2019 Calendar

Do you love reading about royals as much as I do? If so, check out my 2020 royal reading list - all the research books I bought, borrowed, and re-read are listed here. I’m adding books as I read them, so check back to see if your picks made the list.

Just scroll down to get the info for each book, including my comments. Or use the table of contents below to jump straight to a book you’re already interested in.

Want to suggest a book for me this year? I’d love to know what titles you recommend. Click here to drop me a line.

Last updated: April 7


Some book links below may be Amazon affiliate links. If you choose to buy through that link, it doesn’t change your price at all, but Amazon will give me a few extra cents for the tiara research fund.

Beloved and Darling Child

Beloved Mama, edited by Roger Fulford

Subtitle: Private Correspondence of Queen Victoria and the Crown Princess of Prussia 1886-1901
Editor: Agatha Ramm
Publisher: Alan Sutton
Year: 1990
Available at: Amazon (used)

This is the sixth and final volume of the letters between Queen Victoria and her eldest daughter, Vicky. It’s heartbreaking because you know both women die in 1901 – they’re facing the vicissitudes of aging, including watching friends and family members die. As for Vicky, she’s also battling painful spine cancer in the later years of this volume, so any moment of joy or levity is a superhuman effort for her. She’s an amazing human being who still has warmth, verve, and intelligence to spare. I miss her and I only ever knew her through these letters.


Beloved Mama

Beloved Mama, edited by Roger Fulford

Subtitle: Private Correspondence of Queen Victoria and the Crown Princess of Prussia 1878-1885
Editor: Roger Fulford
Publisher: Evans Brothers Limited London
Year: 1981
Available at: Amazon (used)

This is the fifth of six volumes of the correspondence between Queen Victoria and her eldest daughter, Vicky. I’m plowing through the rest of the series, to the complete confusion of my husband who can’t quite understand why I’d rather read dead women’s letters than watch Netflix. But I adore these letters. They’re hilarious, they’re touching, they’re informative...and they’re like an unintentional political history seminar of the late 19th century, all at the same time.


Crowns in Conflict

Crowns in Conflict by Theo Aronson

Subtitle: The Triumph and the Tragedy of European Monarchy 1910-1918
Author: Theo Aronson
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Year: 1986 (original), 2015 (digital)
Available at: Amazon

I’m an Aronson fan and spotted this title in Kindle Unlimited. It wasn’t on my reading list, but I gave it a shot anyway. Usually, Aronson’s character- and story-driven history books totally float my boat. This one…didn’t. Maybe it was too superficial? Covered too much at once? Either way, I came away feeling like I didn’t learn anything new or interesting.

Darling Child

Darling Child edited by Roger Fulford

Subtitle: Private Correspondence of Queen Victoria and the Crown Princess of Prussia 1871-1878
Editor: Roger Fulford
Publisher: Evans Brothers Limited London
Year: 1976
Available at: Amazon (used)

The books containing Queen Victoria’s correspondence with her daughter Vicky are like Pringles - once you pop, you can’t stop. This is book 4 in the series of 6 - click here to jump down the page and see what I said about book 3. In this volume, we get to hear about Alfred’s engagement and marriage to a Russian grand duchess, Vicky’s in-law struggles at the Prussian court, the way each woman’s kids disappointed her, and tidbits about the doings of various German princely families (George of Meiningen’s shocking marriage - the scheming Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin - oh my!).


Daughters of the Winter Queen

Daughters of the Winter Queen by Nancy Goldstone

Author: Nancy Goldstone
Publisher: Back Bay Books (reprint edition)
Year: 2010
Available at: Amazon

I picked this up because I’ve read two other titles from Goldstone and enjoyed them both. This one is my favorite, though. It’s an easy read that goes into just enough depth on the four women portrayed. Even better? It’s a history book that’s written to be (gasp) enjoyed.


