TRC: Royal acts: deeds of human nature? – Prince Albert Victor

01/03/2012 at 1:41 pm (Great Britain, History, Royalty) (, , , , , , , )


His father was a lady-killer. And so was he, some say. The difference is that when people say it about the Prince of Wales who became King Edward VII they mean it in a romantic sense. When they apply the term to his son, Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, Duke of Clarence, Eddy to his family, they mean it literally. We know for certain why the King was considered a lady-killer. Lillie Langtry and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s, great grandmother, Alice Keppel, were only two of many, many women to experience “little deaths” by his doing.

And isn’t it exceedingly odd: the great, great grandson and great granddaughter of a Prince of Wales and his mistress……..?

But we don’t really know whether or not Prince Albert Victor (PAV) was a lady-killer, of any sort. Was he involved with the Jack the Ripper murders, as some claim? Some descriptions by eye-witnesses of the killer seem to fit PAV. But Court documents show that he was elsewhere, Sandringham, for example, at the time of some of the murders.

And how was he in the realm of romance? It’s said that when his fellow army officers tried to make him a “man of the world,” he resisted their efforts. (TRC assumes they were offering moral support rather than their personal services.) But he proposed to his first cousin, Princess Alix of Hesse, in 1889 when she was seventeen and he was twenty-five. She refused. She had already fallen in love with the heir to the Russian throne, the future Tsar Nicholas II, the year before. Last time we mentioned the tragic ending of that marriage. Did her refusal of him drive him into a Cleveland Street homosexual brothel in July of that year? Yet another unsubstantiated claim about him, but it was a huge issue at the time. In letters to his aunt Victoria, Empress of Germany, Queen Victoria said he led a “dissipated life.” Some believe this referred to homosexuality.

In any event, the scandal hung like suffocating smog over the Court. Though the young, male prostitutes themselves never named PAV as a client, they said that his father’s Extra Equerry, Lord Arthur Somerset, was. He fled the country. PAV’s father, then Prince of Wales, managed to ensure that none of the clients, actual or suspected, was prosecuted. But PAV was dispatched on a seven month tour of India. Exile by any other name or for any duration is still exile, TRC says.    Some years after his death, a lady of the Raj he’d met in India, Mrs Margery Haddon, returned to the UK and claimed that PAV was her son’s, Clarence, father. Yet again, unproven. The reason why in 1887 Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales ordered him, as a soldier, to Malta also provides a hint of his emotional psyche. The Queen and his father were worried that, among other indiscretions, the twenty-three year old had an unhealthy crush on Winston Churchill’s married mother, ten years his senior.

Early on, PAV’s tutor, the Reverend John Neale Dalton, had reported that his student’s mind was “abnormally dormant.” Even some members of the Royal Family, and some aristocrats, derided his intellect. Yet he learned Danish, his mother’s native tongue; spent some months at the University of Heidelberg learning German and, for two years, was a student at Cambridge University. I’m told though by those who went to Oxford University that being a student at Cambridge is a sure sign that your mind is “abnormally dormant.”

Even the actuality and circumstances of PAV’s reported death at Sandringham House in January 1892 are questioned.

So, we know many claims about this prince but very little that is clearly fact. Great stuff therefore for novelists who dare to let their imaginations run fully free. And we at TRC did. Forget what historians say. Ignore claim and counter-claim. Read TRC, which tells an exciting, entertaining, creative story centred on PAV back then and now.

Next week: Rasputin

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TRC: Grand Deeds but Human Nature – The Tsarina to The Queen

23/02/2012 at 8:14 pm (History, Royalty, The Ruthless Court) (, , , , , , , )


Emotion and personal values, not great political thought, rule those who rule us, and inform their actions. This has been so in the past and is now. We saw many occurrences of this as we trawled through information about the real lives of the historical characters who are essential, fictionalised members of our cast for TRC. So we, shamelessly but plausibly, sexed up their motivations and emotions we uncovered. And not only did we allow them, in our plot and narrative, to retain these enriched emotions, we also transfused these into the Twenty-First Century characters we created from scratch.  So for your entertainment in the next few weeks we’ll take a look behind the public face of key real-life characters in our novel.

Speaking of the present, is Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign and her intention to continue linked in any way to the reason for the fall of the Russian Imperial Family?  I’d bet you are saying, “Even for novelists you’re stretching it a bit, aren’t you?”

But it’s not so far-fetched. The link? That other long-reigning woman, Queen Victoria. She virtually adopted her granddaughter, the six year old Princess Alix of Hesse, later Tsarina Alexandra, after Alix’s mother, Victoria’s daughter Alice, died. In the next decade and a half, Alix spent nearly as much time in England with Queen Victoria as she did in Germany. As a child and young woman she was greatly influenced by her grandmother’s attitudes and values to royal life. But even before her “adoption”, her governess was an Englishwoman who implemented a regime very similar to that the old Queen had established in bringing up her children. So Alix was imbued with values such as loyalty and God’s call to service, royal service in particular.

