Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Recent magazine articles on Bernadottes

This month’s issue of the Swedish history magazine Populär Historia (no 3-2010) has an article by journalist Sara Griberg on Princess Maria, the Russian Grand Duchess who was married off to Prince Wilhelm in 1908 and left him five years later.
Although the Grand Duchess lived until 1958, the article concentrates on Maria’s few years in Sweden. Like most Swedes writing about Maria, Griberg uses Maria’s own and her son Lennart Bernadotte’s memoirs as the main sources, but Griberg also considers the differing account given in Bengt Jangfeldt’s biography of Axel Munthe.
She also mentions the Russo-Swedish espionage case which coincided with the royal divorce and which rumours claimed Princess Maria was involved with, but, perhaps naturally for such a format, Sara Griberg does not investigate it further.
The article includes a photo of Maria at work in the fashion industry in Paris in 1923, but it is quite startling to see that the woman standing next to her, dressed in typical 1920s fashion, is identified as Empress Maria Fyodorovna!
The biographer of that Empress, Coryne Hall, has meanwhile published an article of Queen Ingrid in the March issue of the British magazine Majesty (vol 31, no 3), coinciding with the late Queen’s centenary at the end of this month. The article lists the basic biographical facts in a rather dry manner, but not a word is said about Queen Ingrid’s personality.
There is also nothing about her significance or influence, except for a statement that the Act of Succession was changed in Princess Margrethe’s favour “due in no small part to Ingrid’s influence”. In fact this remains an unsubstantiated rumour which has been denied on several occasions.
Much more interesting is an interview in that same magazine with Lady Elizabeth Anson, the step-daughter of Prince Georg of Denmark and great-niece of the late Queen Elizabeth, who runs the company Party Planners. She says she came up with the idea when attending her own coming-out party at the Danish Embassy in London, but that her wish to pursue this career met with strong resistance from Prince Georg, who got her a job as a hotel receptionist instead.
Eventually she did start her own business together with her friend Jessica Scott-Ellis and among her first royal commissions were a cocktail party thrown by her great-aunt for Princess Benedikte of Denmark and the 21st birthday of Prince William of Gloucester. Lady Elizabeth greatly enjoyed working with Patrick Plunket and following his death she was asked to take over his job as Deputy Master of the Household. That she turned down the offer on the spot “was obviously considered very rude” and she was out of royal favour for some years.
In 2000 the Queen Mother did however ask Lady Elizabeth to arrange the huge party at Windsor Castle to celebrate her 100th birthday as well as the 70th birthday of Princess Margaret, 50th of Princess Anne and 40th of the Duke of York. After that she has received many more royal commissions and although she is now 68, she has no plans to retire.

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