The Duchess of Windsor

The Duchess of Windsor by Greg King

Subtitle: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson
Author: Greg King
Publisher: Citadel Press
Year: 2011 (digital edition)
Available at: Amazon

I’ve never been interested in Wallis Simpson. There, I said it. But when this book showed up on sale (via BookBub, I think), I saw Greg King’s name and thought, hey, I like him, I’ll take a chance on this. Good thing I did. This book was fascinating. King freely admits to wanting to set the record straight about Wallis and the negative press she’s gotten since day one. It made me think back to a two-podcast series The History Chicks did on Wallis, which I’d enjoyed a lot. So I went for it. The twentieth century’s most vilified woman – what did it teach me?
Get Your Copy

Enchantress

Enchantress by Christine Sutherland

Author: Christine Sutherland
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Year: 1996
Available at: Amazon

Confession time: I bought a used copy of this book, like, fifteen years ago. I’m just now getting around to it. I should have jumped on this earlier – it was super enjoyable, a who’s who of European society from the turn of the 20th century through World War II. Turns out, Princess Marthe Bibesco knew everyone worth knowing and wrote about them in her journal.

Erzählungen aus Meinem Leben

Daughters of the Winter Queen by Nancy Goldstone

Author: Christian Ludwig Herzog zu Mecklenburg
Publisher: Stock & Stein
Year: 1996
Available at: ABEBooks.co.uk

I bought this book when I decided to dig into the history of Grand Duchess Alexandra of Mecklenburg-Schwerin’s diamond and aquamarine tiara. Her son, Christian Ludwig, wrote this memoir about his youth in Mecklenburg, his experience in World War II, his years in Soviet captivity after the war, and his return visits to Mecklenburg in the ’80s, ’90s, and beyond. It’s a fascinating story, with lots of information about the family...and some crazy wartime and post-war experiences (Dunkirk, the plot to assassinate Hitler, and capture by the Soviets, to name a few). And in one hilarious moment, when his Soviet captors ask him to sign his own sentencing document, Christian Ludwig refuses. When he asks to talk to an ambassador, a lawyer, anyone, all his requests are met with refusals. So he goes for broke... “Let’s call Stalin,” he says.

“That is impossible,” his captor says.

And Christian Ludwig slays with his response: “Oh, I assure you it’s possible - such a call can be made quite easily over the telephone.”

HA. Can’t you just imagine the movie version of this scene, with Tom Hiddleston or Benedict Cumberbatch as Christian Ludwig?


Käre prins, godnatt

Kare prins, godnatt by Lennart Bernadotte

Author: Lennart Bernadotte
Publisher: Bonniers Grafiska Industrier
Year: 1977
Available at: Archive.org

In my never-ending search for tidbits on Fritz and Hilda of Baden, I decided to look for this memoir by Fritz’s grand-nephew. I Googled it and, lo and behold, there was a copy available to check out from the Archive.org lending library.

I know there’s a huge controversy in the writing world about this lending library. The argument from authors? It’s essentially piracy, robbing us of profits from our hard work. The argument from, well, me? The author never gets paid when you buy a secondhand book, so if a book is no longer in print and can only be purchased secondhand, why not make it available to borrow for free in digital format? That lets you figure out if it’s a book you want to buy and keep forever.

I didn’t mean to turn this into a political statement. It’s supposed to be about Lennart – and his fantastic book. Even with a shitty AI translation, his prose shines.


Memoirs of the Duchesse de Dino, Volume 1

Memoirs of the Duchesse de Dino, Volume 1

Editor: Princesse Radziwill (née Castellane)
Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Year: 1909
Available at: Archive.org (free)

Because I do everything backwards, I read volume 2 of these memoirs before volume 1. So for a general intro to the duchess and her memoirs, click here to read what I wrote when I reviewed volume 2. Then come back and see what we missed in the volume that covers 1831-1835.