As for our Queen, look at the parallels with Victoria. Accession to the throne at a young age, married to a man she adores, strong faith, a determination to overcome difficult times in her life (for Victoria, unpopularity after Albert’s death; for Elizabeth, the 1990s – Diana; her children divorces) and, like Victoria, a model of how a constitutional monarch should behave. These similarities are not all simply coincidental but several of them are the result of Queen Elizabeth taking example from her great, great grandmother.

And back to Tsarina Alexandra. In her approach she shared and applied many of the personal values of Victoria (and Elizabeth), but, alas for her and the Russian Imperial Family, she took God’s call to service to the extreme. While the two English queens try/tried to influence politicians, the Tsarina wanted her husband to be an absolute ruler. Somehow, it seems, Victoria’s teaching on this subject was lost in transference. Not translation as the Tsarina spoke perfect English from an early age. But neither Alix/Alexandra nor her husband, the Tsar, had the personal skills to weave aspects of a constitutional monarchy into Russian society. So, in the end, emotion and personal values either lead to triumph – Diamond Jubilee – or disaster – multiple, tragic murders in a cellar. Get TRC from Amazon and see how we entertainingly used all this to help us write a fantastic, unique story.

Next week: The real emotions and behaviour of Prince Albert Victor, and their consequences (he was Jack the Ripper, some say).

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Ra Ra Ra Ra Rasputin

23/03/2011 at 10:03 am (History, Royalty, Russia, The Ruthless Court, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


Seriously though, why’d Boney M sing about a dead Russian guy anyway? Well, just look at him! Which 1970s disco group wouldn’t find so terrifying a sight to be the perfect muse? Mind you, the mad staring eyes are not the only reason why this vision has captured the imaginations of people everywhere since his early 20th century hey-day. He was known as the ‘Mad Monk’ for a reason. This extraordinary being claimed to be a holy man with mystical powers yet spent his days revelling in his apartment and the restaurants of Moscow, not to mention enjoying pleasures of the flesh.  He was in fact heavily suspected of being part of a religious sect that combined religious and sexual ecstasy. And it came as no surprise to his peers and many enemies that he was thrown out of at least one of his favourite Muscovite night spots.

But perhaps  the most remarkable thing was the way Rasputin gained entry into the inner circle of the early 20th century Romanovs, the last Imperial family of Russia, before and during WWI.  His greatest “sponsor”,  along with Tsarina Alexandra and Tsar Nicholas II,  was the Tsarina’s best friend Anna Vyrubova. She and they believed him to have special healing powers, which mysteriously eased the effects of the haemophilia of the royal couple’s son Tsarevich Alexei. Known as the royal disease because so many of Queen Victoria’s descendants all over Europe suffered from it, haemophilia is a disease that leads to the slightest injury causing excessive internal or external bleeding for prolonged periods of time. Whenever Alexei was suffering from one of these episodes and Rasputin was there to sit with him and pray over him, the boy somehow found some relief.

So grateful to Rasputin were the family, and the Tsarina in particular, she fast became one of the mystical man’s most devout disciples. When the Russians went all anti-German on her in the darkest depths of WWI, (for, like some other royals we know, she was originally German) one of the vicious rumours circulating was that she and Rasputin were ‘more than friends’. Or was it just a rumour?? We play with that in The Ruthless Court, by pitting Rasputin against a dead man in the battle for the Tsarina’s affections. Well, I say dead, but it’s actually Prince Albert Victor–Victoria’s grandson and second in line to the British throne—having assumed the alter ego of ‘John Richmond’. And for a “dead” man, the Prince more than holds his own against Rasputin in what develops into a bitter feud, as this exclusive excerpt from The Ruthless Court shows:

One morning as the Prince arrives, Rasputin, escorted by a new footman, is leaving by the same entrance. They stare angrily at each other, clearly recalling their first encounter in the Prince’s mansion years earlier. But neither man speaks. However, they both refuse to give way to the other. The Prince’s jealousy and resentment of Rasputin boil over. He stamps on his foot, and turning sideways rams his left elbow into his chest. Rasputin cries out and grabs him by the throat. Jim, the Tsarina’s huge attendant, is passing and pushes them apart. The Prince continues into the palace with Rasputin’s loud threats to have him “exiled” following him.

The next day Anna tells him that Rasputin had complained to the Tsarina about “the unprovoked, brutal violence” “John Richmond” inflicted on him. Anna tells the Prince that the Tsarina was sceptical about the story and tried to calm Rasputin. She smilingly evaded his demands for the Tsar to “banish” his attacker, from Tsarskoe at the least.

“Please tell the Tsarina that I am truly sorry about this unpleasant misunderstanding between Mr Rasputin and me. We got into a tangle as we both moved in the same direction to allow the other to pass through the entrance. In the confusion I accidentally trod on his foot and stumbled. As I flung up my arms to regain my balance one of them struck him in the chest. Entirely unintentional,” the Prince says in a very sincere tone of voice to Anna as he holds her hand.

But will Rasputin get the upper hand in the end? We all know that, in real life, Rasputin met a grizzly end, but once you enter The Ruthless Court, real life becomes….surreal….

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