Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Royally Speaking with Marlene of Royal Musings and Royal Book News

In number four of the summer interviews with some of our favourite bloggers (in no particular order), I talked to Marlene Koenig of Royal Musings and Royal Book News...

The first question of the interview is one of the most asked ones for every royal blogger or even every royal watcher for that matter, how did you get interested in royalty in the first place and how did you interest develop from there?
My mom was interested in royalty too. She and my dad got married right before Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, which my mom watched on TV. The women’s magazines, such as Ladies Home Journal, in the 60s, always had stories on the British royals and Princess Grace. I have always been a voracious reader, and I loved reading histories and biographies. 
Queen Victoria
When I was 12 I decided it was time to leave the teen section, and go upstairs and borrow books from the adult section. I went to the biography section, and the first book I pulled off the shelf was Elizabeth Longford’s " Queen Victoria Born to Succeed". I took the book to the check out counter and handed over my library card. The librarian said I wasn’t old enough (I think you had to be 13 to borrow books from the adult section.) I looked straight at the librarian and said: You call my mother. She will say I can borrow this book. The librarian did not call my mom. She let me borrow the book. Took it home and started reading it. This book had a family tree pull out section on Victoria’s descendants. So I started borrowing books on these descendants: British, German, Roumanian and so on. My great-great-great grandmother was a nursery playmate of the Kaiser and his sister, Charlotte. Suffice to say, getting that book on Queen Victoria was the key to the start of what would become my area of expertise: the descendants of Queen Victoria. My parents were divorced when I was young, and I am an only child, so reading became my go to safe place.

You have been an author of royal books and articles as well as a blogger for many years. What is it that keeps you writing about royals and why do you think the public is so fixating with reading about them?
This may sound strange, but I do believe God gives us gifts, talents, interests, whether it be a scientist working on a cure for cancer or a musician composing a new opera. I was very lucky. I had parents who didn’t think my interest was all that weird – and it lead to and interest in literature and history, too. There are Europeans who are recognized experts in American culture or American politics so it is conceivable that an American can be an expert on British and European royalty. There are historical and, yes, emotional ties to monarchy. Tradition, heritage, history are all brought together in a monarch, a royal family. Monarchy offers stability. Royals are real people, too, and for the most part, they are consciously aware of their own heritage and responsibilities. I think the US has done well rather since declaring independence in 1776, but we do not have 1000+ years of history. We don’t have that pomp and pageantry that the British do so well … but we can appreciate it because we share the same culture and language.

Your blog covers an array of European current and former royal families, which ones do you find most interesting and why?
The British, of course, because of the Anglo-American connection … British history is our history, too. I would add the Swedish, the Luxembourgs, Hannover (because that is where my family is from), the Prussians, and many of the mediatized families. Also rather partial to the Roumanians and Yugoslavians, and have had the immense honor of being invited to several recent royal events in both countries. I think Royal Musings is unique because I have the opportunity to cover historic royal events, writing the story as if it is the day of the event, but also current news, too. I also have a second blog, RBN – Royal Book News, where I review royal books. This blog is the successor to an eponymous newsletter that I published for 25 years.

Photo: Marlene Koenig
Focusing on Luxembourg a little, I know that you have had plans to write a book on the descendants of Grand Duke Adolph for a few years now, how is it coming along? Can you see light on the end of the tunnel yet and tell us when we will be able to find in in our (online) bookshops?
I am in the sending out the questionnaires, making my way through all of the adult living descendants. Now that I am nearly finished with my next article for the European History Journal, I can start on the next batch of questionnaires, which I do send out by airmail with a proper letter. I have a publisher, but no pub date. Don’t worry – you will be among the first to know when the book is about to be published.

Lastly if you could invite six royals (dead or alive) to a dinner party, which ones would find an invitation in their mailbox?
Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia (I have been to his house three times so I should reciprocate), Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales, Queen Sophie of Greece (Consort of Constantine I) because we share the same birthday and then try to interview her to set the record straight about her loyalty to the Allied nations, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Prince Max of Baden (the last royal chancellor).

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