2021 Royal Reading List

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.

Do you love reading about royals as much as I do? If so, check out my 2021 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: February 26

2021 Royal Read­ing List

In alphabetical order

Crime at Mayerling  |  Go-Betweens for Hitler  |  I Live Again  |  The King in Love  |  Mayerling  |  Not All Vanity  |  Rudolf  |  Women of the Baden Court

Women of the Baden Court

Women of the Baden Court by Annette Borchardt-Wenzel

Author: Annette Borchardt-Wenzel
Publisher: Piper
Year: 2005
Available at: Amazon

I bought this book because there is next to no information on Grand Duchess Hilda of Baden in English, so I figured I’d start with the easy options in German. Turns out, this author didn’t have much information on Hilda, either – hers was the second shortest chapter in the book. Still, there were a few tidbits to glean, and several of the other chapters really piqued my interest.

Crime at Mayerling

Crime at Mayerling by Georg Markus

Author: Georg Markus
Publisher: Ariadne Press
Year: 1995
Available at: Amazon

I went down a serious Mayerling rabbit hole, you guys. This book was written by the journalist who first published the story of Mary Vetsera’s grave robbery in the early 1990s. That grave robber shopped his story around a handful of Austrian newspapers, and Markus’s paper took the bait. The sensational story led to an official investigation that generated lots of new attention for the Mayerling incident. So what does Markus’s book have to offer?

Go-Betweens for Hitler

Go-Betweens for Hitler by Karina Urbach

Author: Karina Urbach
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2015
Available at: Amazon

This book is a brief history of aristocratic go-betweens from the period just before World War I to the early years of World War II. There are a lot of fascinating tidbits here and Urbach clearly did a ton of research, but as an entire package, this book felt scattered and left me wanting more. But I give her tons of bonus points for using Michael Frayn’s play Noises Off as a comparison point for go-between work. Seriously, if you haven’t seen the play (or even the movie), make the time.

I Live Again

I Live Again by Princess Ileana of Romania

Author: Princess Ileana of Romania
Publisher: Rinehart & Co.
Year: 1951
Available at: Amazon

Ever since reading The Last Romantic by Hannah Pakula as a teenager, about Queen Marie of Romania, I’ve been interested in the Romanian royal family. This is the memoir of Queen Marie’s youngest daughter, Ileana. It doesn’t cover her entire life – just from 1934 to 1948. It’s a fascinating look at Austria and then Romania during World War II and the ensuing Communist takeover. When you read how hard Ileana worked as a nurse, you’ll be exhausted. She loved her country and its people so much – you can feel how hard it was for her to leave them when she was exiled. This book is a poignant reminder of how well off we are here, today, in America. It made me feel the same way I did after reading Missie Vassiltchikov’s Berlin Diaries – profoundly grateful that I have not lived through a war on my home turf.

The King in Love

The King in Love by Theo Aronson

Subtitle: Edward VII’s Mistresses
Author: Theo Aronson
Publisher: Lume Books
Year: 2020
Available at: Amazon

I picked this up because its focus on Edward’s mistresses seemed interesting – and I knew next to nothing about the three ladies covered: Lillie Langtry, Daisy Warwick, and Alice Keppel. It doesn’t relate to anything I’m working on, but it was a fun romp through late Victorian and Edwardian Britain.


Mayerling by Fritz Judtmann

Subtitle: The Facts behind the Legend
Author: Fritz Judtmann
Publisher: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd
Year: 1971
Available at: Amazon

Fritz Judtmann is the professor you always wanted in college, but never got. At least that’s how I feel about him after reading this book. It’s amazing – his thoroughness and his clear explanations, his transparency – this book was a delight to read, despite the subject matter. The kicker? He was never even a professor! Trained in engineering, he was the chief scenery and stage designer at the Burgtheatre in Vienna. But based on this book, I’m guessing he would have made a hell of a teacher.

Not All Vanity

Not All Vanity by Agnes de Stoeckl

Author: Agnes de Stoeckl
Publisher: John Murray
Year: 1951
Available at: Abe Books

Born in Paris in 1874, Baroness Agnes de Stoeckl lived her life surrounded by royalty. Her memoir begins with her childhood in Paris, and takes you through her life as a diplomat’s wife, then as a companion to Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia and his morganatic wife, Countess Torby. Later, after a rift with Countess Torby, her husband became an equerry to Grand Duchess Maria Georgievna of Russia. Agnes and Sasha (her husband) traveled with Maria to England, where they sat out World War I. After the war and Maria’s remarriage, they split time between England, France, and Poland (where her son-in-law had family). Her memoir crops up frequently in the footnotes of other sources about these Russian royals, so I decided to go straight to the source. I’m glad I did - there are SO MANY interesting tidbits in this book, you guys.


Rudolf: The Tragedy of Mayerling by Carl Lonyay

Subtitle: The Tragedy of Mayerling
Author: Carl Lonyay
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Year: 1950
Available at: Amazon

If you’re going down the Mayerling rabbit hole, the author’s name alone is reason enough to get this book. Why? Because Archduke Rudolf’s wife, Stephanie, married as her second husband Count Elmer Lonyay. The author is his nephew. The book (and, let’s face it, the author) is incredibly flawed, but there are still some reasonable conclusions here.

What royal history books have you read in 2021? Send me a message to recommend your favorites!

Here’s to another great year of royal reading & research in 2021!

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