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Full text of "My own affairs"

By THE 
PRINCESS LOUISE 
OF BELGIUM 



dH 




Cornell University Library 
DH 676.L88A3 1921 



My own affairs / 




3 1924 028 358 418 




Cornell University 
Library 



The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924028358418 



MY OWN AFFAIRS 



MY OWN AFFAIRS 

By The Princess Louise of Belgium 

With Photogravure Frontispiece and Eight Plates 



Translated fej; Maude M. C. ffoulkes 



CASSELf AND COMPANY, LIMITED 

Ix>ndon, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 

1 92 1 



MY OWN AFFAIRS 

By The Princess Louise of Belgium 

With Photogravure Frontispiece and Eight Plates 



Translated fcjj Maude M. C. ffoulkes 



CASSELL AND COMPANY, LIMITED 

London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 

1921 



'iiii 



r 



^ . \ 



I DEDICATE 

THIS [BOOK TO 

the Great Man, to the Great King, who was 
MY FATHER 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGB 

1. Why I Write this Book i 

2. My Beloved Belgium ; my Family and Myself 

Myself — as I Know Myself . 

3. The Queen 

4. The King 

5. My Country and Days of my Youth , 



6. My Marriage and the Austrian Court — the Day 
after my marriage 



7. Married 



8. My Hosts at the Hofburg — the Emperor Francis 
Joseph and the Empress Elizabeth 

g. My Sister Stephanie Marries the Archduke 
Rudolph, who Died at Meyerling 

10. Ferdinand of Coburg and the Court of Sofia 

11. William II and the Court of Berlin — the 

Emperor of Illusion .... 



12. The Holsteins 

13. The Courts of Munich and Old Germany 

14. Queen Victoria 



7 
17 
27 

36 

54 
63 

82 

100 
116 

132 
142 

154 
165 



Contents 

CHAPTER PAGE 

15. The Drama of my Captivity, and my Life as a 

Prisoner— THE Commencement of Torture . 171 

16. LiNDENHOF 189 

i^. How I Regained my Liberty and at the Same 

Time was Declared Sane .... 197 

18. The Death of the King — Intrigues and Legal 

Proceedings 211 

19. My Sufferings during the War . . . 231 

20. In the Hope of Rest 245 

Index 253 



Vlll 



LIST OF PLATES 

The Princess Louise of Belgium (Photogravure) Frontispiece 

FACING PAGK 

Queen Marie Henriette of Belgium .... 22 

King Leopold II of Belgium 32 

The Countess Lonyay (Princess Stephanie of Belgium) . 48 

Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg 70 

Princess Victor Napoleon (Princess Clementine of Belgium) 86 

The Archduke Rudolph 102 

Duke Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein .... 150 

The Duchess Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein . , . 234 



My Own Affairs 

CHAPTER I 

Why I Write this Book 

A S the eldest daughter of a great man and a great 

/ % King, whose magnificent intelligence has enriched 

his people, I owe nothing but misfortune to my 

royal origin. Ever since I was born I have suffered and 

been deceived. I have idealized Life too much. 

In the evening of my days I do not wish to remain 
under the cloud of the false impression which is now 
prevalent concerning me. 

Without desiring to allude too much to the past, and 
to retrace the road of my Calvary, I should like at least 
to borrow a few pages from my memories and reflections, 
inspired by events which have destroyed thrones in whose 
proximity I once lived. The Emperor of Austria, the 
German Emperor, the Tsar of Bulgaria were all familiar 
figures to me. 

Driven to Munich by the War, then to Budapest, taken 
prisoner for a brief space by Hungarian Bolshevists, I 
have survived the European tempest, and I have seen 
all those who disowned and crushed me, beaten and 
punished. 



My Own Affairs 

And I trembled every day for my poor Belgium, so 
strong in her courage and her travail, but so unjust to 
me — oh no, not the people — the good people are naturally 
heroic and indefatigable. I refer to certain of their leaders, 
who have been misled on my account, and who are also, 
perhaps, too fond of money. Unjust themselves, they all 
equally violated justice by illicit interests which had the 
appearance of legality, as well as by the false attitude 
which appeared merely to be forgetfulness, but which was 
actually ingratitude. 

My father has not yet had a monument erected to 
him in the country which he esteemed so highly; his 
Government has remembered the follies of his old age 
rather than its privileges, and his memory has suffered 
accordingly. 

But what is past is past. My memory remains faith- 
fully and affectionately attached to my native land; my 
sole thought is to love and honour her. 

It is of Belgium that I wish to speak before passing 
on to the Courts of Vienna, Berlin, Munich and Sofia, 
and to the many doings which these names recall, certain 
of which deserve better knowledge and consideration. 

I have never entertained any feelings for Belgium 
other than those of imperishable affection. The most 
painful of my reflections during the horrible war was that 
she was more to be pitied than I was. 

On the day when I was being searched by Hungarian 
Bolshevists at Budapest I heard one of them say to 
another — having proved for himself the simplicity to 



Why I Write this Book 

which I was reduced : " Here is a king's daughter who 
is poorer than I am." I have thought of the unhappy 
women of Ypres, of Dixmude, of France, Poland, 
Servia, and elsewhere — unfortunate creatures without fire 
or bread through the crime of war, and I have wept for 
them and not for myself. 

More than one of them, perhaps, envied my position 
before 19 14; little did they realize that I should have 
preferred theirs ! 

Married at seventeen, I expected to find in marriage 
the joys that a husband and children can give. I have 
had bitter proof to the contrary. 

Rupture was inevitable where my own intimate feel- 
ings were concerned and those who surrounded me. I 
was too independent to make use of what was offensive 
to me. 

Honours are often without honour, however high they 
may seem to be. Save for rare exceptions, fortune and 
power only develop in us the appetite for pleasure and 
urge us to depravity. Those whom La Bruyere calls. 
" the Great " easily lose the knowledge of human condi- 
tions. Life is to them no longer the mysterious proof of 
the existence of a soul which will be eventually rewarded 
or punished according to its deserts. Religion seems to 
them only a mask or an instrument. 

Led to judge their fellow-creatures through the flat- 
teries, calculations, ambitions and treacheries by which 
they are surrounded, they arrive, through mistrust of 
human nature, at a state of indifference to God, and they 

3 



My Own Affairs 

accommodate His laws to their needs in the assurance of 
adjusting themselves with the Creator as they adjust their 
doings with their ministers. 

When I review the past, and when I am reminded of 
the various phases of my unhappy existence, I never 
despair of ultimately finding a justice which I have not 
yet come across in this world ; I have always believed that 
it exists somewhere. If it were not so, things would be 
inconceivable. 

I owe this spirit of confidence to the lessons I learnt 
in my infancy, chiefly from those taught me by the Queen, 
my mother. " Always endeavour to be a Christian," she 
used to say. I could not understand the import of these 
words when I was a child, but the misfortunes of my life 
have helped to explain them. 

Stirred into revolt by humanity in so many ways, I 
have now submitted myself to a Superior Will, and I 
know the happiness of not hating my enemies. Pardon 
has always followed my rebellion. 

I have never doubted that those who wronged me 
would be punished sooner or later on earth or elsewhere, 
and I have been sorry for my persecutors. 

I have pitied them for their dislike of my frankness, 
because I am an enemy of all family and Court hypocrisy 
— I have pitied them for having censured my fidelity to 
one affection, and, above all, I have pitied their exaggera- 
tion of my disregard for that ancient idol — money ! 

Convinced as I was, and not without foundation, that 
immense wealth was to come, not only to myself but to 

4 



Why I Write this Book 

my sisters, I maintained that our duty was to make full use 
of our resources. Was it not better to circulate money 
and assist trade? This opinion, however, was not shared 
either by a husband who was inclined to hoard or by a 
family who were afraid of any fresh ideas or customs, and 
who only saw in the aspirations of the masses an inevitable 
and horrible catastrophe against which they ought to 
protect themselves by saving as much as possible. 

At the same time, when I have been engaged in a 
struggle I have never met with anything save cruel treat- 
ment on the part of my enemies (first and foremost by 
the slanders intended to ruin me in the eyes of the world), 
but I have hurled myself at the onset against all the 
obstacles which violence and enmity have conceived 
against me. 

Being unable to live and act normally, and compelled 
by force and privations to treat what I held as despicable 
with obedience and respect, I lacked the means of exist- 
ence to which I was entitled. The trouble I took in order 
to assure myself of my liberty on my native soil, in the 
order and dignity for which I had hoped, was nullified 
by those who were themselves morally responsible for it. 
I was compelled to become a prisoner or a fugitive, taken 
away and kept away from my rightful position by difficul- 
ties of every description. By these methods my enemies 
imagined that I should be more easily deprived of all 
to which I had clung. 

What would have become of me had I not found a 
man who devoted himself to saving me from all kinds of 

5 



My Own Affairs 

snares and dangers, and who found devoted beings to 
second him — many of whom have sprung from the 
humbler ranks of life — I am unable to conjecture. 

If I have known the wickedness of an aristocracy 
devoid of nobility, I have also benefited by the most' 
chivalrous delicacy which has been extended to me by 
the populace, and my recognition of this is chiefly what 
I wish to write about to-day. 

But deep in my heart I have the impelling desire not 
to allow the legend which has been created around me 
and my name to exist any longer. 



CHAPTER II 

My Beloved Belgium; my Family and Myself; Myself— 
as I Know Myself 

IF in an official procession the principal personage 
comes last, then Belgium should come last in my 

pages, for it is about myself that I must begin. 

I decide to do so not without apprehension, for I 
remember the descriptions of themselves which celebrated 
writers of autobiography — Saint Simon, for instance — have 
given at the commencement of their memoirs. 

Far be it from me to wish to paint myself in glowing 
colours. That would be a pretension from which the great 
writers who possessed the talent necessary to describe 
themselves preserve me. I only hope, if possible, to 
describe myself as I believe myself to be. 

I often examine my heart. The older I grow the 
stronger this tendency to self-analysis becomes. Formerly 
I used to like to know my fellow-creatures; now I have 
discovered that one should always know oneself before 
attempting to decipher other human enigmas. 

The ancient precept of Delphes, which the King my 
father used to quote, comes back to my memory, but I 
will not give it here. I do not understand modern Greek, 
unlike Queen Sophie, that charming woman, who was so 
misguided as to learn it; she lost her throne, so they say, 
through trying to outwit the subtlety of Ulysses ! 



My Own Affairs 

My predominant quality is a horror of all that is in- 
sincere, inaccurate, formal and commonplace. My taste 
for simplicity in thought and actions branded me long ago 
as a revolutionary in the eyes of my family. This was 
when I rebelled in Vienna against the routine and what 
they called the esprit of the Court, 

My passion for sincerity has brought me unity of 
thought. I am a woman faithful to one vow which my 
heart admits freely, 

I have known and loved few individuals well enough 
to allow myself to approach them and know them 
thoroughly, but when once my confidence and liking have 
been given and found to be justified, I have become 
deeply attached to those on whom they were bestowed. 

Many people would have liked to have seen me de- 
prived of happiness, but I possess at least this one jewel 
— faithfulness, and I have known the sweetness thereof; 
not only the banal and material fidelity — always more or 
less a passing phase as one generally understands it — but 
the pure and noble fidelity which accompanies a vigilant 
and chivalrous mind; the ideal of noble hearts, which is 
revolted by injustice and attracted by misfortune. Diverse 
fidelities, although sisters, are marvellous treasures in 
which one must be rich oneself to be enabled further to 
enrich the future with precious gifts. 

Firm in upholding my rights, and true to my convic- 
tions when I believe them to be in accordance with honour 
and truth — which spring from a divine essence — and are 
not inspired by hypocritical Conventions, I am afraid 



Myself— as I Know Myself 

of nothing, and nothing can convince me against my 
will. 

I have inherited these traits from my father and my 
mother ; from my mother I get the spiritual side, and from 
my father I get the material side of my character. It is 
useless, therefore, to believe that I should ever act against 
the dictates of my conscience. 

If I am compelled to give way for a moment, I do so 
as one would yield at the point of the bayonet. 

Wickedness and compulsion do not create equity, they 
only create its reservations, and redress to justice is from 
God alone and not from man. 

This strength of resistance against evil and contempt 
of etiquette are, so to speak, the salient characteristics of 
my life. 

But in spite of my decided opinions I show marked 
nervousness in the presence of strangers. When they are 
introduced to me I can hardly speak to them, even though 
their personality appeals to me. 

My beloved compatriots in Brussels, the friends who 
are always present in my thoughts, used to say, " Princess 
Louise is proud ! " What a mistake ! On the contrary, 
I should have much liked to respond to the affection 
they offered me, and to have entered those Belgian homes 
that I knew to be so hospitable. Ah ! what happiness not 
to have been born a king's daughter ! One could then 
speak freely to fellow-creatures who merited sympathy; 
but a princess cannot do as she pleases. 

With my entourage I am sometimes as open and expan- 

9 



My Own Affairs 

sive as I am silent and reserved with strangers. I mis- 
trust fresh faces, and in no circumstances do I ever indulge 
in gossip. I much prefer the conversation of men who 
know something, to that of women who know nothing. 

I detest all that is unnatural in conversation; affecta- 
tion is insupportable to me. Idle remarks which annoy 
me easily suggest some repartee or sarcastic comment 
such as the King knew so well how to use, which 
always touched to the quick the person to whom it was 
addressed. But the influence of the Queen's memory 
sometimes restrains me and keeps me silent out of 
Christian charity. 

Immovable in the convictions of my conscience and 
outwardly reserved, I am, nevertheless, a woman of con- 
tradictions. When I am forced to act I invariably rush 
to extremes. Soul extremes always result from contrasts, 
just as the thunder of heaven results from the meeting of 
two storm clouds. In me the storm is suppressed. I sur- 
prise people more than anything else by my customary 
attitude of not being able to foresee the decision which 
carties me away. 

I do not regard existence from the ordinary standpoint ; 
I regard it from a much higher one. This is not due to 
any feeling of pride. I am carried away by something 
within me past certain barriers and certain frontiers ; I live 
in a world of my own in which I can take refuge. 

Many, many times during the implacable persecu- 
tion which I have endured for so long, I have stood in 
front of a mirror and tried to read the soul within my 



Myself— as I Know Myself 

eyes. I was a prisoner ; I was " mad " for reasons of 
State. I asked myself in cold blood, was I not really 
becoming mad — was I still mistress of my reason ? 

" Yes," replied an inner voice, " you are mistress of 
your reason so long as you are mistress of yourself, and 
you are mistress of yourself so long as you remain faithful 
to your ideal of honour." 

I will speak of this ideal later. Honest women will 
understand. But my nature did not find in the conjugal 
abode the good, the pure and the true, which it had 
dreamed of, hoped for, and desired. As the years 
passed the atmosphere of my home changed, the: 
growing children became less of a safeguard. Help 
came in a day of chaos under an aspect which the world 
condemns. Nothing stopped me then, and, henceforth, 
nothing shall separate me from my ideal. I have done 
away with the gilded splendour which to me is shameful. 
I live now with that which speaks to me in a language I 
can understand, something which is morally beautiful. 
This act of my inner self is now realized. I have not 
repented. I never shall. 

Dramas, plots, intrigues, treason follow each other — I 
struggle against them without triumphing. It is the work 
of my outward self. I may appear to fail, but my inner 
self turns away disgusted from the mud. 

I was not made to conquer in the fray of human con- 
flicts in a sphere which is, perhaps, that of creatures 
predestined to show that the real condition of man is not 
here below. The society that he extols, the civilization 



II 



My Own Affairs 

that he admires, are but the poor and fragile conceptions 
of his illusion of earthly sovereignty, and they will only 
bring misfortune to him if he lives for them alone. 

God was always present in my thoughts even when I 
believed myself forgotten by man. 

I have had, like every creatture who has been crushed 
by false witness, my hours of doubt and despair. The 
grievance against me at the Coburg Palace and in 
Vienna was that I would not conform to the outward 
practice of religiojj after I had seen all its double-faced- 
ness and mock devotion. I often refused to go to the 
chapel and accept as fitting the outward piety which to 
me was sacrilege. I went to seek God and the Holy 
Virgin in some solitary and humble church far from the 
Hofburg and my palace. 

I have also known the time when at the bidding of 
my rebellious soul I turned from heaven. Suffering, ex- 
perience and meditation have led me back to the Divine 
Master whose love was taught me by my beloved mother. 
I believe I shall reach His presence by a road which 
resembles Calvary. It is an uphill road, but He raises 
me ; and so rugged is it, that at every turning I forget the 
world a little more and 1 stretch out my arms towards the 
love and justice of God. 

***** 

They have said that I was beautiful. I inherit from 
my father my upright figure, and I have also something of 
his features and his expression. 

I inherit from my mother a certain capacity for dream- 

12 



Myself— as I Know Myself 

ing, which enables me to take refuge in myself, and when 
a conversation does not interest me, or if anyone or any- 
thing troubles me, I instantly seek sanctuary in the secret 
chamber of my soul. 

But my eyes betray me, and the effort I make to return 
to everyday life gives me the expression of a fugitive — 
this is a great peculiarity of mine. 

The colour of my eyes is a clear brown, which reflects 
those of the Queen and the King, but more particularly 
those of the King. Like him, I am able to change my 
voice from softness to a certain hard brilliance. The 
golden ears of corn are not more golden than was once 
my golden hair ; to-day it is silver. 

T speak like the King, but somewhat slower than he 
did, in the two languages I chiefly employ — which Eire 
equally familiar to me — French and German, 

Like him I think in French or German, but when I 
write, I prefer to do so in French. 

So enamoured am I of simplicity and truth in relation 
to every condition of life, that I think a woman, wherever 
she may be, should always keep her position as a woman. 
Of course there must be degrees in everything, and the 
differences among men are the outcome of their education 
and the rules of social life. 

Although I am utterly indifferent to false courtesy and 
hollow praise, and the methods of the crafty and the 
claims of intriguers, I respect merit, and when it is recog- 
nized and rewarded I esteem the honour which is accorded 
to it. 

13 



My Own Affairs 

Let us not look for outside honours but let us respect 
our own personal honour. I do not forget, I have never 
forgotten, even in my worst hours of misfortune, what I 
owe to my birth, to my dear departed ones and to the ideas 
which were born in me. 

I love Art, and, like the Queen, I have a preference for 
music. I also inherit her love of horses. Sport seems 
to me a secondary thing in comparison with the interest 
of horsemanship in all its varieties. 

In Paris I was always to be seen in the Bois ; in Vienna 
I was an habituee of the Prater. I still take great pleasure 
in picking out carriages that are carriages and horsemen 
who are horsemen; they are both rarer than one thinks. 

I am a great reader and I make notes of my impres- 
sions. I read with pleasure all the newspapers worth 
reading, and all the reviews that make me think. 

Politics never bore me, but to-day they astonish me 
and rend my heart; the frightful upheaval in Europe, the 
universal trouble, fill me with concern for the future. 

Hostile to any excess of monarchical power which 
incites its favourites to depravity, I think, nevertheless, 
that democrats will find it difficult to conduct matters and 
govern to the betterment of general interests. The eti- 
quette of Power, the name of President, Consul, Emperor 
or King signifies but one thing, and besides this the^ 
principle of authority is always regulated by the influence 
of Woman. 

This influence, supreme in the history of the world, is 
only paramount in democracies when it exercises itself in 

14 



Myself— as I Know Myself 

secret, and it is generally unlucky. In monarchies it is 
beneficial to the development of aristocracy, except in the 
classic case of a drunken or perverse favourite who by 
taking sensual possession of the prince also takes posses- 
sion of his authority. 

In some instances it is not wise to lead men to good 
fortune. Those of our epoch seem to be very far from 
attaining it through hatred, ignorance and confusion, 
which the ruin of ancient Europe can only aggravate. 

With regard to books, I re-read more than I read. But 
I am attracted by anything new which I hear spoken about 
— in which, by the way, I am so often disappointed. I have 
read books on the war; I commiserate with the men who 
cut each others throats — but I wish they would cease 
writing on this barbarous subject. 

Goethe is my favourite author; he is the friend and 
companion whom I love at all times. I am familiar with 
the great French authors, but none of them, in my opinion, 
attains the mental serenity of Goethe or gives me so much 
repose of mind. 

I have a penchant for the works of Chateaubriand 
which dates from my youth. The character of Rene will 
always appeal to the hearts of women. 

With regard to modern books. . . . But in speaking of 
literary men and artists it is always necessary to exclude 
those who are living, so I will say nothing about modern 
authors. I will only say that of all theatrical plays 
(Shakespeare, like God in Heaven, alone excepted) the 
French repertory, in my opinion, is the most varied and the 

15 



My Own Aflfairs 

most interesting, and through the facilities which I have 
had of hearing plays in the principal European languages, 
I think I am able to judge. I am speaking now of the 
dramatic theatre. The works and the representations of 
the lyric theatre appear generally more remarkable, and 
the companies are more conscientious in Germany and 
Austria and even in Italy, than in France. 

Outside Paris and Monte Carlo it is difficult to find, 
even in the most charming countries, what all unimportant 
German towns possess — ^a comfortable theatre, good music, 
good singers. 

How strange are different temperaments : this one is 
more musical, that one is more learned, this one is more 
philosophical, that one is more imaginative; it seems as 
though Providence, in creating diversities in races and 
charafcters, had wished to instil into men's hearts the 
necessity of amalgamating their different talents, in order 
to be happy in this world. But Providence, whilst endow- 
ing men with genius, has neglected to make them less 
foolish and less wicked. 



16 



CHAPTER III 
The Queen 

THE Queen was the daughter of Joseph Antoine 
JeaQj Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, 
Archduke of Austria (the last Palatin, greatly 
venerated by the Hungarians), and his third wife, Marie 
Doroth^e Guillemine Caroline, Princess of Wurtemburg. 

Affianced to Prince Leopold, Duke of Brabant, heir to 
the throne of Belgium, Marie Henriette of Austria married 
him by proxy at Schonbrunn on August lO, 1853, and in 
person, according to the 'Almanack de Goiha, in Brussels 
on the 22nd of the same month. 

By this marriage the Royal House of Belgium, already 
connected with those of France, Spain, England and 
Prussia, became allied to the reigning families of Austria- 
Hungary, Bavaria, Wurtemburg, etc. 

The young queen was the daughter of a good and 
simple mother, herself a model of virtue. Her brothers 
were the Archduke Joseph, a gallant soldier who had 
three horses killed under him at Sadowa, and the Arch- 
duke Stephen, the idol of my childhood, who was banished 
from the Court of Vienna because he was too popular. He 
ended his days in exile at the Chateau of Schaumbourg in 
Germany. 

King Leopold the First, my grandfather, having died 

17 



My Own Affairs 

on November lo, 1865, King Leopold II and Queen 
Henrietta ascended the throne. 

I can still see the Queen as I saw her when I lay in 
her arms as a child, so long has my adoration for her 
survived, so long has my belief in another world remained 
sacred to her memory. 

The Queen was of medium height and of slenders 
build. Her beauty and grace were unrivalled. The 
purity of her lines and her shoulders merited the expres- 
sion " royal." Her supple carriage was that of a sports- 
woman. Her voice was of such pure timbre that it 
awakened echoes in one's soul. Her eyes, a darker 
brown than those of the King, were not so keenly 
luminous, but they were far more tender; they almost 
spoke. 

