most in this clip is Prince Charles’ voice over about the event as he saw it in childhood.


It is also on the Queen’s Official birthday balcony appearance that many a royal baby has made his or her debut. Here are (clockwise from top left) Harry, Andrew, Harry again,  Charles with William, William with George and the Queen with Prince Edward.

sources: Getty for most

I’ll leave you with my favorite Trooping the Colour photo of all time….

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I’m hoping that’s his father’s horse. Because what little guy wouldn’t want to be like Papa on THAT day?