Memoirs of the Duchesse de Dino, Volume 2

Memoirs of the Duchesse de Dino, Volume 2 1836-1840

Editor: Princesse Radziwill (née Castellane)
Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Year: 1910
Available at: Project Gutenberg (free)

I haven’t read it yet, but last fall, I picked up a copy of a book about the last Duchess of Courland. While skimming the first couple chapters to see where it should fall in my reading list, I realized her youngest daughter, Dorothea, had at least as interesting a life. Possibly more so, because she might have had a baby with her super-famous great-uncle by marriage. That bumped the daughter’s memoirs forward on my reading list. Come for the rumored incest. Stay for the fascinating royal tidbits on everyone from the Orléans to the Duchess of Kent to the Württembergs.

Memoirs of the Duchesse de Dino, Volume 3

Memoirs of the Duchesse de Dino, Volume 3

Editor: Princesse Radziwill (née Castellane)
Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Year: 1910
Available at: Google Books (free)

This is the volume I was most anxious to read since it covers a key period in the life of one of my research subjects, Grand Duchess Elizaveta Mikhailovna. But the date range was a bit deceiving, because there’s a huge gap in the duchess’s correspondence here that coincides almost exactly with the period of Lilli’s marriage to Adolph. BOO. But as the final volume in the series, I plowed through…and still found some interesting royal tidbits. Plus, she covers the explosive year of 1848. Reading her account of what that felt like was an eye-opener.

Napoleon’s Other Wife

Napoleon's Other Wife by Deborah Jay

Author: Deborah Jay
Publisher: Rosa’s Press
Year: 2015
Available at: Amazon

I read this book because - let’s face it - that’s an awesome cover. Yes, I can be that shallow. I read Michelle Moran’s novel about Empress Marie-Louise years ago and enjoyed it, so I was anxious to dive in and see what else I didn’t know about her.


Queen Victoria’s Cousins

Queen Victoria's Youngest Son by Charlotte Zeepvat

Author: Christina Croft
Publisher: Hilliard & Croft
Year: 2016
Available at: Amazon

There are plenty of books about Queen Victoria’s daughters, sons, granddaughters, and grandsons...but cousins? This sounded way more interesting to me. Her Belgian and Cambridge cousins were the only ones I could name instantly, which meant I needed the crash course this book provided.


Queen Victoria’s Youngest Son

Queen Victoria's Youngest Son by Charlotte Zeepvat

Author: Charlotte Zeepvat
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Year: 2013
Available at: Amazon

I picked up this book through Kindle Unlimited because I’d read that Hilda of Nassau was considered as a bride for one of Queen Victoria’s sons. But which one? And how seriously? If it was Leopold (my guess, based on their ages), I was hoping to find mention of it in here.


The Sancy Blood Diamond

The Sancy Blood Diamond by Susan Ronald

Author: Susan Ronald
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Year: 2005
Available at: Amazon

I’ve had this book on my shelf for about 15 years. I’d picked it up and flipped through it, looking for specific details on Nancy Astor’s tiara, but hadn’t read it all the way through. It might have been better that way.

Your Dear Letter

Your Dear Letter: Private Correspondence of Queen Victoria and the Crown Princess of Prussia 1865-1871

Subtitle: Private Correspondence of Queen Victoria and the Crown Princess of Prussia 1865-1871
Editor: Roger Fulford
Publisher: Scribner’s
Year: 1971
Available at: ABE Books (used)

I love reading the letters Queen Victoria and her eldest daughter, Vicky, wrote to each other after Vicky married and went to Prussia. That’s partly because I’m nosy, and partly because it turns them into real people, not cardboard historical figures. Despite the tiaras and the gowns and the palaces, here are ladies talking about ordinary things you or I would talk about: the shittiness of menopause, skin conditions, annoying relatives, annoying kids, underachieving relatives, underachieving kids, goals, hopes, dreams, and losses. It’s fascinating.


What royal history books have you read in 2020? Send me a message to recommend your favorites!

Here’s to another great year of royal reading & research in 2020!


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