But how much less her physical perfections counted in 
comparison with her moral qualities. A true Christian, 
her idea of religion was to follow it rigorously in every 
detail, without being in the least narrow-minded. She 
had a philosophical and an assured conception of God, 
and the mysteries of the Infinite. This faith enlightened 
her doctrine and strengthened her piety. 

People who cannot, or who will not, study the. problem 

of religion, easily persuade themselves that it is absurd 

to subject themselves to the laws of confession and to its 

signs and ceremonies. The sincere Christian is the woman 

who is far excellence a wife and a mother, but to some 

bigots she is merely an inferior being, who has fallen into 

the hands of priests — but they would doubtless be very 

18 



The Queen 

pleased all the same to have her as the guardian angel of 
their own home. 

Religion did not in the least deter the Queen from 
her obligations to the State, or from her taste for Art, or 
from indulging in her favourite pursuit of sport. 

She received her guests, she presided over her circle, 
she attended fetes with a natural charm peculiar to her, 
which I passionately admired from the moment when 
I was old enough to follow in her wake. 

The Queen dressed with an inborn art which was 
always in harmony with her surroundings. A woman in 
her position has to set out to please and win the hearts of 
people, and she is therefore obliged more than anyone else 
to study her toilette. The Queen excelled in this to such 
perfection that she was always held up as an example by 
the arbiters of Parisian fashion. 

At any time fashion is peculiar, or at least it seems 
to be; if it were not so there would be no fashion; but 
la mode is not so varied as one thinks. Considered as 
novelties, her innovations are nothing more or less than 
little discoveries and arrangements with which the serpent, 
if not Eve, was already familiar in the Garden of Eden. 

The Queen followed la mode without innovating 
fashions — that is the affair of other queens — queens of 
fashion, for which they have reasons, not dictated by 
Reason. But the Queen adopted and perfected fashions. 
It was miraculous to see how she wore the fairy-like lace 
which is the glory and charm of Belgium. I have always 
remembered one of her gowns, a certain cerise-coloured 

19 



My Own Affairs 

silk, the corsage draped with a fichu of Chantilly — one of 
the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. 

The Queen would often adorn the gowns worn by her 
at her receptions with garlands of fresh flowers. She knew 
how to wear them, and what a delight it was to my sisters 
and myself when we were told to go into the conservatories 
and prepare the garlands of roses, dahlias, or astets which 
our beloved sovereign was going to wear. 

A perfect musician, the Queen was equally brilliant in 
her execution of a Czarda, an Italian melody or an air from 
an Opera, which she interpreted in a soprano voice, the 
possession of which many a professional singer would have 
envied her. 

One of her great pleasures was to sing duets with 
Faure, the illustrious baritone, a well-bred artist who 
never presumed on his position. The Queen and Faure 
were wonderful in the famous duets from Hamlet and 
Rigoletto. ... I think of her singing even now with emo- 
tion. But all this belongs to the past; it is far away. 

The Queen received the best artistic society on the 
same footing as the best Belgian society at her private 
receptions. She closely followed all the doings at the 
Theatre de la Monnaie and the Th6atre du Pare. She 
interested herself in deserving talent. She was not 
ignorant of the anxieties and difficulties of a career of 
which four hours, so to speak, are lived in the realms of 
illusion, and the remaining twenty face to face~with reality. 
She frequently showed her solicitude for artists in the 
most delicate and opportune manner. The memory of her 



20 



The Queen 

kindness lives in many hearts. In the theatrical world 
gratitude is less rare than elsewhere. One can never 
speak too highly of the good that exists in the souls of 
these people, who appear so frivolous and easy-going on 
the surface. Corneille always had a good word for them. 

The Queen loved horses with the appreciation of a 
born horsewoman ; she liked to drive high-spirited animals, 
and I have inherited her taste. She knew how to control 
the wild Hungarian horses which were only safe with her. 
Refreshed with champagne, or bread dipped in red wine, 
they flew like the wind; one might have said that she 
guided them by a thread, but in reality she made them 
obedient to the sound of her voice. 

She groomed her horses herself and taught them 
wonderful circus tricks. I have seen one of them ascend 
the grand staircase of Laeken, enter the Queen's room 
and come down again as though nothing had happened. 
What amused her most was to drive two or four different 
animals at once who had never been harnessed, and who 
were so high-spirited that no one dared to drive them. 
By dint of patience and the magnetic charm of her voice 
the most restive animal eventually became docile. 

Her life was so ordered that she found time for every- 
thing — maternal cares were first and foremost with her; 
she looked upon these as sweet duties, of which I was her 
first burden. 

I was a year old when my brother Leopold was born, 
who, alas ! only lived a few years. I was six years old 
when my sister Stephanie was born, and when Clemen- 



My Own AflFairs 

tine came into the world I was already twelve years old. 
I was therefore the eldest bird in the Queen's nest — the 
big sister who was taught to assist her mother equally well 
on the steps of the throne as in a cottage. It was I who 
was expected to set a good example to the brothers and 
sisters who might come after me; it was I who was ex- 
pected to benefit the most from maternal teachings. I 
certainly had the priority, but I was not the favourite, 
though owing to my age I was, in some ways, the most 
privileged. 

Our mother brought us up after the English fashion; 
our rooms were more like those in a convent than the 
rooms of the princesses one reads about in the novels of 
M. Bourget. 

When I was no longer under the daily and nightly 
supervision of a governess or nurse, I was expected to look 
after myself, and when I got out of bed in the morning I 
had to fetch the jug of cold water from outside the door 
which was intended (in all seasons) for my ablutions, for 
neither in the Palace at Brussels nor at the Chateau of 
Laeken had the " last word " in comfort attained perfec- 
tion. 

The Queen taught me from my earliest youth how to 
manage servants; I learned from her very early in life 
that it was possible to be on a throne one day and the 
next to find one's self in the streets. How many of 
my relations or friends can contradict this to-day? But 
at that time my mother's cold reasoning would have 
disgusted the Courts and the chancellors. 




QUEEN MARIE HENRIETTE OF BELGIUM 



The Queen 

My mother made me think deeply. Thought was my 
first revelation of a real existence. I began to look further 
than the throne and a title for the means of moral and 
intellectual superiority, I became a definite personality; I 
wished to form my own ideas so that in after life I could 
always be myself. 

The Queen helped to mould my character by abundant 
reading, chiefly in French and English — principally 
memoirs. I was never, or very rarely, allowed to read a 
novel. The Queen read deliciously, giving the smallest 
phrase its full value ; the manner in which she read aloud 
was not only that of a woman who knew how to read, but 
it also displayed a penetrating intelligence — in fact, it was 
more like speaking than reading, and it seemed to come 
from a heart which understood everything. 

The Queen was gay and entrancingly charming with 
her intimate friends. She was always like this, in her 
excursions in the country, at croquet parties, at her own 
receptions, and in her box at the theatre. Her good 
humour was in accordance with the promptings of a gener- 
ous and expansive nature. 

On my birthday, August 25, 1894, which I celebrated 
with her at Spa, she wished to mark the auspicious occasion 
by improvising a small dance after dejeuner, which she 
had specially ordered to be served, not in her villa, but in 
a room reserved for her in an hotel, thus making dejeuner 
a more agreeable and homely affair. There were present 
myself and my sisters, Stephanie's daughter, and my own, 
and all of us wore our smartest gowns, 
c 23 



My Own Affairs 

The Queen insisted on Clementine, who was an accom- 
plished musician, playing the piano, and having sent for 
Gerard, her maitre d'hotel, who had accompanied us to 
supervise the service (he was one of those servants who 
believed in their duty towards their employers, and who 
knew the meaning of the name of servant), the Queen 
said to him : 

" Gerard, in honour of the princess's birthday you are 
going to waltz with us." 

" Oh, your Majesty ! " 

" Yes, yes, you are going to waltz once with me, and 
once with the princess." 

" Oh, your Majesty ! " 

" What? Do you not know how to waltz ? " 

" Yes, your Majesty, a little." 

" Eh bten, Gerard, waltz ! Now, Clementine, play a 
waltz." 

The faithful Gerard could but obey, blushing, and shy 
and hardly daring to glance at his royal partner. The 
Queen then said laughingly : 

" Don't be afraid, Gerard, I am not a sylphide." 

Gerard then waltzed with my mother and also with me, 
and he waltzed well ! 

The next day he was once more the model servant — 
such as are loved and esteemed by their masters, whom 
they love and esteem in return, if those they serve only 
know how to merit their devotion. 

The Queen took no part in politics except to discharge 
her duties as a sovereign. On a man like the King, 

24 



The Queen 

feminine influence could not be exercised by a wife and 
mother. 

It was impossible for the Queen to find in her husband 
the perfect union of thought, the intimacy of action and 
the entire confidence which, in no matter what household, 
are the only possible conditions for happiness, and the 
first deception which she experienced was followed by 
others which became more and more cruel. 

The trial which caused the Queen to be inconsolable 
and which had such painful consequences, was the death 
of her son Leopold. 

My mother could never be comforted for the loss of 
the heir to the Throne, this child of so much promise, who 
had been given and retaken by Heaven. This was the 
sorrow of her life. She even alluded to it in her admirable 
will. 

From the day of his death, her health, always so robust, 
gradually changed little by little. Her soul began to break 
away from earthly things and lose itself more and more 
in prayer and contemplation. She lived only in the ardent 
hope of meeting her son in heaven. 

The Queen was always a saint — and she soon became 
a martyr. She suffered immensely through the aloof 
greatness of the King, who existed solely for his Royal 
duties, although he would occasionally suddenly indulge in 
some unbridled pleasure after his arduous work. His was 
a nature of extremes which a tender soul could not 
understand, and hence arose misunderstandings and 
their tragic consequences. Against such a fate, which 

25 



My Own Affairs 

could only become more and more unhappy, there was 
nothing to be done. Earthly life is doomed to know 
implacable disillusions. 

But however much the Queen suffered she never 
diminished her Heaven-inspired kindness. She would 
sometimes give way to her sorrow and allow the cries of 
her wounded soul to be heard ! She would even attempt 
to defend herself by some action of which the public was 
cognizant but which it failed to understand. But she( 
always returned to the feet of Christ the Consoler. 

It is there that I shall find her, and there I shall offer 
my veneration and love to this sublime mother who in- 
stilled in me the passion to fulfil my duties, as I define 
them. 

My idea of duty, face to face with myself, is, firstly, a 
rightful and complete liberty of action; that is to say, 
freedom of body and soul; from this comes the seeking 
after God here below and the ascension to Him through 
human errors and human weaknesses. 

Oh ! well-beloved mother, I have passed through life 
without at all understanding the mysteries which surround 
us, but, following your simple faith, I have believed, / 
now believe, in the presence of a Creator. 



26 



CHAPTER IV 
The King 

MY father was not only a great king — he was a 
great man. 

A king may achieve greatness through pos- 
sessing the art of surrounding himself with the right en- 
tourage, and thus taking advantage of the importance 
which it is then so easy for him to gain. He must be 
superior, at least at heart, to have a taste for superiority. 

When he came into power Leopold H did not aim at 
gathering round him those wonderful intellects who would 
have inspired him to greatness. He had not the same 
chances as Louis XIV, neither had he those men whom 
his own example later developed. Belgium was still an 
adolescent State, the government of which required very 
careful and exclusive handling. She had sprung into 
being from twin countries, widely different in character, 
but united by the same laws. Her national policy is like 
a web whose mission it is to hold them together, but such a 
form of Constitution is not without its inconveniences. 

For a long time the King's secret conviction was, that 
in order to be able to endure and strengthen herself, 
Belgium had urgent need of some great scheme which 
would produce in her an amalgamation of effort and in- 
telligence, and allow her to take one of the highest places 

among the nations of the world. 

27 



My Own Affairs 

He had carefully studied the map of the world, and 
his observations resulted in the unheard-of project of 
endowing his little kingdom with immense colonial posses- 
sions. He had at the time neither the money nor the 
army; he only had the idea, but the idea obsessed him 
and he lived for it alone. 

The man whom I recall to my mind in thinking of the 
King is one whose silence always frightened me when I 
was a child. Here is an instance of his taciturn character. 

The Queen is seated, holding in her hand a book 
which she is no longer reading. She is folding me close 
to her heart, whilst her eyes follow the King. The doors 
of the drawing-room leading to the other rooms ate open, 
and the Sovereign paces backwards and forwards, his 
hands behind his back, almost like an automaton, without 
glancing at us and without breaking his interminable 
train of thought. Silence lies over the palace; nobody 
dares enter, for the King has forbidden access to the Royal 
apartments. The Queen and I are involuntary prisoners 
of this prisoner of his own thoughts. 

The King was a fine and strong figure. His imposing 
personality and his characteristic physiognoiny are familiar 
even to the new generation, who have only seen the popular 
pictures of him; but photographs never did justice to his 
expression of sceptical shrewdness. His eyes, as I have 
already said, were light brown ; at the least opposition they 
assumed a fixed expression, and when it rested on my 
sisters and myself when we were in fault, the King's glance 
terrified us more than any reproaches or punishment. 

28 



The King 

The King's voice was deep and somewhat muffled in 
timbre, sometimes it grew nasal; when he was angry it 
became, like his eyes, as hard as a stone, but if he wished 
to please it became soft and emotional. People still speak 
of the manner in which he delivered his speech from the 
Throne after the death of Leopold I, and his touching 
opening words : " Gentlemen, Belgium, like myself, has 
lost a father." 

When he was in a happy mood he became animated, 
although his humour, when he was pleased to show it, 
was always bitter and satirical — and he possessed it in 
abundance. I have never forgotten certain of his opinions 
touching his Ministers and contemporaries. Some of 
those who are still living would be very flattered to know 
them. Others would not ! 

The King paid little attention to me or my sisters; 
his fatherly caresses were rare and brief. We were always 
awed in his presence; he was ever to us more the King 
than the father. 

With regard to his attitude towards the Queen, as 
far back as I can remember I always see him as the 
same self-centred and taciturn man in his relations 
with her. 

He was constantly away from home, so we little ones 
were rarely with both our parents. I alone, on account 
of my age and the advantage which it gave me over my 
sisters, enjoyed a little family life with my father and my 
mother before the differences between them arose. But I 
cannot recall a single act of kindness or tenderness on his 

29 



My Own Affairs 

part towards my mother that I especially noticed in my 
youth. 

I only know that at a certain epoch, when I was about 
eleven years old, the King, who like my mother adored 
flowers, never missed bringing her some every week which 
he had gathered himself in the Royal gardens. He 
would arrive in my mother's apartment laden with his 
fragrant harvest and would say to her abruptly, " Here 
you are, my good wife." 

Stephanie and I would at once begin to refill the vases 
— I especially, for I had been taught by the Queen to 
love and arrange flowers, those discreet companions of our 
thoughts, which bring into the home perfume, colour, 
caresses and rest, and which are verily the quintessence of 
earth and heaven ! 

One day at Laeken my father offered me a gardenia. 
I was simply stupefied. I was then about thirteen. I 
hoped for a long time for a repetition of this paternal 
graciousness, but in vain ! 

This prince of genius, whose political conceptions and 
manner of conducting negotiations useful to Belgium won 
the admiration, if not of those to whom they were advan- 
tageous, of at least the high intelligences of other countries, 
was singularly thorough in small things. He clung to his 
ideas and his personal concerns in a most obstinate manner. 
I have seen him look into the management of the gardens 
at Laeken with the greatest attention to every detail. 

Large, juicy peaches grew on the walls of the gardens, 
and the King was very proud of them. I had a passion 

30 



The King 

for peaches, and one day I dared eat one which was hidden 
away among the leaves. And that year peaches were 
plentiful. But the following day the King discovered 
the theft — what a dramatic moment ! At once suspected, 
I confessed my crime and I was promptly punished. I 
did not realize that the King counted his peaches ! 

This great realist had a realistic mind, and materialism 
carried him on to idealism. I will not allow myself for 
a moment to suppose that he did not believe in God, but 
certainly he had a different conception of the Creator from 
that of the Queen. She suffered greatly through this 
attitude of her husband, but he persisted in his way of 
thinking. 

On Sundays he used to attend Mass; he considered 
it was an example which he owed to the Court and the 
people. Sometimes he escorted the Queen to Divine Ser- 
vice, taking with him " Squib," a tiny terrier of which the 
Queen was very fond and which the King always spoke of 
as one refers to a person. He called it " The Squib." 

It was a sight to see the big man holding the tiny dog 
under his arm — the little animal too terrified to move. 
Thus, one supporting the other, they both heard Mass 
seated beside the Queen, who assuredly did not think 
this a very religious procedure. When Mass was over, 
the King, still carrying Squib, would cross the reception 
rooms until he reached the dining-room, when he would 
gravely deposit the little dog on the Queen's knee. 

With regard to the King's policy, I only knew and 
understood that related to the Congo. I knew the 

31 



My Own Affairs 

alternate hopes and fears which passed through the mind 
of the author of this gigantic enterprise. It was the one 
topic of conversation around me, and it was always 
mentioned with bated breath; but the things which are 
spoken of in this way are, I think, those one hears of 
most. 

I know that the Royal fortune and that of my aunt the 
Empress Charlotte, which was administered by the King, 
were employed at one time, not without some risk, in the 
acquisition and organization of the possessions that the 
Great Powers afterwards disputed with Belgium. Those 
were anxious days for the King. He manoeuvred cleverly 
between the Powers. History knows the value of his work ; 
she realizes what a profound politician he was. Official 
Belgium does not remember, but the people have never 
forgotten. I have confidence in the soul of Belgium, 
the Belgium who has shown her greatness in the years 
1914-1918. King Leopold II will one day receive the 
recognition he merits in the country which he enriched, 
and which he always wished to fortify against the 
dangers of war. 

The private failings of the man only harmed himself 
and his family; his people never suffered by reason of 
them. They have even benefited by the immense wealth 
which it pleased the King to assign to his country, regard- 
less of the justice of reserving that portion which belonged 
to his daughters, who were excluded by him from the 
Belgian family. 

Here we touch on a side of the King's character which 

32 




Pho(o: Xinna Blanc 

KING LEOPOLD II OF BELGIUM 



The King 

is looked upon by psychologists as unnatural, and is similar 
to the legislation of which the Belgian Government availed 
itself in similar circumstances, a legislation contrary to the 
moral laws of justice and equity. 

Belgium's excuse — if there can be an excuse for this 
illegality — was that the King himself had exceeded his 
rights. 

I have read, over the signature of a journalist, that 
even before his marriage the King declared that he would 
never accept any benefit from the Royal purse, and that 
his income, from whatever source it was derived, should 
not accrue for the benefit of his descendants. 

This is an astounding story and is a pure invention. 
A king is a man like other men ; the value of his position 
rests upon his qualifications. The King could have either 
ruined or enriched himself. He was a genius, and for 
this reason his daughters were able to be — and indeed 
were — deprived of a fortune which was partly theirs by 
right, and which was used for the development of a 
commercial enterprise by the colossal audacity of their 
father ! 

But why should the King have wished to disinherit his 
daughters and deprive them of his immense accumulation 
of wealth ? The reason must be definitely stated. 

The King had long wished that our fortunes (those of 
my sisters and myself) should be reduced to the minimum 
of what he considered convenient to assign to us, that 
is to say, much less than our needs required, because, after 
the death of our brother Leopold, he only saw in us impedi- 

33 



My Own Affairs 

ments to his own ambition and he was tortured by the fact 
that he had no male descendant. 

I alone noticed, during the years that followed the 
death of his son, that the King on various occasions be- 
haved in a different manner towards the Queen; he was 
more amiable and was more frequently in her company. 
Having now become a woman I can understand the real 
reason for this ! 

Clementine came into the world; her birth was pre- 
ceded by many vain hopes, but when the longed-for child 
arrived it was once more a girl ! 

The King was furious and thenceforth refused to have 
anything to do with his admirable wife to whom God had 
refused a son. What a mystery of human tribulation ! 

As for the daughters born of the Royal union, they 
were merely accepted and tolerated, but the King's heart 
never softened towards them. At the same time we were 
not altogether excluded from his thoughts. The feelings 
of our father, so far as we were concerned, varied accord- 
ing to circumstances, and, notably in my own case, 
according to the various calumnies and intrigues. My 
sister Stephanie also suffered in this way. 

Both of us were married at an early age and, living 
as we did at a distance, we were deprived of the oppor- 
tunity of constantly seeing the King, so naturally we could 
not pretend to be the subject of his constant remembrance. 
We therefore ran the risk of being easily maligned by 
the unscrupulous courtesans who had influence with the 
King and were in the pay of our enemies. 

34 



The King 

Clementine was in a far better position. She received 
all the tenderness the King was inclined to bestow on the 
only one of his children who remained with him, one who 
showered on him a daughter's affection and who also' 
upheld the traditions of the Royal House, a duty which, 
in the absence of the Queen, the daughter of such a mother 
was alone able to fulfil. 



35 



CHAPTER V 
My Country and the Days of my Youth 

IT is more than forty-five years that, since my marriage, 
Fate has exiled me from my native country. I have 
never revisited Belgium, except in passing through 
it, and then often under very painful circumstances. 

Well ! I will close my eyes and return in imagina- 
tion to the Chateau of Laeken, and to a certain pathway 
in the park; I will go, in like manner, to one particular 
footpath in the forest of Soignies; there are trees, stones 
and roofs there, which seem to me to be those which I 
once knew. 

An oak tree was planted at Laeken to commemorate 
the birth of my brother and the birth of each of my sisters 
and myself. I had not seen these trees thus dedi- 
cated to us for a long time, until I happened to be in 
Belgium for a few days after the King's death. Accom- 
panied by that old friend of my childhood, my brother's 
tutor. General Donny, I made an excursion to Laeken, 
and I saw once more, with what bitter-sweet memories, 
the little garden formerly tended by my brother and my- 
self, which had been piously preserved in its original 
state. Was this a mute evidence of the King's remem- 
brance, or the fidelity of some old servants? In my 

36 



My Country and the Days of my Youth 

grief I did not question to whom the little garden owed 
its preservation. My tears alone spoke. 

When I stood before our " birthday " oak trees I only 
saw three ! 

I was told that by some extraordinary coincidence the 
one which marked the birth of my brother had died, like 
him, when it was quite young. Of the others, mine was 
sfrong and vigorous; Stephanie's had had the misfortune 
to grow a little crooked, but the one belonging to 
Clementine was quite normal. I venture to say that the 
three oak trees are emblems of our destiny so far as our 
inner lives are concerned, which have been ignored and 
misunderstood by men, but which like Nature remain con- 
fident in God. These three oak trees, and the fourth which 
is now dead, have always troubled me since the day when 
I beheld them again. 

Whatever they may be now I envy them ! They have 
grown, they have lived, they still flourish on the soil sacred 
to my lost ones, except one, whose absence is so expres- 
sive. I should love to see them again and to live, if not 
near them, at least under the shadow of other oak trees 
growing in my beloved country. 

Would that I could end my days there, and once more 
find my adored mother and my vivid youth in the 
forests, the countryside, or the villages through which we 
passed so often together. She it was who taught me the 
secrets of Nature, and it was thus that the life of Nature 
and the life of Belgium, the wonders of the universe, and 
the life of society were revealed to me. The Queen loved 

37 



My Own Affairs 

and taught me to love our heroic country, whose defence 
of her liberty in past ages constitutes one of the most 
touching episodes in history. 

And I have inherited an ardent wish that my country 
should never become enslaved. 

I know that the good people of Belgium have re- 
proached me, as if it had been my fault, for deserting our 
country. Those who knew me in my youth have believed 
that I was transplanted to a strange and brilliant world 
where I forgot my native land. Then the dramas and 
scandals into which I was dragged on the hurdle of mis- 
understanding and calumny, have for some transformed 
me into a sinner, for whom it was not enough punishment 
to forbid her to see her dying mother by keeping her as a 
sane prisoner in a madhouse. Such a woman deserved to 
be wiped off the face of the earth ! 

Ah, poor miserable humanity, so full of evil yourself 
that you see nothing but evil in others, what was my 
crime ? 

I would not, I could not live under the conjugal roof. 
I endured my life, sacrificed myself, as long as I could, 
because I knew that I owed a duty towards my children, 
but after they grew up the horror of my life increased 
every day. My crime has consisted in listening to a unique 
man, the ideal knight who kept me from committing errors 
which I resolved to forget, And to do as many others have 
done. 

In my palace, or elsewhere, I could have been the 
heroine of discreet and multiple adventures. This be- 

38 



My Country and the Days of my Youth 

haviour would have conformed to the code of high pro- 
priety, and God knows that opportunities abounded. But 
I was not a hypocrite and very soon I found myself 
up against hypocrites — innumerable legions of them. I 
was also the recipient of their irritating and deceitful 
confidences. 

Thus slander did its detestable work. An implacable 
persecution, masking itself behind the simulated indig- 
nation of a false morality, began to assail me. 

To me one of the most cruel acts was the violent attack 
made by my detractors on the King and Queen, and on 
public opinion in Belgium. 

Could such a thing be possible? I found myself an 
exile from my country, imprisoned and branded as mad, 
for everyone was determined that I should become so. 

It is to you, my mother, martyr and saint, and to some 
sublime moral strength that I owe my resistance. You 
armed me for the struggle by never letting me forget the 
essential duties of life which you had taught me. I have 
remained faithful to them. But I have suffered horribly 
since the day Avhen even you could not understand my 
rebellion. I was suppressed by the world. Cleverly ex- 
ploited, all appearances were against me. My enemies 
told you : " She is lost ; she is mad ; the doctors have 
said so." 

What doctors, mon Dieu? The truth about these 
doctors came out afterwards. 

Ah ! some people envy princesses. They should 
rather pity them. I know of one for whom there has 
D 39 



My Own Affairs 

been no justice in this world. Ordinary rights were denied 
her. The law of the world was not a law for her, except 
when it could be used against her. 

Yes, a victim of an abominable plot of such surpass- 
ing cruelty that reason can scarcely conceive possible; I 
was not allowed to return to my beloved Belgium at the 
moment when I learnt, in spite of my persecutors, that my 
mother was dying at Spa; I could not receive her last 
blessing, I was not even allowed to follow her coffin ... to 
the tomb ! 

If I did not become mad in my asylum it was because 
I was not meant to do so ; I could not become mad. But 
I still tremble when I think of it. 

Later, when the King was dying, I recovered my 
liberty, and my freedom was brought about by my friend 
— a friend without equal, who, having on one occasion 
saved me from myself, now saved me from prison and 
madness, after having nearly succumbed himself beneath 
the blows of hate and persecution. 

But my freedom constituted a new crime; my fidelity 
to an incarnate ideal in a whole-hearted devotion consti- 
tuted an additional sin. 

When I attended my father's funeral I was kept under 
constant observation. I was restricted to a certain area 
of my native country. The eldest daughter of the great 
King whom Belgium had just lost was received with polite 
formality by a police official in Court attire ! 

Ah, no ! I incriminate no one — not even the servants 

whose civility I had once known. I am aware how tempt- 

40 



My Country and the Days of my Youth 

ing and profitable it is to mislead princes, and what power 
exists in wicked advice when it is given with an air of 
devotion. I am only explaining how it came about that 
I did not remain in my much-loved country. 

At: last the frightful war broke out, following the 
debates regarding the King's inheritance, and I was 
at once even more definitely suppressed by the Belgian 
nation because, to my other abominations, I had added 
the unpardonable sin of believing that justice existed in 
Belgium. 

I was a prisoner in Munich, where I could do nothing. 
I was surprised in Bavaria by hostilities and treated like 
a Belgian princess — that is to say, very badly, as will be 
seen later. 

In Brussels I became an enemy princess, and from the 
date of the Armistice I was proclaimed a foreigner in my 
native country in the interests of which I had been sacri- 
ficed at the age of seventeen, and I also saw myself 
deprived of the inheritance which would have become 
mine at the death of my aunt, the Empress Charlotte of 
Mexico. 

But it is a matter of history that my marriage with the 
Prince of Coburg was annulled in 1907 by the decision of 
the special tribunal of Gotha, judging according to the 
" Rights of Princes," and that this annulment was trans- 
mitted to the Court of Vienna. The divorce was ratified 
by all the minute forms of the law of Courts and the 
ancient statutes of Austria. The King officially gave me 
back my title of Princess of Belgium. 

41 



My Own Affairs 

That meant nothing; in Brussels no notice was taken 
of it. 

It is a fact that the law of Hungary does not recognize 
the " Rights of Princes " and the procedure of Gotha ; in 
consequence of the possessions of the Coburg family in 
Hungary I am still a Princess of Coburg. 

I lose myself in this web in which I have been en- 
tangled, but common sense tells me that the disappearance 
of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and the separation of 
Austria from Hungary has put an end to the " mixed 
state " and the position of " mixed subject " which was 
that of the Prince of Coburg. 

Through his ancestors, this " Austrian " Prince, Duke 
Philip of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, is of Franco-German 
and not of Hungarian origin. The princely union can- 
celled, the civil union dissolved, I feel I have been de- 
livered, and that I have regained my Belgian nationality, 
thanks to the good will of the King himself. 

They have wished to ignore this at Brussels. They 
have branded me as a Hungarian because the Prince of 
Coburg has entailed estates in Hungary. Could they not 
just as well have proclaimed me a Turk or a Chinese had 
he possessed estates in Turkey or China? 

I question this ; I make no reproaches whatever, especi- 
ally against the principle of superior authority, for the 
good reason that this happened in a state whose king and 
queen had retreated before the invader in order to defend 
their country (one knows with what courage and self-denial) 
from the extreme frontier left them by a conquering enemy. 

42 



My Country and the Days of my Youth 

They returned in triumph flushed with the joy of victory. 
They had only time to deal with general and momentous 
questions. I should like to think that the attitude adopted 
towards myself has been merely the outcome of a destiny 
which wills that I should become a stranger in my own 
country. 

I wept over this country, so dear to my heart, in 19 14. 
I believe that her errors towards me have added to her 
misfortunes. I know that the judgment of Brussels in 
denying me my share of my father's property aroused 
bitter indignation in Berlin. My son-in-law, the Duke 
of Schleswig-Holstein, brother-in-law of the Emperor 
William II, relied on succeeding to the inheritance of his 
wife's grandfather. I can only say that the anger of the 
German Sovereign against the resistance of Belgium was 
increased by the remembrance of the deception of one of 
his relations, on whom he was rather severe, and this may 
have decided him to crush the little nation which dared 
oppose the violation of its neutrality. 

But this did not help to recall the irritable William II 
back to reason and humanity, because this miserable man, 
whom I have known since my childhood, was absolutely 
convinced of his role as the appointed scourge of God and 
the invincible redresser of Justice on the field of battle. 

■ir •tF tP tP •1'^ 

Let us for a moment forget these miseries and suffer- 
ings and talk of the time when I was happy in my happy 
country — the days when I went for excursions with the 
Queen and " discovered " my parents' kingdom. 

43 



My Own Affairs 

What joy when I could drive like my mother ! I was 
then barely fourteen and I was her pupil. We frequently 
went for excursions through our dear Belgium from early 
morning till late in the evening. Two or three of the 
Royal carriages followed. The first was driven by the 
Queen, the second by myself, and the third by an officer, 
one of the ladies-in-waiting, or, later, by my sister Clemen- 
tine. Doctor Wiemmer, a compatriot and a devoted friend 
of the Queen who accompanied her to the Belgian Court, 
often went with us, also good General Donny and General 
Van den Smissin, and certain maids-of-honour and other 
trusted members of our entourage. We halted as fancy 
dictated. The forest of Soignies, the environs of Spa, 
and the Ardennes have many a time witnessed the sight 
of the Queen sitting on the grass in some delightful glade, 
munching one of the famous fistolets for which Brussels 
is famous, and which came out of the Royal bakeries 
(what delicious cakes were made there ! I can taste them 
even yet). How beautiful Belgium was then, and what 
pure air refreshed us. How eagerly I awaited the future. 

On these long excursions the Queen carried a map and 
made out the itinerary herself with the skill of a staff 
officer; she also taught me and my sisters how to take our 
bearings. 

At this time the automobile had not yet ravaged the 
world. I have come across this stupefying remark of a 
Frenchman, " Speed is the aristocracy of movement." 
One might as well say, " Thoughtlessness is the aristocracy 
of thought." The automobile is doubtless of occasional 

44 



My Country and the Days of my Youth 

individual benefit, but I look upon it as a general scourge. 
Side by side with the satisfaction which it procures, it 
upsets existence by precipitating it. 

At the time when horse-drawn vehicles were in con- 
stant use, we had different impressions of a day's excur- 
sion than those which we have after the end of three 
weeks' feverish motoring — when we halt at various palaces, 
drive between interminable rows of poplars, interspersed 
with fleeting visions of fields, houses and poultry-yards, 
and when we are tortured by the dread of being made 
untidy by the wind and splashed by the mud. 

It is nearly half a century since the horse was the 
ornament and comfort of the best European society. The 
example of the Queen of Belgium then counted for some- 
thing. 

In France, the Orleans family — which is related to 
ours — and the Due and Duchesse de Chartres led the 
fashion not only in Cannes, but in Normandy and in the 
delicious region of Chantilly. The duchess always rode 
in an admirable riding habit. I well remember her black 
eyes, her pure features and her dazzling personality which 
were a mixture of natural charm and inborn distinction. 

The Prince de Joinville, so artistic, so witty, was 
endowed with the most exquisite and gallant spirit. He 
paid me marked attention, as did his brother the Due de 
Montpensier. We were a very gay trio, and the graver 
members of the family were wont to cast severe glances 
in our direction. 

The mention of the Orleans family recalls to me the 

45 



My Own Affairs 

most indulgent, the greatest nobleman of all — the Due 
d'Aumale, a faithful friend of Belgium and often our 
host. Oh ! what a loyal and noble character the French 
Republic refused to recognize in him. His revenge was to 
overwhelm his ungrateful country with kindness. I have 
lived under his roof and I think of him with the greatest 
tenderness. I still see myself in a room on the ground 
floor overlooking the moat at Chantilly, where this princely 
host surrounded himself with everything that counted for 
anything in France, and where he held wonderful recep- 
tions, frequently numbering among his guests the magnifi- 
cent-looking Prince de Conde, whom he honoured and 
had almost brought back to life. 

The Queen and the Due d'Aumale were greatly at- 
tached to one another. When the bitterness of a difficult 
situation rendered her life first difficult, and then impos- 
sible, owing to the King's forgetfulness of what was due 
from the man to the prince, the Due d'Aumale was one 
of those invaluable friends whose delicate understanding 
and faithful thoughts consoled her helplessness. 

Although devoted to the Due d'Aumale, I also knew 
the Comtesse de Paris intimately, with whom I have 
stayed at the Chateau d'Eu. She was an eccentric woman, 
rather odd-looking in appearance, but she possessed a 
joyous and lively disposition. 

Another lady of the Orleans family who became 
familiar to me in early life was the Princess Clementine 
of respected memory, a daughter of King Louis Philippe, 
and the wife of Prince Auguste of Coburg. I became her 

46 



My Country and the Days of my Youth 

daughter-in-law by my marriage with her eldest son, and 
my ardent hope was that she would be a second mother 
to me. It did not occur to either of us that her age and 
my youth could not agree. 

Gratitude also recalls to my mind my near relations 
the Comte and Comtesse de Flandre, and their many kind- 
nesses which I have not forgotten. Their noble lives have 
known the awful sadness of the destruction of a tenderly 
nurtured future. But God has granted them reserves of 
hope and affection. 

I was nearly forgetting one of the chief recollections 
of my earliest childhood — Queen Marie Amelie, the widow 
of King Louis Philippe. 

This Royal lady, who bore her loss and her exile with 
so much dignity, was my great-grandmother and my god- 
mother. She lived in retirement at Claremont, near 
Esher. 

When the Queen received the news of my birth her 
first question was : " Has she small ears ? " She ex- 
pressed the wish for me to be named Louise Marie, in 
memory of her daughter, my venerated grandmother, the 
first Queen of the Belgians. 

I can still picture my sweet old relation, with her white 
curls showing underneath a wide-brimmed lace cap. I can 
again see the early breakfast placed at the side of the 
deep arm-chair, and I remember the " pain a la Grecque " 
which she gave me when I had been good. 

Then the pony was brought round, and my cousin 
Blanche de Nemours and myself were installed in the 

47 



My Own Affairs 

double panniers, and taken for our daily ride in the shady 
avenues of the great park. 

The Queen had as reader Miss Miiser, a German, 
who was the faithful friend and constant companion of 
her old age. I was very young at this time, certainly not 
more than four, but I have religiously treasured in my 
remembrance the face, the voice, and the tenderness of 
my great-grandmother, Marie Amelie, Queen of France. 

As everyone knows, my two sisters, whom I always 
remember in those happy times when we still ignored what 
is called life, are both married. Stephanie, like myself, 
married very early, and Clementine much later in life. 

Stephanie as a child, a young girl and a young woman 
was the more beautiful. Clementine, who was also beauti- 
ful, possessed the most charm. Destiny has smiled upon 
her. Her life with the King gave her the insight and 
guidance which we never enjoyed. Every life has its 
favours and its chances in the human lottery. 

Clementine married Prince Victor Napoleon and the 
widely varied possibilities attached to such a name. 

Stephanie's marriage seemed brilliant, not with eventu- 
alities but with certainties. I refer to her first husband, 
for she married twice. The first time she had the good 
luck to marry an intelligent, handsome and chivalrous 
man, who was perhaps the most remarkable personality of 
his time. He shared with her the crown of Charles-Quint 
and the thrones of Austria-Hungary . . . crown and thrones 
have disappeared, as though banished by the wand of 
some infernal magician, and my sister remains known to 

48 




THE COUNTESS LONYAY 

(Princess Stephanie of Belgium) 
(Her first husband was the Archduke Rudolph of Austria) 



My Country and the Days of my Youth 

history as the widow of the Archduke Rudolph. She was 
only twenty-five years of age when he died. 

I have said nothing about the mise en scene in the 
midst of which the various personages moved who ap- 
pealed to my intelligence and to my heart at an age when 
my heart and mind were alike expanding. There is 
nothing to tell but what is already well known. 

The most interesting place of all others to me in my 
childhood was the Chateau of Laeken. I have no agree- 
able memories of the Palace at Brussels, although I have 
not forgotten the gallery and the reception rooms, where 
the many beautiful pictures always interested me, above 
all that of Charles I, by Van Dyck, dressed in black, in 
whose pale and noble face I seemed to read the melan- 
choly fate which overshadows some doomed monarchs. 

I have seen many princely and many royal abodes. 
They all resemble museuir\g, and they are equally fatigu- 
ing. Better to have a cottage and a small Teniers than 
own ten salons and five hundred linen tablecloths which 
belong to everybody. 

I was happy at Laeken because work became less 
absorbing. We had more liberty, more space. I never 
hesitated to run or jump in the gardens and the park from 
the earliest age, and I always took the lead instead of 
my brother, who seemed to be the girl. I was strong, 
lively and full of devilment. 

I was eager and willing to learn. My habit of asking 
questions gave me the name of " Madame Pourquoi." I 
always loved truth and logic. My instinctive passion for 

49 



My Own Affairs 

truth made me attack my governess tooth and nail one 
day because she wished to punish me undeservedly. I 
was in such a state of mind that Dr. Wiemmer, who was 
called in, decided to get to the bottom of the cause of my 
fury. He concluded that I was right in fact, if not in 
action, and he saw that my character was one that could 
only be led by kindness, frankness and justice. The 
governess was sent away. 

The Queen recalled this incident and the doctor's 
words many times. 

This medical man who was so devoted to my family, 
and who disappeared all too soon, once saved my sister 
Stephanie's life when she was stricken with typhoid, and 
when she was better the King and Queen took us to 
Biarritz — a change of air being necessary for our con- 
valescent. My sister and I shared the same room facing 
the sea at the Villa Eugenie. I was thirteen years old, 
Stephanie was seven. I was entrusted with the care of 
her, and to see that she did not catch cold. One night a 
tempestuous wind arose which, incidentally, produced a 
terrible waterspout. Waking up, I rushed to the window, 
which was open, in my nightgown. The system of clos- 
ing the window would not act, or perhaps I was clumsy; 
anyhow, I could not manage to shut the window. The 
wind now rose to such fury that every moment I was 
blown back into the room. I began to tremble as I feared 
for Stephanie. But I still continued to struggle against 
the force of the storm. How long this lasted I do not 
know. I only remember that they found me frozen, 

50 



My Country and the Days of my Youth 

soaked and shivering, and that I was put into a warm 
bed. 

My eyes closed. I heard Dr. Wiemmer say to the 
Queen : " What a child ! Any other would have called 
out or rung the bell ! She did not wish for help to 
protect her sister, and the storm did not frighten her. She 
only listened to the voice of duty, and she did not 
flinch." 

Alas ! each of us is made according to his or her 
destiny. 

The first blow which made me realize the cruel 
severity of Fate was the death of my brother Leopold. I 
had for him the feelings of a devoted and " motherly " 
sister. 

He was my property, my chattel, my child. We grew 
up together. I had considerable authority over him as I 
was twelve months older than he was, and he always 
obeyed me. 

Leopold, Duke of Brabant and Comte de Hainaut, 
loved to play with dolls. I much preferred playing with 
him. Nevertheless my uncle, the Archduke Etienne, my 
mother's brother, one of the best and most distinguished 
men that the earth has produced, gave us two Hungarian 
dolls. These were works of art of their kind. Mine was 
christened " Figaro," a souvenir of Beaumarchais, the 
enemy of Courts, who thus named it ; why, and wherefore, 
I cannot say. My brother's doll received the much more 
modest and romantic name of " Irma." 

There came a time when Figaro and Irma enlivened 

5< 



My Own Affairs 

the Chateau of Laeken. They even made the King laugh. 
I organized performances with Leopold, Irma and Figaro 
which would have made Bartholo jealous. 

My brother and I were happy and light-hearted — as 
happy as it is possible to be at our age. Then came death, 
which lacerated my whole being, and the passing of my 
beloved brother in his ninth year. I remember then that 
I dared curse God and disown Him. . . . 

Leopold, handsome, sweet, sincere, tender and intelli- 
gent, embodied for me, after our mother, all that was most 
precious in the world — I could no more conceive existence 
without him: than the day without light. But he could not 
stay . . . and I still weep for him, although it is more than 
fifty years since he left me. 

If he had lived how different things would have been ! 

Our house, thus struck down in the male descent of its 
eldest branch, never recovered from this misfortune. Bel- 
gium will remember in the great works accomplished by 
her, that my grandfather and my father made her what 
she is. 

She will not forget that angel on earth, my grand- 
mother, the immortal Queen Louise. Many, many tears 
were shed at her death, and have still left their traces in 
Belgium. 

Of my grandfather, I will repeat what M. Delehaye, 
President of the Chamber of Representatives, said in his 
address to the King during the magnificent fetes of July 
21-23, 1856, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of his 
succession to the throne. 

52 



My Country and the Days of my Youth 

" On July 21, 183 1, confidence and joy burst forth at 
your Coronation, and Sire, although you were then alone 
on your throne with your eminent qualities and the 
prospect of splendid political alliances, you are not alone 
to-day. You present yourself to the country supported by 
your two sons and the remembrance of the Queen beloved 
and regretted as a mother, you are surrounded by the 
Royal family, by illustrious alliances, by confidence and 
sympathy, you are supported by foreign Governments, 
your fame has grown greater, and you possess the love 
of Belgium which has grown still greater than any fame. 
Sire, we can have confidence in the future. . . ." 

Cannot I, must I not, also, have faith in the future? 

I appeal to my illustrious ancestors; I appeal to the 
memory of the Queen; I appeal to the memory of the 
King, by whom, alas ! I was too often denied and betrayed. 
I appeal to that world where everything is illuminated for 
the soul liberated from earth, which will alone see clearly 
for me. 



53 



CHAPTER VI 

My Marriage and the Austrian Court— the Day after 
my Marriage 

1WAS barely fifteen when it was first decided that I 
was to be married. On March 25, 1874, I was 
officially betrothed to Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg; 
on February 18 I entered my sixteenth year. 

My fiance certainly showed perseverance. He had 
already made two proposals for me. His first was repeated 
after an interval of two years. The King replied to it by 
advising him to travel. The prince then made a tour 
round the world; this completed he renewed his request. 
Again he was asked to wait. 

To marry me had become a fixed idea with Philip 
of Coburg. What sort of love inspired him? Was he 
attracted by the elusive charm of my virginal youth, or did 
the definite knowledge of the King's position and the 
belief in the future of his enterprises fan the flame in the 
heart of a man who was absolutely engrossed with material 
things ? 

The engagement being arranged, the two families 
interested (mine especially), the Queen on the one hand, 
and the Princess Clementine on the other, decided that 
my marriage was not to be celebrated until twelve months 
later. I was so young ! 

My fiance was fourteen years older than I. Fourteen 

54 



The Day after my Marriage 

years' difference is not perhaps of much account between a 
young woman of twenty-five and a man of thirty-nine; it 
is a great deal, however, between an innocent girl of seven- 
teen and a lover of thirty-one. 

I had only occasional glimpses of my fiance during 
his rapid visits to Brussels. Our conversations were of 
no account; they were merely such as a man of his age 
would hold with a girl of mine. But I thought I knew 
him well. We were cousins. This constituted the first 
difficulty, as the sanction of the Church of Rome was 
necessary to the marriage. It was asked for and obtained. 
This is the custom in such cases. 

My fiance left me to complete the studies necessary 
for my successful debut in a strange world. And what 
a world ! The most courtly of Courts in the universe. 
A Court haunted by the shades of Charles V and Maria 
Theresa ! A Court in which Spanish etiquette was allied 
to German discipline. An emperor whose greatness had 
been increased rather than diminished by his military 
reverses, so well did he bear his misfortunes. An empress 
who was a Queen of Queens owing to her undisputed per- 
fections. And around them a host of archdukes and arch- 
duchesses, princes, dukes and gentlemen bearing the 
highest titles in the land. 

All this was very impressive for a Belgian princess 
who did not regret her short dresses, because one never 
regrets them when it is the fashion to wear long gowns, 
but who was nevertheless very astonished to find herself 
dressed like a grown-up girl. 
E SS 



My Own Affairs 

However, I was not embarrassed, nor was I nervous; 
I looked at everything with the eyes of a girl who is only 
interested in her engagement and her lover. 

I would have married the prince, had I been asked to 
do so, on the same day that I received his first ring. I 
would have gone before the burgomaster and the cardinal 
with just the same eagerness as I did a year later. 

Healthy in body and pure in spirit, brought up in an 
atmosphere of sincerity and morality under the care of an 
incomparable mother, but deprived, owing to my rank, of 
more or less enlightened friends who would have reposed 
certain womanly confidences in me, I gave my whole soul 
to my approaching marriage without troubling myself what 
marriage might mean. I was no longer a creature of this 
earth. I created a star where my fiance and I would live 
together in a divine atmosphere of happiness. The man 
who was to be my companion on the enchanted road of 
life, seemed fo me the embodiment of all that was beauti- 
ful, loyal, generous, and I deemed him as innocent as 
myself. 

My hours of martyrdom and the distressing quarrels 
were to come later when the inmost recesses of my heart 
were disclosed by the barbarians of the police court, who 
made scandalous use of my letters written after my en- 
gagement. These letters expressed my love. I had 
written to the man who was my parents' choice as I would 
have written to an archangel destined to marry me. I 
adorned him with the beauty of my most beavtiful desires. 
I transfigured him. 

56 



The Day after my Marriage 

The savages had the effrontery to deduce from these 
expressions of affection that I was an unstable and deceitful 
creature. 

I put this question to women. Between love as we 
conceive it and love as we experience it, is there not very 
often an abyss? 

I have been culpable, criminal and infamous to fall 
into this abyss. Such is the real truth. 

Why did my mother — who was so good — and why did 
the King — who was so experienced in human nature — wish 
for this marriage, in spite of the disproportion of our ages, 
and the few claims to universal admiration which my in- 
tended husband possessed, apart from his claims to worldly 
position ? 

In the first place his mother, who, rightly, loved and 
respected him, pleaded for him. She credited him with 
possessing some of her own good qualities. 

In the second place. Prince Frederick of Hohenzollern 
had expressed a wish to ask me in marriage. The King 
and Queen, who were told of this, did not want, for 
various reasons, to become closer allied to the house of 
Berlin. Other suitors, more or less desirable, might also 
appear on the scene. Therefore, to put an end to this 
particular scheme and any future uncertainties, I was 
plighted to Philip of Coburg. 

In addition to this the Queen congratulated herself 
on sending her eldest daughter to the Viennese Court 
where she herself had shone. She still possessed influence 
there, and she thought that I would benefit from it. She 

57 



My Own Affairs 

was still more satisfied to think that owing to the entailed 
estates of the Coburgs in Hungary, I should possess 
material advantages in the country dear to her memory, 
and where she could often rejoin me, perhaps where she 
might even retire herself, since she foresaw a future which 
was gradually to become more and more difficult. 

My fiance again appeared on my horizon. A year 
passes quickly. The date of my marriage was approach- 
ing. I knew all the flowers of rhetoric and the hot-house 
flowers of a daily courtship. But I asked myself, why 
did the Queen never leave the archangel and me alone? 

My fiance told me about his travels. He had, he said, 
brought back some wonderful collections of souvenirs. 
But I only knew how wonderful these were later. He 
also told me about his plans for the future, the numerous 
properties of the Coburgs, etc. I gave myself up to de- 
lightful hopes, and described the magnificence of my 
trousseau, which was enriched with fairy-like gifts of 
Belgian lace and intricate embroideries. 

Finally I tried on the symbolical white robe, under a 
heavenly veil, a chef d'ceuvre of Brussels lace, and I was 
acknowledged fit to manage my long train and to make 
my curtsies equally as well as the most graceful of the 
famous young ladies of Saint Cyr. 

Loaded with jewels, I soared higher and higher, flat- 
tered by homage, congratulations and good wishes, without 
perceiving that, although my fiance was so much older than 
myself, I had now become a certain personality in his 
dreams and in his thoughts. 

58 



The Day after my Marriage 

I was praised on all sides in verse and in prose, with 
or without music, and it seemed that I was a " flower of 
radiant beauty." I was quite taken with this phrase. 

As for my husband — his bearing, his nobility and his 
prestige were also praised. I remember that he wore his 
Hungarian military uniform when we received the burgo- 
master of Brussels, the celebrated M. Ausbach, who came 
on February 4, 1873, to marry us by the civil code. Then 
with great pomp we appeared before the Cardinal Primate 
of Belgium. 

An altar was erected in the large drawing-room 
next the ballroom. I will say nothing about the decora- 
tions. The chants and the prayers carried me to heaven, 
although I by no means forgot the ritual of my marriage 
and that I was the cynosure of all eyes. It was not a 
public of kings, but of princes. In the place of sovereigns, 
whose greatness kept them away, their next of kin were 
present; the Prince of Wales, the Crown Prince Frederick, 
the Archduke Joseph, the Due d'Aumale, the Duke of 
Saxe-Coburg, and, finally, a large crowd of those notables 
who figure in the pages of the Almanack de Gotha. 

If I once began to describe the details of a ceremony 
of this magnitude I should never finish. Personally I 
was not much attracted by it. I am always surprised when, 
on opening a modern novel, I notice the pains which clever 
people take to describe the sumptuous ritual of modern 
marriage. I only know one appropriate description of this 
nature : that of the " Sleeping Beauty." Fortunate 
Beauty, whose Court and herself were put to sleep just 

59 



My Own Affairs 

at the crucial moment of a marriage which might not have 
been a happy one. 

But where are the fairies now and where are the beasts 
who know how to talk? 

Alas ! the fairies have vanished and the beasts speak no 
more, except the hidden beasts in our souls, and they do 
not relate pretty fables and stories. They indulge rather 
in unpleasant realities. 

I have taken a long time in coming to the point, but 
no matter at what cost, it is necessary for me to speak 
about things which have as yet never been told, but which 
will explain how the foundations were laid for the drama 
of my life. 

There were hints as to this drama in former days, but 
I will not refer to the vague tittle-tattle which amused 
rather than saddened Brussels and its Court. 

I am not, I am sure, the first woman who after having 
lived in the clouds during her engagement, has been as 
suddenly hurled to the ground on her marriage night, and 
who, bruised and mangled in her soul, has fled from 
humanity in tears. 

I am not the first woman who has been the victim of 
false modesty and excessive reserve, attributable per- 
haps to the hope that the delicacy of a husband, combined 
with natural instincts, would arrange all for her, but who 
was told nothing by her mother of what happens when 
the lover's hour has struck. 

However, the fact remains that on the evening of my 
marriage at the Chateau of Laeken, whilst all Brussels was 

60 



The Day after my Marriage 

dancing amid a blaze of lights and illuminations, I fell 
from my heaven of love to what was for me a bed of rock 
and a mattress of thorns. Psyche, who was more to blame, 
was better treated than myself. 

The day was scarcely breaking when, taking advantage 
of a moment when I was alone in the nuptial chamber, 
I fled across the park with my bare feet thrust into slippers, 
and, wrapped in a cloak thrown over my nightgown, I 
went — to hide my shame in the Orangery. I found 
sanctuary in the midst of the camellias, and I whispered 
my grief, my despair, and my torture, to their whiteness, 
their freshness, their perfume and their purity, to all that 
they represented of sweetness and affection, as they 
flowered in the greenhouse, and lit up the winter's dawn 
with a warmth, silence and beauty which gave me back a 
little of my lost Paradise. 

A sentry had noticed a grey form scurrying past him in 
the direction of the Orangery. He approached, and listen- 
ing, recognized my voice. He hastened to the chateau. 
No one knew what had become of me. Already the alarm 
had been discreetly raised. A messenger galloped to 
Brussels. The telephone was not then invented. 

The Queen came to me without any delay. My God ! 
what a state I was in when I regained my apartment; I 
would not let anyone approach me except my maids. I 
was more dead than alive. 

My mother stayed with me for a long time; she was 
as motherly as she alone could be. There was no grief 
which her arms and voice could not assuage. I listened 



6i 



My Own Affairs 

to her scolding me, coaxing me and telling me of duties 
which it was imperative for me to understand. I dared not 
object to these on the ground that they were totally 
different from those which I had been led to expect. 

I finished by promising to try and conquer my fears, 
to be wiser and less childish. 

I was scarcely seventeen years old; my husband had 
completed his thirty-first year. I had become of his 
" goods and chattels." One can see, alas ! how he has 
treated me. 



62 



CHAPTER VII 
Married 

ON the morrow of such a painful episode in the life 
of two newly married people I witnessed with 
bitter grief the preparations for my departure to 
Austria. Never was Belgium so dear to me; never had 
she appeared more beautiful. 

Concealing my tears, I said good-bye to all those who 
had known me as a child and a young girl, and who had 
loved and served me, and to all the familiar objects in 
the Chateau of Laeken, where everything appealed to my 
affection. Little did I foresee that I should be looked 
upon one day as a stranger there. What do I say — a 
stranger ? No, as an " enemy," rather ! 

We departed, according to the expression sacred to 
custom, on our honeymoon. But there are honeymoons 
and honeymoons. 

I should have liked to have taken certain personal 
maids with me. I was not allowed even to dream of such 
a thing. The Coburg Palace had its own servants. It 
was explained to me that the introduction of a strange 
element would break the domestic harmony of this high- 
toned abode. I had therefore to content myself with a 
Hungarian maid, quite a proficient person, but who was 
not like one of my own faithful servants. 

And everything was the same. My tastes, my prefer- 

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My Own Affairs 

ences only passed muster after having been approved by 
a family council. 

Unfortunately the austerity which prevailed in this 
family council chamber did not reign in the palace at all 
hours and in all the rooms. This I soon discovered. 

But before arriving at the Coburg Palace we stayed 
at Gotha, where Duke Ernest of Saxe-Coburg, the Prince 
Regent, and his wife, Princess Alexandrine, gave their 
niece a warm welcome. 

The duke was a true gentleman, one of the person- 
alities of his time, who became one of my favourite 
uncles. He spoke, with affection, of his friend Count 
Bismarck, and then touched on less serious topics, as I 
was curious to know about the people and things belonging 
to this Germany to which I found myself so closely related 
by marriage. 

I have already said that it was as natural for me to 
speak German as it was for me to speak French, since it 
was the general rule to do so at the Court of Brussels. 
Has not Belgium everything to gain by being bi-lingual 
and by serving as an intermediary between the Latin and 
the German countries? Less than Alsace and Luxem- 
bourg but nevertheless a little like them, should she not 
benefit by the two diverse cultures ? 

On leaving Gotha we went to Dresden, thence to 
Prague, and finally to Budapest and glowing Vienna. 

Let us pass, however, from these princely visits and 
the sameness of their receptions to more intimate things. 

The interest in speaking of these consists in the necessity 

64 



Married 

for me to lay bare my slandered life, and to relate how, 
having fallen from heaven, I rose to a belief in better 
things. 

But years and years were destined to pass before my 
existence was again embellished by a glimpse of the ideal, 
apart from the joys of maternity. 

My first recollection of something amiss in my role 
of Princess of Coburg is, that every evening at our formal 
banquets my husband took care that I should be served 
abundantly with good wines. I ultimately became capable 
of distinguishing a Volney from a Chambertin, a Voslaver 
from a Villanyi, and one champagne from another. 

The body thus trained to the practice of something 
more or less akin to gluttony, the soul of necessity followed 
its example. I extended my range of literature, and I 
became familiar with books which the Queen and the 
Princess Clementine would not have believed could have 
been given me by the person by whom they were put into 
my hands. 

In the days of my open rebellion people were scandal- 
ized by certain liberties of speech and manner which I 
wilfully exaggerated. But who first taught me them? 
And, once again, where should I have gone and what 
would have become of me if God had not put in my way 
the incomparable man who alone had the courage to say 
to me : " Madame, you are a King's daughter. You are 
about to go astray. A Christian woman revenges herself 
on infamy by rising above it and not by descending to its 
level." 

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My Own Affairs 

And so, stunned and intoxicated in every way, I re- 
viewed the family of Coburg and their various palaces 
and castles. Finally I found the palace in Vienna which 
was destined to be my principal residence. 

I positively turned cold on entering it. The palace 
certainly looks imposing from the outside, but the interior 
is most gloomy, especially the staircase. I only like the 
salon in " point de Beauvais " originally intended for 
Marie Antoinette and her ladies-in-waiting. 

My room made me shudder. What ? Was this really 
the setting which had been prepared to receive the fresh- 
ness of my seventeen years ! A student of Bonn, where 
the prince had graduated, might have liked it, but a 
girl, who had only recently become a young woman ! . . . 
Impossible. Try, then, to imagine a fairly large room, 
the walls fitted half-way up with small cupboards of dark 
wood with glass doors, and blue curtains behind which I 
never wished to look ! Certain pieces of furniture were 
Gothic in style. In the centre of this paradise stood an 
immense glass case full of souvenirs of the prince's travels ; 
stuffed birds with long beaks, armour, bronzes, ivories, 
Buddhas and pagodas; my heart sickened at the sight. 
And, worse than all, there was no private entrance or 
annexe, only a narrow dark corridor, which was used by 
the servants. To get to my room I had to pass through 
that of the prince, which was approached through a kind 
of salon; all the rooms communicated and showed not a 
vestige of taste. Massive old furniture upholstered in 
rep a century old was offered to the eyes of youth ! 

66 



Married 

All was old, ordinary, sombre. Hardly a flower, nothing 
comfortable, nothing matching. As to a bathroom, there 
was not a sign of one. There were only two baths in the 
whole palace ; they were far away from each other, and of 
positively archaic construction. And, as for the rest — it 
is better left unsaid ! 

My first active objection was to this an ti -hygienic 
organization, and the lack of necessities for my immediate 
use. This state of things almost broke my heart. I was 
told, however, that the illustrious grandparents were quite 
content with what had been given me. 

One knows that use is a second nature. Princess 
Clementine did not notice the things which troubled me, 
and even the glass case with the stuffed birds charmed 
her. She admired her son's collection, fortunately with- 
out knowing or understanding all that it contained, as in 
our palace of Budapest I saw some very unique pieces; 
souvenirs of Yoshivara which a young woman could not 
look at without blushing, even after an expert hand had 
lifted the veil from her inexperienced eyes. 

What a school ! However, thanks to the Bacchic 
regime organized by my husband, things went on indiffer- 
ently well after the storm of our debut in domesticity. 

Our fundamental incompatibility first appeared at the 
Coburg Palace in the presence of the Princess Clementine, 
over a cup of cafe-au-lait. On our honeymoon the prince 
had told me that a well-born person should never drink 
black coffee. Such is the German conviction. Germany 
can no more imagine coffee without milk than she can 

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My Own Affairs 

imagine the sun without the moon. However, ever since 
I ceased to take nature's nourishment I have never been 
able to drink milk, I have never drunk it, and I never do. 
My husband took it into his head that he would make me 
drink milk, especially in coffee, as, if he failed, the tradi- 
tions, the constitutions, and the foundations of all that was 
German would be shattered. 

The discussion took place before the Princess Clemen- 
tine, who always drank milk in her coffee. But her affec- 
tionate kindness could not overcome the stubbornness of 
my stomach. I could see that I was offending her. Her 
son became furious to the extent of saying most painful 
and unpleasant things, and I answered him in like manner. 
The princess, although deaf, felt that something was the 
matter, and we restrained ourselves on her account, but the 
blow had fallen; henceforth we both had cafe-au-lait on 
the brain ! 

I relate little episodes like this because life is a mosaic 
of small things which cement great desires or high senti- 
ments, and which of themselves express the daily neces- 
sities to which we are slaves. Human existence is a tragedy 
or a comedy in two acts which take place in the drawing- 
room and the bedroom. The rest is only accessory. 

What a bungle nearly all people of exalted rank make 
in fulfilling the obligations of appearing to live ! We 
forget the words of Franklin : " Time is the material of 
which life is made." 

I reproach myself bitterly to-day for having led such 

an empty life, for having lived such an existence of anguish 

68 



Married 

of mind. I have not sufficiently known the true life, which 
is that of the soul; if I had realized this, with what dis- 
tinguished personages I might have associated, with what 
authors, scholars and artists have surrounded myself ! 

But could I really have done so ? 

My highest desires were criticized, contradicted and 
repulsed. 

The prince, my husband, from the standpoint of his 
superior age, instructed me in everything. 

People were afterwards astonished at my expenditure 
— at my numerous gowns. . . . 

Oh, God ! I nearly became mad through the force of 
this continual restraint. One fine day I burst my bonds ! 

Oh ! this palace of Coburg, this residence where 

the slightest frivolous fancy, the smallest evidence of 

Parisian taste imported from Brussels, provoked harsh 

words; this soupgon of a decolletage which caused 

jealousy; this desire to live a little for myself, without 

being submissive to the rigorous routine of a barracks 

which aroused such storms. Mon Dieu ! when I think 

of all this — the stuffed birds, the unhealthy books, the 

dirty jokes, and the daily miseries of my life — I am 

at a loss to know how I endured it. I ask myself 

how I could have resisted so long? It was worse in 

the long run than being shut up in the madhouse. The 

crime is sometimes less horrible than the criminal. There 

are moral deformities which constitute an offence at every 

turn, and in the end one becomes exasperated with them. 

I do not know to what extremes I should have gone if this 

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My Own Affairs 

life had continued. I have always looked upon the 
strength which permitted me, at the age of twenty, to 
break away from my princely cage as a direct help from 
Heaven. Even had I been able to foresee to what excess 
hatred and fury would reach, I would still have broken 
away. A palace can become a hell, and the worst hell 
is that where one suffocates behind gilded windows. Titles 
count for nothing — a bad household is a bad household. 
Two people are united, the same chain holds them irre- 
vocably together. Certain couples manage to get on, 
others cannot. It is a question of temper and conditions. 
Neither the prince nor I could accustom ourselves to the 
differences which separated us. This permanent conflict, 
which was at first latent and which afterwards became 
open war, daily widened the abyss between us into which 
so much finally disappeared. 

But amidst all this bitterness my days had their golden 
hours. Everything was not disagreeable. Storms some- 
times have a ray of sunshine. But those I experienced 
were of the most devastating nature ! 

I have said that I respected Princess Clementine and 

that I was attracted to her, but her deafness, which sadly 

aggravated her natural dignity, and her spirit of another 

age which made her always appear to be living in state 

and etiquette, often repulsed my natural outbursts of 

affection. Every time when the prince and I arrived at 

irreparable differences, and my mother-in-law, because of 

her great age, submitted to the influence of her son, I 

still could not help feeling towards her the same sentiment 

70 




PRINCE PHILIP OF SAXE-COBURG 



Married 

of gratitude which I had for her former kindness and 
her superiority of mind. 

Besides my husband, Princess Clementine had two sons 
and two daughters. One of her sons, Auguste of Saxe- 
Coburg, was to me what Rudolph of Habsburg would have 
been, a brother-in-law who was a brother. Until his death, 
which took place, if I remember rightly, in 1908 at Paris, 
where, under the name of Count Helpa, he lived a life 
of pleasure and mixed in the best society, he retained the 
same affection for me that I had for him. 

The three other Coburgs, Philip, Auguste and Fer- 
dinand, did not resemble one another either physically or 
morally. Auguste was like the Orleans family. In him 
the blood of France triumphed over the blood of Germany. 
In the veins of Ferdinand, who became the adventurous 
Tsar of Bulgaria, I do not know what blood flowed. Let 
us pass on quickly. I shall have occasion to return to 
him and his throne of surprises when I speak of the Court 
of Sofia. 

Of the two daughters, Clotilde and Amelie, the latter 
lives always in my memory. A gentle victim of love for 
an excellent husband, she died after losing him. United 
to Maximilian of Bavaria, the cousin of Louis II, Amelie 
was a lily of France that strayed into Germany. She 
had the good luck to meet a being worthy of herself in 
the patriarchal Court of Munich, which Prussian folly 
has rendered so unhappy. They loved each other and 
they lived for love, concealing their happiness as much 
as possible. Maximilian died suddenly — thrown from his 
F 71 



My Own Affairs 

horse whilst riding. Amelie was inconsolable and did not 
long survive him. 

The idea never struck her brother Philip, her brother 
Ferdinand, or above all her sister Clotilde, that one could 
die — or live — for love ! 

Our double connexion with the house of France brought 
me a happy diversion from my troubles at the Coburg 
Palace, as well as in the country, in the shape of visits of 
members of the Royal family whom I had more or less 
known in my youth. The springtime of my life was full 
of their marks of affection. 

I have seen the birth of the hopes of my niece 
Dorothee, the daughter of the Archduchess Clotilde, my 
sister-in-law, when she became engaged to Duke Philip 
of Orleans. 

I confess I had no faith in the future, being sceptical 
as to Royalist France, and doubtless it was an effect of the 
general surroundings, but I fancied that the gold lilies 
embroidered on the robe of the beautiful bride would have 
vanished from her train long before she reached the 
Elysee, the Tuileries or the Louvre. I could not, how- 
ever, see without emotion the closed crown which adorned 
the " queen " on the day of her wedding. 

Ah ! this dream of a crown ; how many heads it turns, 
or rather how many heads it has turned ! For now one 
is obliged to reflect on things in general, and although I 
am a stranger to French politics I owe as much recognition 
as consideration to the Republic, where I have found, 
together with the security of just laws, the respect due to 

72 



Married 

misfortune, and the courtesy which Republicans know 
how to extend, even to princesses. Still I cannot help 
following the career of the " King, in anticipation " — 
my nephew the Prince of Orleans, with some degree of 
curiosity. 

For him everything happens on the banks of the Seine, 
the Garonne, the Rhone, and the other watercourses 
of the most beautiful country on the face of the earth; 
but the worst that I wish Philip of Orleans is that he 
should never have to exchange his yachting cap, which 
becomes him so well, for the crown of Saint Louis. 
He is certainly handicapped in life. More than ever 
to-day when it is advisable for a king to have a queen. But 
fate has willed that the great marriage of Philip of 
Orleans and Marie Dorothee of Habsburg, which was one 
of the joys of the Coburg Palace, and the occasion of the 
most gorgeous receptions, should turn out contrary to what 
it promised. 

On one occasion I counted the Royal or princely houses 
wherein the wind of discontent already whispered. I 
arrived at a startling total. Taking it all round in every 
kind of society, the average number of happily married 
people is not very high. But the nearer one gets to the 
people, and to their good sense and work, the better does 
family life become, because they tolerate each other's fail- 
ings much more wisely and agree to help each other, until 
they finish by knowing a kind of happiness, which is only 
achieved by the knowledge of common imperfections. 

My life at Coburg would have been still more painful 

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My Own Affairs 

if from time to time it had not been varied by changes of 
residence and travel. 

In order not to digress from the family circle, I will 
only say a few words about three towns where I had 
relations, and where I stayed with them, or near them, 
as Princess of Coburg — Cannes, Bologna and Budapest. 

First, I will mention Budapest, which was one of the 
most attractive cities of the world, and will be again when 
the reign of Bolshevism is over. In the old Buda the 
ancient East has left its traces; in Pest, the modernity of 
the West has become apparent. I knew something of it 
in 1918. 

I loved Budapest, and I preferred the small Coburg 
Palace in the Hungarian capital and its charming recep- 
tions to our home and our entertainments in the capital 
of Austria. The atmosphere was different from that of 
iVienna, and I was pleased to find myself in the neigh- 
bourhood of the good Archduke Joseph, my mother's 
brother, who was so warm-hearted and so dear to me. His 
palace was at Buda, and his chateau was some hours' dis- 
tance from the town. They had no disadvantages except 
as dwellings of my aunt and my sister-in-law Princess 
Clotilde, who were very different from the affectionate and 
sincere Amelie. 

The archduke was a kind man who did not misjudge 
or censure my extravagant fancies. 

In the first year of our marriage my husband and I 
spent the anniversary of my birthday, February 18, with 
the archduke at Alauth. There had been a heavy fall of 

74 



Married 

snow the day before, and I said, " I do not want any 
presents, but please let me drive a sledge to-morrow; I 
have such a wild wish to drive one; it will be my first 
experience ! " 

The Archduchess Clotilde was usually an open-hearted 
person, but she was nevertheless endowed with certain 
straight-laced characteristics, and she frowned severely. 

It was no use to beg or to implore. The prince forbade 
the sledge drive. They metaphorically relegated me to a 
dark cupboard with dry bread to eat ; they kept me under 
such close observation that I could not go out at all, either 
on foot, on horseback, or in a sledge. 

The archduke arrived on the scene. I was still furious. 
... Oh ! certainly, it is evident that I did not look on the 
bright side of things; my character has always been one 
which resented foolishness and wickedness. 

The archduke questioned me. I told him the whole 
story. " Louise," he cried, " you are right a hundred 
times; first of all because at your age and when one is 
pretty, as you are, one is always right. We will go out at 
once for a drive in the snow." 

He rang, and ordered two Hungarian horses to be 
harnessed to a large sledge fit for the chariot of Apollo, 
in which he seated me, wrapped in my furs. He took the 
reins and we drove off at great speed, accompanied by a 
confidential servant. I felt myself akin to the angels. 
My puritanical sister-in-law and my puritanical husband 
dared not say a word. 

Society at Budapest was less submissive to Court cere- 

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My Own Affairs 

monial than that of Vienna, and it was in consequence 
natural and more audacious. I remember a certain ball 
on the He Marguerite, the pearl of the casket of the 
Danube, when the prince was angry and did not wish me 
to waltz. I was inundated with invitations, to which my 
husband replied by saying that at the Court of Brussels 
I had only learned to dance the quadrille and the minuet ! 

The quadrille ! The minuet ! People were quite 
worried. They understood what it means to waltz in 
Hungary, and a waltz on the banks of the Danube to the 
strains of gipsy violins is a thing which cannot be sur- 
passed. And now — now — they import from America 
dreary stuff, dull and epileptic in movement, and they call 
it by all sorts of names after trotting or galloping animals 
out of Noah's Ark. The waltz will always remain as the 
incomparable queen of dances to those who know how to 
dance. 

One of those who asked me to dance was bolder than 
the rest, and, taking no notice of the prince's excuse, he 
said : " But surely Her Highness knows how to waltz," 
and at' these words I was swept away from the domain of 
authority by my audacious partner, a Magyar, who thus 
hurled me into the whirlpool of the dance. I confess I 
never stopped dancing for the remainder of the night. 
The prince was furious, but as he was overwhelmed with 
compliments on my beauty and my success, he was obliged, 
nolens volens, to smile ! 

I recall the scene which took place at our departure. 
Fortunately we were asked to embark on a wonderfully 

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Married 

illuminated boat which took us along the beautiful river 
to the nearest point to our palace, and this delightful 
journey was made to the sounds of the music, sometimes 
wild and sometimes languorous, which can only be heard 
to perfection in this country. 

Had it the effect of Orpheus's lute? I was not con- 
demned to die at sunrise like poor Scheherazade. But 
why did she not dance instead of relating stories ? 

At Bologna and Cannes I saw a section of society 
which has now disappeared. This was to be met with at 
the residence of the Duchesse de Chartres, and at the Due 
de Montpensier's at the Caprara Palace. In Italy certain 
of the greatest Italian aristocrats were surrounded by the 
noblest names of France ; on the Cote d'Azur it was more 
of a butterfly world, in which shone some of the most 
resplendent Parisian beauties. 

Where should I be if I allowed myself to evoke the 
shades of many of those whom I have known during 
my lifetime? Already all is silent, already forgetfulness 
has begun. Oh, vanity of vanities ! But at least I will 
say how much I was enchanted by Cannes, and by the 
refined taste of French elegance. The war has trans- 
formed this town, once sought after by the elite of society. 
I have read that, overrun and noisy, it has lost the discreet 
cachet which was once its particular character and charm. 
What a pity ! 

There is everything and yet nothing to say about the 
life of worldly people who are merely worldly people and 
nothing more. True, I could fill a library were I to describe 

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My Own Affairs 

in detail the fashionable records of my past. But of 
what interest would that be? I should but pander to the 
social curiosity that is satisfied by the reports of the 
doings of society, which, knowing the necessity of polish- 
ing its lustre daily in order to retain its brightness, 
provides the newspapers with the names of the people it 
receives, and the details of the receptions it gives — merely 
to satisfy that commonplace curiosity which is, unhappily, 
the foundation of human nature, and its desires and 
self-esteem. 

It will be better perhaps for me to terminate this rough 
sketch of my life as Princess of Coburg, before coming to 
the events which led to the final denouement, by a few 
facts concerning my children. I have been, I believe, a 
good mother. I have wished to be, and I have, at least, 
the feeling that I was a good mother for a very long time. 
I lavished much care and tenderness upon my children. 

This will only appear natural to women whom 
maternity makes true women, and to whom it represents 
honour and glory. They must, however, allow me to say 
that maternity is sometimes more difficult than one thinks, 
when one has to consider the difficulties which are often 
raised by the father of the child — there are situations when 
being a mother is a constant trial. 

Happy are those whom a peaceful and normal life 
allows leisure to watch beside a cradle. Nevertheless, I 
knew happiness with my first-born son Leopold, who saw 
the light in 1878 at our Chateau of Saint Antoine, in 

Hungary. 

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Married 

The Queen was present, very delighted at being a 
grandmother. The arrival of this child, a boy, heir to 
the titles, appendages and functions of the family, tem- 
porarily appeased the quarrels between the prince and 
myself. There was a lull in the storm, which lasted for 
some little time. The influence of the Queen had its 
effect upon my husband. I myself, absorbed by my 
maternal duties, made great resolutions to be patient and 
wise in the future. 

I dreamt wonderful dreams beside the cradle of my 
son. . . . Oh, cruel fate, against which I was destined to 
be powerless. When he grew up, and as the influence of 
environment exerted itself, Leopold became less and less 
my child. I wished him to be loyal and courageous. Was 
he not to carry a sword ? What a knightly soul did I not 
wish to forge in him ! But his father claimed the right 
to guide him. Very soon he belonged to me no 
longer. 

Leopold reached the age of reason just when I had 
thrown off the shackles of an existence which had become 
atrocious. He believed that, having refused to continue 
to be the Princess of Coburg, I had thereby appropriated 
the hundreds of millions which one day should have come 
to him from his grandfather, and which I should throw to 
the winds by my folly. So I have known the hatred which 
nature cannot conceive — the hatred of a son for his mother. 
I have shed the tears which are shed by mothers who are 
struck down by their own flesh and blood. But God knows 
that each time my children, infatuated with the greed for 

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My Own Affairs 

money, which is indeed the root of all evils, have made me 
suffer, I have always forgiven them. 

When Leopold died in such a frightful way that I 
cannot even mention it, he had not belonged, in my belief, 
for a long time to this world; but it was not I who was 
affected by this terrible punishment which terminated the 
lineage of the eldest scion of the house of Saxe-Coburg. 
He who was stricken was the father who had formed this 
misguided son in his own likeness ! 

I think he has survived in order that he may have time 
for repentance. 

When my daughter Dora was about to be born in 1881, 
I had such a dread of the presence of her father that I 
did all I could to hide the imminent hour of my deliver- 
ance. I did not wish the prince to be near me at this 
painful moment; I wanted him to go out, in ignorance 
that I was in the throes of travail. It happened in this 
way. The birth took place in our palace at Vienna, and 
I quite succeeded in astonishing my world. I evaded, 
during the time of my suffering, a presence which could 
only have aggravated it. The midwife who was with me 
had not even time to go and fetch the Royal Accoucheur, 
who arrived after it was all over. 

Dora was my second and my last child. She promised 
to be a pretty girl; she was taller than myself, very fair 
and rather shortsighted. She had the misfortune to marry 
Duke Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein, brother of the Em- 
press Augusta, the wife of William II. " Misfortune? " 
my readers will say ; " that is the usual opinion of a 

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Married 

mother-in-law." They will see later that the word mis- 
fortune is conformable to the facts which touch contem- 
porary history. I will say nothing more. 

My daughter has no children. If she had, they would 
have been told that their grandmother was the most wicked 
of women, if not the maddest, because she often said to her 
son-in-law, as well as to the Prince of Coburg and certain 
dignitaries of Vienna and elsewhere, who were the accom- 
plices and agents of the persecution by which she was 
overwhelmed : 

" You have only one end in view, and that is to take 
away all that remains to me — my liberty. But there is 
justice and you will be punished ! " 

They have been. 

Ah ! if instead of making me suffer martyrdom, or 
allowing me to be made a martyr, some of my own 
relations had dared come to me, openly or in secret ! . . . 
I am a woman, I am a mother. I do not affirm that I was 
not guilty of wrong. I only affirm this : they always lied 
to me. They always talked to me of the honour and virtue 
of the family, but, above it all, I heard the cry of " Money! 
money ! money ! " 



8i 



CHAPTER VIII 

My Hosts at the Hofburg— the Emperor Francis Joseph 
and the Empress Elizabeth 

SINCE defeat has overthrown in one day thrones 
which were the foundation of the world of Germany, 
I sometimes pass from the Ring towards the Graben 
by the Hofburg, the ancient Imperial Palace of this city 
of Vienna where I am now writing. I can see from the 
Fransenplatz (the large inner court) the windows of the 
rooms which formerly saw me received by the guards and 
chamberlains with the honours due to my rank. These 
windows are now closed, empty and silent. In Vienna 
everything seems dead. The old Hofburg has ceased to 
exist. The new Hofburg, an outward symbol of vanished 
hopes, is an unfinished building. It bears witness to the 
downfall of an Empire. 

Of all the princesses and archduchesses belonging to 
the vanished Court, I am the only one remaining in Vienna, 
loved, I believe, by the people, and respected by those in 
authority. 

There is one city in the world in which I have lived 
for a long time. It has been the scene of my " crimes." 
This city, after it abandoned all pretence of honour, 
truth and virtue, has now reserved for me my right to 
speak, and, whilst abolishing titles, has left me mine. 

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My Hosts at the Hofburg 

I stand alone in the ruins of a Power which was cruel 
to me. 

I have known the " justice " of the Court and that of the 
Emperor Francis Joseph. I have learned that a princess 
has not the same legal rights as the rest of the world. 
For her, secret arrangements exist which are applied with- 
out the judges having anything to say, or, if they do, they 
only carry out certain orders. They disguise these with 
all kinds of pretexts. In my case the excuse was that 
of madness. 

It would be impossible to-day to tax a rebellious con- 
science with insanity. It would be impossible to accuse 
a victim of causing impossible scandals if she dared 
appeal for help. No one can be thrown by force into 
a madhouse, where the superintendent says that you 
are not mad and yet is obliged to keep a guard over you. 
He had his orders ! They called these " une affaire de 
cour! " 

I do not think it would require many criminal attempts 
of this nature to obtain a sentence from a Divine justice 
which no hypocrisy of words or deeds and no machinery of 
human power can deceive. 

But why should not those who were guilty of an 
immoral and cowardly policy be the only ones to expiate 
their faults ? A whole nation is at this moment expiating 
the decadence and the downfall of the Court of Vienna. 
Yes, the poor people, who are so good, so duped, so 
resigned, so industrious and so much to be pitied, are novC 
expiating the crimes of their rulers ! 

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My Own Affairs 

When I arrived at the Austrian Court in 1875 Francis 
Joseph was forty-five years old. 

He was always distinguishable at a distance by his 
gallant bearing in uniform. At close quarters he gave 
one the impression of possessing a certain amount of good 
humour, which was contradicted by the severity of his 
glance. He was a narrow-minded man, full of false and 
preconceived ideas, but he possessed from his upbringing 
and from the traditions of Austrian politics certain 
formulas and mannerisms, which enabled him to keep 
afloat for a long time before he was finally engulfed in 
the sea of blood in which the Imperial galley ultimately 
foundered. But, stripped of his rank and ceremonial, 
devoid of routine or receptions, audiences and speeches, 
he was nothing but a fool. At his birth. Nature deprived 
him of a heart. He was an emperor but he was not a 
man. He is best described as an automaton dressed 
as a soldier. 

The Emperor at first made a great impression on me 
when my husband presented me to him as the new Princess 
of Coburg. I listened to his amiable and polished 
phrases, which I found difficult to answer becomingly. 
They were usually so banal that almost before leaving 
his presence I had already forgotten what he had said. 
It was almost always like this, except on one memorable 
occasion which I will describe later. 

I do not know anyone who remembers a single word 
uttered by Francis Joseph that was worth repeating. 
His conversation in the Imperial circle was disconcertingly 

84 



My Hosts at the Hofburg 

cold and poor. He never became animated except when 
talking scandal, but that was generally in the apartment 
of Madame Schratt, who constituted alike his refuge and 
his relaxation, where he was really " at home " and where 
he was simply " Franz " or " Joseph." 

I have seen Madame Schratt at the Burg Theatre. 
Her influence (if she ever had any, other than that of 
permitting the Emperor to escape from the insufficiencies 
which constituted the fatalities of his life) was not injurious 
to any living soul. 

An actress at the Comedie Fran^aise of Vienna, pretty, 
and honest by nature, Katti Schratt was a " Brohan," and 
her gaiety of heart at least pleased the Sovereign. He first 
gave her a peaceful and an assured position, and then one 
fine evening he quietly introduced her to the Court, where 
the Empress resigned herself admirably to this Imperial 
audacity. She was quite satisfied in knowing that Francis 
Joseph was now methodical in his passions, had curtailed 
his excesses and had chosen a confidante who did not 
pretend to be anything more than a recreation for him. 
There was a great difference between Madame Schratt and 
Madame de Maintenon. There was a still greater differ- 
ence between Francis Joseph and Louis XIV. 

But so far as actual looks went, the Emperor might 
easily have been taken for his maitre d'hotel had it not 
been for his uniform and his surroundings. Seen at close 
quarters he was a very ordinary person. Two bad habits, 
however, were noticeable in him : at the least perplexity 
he pulled and massaged his side-whiskers, and at dinner 

85 



My Own Affairs 

he frequently looked at his reflection in the blade of his 
knife. As for the rest of his actions, he ate, he drank, 
he slept, he walked, he hunted, he spoke according to the 
accepted ritual laid down by the circumstances of the hour, 
the day, and the calendar. These mannerisms were hardly 
disturbed by revolutions, wars or misfortunes. He greeted 
his calamities with the same expression with which he 
noticed if it were raining when he was about to leave for 
Ischl. 

When his son killed himself, when his wife was 
assassinated, he did not lose one ounce of flesh; his 
step was as firm as ever, and his hair just as faultlessly 
dressed. 

The funeral ceremonies over, nothing changed in 
Austria. Francis Joseph still continued to speak in just 
the same tones of the love of his people towards himself, 
and of his love for them. 

And that same evening he was with Madame Schratt. 
To this man devoid of brilliance, without courage, and 
without justice, I owe the misfortunes of my life. 

At the time when he should have filled his place as 
Sovereign and head of the house where I was concerned, 
he did not do so because he was afraid. 

On two occasions only he behaved differently a propos 

of what concerned me; these circumstances were not, 

however, decisive. A man is not judged by the way he 

helps you out of a carriage, but by his behaviour in a big 

fire ; he does not draw back before the flames in his effort 

to save you ! 

86 




Photo : Boiite 



PRINCESS VICTOR NAPOLEON 
(Princess Clementine of Belgium) 



My Hosts at the Hofburg 

Francis Joseph was incapable of throwing himself into 
the fire in order to save anyone. He could not be de- 
pended upon for any help in danger. He would have 
been afraid of spoiling his uniform, or of disarranging 
his whiskers ! 

Ah ! I can easily understand the despair of his son 
and his wife, whose only fhought in life was to escape 
from this nonentity. 

The Emperor's brother, the Archduke Louis Victor, 
was the instigator of the hatred of which I was the 
victim. This man was later to know the tortures of a 
dishonourable exile, and he died dishonoured. God has 
punished him. I have seen His might strike this guilty 
man, who started the persecutions from which I had to 
suffer. 

For many years he laid his devotion at my feet. All 
Vienna knew it ; the Emperor included, and he better than 
most people, because scandal was his daily bread. To 
him it was almost an affair of State to know whether the 
Archduke Louis Victor would succeed in vanquishing the 
citadel of my virtue. 

Nevertheless, the prince could be pleasing when he 
chose; his was an ardent nature, the excessive inquisitive- 
ness of which dragged him eventually into the scandal of 
public punishment. 

I resigned myself to receive his compliments and his 

flowers with patience. We all know the exigencies of the 

world. I had to endure the assiduity of an archduke, the 

brother of the Emperor, with a smile. But the smile has 
G 87 



My Own Affairs 

been especially given by Nature to woman in order to 
enable her occasionally to conceal her thoughts ! 

Unfortunately Louis Victor, jealous of the worthy 
sentiments with which another, who was not a " prince," 
had inspired me, lost his patience, and from being the 
object of his love I became the object of his hatred. I 
own that I had a taste for satirical repartee which I had 
inherited from the King and which made me many 
enemies. Was the archduke offended at a little plain 
speaking.? Wounded vanity is prompt to avenge itself. 
I had henceforth in him an open enemy. He swore that 
he would force me to leave the Court. 

I had inspired jealousy. What woman has not? My 
rivals ensconced themselves around my former admirer. 
The usual intrigues began. My freedom of life was 
attacked by some charitable souls whose only thought was 
to destroy it, aided by a rejected Don Juan. The arch- 
duke was not long in arranging the necessary details. 
People commenced to talk of the notice which I took of 
that honourable man, the only person who has filled my 
life. I have always given him my whole confidence 
and esteem. 

The Archduke Louis Victor went to his brother and 
told him that he had seen me with his own eyes in a 
popular restaurant at night, tete-a-tete with a Uhlan 
officer. 

Carried away by indignation at such forgetfulness of 

my rank, three noble Furies, whom I will not mention, 

and who possessed exclusive rights to represent virtue 

88 



My Hosts at the Hofburg 

on earth, made it known to His Majesty that if I were 
allowed to attend the coming State ball they would 
turn their backs upon me in the presence of the Imperial 
circle. 

My sister, who was told of this uproar, questioned me 
and warned me. I had no difficulty in discovering whence 
the plot emanated, and I protested my innocence to 
Stephanie. On the evening when the Archduke Louis 
Victor had told his brother he had seen me at the restau- 
rant, I had not quitted the palace. I may add that I have 
never, never, never sat in a restaurant tite-a-tite with 
anyone. When I have had occasion to appear at a dinner 
or supper in public I have always been accompanied by 
one or more persons of my entourage. 

And what was more, at the identical hour mentioned 
by my calumniator I was with the prince my husband, 
and we were having one of those discussions which con- 
stituted the daily storms of our existence. The prince was 
there to witness this, besides which, the servants could 
attest that I had not given any orders for my carriage and 
that I had not left the palace. So nothing would have 
been easier than to have contradicted the archduke and his 
virtuous friends. 

My sister was quite convinced, but, not wishing to 

place herself between the devil and the deep sea, she said 

that she thought it would be as well if I appealed to the 

Emperor in person. The cabal, however, acted quickly. 

Francis Joseph forestalled my request by summoning me. 

I saw him in Stephanie's room. I was in such a state of 

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My Own Affairs 

righteous rage that, alas ! I was unable to control myself 
in the presence of this infamous man. 

First of all I thanked the Sovereign for his audience, 
and I said (mastering my temper with difficulty) that he 
ought to defend me and take my part ; that I was the butt 
of the attacks of a miserable cabal, and he oughf to 
put an end to it by punishing the slanderer. I asked 
him to make an inquiry, as I had a perfect right to one. 
The rest of my words may be left to the imagination. 
As the Emperor knew what defence I should probably 
put forward, he had prepared his answer according to the 
formula of one of the heads of the Imperial Chancellery 
who had trained him in his youth. This is what he said : 
" Madam, all that has nothing to do with me ; you have a 
husband; it is his affair. I think, however, that for the 
present you had better take a trip somewhere, and not 
appear at the next State ball." 

"But, Sire, I am a victim; you make me out a 
criminal." 

" Madam, I have listened to my brother, and when 
Victor has spoken. . . ." He finished with a sign which 
was Imperial and definite. 

I was not the kind of woman to suffer such iniquity 
in silence. But I managed to conceal my contempt, and 
replied : 

" The future will reveal, Sire, which of us has lied, 
the Archduke or I." I then made my regulation curtsy, 
and the Emperor left the room. 

On my return to the Coburg Palace I went to my 

90 



My Hosts at the Hofburg 

husband and told him that I trusted to his honour to 
destroy the abominable plot in which I was involved, 
and that he must send his seconds to the Archduke 
Victor. 

The Prince of Coburg coldly answered that if I had 
lost the Imperial favour he had no wish to lose it by 
fighting a duel with an archduke who was the brother of 
the Sovereign. 

After the chivalrous Emperor I had indeed encoun- 
tered another Galahad; I was furious, but I could do 
nothing. My fury, however, brought about unlooked-for 
results. The prince did not wish to remember that I was 
at the palace on this particular evening. He declared that 
he would not contradict the assertion made by my slanderer. 
This was the last straw. From that hour my mind was 
made up. I would not remain any longer with a husband 
who had abandoned me in this disgraceful manner. I 
would listen to the voice that said : " Madam, you are lost 
in the world where you live ; it is cowardly and perverse." 
But my family feeling proved stronger than my anger. 
I said to the prince : " We must separate and regain our 
liberty. But we have children. Let us avoid a scene. 
Let us travel for a year, and if at the end of that time we 
have not found a better way of living together we will 
part; you must go your way and I will go mine." 

To the mind of a man such as the Prince of Coburg 
these words were the most awful imaginable. The 
prospect of a separation or a divorce would be known to 
millions of people, to the King and others, and not only 

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My Own Affairs 

to the father of my children ; such a thing was impossible. 
He said I should hear more about this. And I did. 

Since I am telling the whole story from the beginning 
I must give the other reasons for Francis Joseph's incon- 
ceivable attitude towards me. These were more or less 
political, and I do not wish to dwell on politics, and still 
less on any affecting him. But at the same time I am 
writing for the purpose of adding a few fresh facts to the 
history of this time, as well as for the purpose of defending 
myself from false accusations. 

Francis Joseph refused to help me, and he abandoned 
me from the first moment because he was obliged to be 
cautious; he therefore left my husband complete liberty 
to do as he pleased. The Prince of Coburg knew the 
secret of Meyerling and the termination of Rudolph's 
despair. Moreover, the prince had a brother Ferdinand 
who was quartered at the outpost of Nach Oste in Bul- 
garia. The Coburgs were a power in themselves. Francis 
Joseph bowed down to them. He chose the lesser of two 
evils and sacrificed me. 

I only knew him to adopt a chivalrous attitude on two 
occasions. Once when I asked him to change a gentle- 
man-in-waiting attached to my person and that of my 
husband who made common cause with the Archduke 
Victor, he immediately granted me my request. Again, 
when I had entered upon a new life, and was living up 
to a higher ideal and disregarding the most sinister proofs 
of an atrocious calumny, it happened that the Prince of 
Coburg found himself face to face with a man of honour 

92 



My Hosts at the Hofburg 

who was ready to give him satisfaction. My husband put 
on an air of supreme disdain. The Emperor then re- 
minded him that the uniform of a soldier was intended 
for more than purposes of show. He advised the Prince 
of Coburg to fight; he fought. 

I believe this was the only military victory that Francis 
Joseph gained over anyone; and as for the prince, an 
Austrian general, it was the only battle in which he was 
personally engaged. 

■TP TT TT flf 

I often think that Providence was very merciful to the 
Empress in not letting her attain old age, riveted as she 
was to the chain which dragged the Empire into the abyss 
of human foolishness and ferocity. 

Shall I say that my thoughts go out to her in prayer? 
She, too, was a martyr; she is only second to the 
Queen in my daily meditations. The difference in my 
age and rank kept me, to my great grief, farther apart 
from her than I should have liked. At the time when I 
could have drawn nearer to her, I was torn between my 
yearning for the ideal, and the vanities of the world. If 
she was a serene empress I was a distressed princess ! 
But I had, however, something in common with her; the 
love of nature and freedom and the taste for Heinrich 
Heine. 

Without putting this writer on the same pedestal as 
Goethe, the mind by which I have tried to vivify my own, 
I have enjoyed many happy hours reading Heine, and the 
older I have grown the more I have learned to know and 

m 



My Own Affairs 

admire the poet who was both an inspired humorist and a 
philosopher. He was the De Musset of Prussia and Judea, 
the wit far excellence of Europe — Heine had taken 
from France and given her a unity of gifts, the blending 
of which promises a race of men, freed from race barriers, 
moved by the same love of eternal beauty. An indication 
of the reconciliation which the future will perhaps see. 

It is possible that he was a Jew; the Apostles were 
also Jews. But I understand and appreciate the senti- 
ments of the Empress in going to see him at Hamburg, 
continuing to be on friendly relations with his sister after 
his death, and lastly in erecting a monument to him 
at Corfu. Rudolph once said of his mother : " She is 
a philosopher on a throne." She had truly a great 
mind. 

The day on which I had the honour of being received 
privately by the Empress was an exciting one for me. I 
knew that she only wore black, white, grey or violet, so 
I arranged my toilette without invoking the help of a 
dressmaker, and if I am to believe the flattery of the 
Rue de la Paix, I knew how to dress myself; but I confess 
that, confident as I had now become in matters of dress, 
I took my time in deciding what to wear on this occasion. 
In the end I chose a violet gown most tastefully trimmed 
with grebe and a little velvet toque. I can say without 
boasting that my toilette was remarked upon and generally 
admired. 

The Empress was delightful. She spoke of the Queen 
in well chosen, simple terms, as of a friend dear to her. 

94 



My Hosts at the Hofburg 

This was her way of speaking about almost everything. 
Her conversation was of a high order, but at the same 
time it was absolutely natural. She scarcely ever spoke 
harshly, and always in low and pure tones. She possessed 
a soulful voice — muffled crystal, but crystal all the same. 
I have never seen a smile like hers; it was like a smile 
from Heaven; it enchanted me and it affected me, it was 
at the same time both sweet and grave. She was beautiful, 
a celestial beauty with something ethereal in the purity 
of her features and the lines of her figure. No one walked 
like Elizabeth of Austria; the movement of her limbs was 
imperceptible, she glided; she seemed to float on the 
ground. I have often read that some celebrated and 
adored woman was endowed with " inimitable grace." 
The Empress Elizabeth truly possessed this inimitable 
grace. And her large eyes seemed to speak and express 
a noble language peculiarly their own, which embodied 
the three virtues. Faith, Hope and Charity. 

Bavaria, her birthplace, has retained throughout the 
ages the essential elements of the Celtic race established as 
far as the Danube. South Germany also has this ancient 
European blood in abundance. The Empress represented 
the most refined characteristics of Celtic beauty. She was 
not a German type — at least not a type of Central Ger- 
many — she expressed to perfection, both morally and 
physically, all that separated and will continue to separate 
Munich and Vienna from Berlin. 

***** 

Recollections crowd upon me when I return in thought 

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My Own Affairs 

to the Hofburg. I must record some of the most 
striking. 

Thus, I will think of the Archduke John, who was 
afterwards known as John Orth, the name of one of 
Maria Theresa's castles on the Danube, the spot preferred 
of all others by this strange being. 

Like Rudolph, with whom he was on terms of great 
friendship and certain understanding, the Archduke John 
could not breathe the air of Courts. He once said to me : 
" You and I, Louise, in many respects are not made to 
live here." 

He interested me, but I did not like his sarcastic spirit. 
He had none of Rudolph's high ideals. When he dis- 
appeared I believed him to be living somewhere in secret, 
and that there was a possibility of his reappearance. I 
read in the papers not long ago that a person who 
might easily have been the Archduke John had just died 
in Rome, where he had lived for twenty years in seclusion. 
Rome attracts the solitary and disillusioned souls of the 
world. If this unknown man was really John Orth, he 
was indeed able to meditate on the grandeur and 
decadence of empires. 

I will leave this mysterious shadow and speak of two 
others who have passed, whose existence touches us more 
closely and constitutes a problem of State to minds 
interested in this subject. 

I see in imagination the ball where Francis Ferdinand 
d'Este showed by his attachment to the Countess Chotek 
what would eventually come to pass between them. He 

96 



My Hosts at the Hofburg 

loved her and she loved him; they were married. This 
was a great event. The countess was clever and intelli- 
gent, and she was not personally displeasing to the 
Emperor. She knew better than to offend this narrow- 
minded being. But her role in the political events of 
central Europe, from the day when the death of Rudolph 
allowed her to dream of a throne (even though it was only 
that of Hungary), was more important than one imagined. 

It has occurred to me more than once, that if France 
had known and would have put up with an Austrian 
policy, she would have found that the Countess Chotek, 
raised to the rank of Duchess of Hohenberg, had far 
different ideas from those of Berlin. Unfortunately 
France committed the fault (and she will forgive me for 
daring to say so, en fassant) of separating politics from 
religion, and of forgetting that religion is the first of all 
politics. She bound her own hands, bandaged her own 
eyes, and advanced on Europe. There was very little 
chance for her to reach the Danube, the most important 
of all the European routes. 

I knew how much the King of the Belgians deplored 
the blindness of France, and what he said on this subject 
to more than one distinguished Frenchman. It was to the 
effect that the disadvantage of democratic governments was 
that they were obliged to provide numerous schools of 
thought before they possessed the small number of prin- 
ciples which constitute the foundation and the whole secret 
of government. The religious principle is not the least of 
these. 

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My Own Affairs 

In a country in which statesmen formerly abounded, 
and which has ended politically through corrupt foolish- 
ness, that destroyer of characters and convictions. Countess 
Chotek, the woman of solid beliefs, came into prominence 
through the possession of a political brain. 

She made Ferdinand d'Este a man capable of action 
and energy. Her chief fault and that of her husband 
was that through fear of showing weakness, they did not 
know how to show kindness. The hereditary archduke 
and his wife were strict in maintaining their landed 
possessions, and they taxed the people with great severity. 

It needed little to aggravate the latent hatred against 
the heir to the thrones in a state divided against itself, 
and, added to this rivalry, jealousy and general restless- 
ness existed, and certain trifling matters due to the 
severity of Francis Ferdinand and the Duchess of Hohen- 
berg were perfidiously exploited against them. The day of 
their death was decided, the way was prepared, and the 
instruments selected. But I must pass over the terrible 
events of yesterday, the result of which does not justify 
me to speak. 

The hereditary archduke and his wife had a powerful 
camarilla against them. They were not in need of 
partisans and they could have opposed cabal after cabal, 
but their adversaries, who were nearly all hidden, had 
plans outside the Monarchy. 

This is not the place or the moment to discuss the 
conflict of influences of which Vienna was the battlefield. 
It will be the work of some penetrating and impartial 

98 



My Hosts at the Hofburg 

genius who will perhaps be in a position to enlighten the 
world as to the general worthlessness of the Court of 
Austria during the ten or fifteen years before 19 14. He 
will then make known to the world the history of one of 
the most formidable conflicts of self-interest and vanity 
which the world has ever known. 

At the Court of Vienna there was a camarilla consist- 
ing of a group of men, more or less filled with ambition, 
who gathered around the Sovereign, guarding every ap- 
proach to him, and they exploited the Prince to the best 
of their hatred and avidity. As the Emperor became more 
and more of a figure-head the old favourites saw them- 
selves confronted with the coming power. This power, for 
the less important reasons which are known, and for others 
greater than these, recognized the morganatic marriage of 
Francis Ferdinand, and the ardent Catholicism of the 
Duchess of Hohenberg, who, owing to her character and 
her ambitious dreams for her children, possessed both 
interior and exterior enemies. There resulted, therefore, 
a third camarilla, the most secret and the most redoubtable, 
for the simple reason that, in a Court where individuals 
fight amongst themselves, they indirectly fight the whole 
world. They do not betray merely this one and that one 
— they betray their whole country. 



99 



CHAPTER IX 

My Sister Stephanie Marries the Archduke Rudolph, 
who Died at Meyerling 

MY younger sister spent a happy girlhood at 
Brussels. At the age of nineteen she was a 
radiant beauty. Without knowing whom she 
was eventually to marry, she had been encouraged to look 
forward to making a more advantageous marriage than 
her eldest sister. 

The King had never been very enthusiastic over my 
marriage with the Prince of Coburg. He had higher 
ambitions for me. My mother, however, desired the 
marriage. I have already given her reasons. 

To avenge himself for his disappointed hopes, the 
King intended Stephanie to marry an heir to a throne. 
He had thought of Rudolph of Habsburg as a possible 
husband for her, and the Queen agreed with him. What 
a daring idea ! For however honourable the Royal 
House of Belgium might be, it did not rank so high as 
that of Austria. 

I was not in ignorance, as I shall shortly relate, of the 
project of this marriage which began under the most 
dazzling auspices, and terminated in the most appalling 
tragedy. 

History has been more interested in the final catas- 



Stephanie Marries the Archduke Rudolph 

trophe than in the story of the early days of the married 
life of Rudolph of Habsburg and Stephanie of Belgium. 
I, too, will discuss the finale and describe Rudolph as I 
knew him on the eve of his death. 

Rudolph was then thirty years old. He might easily 
have called himself " the beloved of the gods." A great 
Court was at his feet; the most beautiful town in the 
world, after Paris, was an abode where all might have 
belonged to him. The people of the Monarchy placed 
their hopes of the future in him. He had a wife whom 
everyone envied; a daughter whom he overwhelmed with 
caresses; a noble and good mother whom he worshipped; 
and lastly, a father whose great Empire would revert to 
him; but Rudolph, the ill-fated and unhappy, preferred 
to die. 

Let us, once for all, finish with the legends of Meyer- 
ling, and as far as it is possible have done with the lies 
connected with it. Rudolph of Habsburg committed 
suicide ! 

It is said that there is no proof of this. This is wrong ; 
the proof exists. I am able to give it. 

The history of the liaison which led Rudolph of 
Habsburg and Mary Vetsera to the grave has often been 
told. I will therefore confine myself to relating a few 
points which are but little known. 

There was in the love of the hereditary archduke for 
Mary Vetsera either a lurid fatality or a sinister 
influence. . . . 

When I was in Vienna shortly before I decided to 

lOI 



My Own Affairs 

write these pages, I was sorting some private papers which 
recalled me to the period when I was the confidante and 
friend of Rudolph. Having finished my task, I went for 
a drive. 

At the turning of a crowded street my attention was 
attracted by the sight of a melancholy looking old woman 
dressed in a dark costume. My carriage was going slowly 
at the time, so I could not fail to notice that she seemed 
crushed by numerous calamities, bent to the ground under 
the weight of a heavy burden, and she walked close to the 
buildings, almost touching the walls as she passed. Her 
face showed utter dejection and horror, and it was seared 
with innumerable tragic wrinkles. In this funereal appari- 
tion I recognized the mother of Mary Vetsera. 

What had happened to the smart woman of the world 
whom I had been accustomed to meet chaperoning her 
daughter, then in the full bloom of her bewitching 
youth ? 

I have only to close my eyes in order to see Mary 
Vetsera — superb and glowing as she appeared at an even- 
ing entertainment given by the Prince of Reuss, the 
German Ambassador — the last sensational appearance in 
Viennese society of the girl who was about to become the 
heroine of the " bloody enigma " of Meyerling. 

But the enigma is very simple. 

Nevertheless, one must be behind the scenes in order 
to see all and know all. And this will always be difficult 
for journalists, who concoct distorted versions of " facts " 
which are the enemies of "history." Every journalist 

I02 




THE ARCHDUKE RUDOLPH 



Stephanie Marries the Archduke Rudolph 

continues to rely on his imagination or on his observations, 
which vary according to his point of view. If the truth, 
therefore, is long in coming to light it is not very extra- 
ordinary. The astonishing thing about the Press is not 
so much that it abounds in lies as that it sometimes states 
the truth. 

I had just arrived at the Embassy. The Prince of 
Reuss left me in order to precede my sister and her 
husband who were making an official entry. 

Rudolph noticed me, and leaving Stephanie came 
straight up to me. " She is there," he said without any 
preamble ; " ah, if somebody would only deliver me 
from her ! " 

" She " was Mary Vetsera, his mistress of the ardent 
face. I, too, glanced at the seductress. Two brilliant 
eyes met mine. One word will describe her : Mary was 
an imperial sultana, one who feared no other favourite, 
so sure was she of the power of her full and triumph- 
ant beauty, her deep black eyes, her cameo-like profile, 
her throat of a goddess, and her arresting sensual 
grace. 

She had altogether taken possession of Rudolph, and 
she longed for him to be able to marry her. Their liaison 
had lasted for three years. 

Mary Vetsera was a member of a bourgeois family of 
Greek origin with some pretensions to nobility. The 
family, which was numerous and impoverished, hoped 
much from the favour of the Heir Apparent. Perhaps the 
only one who did not concern herself in worldly matters 



My Own Affairs 

was a sister of the idol who, unlike her, had not the gift of 
beauty. Her merit was of a less perishable order. When 
the drama of Meyerling engulfed Rudolph and his love, 
this sister of the dead Mary disappeared in a convent. 

At the soiree I was struck by my brother-in-law's state 
of nervous exhaustion (this soiree took place, I may 
mention, during the second fortnight of January, 1889), 
but I thought it well to try and calm him by saying a word 
or two about Mary which would please him, so I remarked 
quite simply : 

" She is very beautiful." Then I looked at my per- 
fectly gowned sister, beautiful, too, in another way, who 
was making a tour of the room. . . . My heart contracted. 
All three, Stephanie, Rudolph and Mary were unfortunate. 

Rudolph left me without replying. An instant later 
he returned and murmured : " I simply cannot tear myself 
away from her." 

" Leave Vienna," I said ; " go to Egypt, to India, to 
Australia. Travel. If you are lovesick that will cure 
you." 

He shrugged his shoulders imperceptibly and spoke no 
more during the evening. 

It was not a pleasant soiree. An atmosphere of un- 
easiness hung over the brilliant assembly. For my own 
part, I was so depressed that on my return home I could 
not sleep. 

I had followed, so to speak, all the gradual develop- 
ments of Rudolph's passion. 

Upon my arrival at the Court of Vienna I instantly 

104 



Stephanie Marries the Archduke Rudolph 

liked the archduke, and he gave me his friendship. We 
were almost the same age. I venture to say that we 
resembled each other in many points. Our ideas on 
certain matters were identical. Rudolph confided in me, 
and I soon placed my confidence in him. 

It often happened that after my arrival in Vienna I 
was not always on my guard. God knows, then, that it 
was praiseworthy of me to say to the prince, in the intimate 
manner adopted by those Royal and princely families who 
had imbibed the patriarchal German spirit : 

" Get married. I have a sister who is like me. Marry 
her." He at once changed the subject by replying : " I 
like Middzi better." Middzi was a pretty girl, a perfect 
Viennese type, a Parisian of Eastern Europe. He had 
two children by her. 

But at last wisdom prevailed with me, perhaps my will 
also, and the finding in maternity the courage to support 
many things which later grew worse and were no longer 
bearable. I was not then either " mad, extravagant," or 
" capable of every kind of deceit," as my persecutors said 
later. 

On the contrary. For a long time my good qualities 
and virtues were praised by people who later covered me 
with opprobrium. 

At this period my younger sister was said to be a charm- 
ing happy replica of myself, and therefore Rudolph 
took the train for Brussels. Stephanie thus became the 
second highest personage in Austria-Hungary — the future 
empress of the Dual Monarchy. 

105 



My Own Affairs 

The archduke had no trouble in finding favour in her 
eyes. He was more than handsome; he was fascinating. 
He had a slight figure, but it was well proportioned. 
Notwithstanding his delicate appearance, he possessed a 
strong constitution. He always made me think of a 
thoroughbred; he had the shape, the light build and the 
temper of one. His nervous force equalled his sensitive- 
ness. His pale face reflected his thoughts. His eye, the 
iris of which was brown and brilliant, assumed varying 
shades and changed in shape with his expression. He 
passed rapidly from love to anger, and from anger to love. 
He was a disconcerting individual, with a captivating, 
changeful and refined soul. 

Rudolph's smile perhaps made a still greater im- 
pression. It was the smile of an angelic sphinx, a smile 
peculiar to the Empress; he had also her manner of 
speaking; and these traits, added to his winning and 
mysterious personality, charmed all with whom Rudolph 
came in contact. 

Well read and always ready to welcome new ideas, 
he soughf the society of artists and savants. He was 
happy in the company of such ijien as the distinguished 
painters Canon and Angeli, and Billroth, the eminent 
professor. 

My readers must not expect a pen portrait of my 
sister. It would be difficult for me to write about her in 
laudatory phrases since I have said that she resembled 
me. I will only say that she was better-looking. 

Rudolph and Stephanie made a well-matched pair. A 

1 06 



Stephanie Marries the Archduke Rudolph 

daughter was born to them — Elizabeth — now Princess of 
Windisgretz. She owes her material independence to the 
fortune which she inherited from her grandfather, the 
Emperor Francis Joseph, and this fact added to her in- 
dependence of soul has made her a very noticeable 
personality. 

After the birth of her daughter, my sister, almost on 
the day following her churching, decided to travel. She 
said that she wanted to go to the seaside and recover 
from the effects of her confinement. She therefore 
went to Jersey, where she stayed some considerable 
time. 

Rudolph was opposed to her going away. He nega- 
tived the idea by saying that she ought to stay with him, 
as he was unable to accompany her owing to his duties 
as Heir Apparent. 

But we are a family who, having once decided upon 
doing anything, are very difficult to persuade to the 
contrary. 

Stephanie was obstinate. She never thought that a 
young wife's duty was to remain as long as possible near 
her husband, especially when he happened to be the 
man most exposed to the temptations of the Court of 
Vienna. 

Rudolph was greatly vexed at the length of an absence 
which really could only have been excused on the grounds 
that it was not so long as it might have been. 

The Crown Princess fell ill. When she escaped from 
the hands of the doctors who had lavished their atten- 

107 



My Own Aflfairs 

tions upon her, Rudolph was told that he would have little 
chance in the future of again becoming the father of 
legitimate children. 

The blow was severe. From that day he tried to 
forget his troubles. He strove to banish them by drink, 
by hunting and other kinds of amusements. This desire 
for forgetfulness increased. 

At this critical moment he met Mary Vetsera. The 
first time that her beauty was brought to my notice I 
nearly betrayed myself, having been placed in an 
unexpected and awkward position, which served to show 
me the height which passion can attain in a nature 
such as Rudolph's. 

One evening we gave a dinner at the Coburg Palace. 
The Crown Prince, according to his rank, sat on my right, 
and my sister sat opposite me. 

There was naturally much gossip current in Vienna 
about the liaison which existed between Rudolph and 
Mary Vetsera. Stephanie, thanks to her dignity of char- 
acter, was silent, but I know that she suffered. I was not 
afraid of mentioning this delicate subject to Rudolph, 
and I had expressed my hopes that the gossip was 
exaggerated. I wished to believe that he was merely the 
victim of a passing caprice. Yet at my own table, with 
the servants present, the guests watching (especially my 
sister's and her husband's) our slightest movements, 
Rudolph took it into his head to show me, sheltered by 
the tablecloth and the usual table decorations, the minia- 
ture of a woman, hidden in something which appeared to 

io8 



Stephanie Marries the Archduke Rudolph 

be a cigarette-case. " This is Mary," said he; " what do 
you think of her ? " 

The only thing I could do was to pretend neither to 
see nor to hear him, and I began to talk to my sister across 
the table. But after this, of what follies would Rudolph 
not be guilty.? We were not long in finding out ! 

My brother-in-law died on January 30, 1889, between 
6 A.M. and 7 a.m. Three or four days previously my sister 
came to see me one morning — a rare thing for her to do. 
I was still in bed, as I was tired. Stephanie seemed 
anxious and disturbed. 

" Rudolph," said she, " is going to Meyerling, and 
intends staying there some days. 'He will not be alone. 
What can we do ? " 

I raised myself on my pillows. I felt a strange and 
sinister foreboding. I remembered Rudolph's words at 
the Prince of Reuss's soiree. " For the love of God," I 
cried, " go with him ! " 

But was this possible 1 Alas ! no. I next saw my 
sister when she was a widow and my brother-in-law was 
dead, lying in state, with his bloodless face swathed in a 
white bandage. . . . 

On the afternoon of January 28 I was driving in the 
Prater accompanied by a lady-in-waiting. It was a fine 
winter's day, and the sunshine was still lingering over 
Vienna. The horses were proceeding at a walking pace 
in order that I could enjoy the beauty of the day, and 
enable me to notice the carriages and the equestrians and 

acknowledge their salutes. 

109 



My Own Affairs 

In the Hauptallee I noticed with astonishment 
Rudolph, unattended and on foot, chatting in a lively 
manner with Countess L., who has been so much 
talked about and who has published so much, but whose 
role in connexion with Rudolph was such that it was not 
agreeable for me to know her. 

The archduke saw my carriage. He made a sign to 
me to stop, and came up to me. He was then speaking 
to me for the last time. 

I have often asked myself why his trivial words caused 
me such indefinable anxiety. I still remember the sound 
of his voice, and I have not forgotten the peculiar look 
which accompanied his words. Rudolph was pale and 
feverish ; he seemed on the verge of a nervous breakdown. 
" I am going to Meyerling this afternoon," he 
announced. " Tell ' Fatty ' not to come to-night, but the 
day after to-morrow." 

" Fatty," to speak with all due respect, was my hus- 
band. The Prince of Coburg was always included 
amongst the boon companions of Rudolph's hunting and 
other pleasure parties. 

I tried to keep my brother-in-law by my side for a 
moment or two longer, and induce him to say something 
more. I asked him : " When will you come and see me? 
It is a long time since you have been." 

He replied, looking at me most strangely : 

" What would be the use of coming to see you ? " 

***** 
Rudolph stayed at Meyerling from the evening of 



no 



Stephanie Marries the Archduke Rudolph 

January 28 until the morning of the 30th, alone with his 
mistress. When his guests arrived for the hunt, the 
gathering was exactly like one of those pagan feasts in the 
days of Nero and Tiberius, when Death was bidden to the 
banquet. But the guest condemned to die was the prince 
himself, and he dragged with him into the abyss thef 
imperious mistress who had first brought him to its 
brink. 

They were found dead in their bedroom. It was a 
frightful sight, and it was first witnessed by Count Hoyoz, 
and then by the Prince of Coburg. 

If Mary Vetsera was indeed the dominating force, and 
as Venus would not relinquish her prize, Rudolph, in an 
access of despair and rage, did not forgive her for placing 
him in an impossible position ; but neither did he pardon 
himself. 

On the morning after a nerve-racking orgy both 
lovers perished. It all happened with lightning-like 
rapidity. 

It was impossible for Rudolph to continue keeping 
two households. Impetuous but enslaved, he could not 
endure a liaison which paralysed his energies, but which 
he lacked the strength to break, so great was the hold 
which Mary had obtained over him. 

Novelists have often depicted the frightful situation 
of the thraldom of the body, and the desperate protests of 
the spirit which can only escape by death. 

Rudolph at thirty years of age was utterly out of love 
with life. He was worn out from living in the atmosphere 

III 



My Own Affairs 

of a Court which suffocated him. His death by his own 
hand was due to several causes, of which the following 
are the principal : 

First, his bitter regret of a marriage which did not 
give him what he expected, after his disappointment in 
knowing he could not have a son; the impossibility of 
realizing the wish to dissolve it — an impious wish in the 
eyes of his relatives, the Holy See and the Catholic 
Church ; and, finally, the certainty he had as to the chances 
of the longevity of the Emperor, that heartless being, that 
living mummy, who had embalmed himself with selfish 
and petty cares. 

Rudolph often remarked: "I shall never reign; he 
will not allow me to reign." 
And if he had reigned ? 

Ah, if he had reigned ! I knew all his plans and his 
ideas. Of these, I will only say, modernity did not 
frighten him. The most daring modern idea would have 
been acceptable to him. He had already destroyed, in 
imagination, the worn-out machinery of the Austro- 
Hungarian Monarchy. But, like pieces of invisible armour 
held together by expanding links, the constraints, the 
formulas, the archaic ideas, the ignorance and the disillu- 
sions from which he was always wishing to escape, closed 
in on him. His life was a perpetual struggle against a 
feeble, worn-out, blind and corrupt Court, the routine of 
which enslaved his body without shackling his intelligence. 
He was compelled either to go under or to reign for a 
time and then to conquer, and throw ofE the burning gar- 



112 



Stephanie Marries the Archduke Rudolph 

ment of Nessus, open the windows, overthrow the Great 
Wall of China and chase away the camarilla. 

But the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy would perish 
rather than change. It went to its death with a courier 
in advance ! 

The sad news of Rudolph's death reached Vienna on 
the morning of January 30. General consternation pre- 
vailed. In the afternoon one of the Emperor's aides-de- 
camp came to see if he could obtain more news from me. 

I was scarcely able to speak. I had been told that the 
Prince of Coburg had assassinated my brother-in-law ! 

There were some charitable souls in Vienna and at 
Court who did not admit that Rudolph's affection for 
me was merely fraternal. 

Ah, if one only realized to what jealousy and wicked- 
ness the highest are exposed ! 

After the death of the Crown Prince all kinds of 
stories and scandalous gossip were rife ! 

I told the aide-de-camp that I knew nothing beyond 
the tragic news of the death of Rudolph and Mary 
Vetsera, and that my husband, who had left that very 
morning at six o'clock to shoot at Meyerling, had not 
returned. 

In the meantime I had seen one of Stephanie's ladies- 
in-waiting, who had told me about the catastrophe. Mas- 
tering my emotions, I went to see my sister at the 
Hofburg. 

I found her pale and silent, holding in her hand a 
letter whose secret must now be given to history. 

"3 



My Own Affairs 

This letter, which had just been discovered addressed 
to Stephanie in Rudolph's private desk, announced his 
death. He had already resolved on this course when he 
spoke to me in the Prater. The letter commenced as 
follows : 

" I take leave of life." It was too much for me to 
read that. The words were blurred by my tears. " Be 
happy in your own way," he said to his wife. And his 
last thought was of his child. " Take great care of your 
daughter. She is most dear to me. I leave you this 
duty." Unhappy child, who has had no father. I have 
often pitied her, and I pity her more than ever. She 
does not know what she has lost. 

The Prince of Coburg did not return to the palace 
until the night of the 31st, after having passed many 
hours alone with the Emperor. , He came at once to my 
room. His disturbed condition and his wild words showed 
how distraught he was. I pressed him to give me some 
of the details of the tragedy. " It is horrible, horrible," 
he said. " But I cannot, I must not say anything except 
that they are both dead." He had sworn to the Emperor 
to keep silent, as had Rudolph's other friends who had 
gone to shoot at Meyerling. The secret was well kept. 
The servants who might have spoken have, for very good 
reasons, disclosed nothing. 

When I went to see the Empress, at her request, I 
found myself in the presence of a marble statue covered 
with a black veil. 

I was so agitated that I could hardly stand. 

114 



Stephanie Marries the Archduke Rudolph 

I passionately kissed the hand she extended, and in 
a voice broken like that of the mother at Calvary she 
murmured : 

" You weep with me ! Yes, I know that you too loved 
him." 

Oh, unfortunate mother ! She adored her son. He 
helped her to bear that life smothered in ashes which his 
malicious father led beside one who was so noble. After 
Rudolph had been snatched from her and from his 
Imperial future, the Empress fled from this Court which 
henceforth held nothing for her, and she met death 
alone. It is known by what a sudden and cruel blow she 
died — the innocent victim of the penalty of her rank. 

I saw, I see in the successive dramas of the House of 
Austria a punishment sent by Heaven. A chain of bloody 
fatalities which recalls the tragedies of Sophocles or 
Euripides is not simply a game of chance. The justice 
of the gods is always that of God. The Court of Vienna 
was destined to perish horribly. It had betrayed every- 
thing; first of all its traditions, for nothing noble re- 
mained — even its intrigues were base. It was only a 
servants' hall for the valets from Berlin. And after 
Francis Joseph appeared at the famous Eucharistic 
Congress on the eve of the war, and stood before the 
altar as Prince of the Faith, he went to finish the dull day 
at the house of Madame Schratt, and listen to the back- 
stairs gossip of Vienna and the unsavoury reports of the 
police news ! 

Rudolph died of sheer disgust ! 

"5 



CHAPTER X 
Ferdinand of Coburg and the Court of Sofia 

THE glory of the Coburg family reached its 
zenith at the time of Leopold I and the Prince 
Consort. 

They gave to the world a series of princes who 
were veritably made to rule. Their direct influence on 
Belgium, and indirectly on England, created a period of 
peace and an " Entente," of which the beneficial results 
are so well known. 

Later, when my father continued the brilliant work be- 
queathed to him by King Leopold, Duke Ernest, Prince 
Regent of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, proved him- 
self no less inferior to his cousin at Brussels. In Vienna 
Prince Auguste, who was so good and with whom unfor- 
tunately I had very little to do as a father-in-law, also 
proved that he was a man of valour. 

Of the various Coburgs, those of Vienna who were my 
husband's brothers represented with him the male de^ 
scendants left to carry on the name of the race. 

I will chiefly mention Ferdinand, the ex-Tsar of 
Bulgaria. I will not expatiate again on the branch of my 
family to which he belonged. Its role in contemporary 
history is sufficiently well known. 

Ferdinand of Coburg, who is still alive as I write this, 

ri6 



Ferdinand of Coburg 

is one of the most curious beings it is possible to imagine. 
To describe him adequately needs the pen of a Barbey 
d'Aurevilly or a Balzac. 

The clearer my mind becomes as I get older, and the 
more I try to understand this strange person, the less I 
comprehend him when I consider him from the ordinary 
point of view of human psychology. 

I have read that woman is an enigma. I believe there 
are men who are more puzzling enigmas than any woman. 
One can only wonder whether this man has not created 
for himself, even more so than William II, an artificial 
world of his own in which he wished to live. I will 
presently say which world I think appealed to Ferdinand 
of Coburg. I realize that any princely education which 
tends to encourage the self-esteem of princes by outward 
respect and flattery must of necessity accentuate their 
peculiarities, unless some wholesome influence restrains 
the promptings of worldly vanity. 

A really superior mother was unable to regulate the 
undisputed mental gifts of Ferdinand. He was born in 
the autumn of Princess Clementine's days. He was her 
Benjamin. She was weak as water where he was con- 
cerned. This strength, greater than all strengths — 
namely, a mother's love — has also its weaknesses. Bad 
sons abuse these, and, according to the laws of that justice 
whose workings are often unseen, but whose judgments 
and punishments are sometimes visible, this son deserves 
a severe sentence. 

He was sixteen years old when I arrived at the Palace 

117 



My Own Affairs 

of Coburg. He was slight and elegant ; his countenance, 
lit up by azure eyes, possessed all the beauty of youth 
allied to something of the Bourbon type. The fire of in- 
telligence and the wish to read the book of life animated 
him. 

He promised to be different in every way from his 
eldest brother. In his moral character he appeared to 
possess the good qualities of his second brother, the 
charming Auguste of Coburg, but they were only useful 
in helping to form the distinguished bearing which later 
became natural to him, and which concealed beneath a 
brilliant appearance a complex and stormy nature. 

I was a year older than he. We were the life and 
soul of the old palace, and at times I was able to forget 
its dullness and my own troubles. I was the confidante 
of Ferdinand, and I did not hesitate to make him mine. 

Although Ferdinand later displayed hostility towards 

me, he devoted himself at this period to pleasing his 

sister-in-law and surrounded her with flowers, attentions 

and kindness. But it so chanced (and it remained 

so for a long period) that the eldest and the youngest 

of the Coburg brothers were at enmity on my account, 

although this feeling was not outwardly apparent. I must 

relate these incidents, otherwise it would be difficult to 

explain the presence of the many enemies who one day 

overwhelmed me. This enmity proceeded from the same 

miserable cause which will eternally be at the bottom of 

so many human dramas — namely, man's jealousy and his 

lustful appetites thwarted by rules of morality. 

ii8 



Ferdinand of Goburg 

Ferdinand of Coburg, idolized by his mother, accepted 
as a spoiled child by society, initiated early in the most 
refined pleasures, allowed himself to be transported by his 
exalted imagination into a world of his own. I have seen, 
I still see in him a kind of modern necromancer, a fin 
de siecle magician. He was a cabbalist in the same 
way that M. Peladan was a wise man of the East, and 
from these adventures always proceeds something which 
influences destiny. 

If at first I only saw him making what appeared to 
me to be strange gestures, without explaining what these 
signified, I have now arrived, through my experience of 
men and things, at understanding why he was then so 
incomprehensible. He must have been possessed by a 
power beyond this earth. But he did not believe iri^ 
God ; he believed in the Devil. I am only going to relate 
that of which I am sure. I am only going to say what 
I have seen. I do not wish to be more superstitious about 
certain things, or more troubled in soul than Ferdinand 
of Coburg. I ask myself to what fantastical sect, to what 
Satanic brotherhood he belonged in his early days, doubt- 
less with the idea of furthering his ambitions and his 
extraordinary dreams of the future. 

I remember that in our palace at Vienna, Ferdinand 
would sometimes ask me to play to him when we were 
alone in the evening. He insisted upon the room being 
only dimly lit. He would then come near to the piano 
and listen in silence. At midnight he would stand up 
solemnly, his features drawn and contracted. He then 
I 119 



My Own Affairs 

looked at the clock and listened for the first of the twelve 
strokes, and when they were nearing the end he would 
say : 

" Play the march from Aida." Then, withdrawing 
to the middle of the room, he would strike a ceremonial 
attitude, and repeat incomprehensible words which 
frightened me. 

Ferdinand used to articulate cabbalistic formulas, 
stretching out his arms with his body bent and his head 
thrown backwards. Amongst the mysterious phrases a 
word which sounded like Koptor, Kofte or Cofhte was 
often repeated. One day I asked him to write it down. 
He traced letters of which I could make nothing, ex- 
cepting that I seemed to recognize some kind of Greek 
characters. 

After these seances I questioned him, because while 
they were proceeding I had to be silent and play the 
march from 'Aida. He invariably answered : " The Devil 
exists. I call on him and he comes ! " 

I did not believe this ; I mean to say I did not believe 
in the Devil's actual visit, but I was nevertheless a little 
frightened, and when my brother-in-law once again 
began his incantations I would look round to see if there 
was anything extraordinary in the room. But there was 
nothing unusual excepting Ferdinand and my own 
curiosity — and, perhaps, the unrevealed vision of both our 
futures ! 

Full of eccentricities, he would bury gloves and ties 
which he had worn. There was quite a ceremonial 



Ferdinand of Goburg 

attached to this, at which I was sometimes obliged to 
assist. Ferdinand dug the hole himself, and repeated 
strange sentences with a mysterious air. 

His mouth would then assume that bittef expres- 
sion which age has accentuated. Did he indeed juggle 
with the Prince of Evil, and did he acquire thereby 
the dominating spirit which became so strong in him? 

Did he seek some kind of brain stimulant in these 
practices, under the action of which, I believe, auto- 
suggestion becomes dangerous? 

I leave it to physicians, to occultists and to casuists 
to diagnose this case. I am simply a witness, nothing 
more. 

Ferdinand was not yet Prince of Bulgaria. He was 
only known as a charming lieutenant in the Austrian 
Chasseurs, who had exchanged from the hussars because 
he was not in sympathy with the animal from which it is 
possible to fall, and which is generally supposed to be 
the most noble conquest of man. I wish to say plainly 
that Ferdinand of Coburg was a wretched horseman. 
Who would have thought that this officer of noble descent 
who had exchanged into an infantry regiment would 
later possess a throne, and would dream of becoming 
Emperor of Byzantium ? 

He designed his crown and arranged his State entry 
and his coronation, just as did the miserable Emperor 
William who wished to crown himself Welt Kaiser in 
Notre Dame de Paris, and I do not hesitate to say that he 
dreamed of a ceremony to which the Pope would come. 



121 



My Own Affairs 

willing or unwilling, and that all confessions should be 
reconcilable in his Imperial, august and sacred person. 

It is really impossible to-day for a man to be a king 
according to the ancient formula of absolute power. This 
kind of wine is too strong ; it goes to the head. 

Formerly, a prince, even an autocrat, did not see or 
understand that a small number of faithful persons 
guarded and restrained him equally as much as they 
served him. He was usually at war for three-quarters of 
his reign, and he shared the rough life and privations of 
a soldier. Now he listens to a thousand voices, a thou- 
sand people and the calls of a thousand duties. He no 
longer fights in person, and there are, besides, long periods 
of peace. Comfort surrounds and enervates him; wonder- 
ful inventions and discoveries have changed everything 
around him. But although the values and aspects of 
society and individuals are totally modified, everything 
is still at his feet. 

There is something in losing the knowledge of reali- 
ties as the unfortunate Tsar Nicolas lost it, as William II 
lost it, and as Ferdinand of Bulgaria lost it. For Fer- 
dinand grasped power and guarded it like an autocrat, 
and I am convinced that he will be grateful to me for not 
enlarging on his policy and the methods which his policy 
employed. 

He had obtained the throne through the help of 
Princess Clementine, who was ambitious for her beloved 
son. What a pity she did not live longer ! The more so 
because, in his passion for authority, Ferdinand tried to 



122 



Ferdinand of Goburg 

overrule his mother, to whom he would sometimes say, 
in his domineering manner, words that fortunately owing 
to her deafness she did not hear. If she could have re- 
mained on earth to advise him, he might have led a better 
life. Whether or no he would have listened to her is 
another matter. 

At the same time, it was she who procured the Crown 
of Sofia for him, and she maintained him during his 
perilous debut of sovereignty. She gave millions to the 
prince's establishment and the principality. 

The accession of Ferdinand as a prince was first 
opposed, and afterwards recognized; finally he adopted 
the title of Tsar. He might have said like Fouquet : 
" Quo non ascendam ? " Everything succeeded with him. 
Soon he became so self-confident that he was actually 
seen on horseback. I can truthfully affirm this, as I chose 
one of his favourite mounts; this especial one came from 
our stables in Hungary, and was a tall, steady and strong- 
backed bay mare. Ferdinand was a big powerful man, 
who needed a stolid-tempered animal that would not shy 
at guns, cheering, or military music. I tried the mare 
myself on the Prater in the presence of the prince's envoy. 
We had really found the very thing for Ferdinand, but 
I would have been more than sorry to have had it myself 
as it was altogether too dull, no noise startled it; and it 
was sent to Sofia, where Ferdinand showed off, mounted 
on this fine animal, on which he probably dreamt of enter- 
ing Constantinople. His war against the Turks is not 

forgotten. He thought himself already at the gates of 

123 



My Own Affairs 

Byzantium. . . . But I do not wish to relate what every- 
one knows. I prefer to show in a new light the secret 
drama which his diabolical contempt for God and the 
moral laws of Christian civilization provoked, when he 
baptized and brought up his sons in the " orthodox " 
religion whence Bolshevism originated — just as the Euro- 
pean war has sprung from Lutherism, and just as the more 
terrible trials of England will arise from her religious 
disputes. 

Ferdinand of Bulgaria, born in the Catholic faith, 
first married Marie Louise of Parma, daughter of the 
Duke of Parma, the faithful servant of the Roman and 
Apostolic faith. This marriage, celebrated when he was 
Prince of Bulgaria, had not been agreed upon without the 
express condition that the children should be baptized 
and brought up in the religion of their mother and 
their ancestors. This constituted a formal article of the 
contract. Ferdinand solemnly consented to it. But 
when he thought that the support of "Russia might be 
useful to him in his plans regarding Constantinople, he 
did not hesitate to break his vows; he gave his two sons 
to Russian schism. Marie Louise of Parma, mother of 
the souls of her children, betrayed, repulsed and broken 
in her belief in her husband, immediately fled from the 
Konak of Sofia, and came to Vienna to hide her sorrow 
and her fear in the sympathetic arms of her mother-in- 
law, who was equally tortured by the blasphemy of her 
son. 

People who have some ideas on the question of con- 

124 



Ferdinand of Goburg 

science, especially when it touches religious convictions, 
will easily understand the intensity of this drama. 

I was then at the Coburg Palace. I saw the Princess 
of Bulgaria arrive there after having fled from the palace, 
where, in the opinion of this pious mother, her innocent 
children had lost their hope of salvation. It was no doubt 
much to endure. God is far greater than we imagine 
Him to be. Our interpretations of His justice, although 
inspired by revelation, will always underestimate His 
compassion, for we have not the words to express, still less 
to explain, the survival of souls. 

The poor princess was naturally extremely unhappy. 
I well remember her agonized pale face, her indignation 
and her desire to annul her marriage at the Court of 
Rome. 

Fearing that Ferdinand would come and take her back 
to Sofia by force, she insisted upon remaining near 
Princess Clementine, who had a camp bed put in a little 
room adjoining her own. The Princess of Bulgaria did 
not feel safe except in this refuge. 

Reasons of State and the impossibility of living with- 
out seeing her children, who were retained as prisoners 
of their father's throne, proved after all stronger than the 
princess's rebellion and despair. Some months later she 
consented to return to Sofia. 

The House of Parma was, like herself, astounded. 
The Holy See had excommunicated Ferdinand. This 
malediction threw the entire family of Parma into 
mourning; they had been so trustful and so proud of 

"5 



My Own Affairs 

Ferdinand's love, in which they had shown their con- 
fidence by giving him one of their daughters. 

I next saw the poor Princess of Bulgaria at Sofia. 
She had heroically returned to her conjugal duties; she 
had just recovered from her confinement. 

Who knows — who will ever know — what actually 
passed in her mind.? Consumed by inward griefs, she 
perhaps died as a result. She was one of those sensitive 
souls who actually die of a broken heart. 

I have often thought of her. She was a martyr to the 
love of her children. One visit to Sofia in 1898 remains 
indelibly impressed in my mind. 

My husband accompanied me, but there was always 
something indefinable and indefinite between himself and 
his brother, probably the subconscious enmity which I 
have previously mentioned. We could not, however, have 
been welcomed more warmly. The life of the Sovereign 
was wonderfully well organized in this country which 
was still primitive. Nothing was wanting at the palace. 
There East and West were happily united. 

Ferdinand gave me as a personal guard an honest 
brigand of sorts, picturesquely garbed after an Oriental 
fashion. From the time that this man was ordered to 
watch over me and only to obey my orders, he took up his 
stand before my door, and day and night he never moved 
therefrom. My husband himself could not have come 
in without my permission. I have never understood how 
this ferocious sentinel managed to be always on the spot. 

My brother-in-law showed me a most delicate and 



126 



Ferdinand of Goburg 

refined attention. He constituted me the queen of these 
days of festivity. I was overwhelmed by the homage of 
his entourage. Each meal was a decorative and culinary 
marvel. Sybarites would have appreciated the cuisine at 
the Palace of Sofia. 

I have always appreciated meals which are meals. It 
costs no more to eat a good dinner than to eat a bad one ; 
it is a weakness of the body and mind, a crime against 
the Creator, to disdain food when it is prepared with care. 
If we have been given the gift of taste, and if good things 
exist on earth, they are equally for one as for another. 
Ferdinand at any rate held this epicurean belief. 

Every night after supper there was a dance at the 
palace. The Bulgarian officers were most enterprising 
dancers. Educated at Vienna or Paris, they understood 
the art of conversation. They were distinguished by an 
instinctive air of nobility, as are all the sons of a virile 
and essentially agricultural race with a wholesome and 
wide outlook. 

During the day the prince did the honours of his 
capital and his kingdom. We recalled the memories of 
the Coburg Palace, and our former excursions and par- 
ties. We returned in spirit to that Forest of Elenthal 
so dear to our youth. We drove, accompanied by an 
escort which I have never ceased to admire. I am 
unaware whether the Bulgarian roads have improved, 
but at the time of which I write they were few, and they 
were maintained at the expense of Providence. A short 

distance from the capital they became tracks. But the 

127 



My Own Affairs 

escort followed without flinching, utterly indifferent to 
obstacles of every description which encumbered an 
already too narrow road. I have rarely seen the equal of 
either man or beast in crossing ridges, walls and ditches. 
It was witchcraft on horseback. 

Ferdinand was superbly indifferent to everything un- 
connected with his sister-in-law. I gazed at him, and I 
thought of the devil-worship of our youth. He was 
always strange. I saw now, as I had seen long ago, the 
amulet in his buttonhole, disguised as a decoration, a 
button fashioned in the shape of a yellow marguerite 
beautifully executed in metal of the same shade as that of 
the heart of the flower. Each time I asked him about 
this " gri-gri " he assumed a serious manner, and gave 
me to understand that it was something which he could 
not discuss. 

He had earnestly begged us to spend a short time 
with him. Had he the same idea which he had once 
explained to me openly at dinner, and which he 
emphasized privately in another way? I cannot 
believe it. 

I think that, carried away by his thoughts, he was no 
longer master of himself. I do not know whether I was 
ever mad, as his elder brother so much wished to believe, 
but I am absolutely sure that Ferdinand of Coburg was 
not always in possession of his senses. 

Yes, this spiritual scholar, this lover of art, this lover 

of flowers, this delightful friend of the birds in his 

aviary to whom he told nursery tales and charmed like a 

128 



Ferdinand of Goburg 

professional bird-charmer, this accomplished man of the 
world, this son of Princess Clementine, and this grandson 
of Queen Marie often assumed a kind of demoniacal 
personality and gave himself up to the evil delights of 
sorcery. 

At one dinner, which I remember as if it were yester- 
day, he said in low tones so that my husband could not 
hear (my husband being opposite to me in the seat of the 
princess, who was absent owing to indisposition) : 

" You see everything here. Ah, well ! All is my 
kingdom; I lay it, myself included, at your feet." 

I could only welcome this romantic declaration as 
fantastic gallantry rather than a literal statement. I tried 
to reply as if I treated the remark as a joke. But apart 
from his expression, which gave the lie to the level tone of 
his voice, I had more than one reason to distrust Ferdi- 
nand, now that his imagination was mastered by desire. 

In fact, the same evening he came to me, and, taking 
me away from the dancers, led me to another room where 
a French window was open to the Oriental night and the 
stillness of the little park, and inquired if I had under- 
stood what he had said. 

His tone was harsh and his look stern. There was 
something imperious and fascinating about him. I was 
much disturbed. He insisted brusquely : 

" It is the last time that I shall offer what I have 
offered. Do you understand .'' " 

My eyes wandered to the salon. I saw beside me the 

Prince of Bulgaria so different from his brother, still 

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My Own Affairs 

young, handsome and full of power. But the image of 
Princess Marie Louise passed before my eyes, and also 
the vision of the Queen. ... I shook my head, and mur- 
mured a frightened " No." 

I must have looked as pale as wax. Ferdinand's 
countenance changed. His features took on a sinister 
expression ; he, too, turned pale, and in a hoarse voice he 
threatened me, saying sneeringly : 

" Take care. You will repent this. By ' Kophte ' (.?)." 

He added those incomprehensible words which he 
always used when he asked me to play the march from 
Aida in the darkened salon at midnight. 

That evening I felt something dangerous was in store 
for me. It was so; from that moment Ferdinand of 
Coburg joined his brother in his enmity towards me. And 
his enmity was no small matter. 

I am quite aware that these facts will appear incredible 
to most people. They seem more like an old romance by 
Anne Radcliffe ! But everything, both in the public and 
private life of Ferdinand of Coburg, was incredible. I 
do not wish to refer to the judgment already meted out 
to him by history. My desire is not to gloat over his 
downfall, but to show in what inconceivable surrounding^ 
I lived. I was a member of a family where everything 
was perfect and at the same time execrable. Unfortun- 
ately I was not then in a position to love good and shun 
evil. It took me twenty years to escape. 

Ferdinand of Coburg has commenced his punishment 

on earth. Knowing him as I do, I am certain that he 

130 



Ferdinand of Goburg 

suffers intensely, even though he may sometimes receive 
consolation from the Devil ! 

I think he believes himself a superman. That fool 
Nietzsche — in reviving a theory as old as the hills, when 
supermen called themselves cavaliers, warriors, heroes 
and demi-gods — has turned a considerable number of 
heads in German countries. He did them the more harm 
in that their superhumanity, infested by the morbid 
materialism of the century, became separated from the 
ideal which once animated these mighty persons, and 
elevated them to honour instead of luring them to crime. 
It is certain that despicable motives and methods can only 
end in a terrible material and moral defeat. Ferdinand 
of Coburg, who has been ambitious from his youth 
upwards, was a student of Nietzsche at the time when 
his theories achieved notoriety. So Nietzsche obtained as 
his disciple a being who is now one of the most notable 
victims of Zarathustra. 



131 



CHAPTER XI 

William II and the Court of Berlin— The Emperor 
of Illusion 

I WISH to speak of William II as of one dead. He 
does not belong to- this world; he belongs to another. 
I must be excused if I am sparing of anecdotes. 
It would be painful to me to recall to life and movement 
one who has passed. My desire is to limit myself to 
explaining effects of which I know the cause. 

It was puerile to wish under high-sounding vain 
words such a petty thing as the arrest and trial of a 
Government sunk in shame. 

Society cannot recognize any Divine law in crimes 
against civilization, since they place man below the level 
of the beast. 

William II fell from the throne and was arrested by 
a more powerful hand than that of earthly justice. He 
has known the severest prison of all — exile; the most 
frightful regime — fear; the most terrible sentence — that 
of conscience. Who will know the secret of the nights of 
this fugitive traitor to his people whom he fed with 
deceptions and lies, and whom he has led to ruin, civil 
war and dishonour.'' For not only did he dishonour himself, 
but he dishonoured Germany in dishonouring her arms. 

Where is the honest German who has recovered from 

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William II and the Court of Berlin 

the intoxication of war who can hear the name of 
Louvain, of the Lusitania, of poison gas and other horrors 
without shuddering? But the responsibility of all these 
crimes must rest on William II. 

The passing of centuries will be necessary to wipe 
out the stain of his murderous folly. This constitutes the 
shadow over the unfortunate Empire which makes it 
appear monstrous to the nations of the Entente. 

But I wish to say at once, because I am certain of it, 
Germany is what Imperial Prussia has made her, and 
would again make of her. 

The victim of her confidence and candour, she 
accepted as gospel all that her Sovereign, the heir of 
victorious ancestors, declared, professed and taught her. 

It is harder to inherit a kingdom than people think, 
and I say this without irony. William II was not human 
like his grandfather, who cried out when he saw the 
sacrifice of the cuirassiers of Reisdroffen : " Ah, my brave 
men ! " William II possessed nothing of his father, who 
earned the name of Frederick the Noble, and who died of 
two maladies, that of his throat and that of his feverish 
impatience to reign. 

William II was charming as a boy. As a child he was 
an amiable playfellow. We have plundered the straw- 
berry beds of Laeken together — a sacrilege which was 
pardoned solely on his account. 

I have followed his career as far as it was possible. 
I believed him to be great. I have heard much of his 
power not only from his own people, but from all people. 

133 



My Own Affairs 

He had a wonderful part to play. He did not know how 
to play it; he could not; he lacked the means to do so, 
and perhaps, first of all, a clever and good wife. He had 
no depth of soul. A different wife might perhaps have 
supplied him with this quality. 

Francis Joseph at the beginning of his active career as 
an Emperor was almost brilliant; he certainly appeared 
distinguished. Thirty years after, his face assumed an 
expression of vulgarity of which his first portraits gave no 
forecast, although at a distance he still gave the impression 
of being " somebody." But the high morale of the 
Empress was somewhat reflected in him. 

Less blessed in a wife, the longer William H has 
lived the worse his looks, his speech and his bearing have 
become. Two men — the late King Edward VH and my 
father, the King of the Belgians — took his exact measure 
and augured nothing good for his future. 

The intimate opinion of him expressed by my father 
has often recurred to me, but this would entail a separate 
chapter and it would lead us far. I will confine myself 
to stating that the King had always foreseen that Ger- 
many, intoxicated with the warlike perorations of 
William H, who was a preacher of the old Prussian 
regime, would end by throwing herself upon Belgium, 
upon France and upon the whole world. 

The defences of the Meuse were a convincing indica- 
tion of the King's forethought. But we shall never know 
all that the King said, what he did, and what he desired 
to do in this matter. 

134 



William II and the Court of Berlin 

Unfortunately certain parties and certain influential 
men in Belgium wrongly countered his plans instead of 
acting upon them. The country has suffered cruelly for 
this mistake. 

By what means did William II arrive at those false 
conclusions which swept away the thrones of Central 
Europe and which have caused so many calamities? It 
was not, as has been thought by the Entente, the result 
of a fatal environment created alike by the ambitions of 
Germany and her barbaric instincts. The German 
Emperor wielded immense power. He was in truth an 
absolute monarch, and in consequence the Reichstag, the 
Bundesrath, or the various State Parliaments never inter- 
fered with him. The Emperor's Cabinet ruled the army, 
which in its turn ruled the nation. Thus everything was 
centred in the person of the Emperor, this magnificent 
fruit of Prussian discipline and force. 

But in this fruit which made such an impression 
when seen on its wall, there was a hidden worm., 
William II was a liar; he lied to others and to him- 
self without knowing that he was a liar. He lived 
continually in a world of fiction. In short, he was 
an actor. 

But he was the worst of actors; he was the amateur, 

the man of the world who plays comedy — and drama — 

who is so taken up with his own small talent that 

he becomes more of an actor than an actor, and in 

consequence is always acting in everything and 

everywhere. 

J 135 



My Own Affairs 

This passion for the theatre is alike William II's 
excuse and his condemnation. It is his excuse because 
he entered so well into the " skin " of the various char- 
acters which he played, that in each of them he was' 
sincere. It is his condemnation, because a king and an 
emperor should be a Reality, a Will, a Wisdom; but he 
was none of these. 

Personally he was hollow and sonorous. He did not 
know much. He did not at close quarters, like Francis 
Joseph, give one the impression of being the concierge at 
an embassy, but he always gave one the impression that 
is best illustrated by a saying which I remember having 
seen in the Figaro: " Have you seen me in the part of 
Charlemagne, or as a Lutheran bishop ? " — (for he was 
summus episcopus) — " or as an admiral, or as the leader 
of an orchestra } " His many talents have been re- 
counted. They may all be reduced to one — the art of 
self-deception in order to deceive others. Under this 
veneer of self-deception there existed an empty soul, 
without a standard of honour, without poise, at the mercy 
of any kind of flattery, impressions, or circumstances. No 
sooner did he hear a speech than he gave his opinion, and 
assumed an attitude according to the role of the character 
to be represented. 

He may be described as the best son in the world, for 

he was not wicked; he was worse — he was weak. It was 

Chamfort, if my memory serve me rightly, who wrote : 

" The weak are the advance guard of the army of the 

wicked." William II was the scout of the advance 

136 



William II and the Court of Berlin 

guard; his Staff was the army. He who was so afraid 
of thunder usurped the place of Jupiter, the Thunderer, 
but this amateur soldier was far too nervous to endure 
even the noise of battle. When his officers for their own 
advancement persuaded him that he possessed military 
and naval talent, he dreamt of the role of " Welt 
Kaiser," and prepared for the conquest of the earth. 

Caught in their own trap, his faithful adherents were 
intoxicated by the intoxication which they had provoked. 
The Emperor's Cabinet was the theatre of a continuous 
orgy of gigantic schemes. At Vienna men's imagina- 
tions were inflamed. The Berlin-Bagdad Railway of 
Central Europe revived the earlier Near-East scheme. 
And a whole camarilla interested in the advantages to be 
derived from these splendid enterprises praised them 
extravagantly. 

If in 1914 the Emperor Francis Joseph had possessed 
any glimmer of reason and good sense, he would have 
taken notice of the formidable uncertainties of the 
Berlin problems, and maintained peace while refusing to 
die at the cries of the victims of a war. 

Left to himself, William II let loose the worst and 
most barbarous powers on the nations who were dragged 
into the horrors of war. 

I have said that he lacked depth. He was in reality 
inconsistent. Although playing a thousand parts, he had 
no personality. 

A man is only " someone " by reason of his per- 
sonality. Many fools and dishonest men reach their 

137 



My Own Affairs 

goals in life through intrigue, chance, favouritism and 
human folly. But they are none the less foolish and 
dishonest for all that, and this is why the world is so evil. 

William II assumed chivalrous airs, but he still re- 
mained coarse in his outlook. This was often apparent in 
his jokes with the officers of the Guards. He had no tact 
or judgment. His lack of tact was due to his bad 
Prussian education; to his student days at Bonn, which 
were given up to drinking bouts ; and as a young man, to 
his taste for frequenting the Berlin casinos. As for his 
lack of judgment, this was the result of inherent vanity, 
which everything tended to develop to his own injury and 
that of Germany. The vain man is the being who is 
deceived by everyone, because he has begun by deceiving 
himself. And he is usually a hopeless idiot. 

William II once said to me, under the impression that 
he was paying me a compliment : " You would make a fine 
Prussian grenadier." The compliment seemed to me 
" Pomeranian." 

If William II had possessed tact and judgment he 
would have known how to adopt a policy other than 
threats and violence, and a diplomacy utterly opposed 
to the trickery with which Germany was so affected during 
his reign. 

Incapable of judging the times in which he lived, 
weighed down by Prussian tradition, and full of zeal as 
titular chief of the House of Prussia, descended from a 
Suabian family which had emigrated to Brandenburg, he 
persuaded the upper classes of Germany that he had con- 

138 



William II and the Court of Berlin 

solidated his prestige. The Middle Ages have had a 
disastrous effect on him and, through him, on all 
Germany. 

In addition to battlemented railway stations and post 
offices fortified by machiolated galleries, the influence of 
mediasvalism led the Emperor-King and his people back 
to the old hates, the old struggles and the old ideas, just 
as if the world had not changed with the passing of 
centuries. The result was that science, inventions, and 
discoveries were first made to serve the industry of war, 
the continuation of conquests, the mailed fist, and all the 
follies which soldiers, writers and military journalists 
applied themselves to serve, finding therein their daily 
bread. 

However, those nations brought into closer contact by 
means of intercommunication and by exchange of ideas 
have commenced to find solutions of difficulties in pacific 
ways — solutions which until now have only been dragged 
from the path of war. By this I mean the preservation 
and the development of the human species, its better 
distribution on the earth, and its rights to greater happi- 
ness and justice. 

William II lacked depth (I again mention the fact) 
because he lacked moral strength. Not that he was 
immoral. Without being a saint, he admirably fulfilled 
the role of husband and father. He was in everything 
a zealous amateur. Yet he lacked moral strength because 
his Lutheran attitude, which allowed him to play the part 
of a Protestant preacher, was not a religious role. His 

139 



My Own Affairs 

sermons as Head of the Church did not teach him to be 
humble, charitable and just before God. 

Contrary to what is generally believed, especially if 
the religious problem has not been studied, neither 
Lutheranism nor Calvinism is a religion. The beautiful 
souls one meets who have held, and who hold these re- 
ligious beliefs would be beautiful no matter what belief 
they held, or even in the absence of any belief. They 
possess an innate beauty which touches the Divine. But 
a phase of religious belief cannot be a religion. Schisms 
are the accidents of the life of the Church. A tear in a 
costume is not a costume — on the contrary ! Lutheranism 
was not originally a form of worship ; it was a revolt, and 
this species of revolt will always make more rebels than 
believers. A revolt against Rome — Los Eon Rome! 
Impious cry! This is not only a case of "Deliver us 
from Rome," it is also a case of " Deliver us from the 
Christian religion, from the unity of the Catholic Church, 
otherwise called the Universal Church, which is our only 
chance of peace on earth." It is a denial of Latinity and 
of Hellenism ; it is the retrogression of Central Europe to 
the Scandinavian Valhalla; it is not a world which ex- 
pands, it is a world which confines. It does not represent 
the free harmony of the actions and the thoughts of men; 
it is the enforced uniformity of the parade step, and the 
silence on parade, in the ranks of the Prussian Guard. 

If William II, who is responsible for the violation of 

the neutrality of Belgium, the burning of Louvain, the 

massacres of Dinant and so manv other atrocities, were 

140 



William II and the Court of Berlin 

not, so far as I am concerned, dead, and if I were to see 
him again, I would say to him : 

"You miserable man! Have you read Goethe?, 
Can you imagine what he who wrote ' Man is only great 
according to the Heaven which is within himself ' would 
think of you? You do not possess Heaven. You have 
driven away God with the Luther of hate and negation 
which was your God ; you are a mere nullity." 



141 



CHAPTER XII 
The Holsteins 

1 FIRST knew Augusta of Schleswig-Holstein shortly 
after her marriage with Prince William of Prussia. 
I saw her later as German Empress at the Court of 
Berlin. 

It was not easy to find favour in her sight; not that 
she was a malicious woman, but her narrowness of mind 
and her pretensions to the perfections of German virtues 
made her no friendly judge of women. 

A pessimist and a martinet, she was wholly given up to 
her domestic duties and her worship of the God of Luther, 
whom she served with a zeal inimical to other gods, and 
with such piety that she edified Germany. But she had 
no conception of the immense pity and the infinite 
splendour of the true God. Always a sentimental 
country, Germany thoroughly admired this wife and 
mother, her husband and their children, who, when seen 
at a distance, really constituted a magnificent family. 

But let us judge the tree by its fruits. There were 
in this Royal menage no intimate dramas, no moral con- 
flicts ; everything seemed to proceed decently and in order. 
But none of the children born of the union of William II 

and Augusta of Schleswig-Holstein has deserved any 

142 



The Holsteins 

consideration at the hands of men. And in pity for them 
I will say no more. 

I was familiar with the old Court of Berlin, that of 
William I. I have often seen the old and infirm Empress 
Augusta, who always appeared to be very tightly corseted, 
installed on a sofa in the Imperial Salon close to a curtain 
which was drawn aside, and the Court circle then formed 
round her. She was invariably kind to me, and spoke to 
me in excellent French. The Emperor, William I, 
wandered simply and affably from one person to 
another. 

The Crown Prince Frederick gave me the impression 
of being good, well read, noble and spiritual, and his wife, 
the daughter of Queen Victoria, was attractive owing to 
her candid and pleasant demeanour and her remarkable 
intelligence. 

Count von Bismarck and Marshal von Moltke were the 
two lions of this unceremonial Court. Being young, I 
examined both curiously. Count Bismarck was noisy; he 
spoke loudly, and often indulged in a certain coarse 
gaiety. Marshal von Moltke said nothing; he seemed 
embarrassed with it all. But his piercing eyes made up 
for his lack of words, and for my part I had no desire to 
offend this sphinx-like person. 

With the accession of William II, the patriarchal 
Court of William I and the Anglo-German but ephemeral 
Court of Frederick the Noble gave place to a Court of 
another kind. The ceremonial of official presentations 
was increased and became more frequent. The new 

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My Own Affairs 

Emperor wished to surround himself with warlike pomp, 
but the presence of Augusta of Schleswig-Holstein 
always reduced the most solemn ceremonies of the last 
Court of Berlin to commonplace grandeur. At this 
period the Empress had much trouble to gown herself and 
to dress her hair with taste. Her presence on the throne 
sufficed to transform it into a bourgeois sofa. Later, her 
taste in chiffons improved. 

When William II came to Vienna he was received 
with the honours due to his rank. I took especial pains 
with my toilette in order to do him honour. 

Accustomed as I was to his ponderous sallies, I did 
not expect to hear him say to me in French, which he 
spoke excellently, even in its boldest gallicisms : " Do 
you get the style of your coiffure and your gowns in 
Paris.?" 

" Sometimes in Paris, but generally in Vienna," I 
answered. " I represent the fashion, and I design my 
own dresses." 

" You ought to choose Augusta's hats and help 
her with her gowns. The poor dear always looks 
shabby." 

So this is the reason why the German Empress 
patronized the same shops which I patronized, and bought 
dresses which I helped design. The question of hats 
bristled with difficulties, because she has one of those big 
heads which are so hard to suit. But I succeeded, it 
appears, in fulfilling the wish of her husband by render- 
ing this small service to his wife. He thanked me 

144 



The Holsteins 

amiably, although he was one of those who never forgive 
us for benefits received. 

The Holsteins, from whom the Empress was 
descended, had, as one knows, lost their Duchy, which 
was in former times Danish, and which had fallen into 
the hands of the Prussians. As a wife for the prince who 
one day would be William II, Count von Bismarck sug- 
gested Augusta of Schleswig-Holstein, who possessed 
an equable temperament, and whom he judged would 
balance the flights of fancy peculiar to a young and 
ardent husband. 

This marriage had the merit of uniting the Holsteins 
to the House of Berlin by other means than by 
the sword. It regularized, in the eyes of Europe, 
the somewhat brusque method by which Prussia 
had annexed the Duchy. The political value of this 
marriage was well worth the dowry which Augusta 
certainly lacked. 

The tall and fair future Empress was neither pretty 
nor ugly, but pretty rather than ugly. Her piety was well 
advertised, but there are pieties which had better be dis- 
pensed with if they spring from a false foundation. This 
was the case as regards the religious zeal of Augusta of 
Holstein, who when she became Empress began to 
regard her husband as the Head of the Protestant 
Church — a man who, lacking eclecticism, talked nonsense 
about the Roman Church, the Christian religion and 
Latinity. But he should have been restrained and made 
to observe the outcome of his Lutheran ramblings, 

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My Own Affairs 

which were mixed with invocations to Wotan and the god 
Thor. 

Another point no less grave was that the Holsteins, 
who were "ruined or nearly so, were obliged to try and re- 
plenish their fortunes. Augusta was forced to think of 
this, and primarily to establish her brother Gunther, who 
led the life of a German officer of a noble family without 
having the means to do so. William II arranged matters 
from time to time, but he did not display much 
enthusiasm. In no case does money play a greater 
part than with people who are attached to a Court. 
Without money nothing is of value, because this class 
of people are only measured by the money which 
they spend. 

This was not the case with Gunther of Schleswig- 
Holstein. He possessed intelligence and culture. It has 
also been said that he was well posted in business 
matters. He has taken the chair at congresses in the 
capacity of a man of knowledge, and if during the war 
he did not particularly distinguish himself as a soldier, 
he has nevertheless shone as a financier. As a young 
officer these practical qualities were not apparent. It was 
necessary for him to make a good marriage. He failed 
in many attempts at matrimony. Presentable enough as 
a young man, he did not improve with age. When I saw 
him at various shooting parties in Thuringia, at the begin- 
ning of his career at Court, he was not bad-looking. 
When Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein asked for my 
daughter Dora in marriage, and we had given our 

146 



The Holsteins 

consent, he asked me to fix the date. I could not help 
saying : 

" What ! . . . Do you seriously contemplate leading 
my daughter to the altar without having that dreadful 
nose of yours attended to ? " 

As a matter of fact he had a red nose of a many-sided, 
uncertain shape. Everyone is not like the Prince of 
Conde or Cyrano. A misshapen nose is certainly 
inconvenient. 

His sister pressed for his marriage with my daughter. 
The same idea had struck her at Berlin as that which 
twenty years earlier had brought the Prince of Coburg to 
Brussels. The immense fortune of the King of the 
Belgians was by now undisputed. Calculations were 
made as to his income, and people talked of a thousand 
million francs to be divided one day between three 
heiresses. This aroused ardent speculative ideas, 
because even in those days one thousand million francs 
counted as something. 

The Duke of Holstein, having improved the appear- 
ance of his nose, again spoke of his marriage with my 
daughter. 

Dora was still young. At this time my husband and 
I had reached the tragic point of an almost definite rup- 
ture. I hoped that it would take place quietly. It was 
not I who let loose all the scandals. It so happened that 
we had decided to stay away from Vienna for a year. 
We therefore left for the Riviera. Gunther of Holstein 
went with us. Thence we went to Paris, where I brought 

147 



My Own Affairs 

my household. This was looked upon as a crime. 
People seemed to forget that my husband formed part 
of my household. 

His company, rare as it was, was only irksome to 
me, and doubtless mine was no more agreeable to him. 
When difl5culties arose between us I found constant con- 
solation in the society of my daughter. Her mother was 
everything to her; my child was everything to me. At 
least Dora was mine. Her brother had long left me, so 
I kept my hold on her. I protected her ; I made as much 
of her as I could. But having now reached the point of 
the story of my daughter's marriage with a relation of the 
Hohenzollerns, and the influence which the Court of 
Berlin was destined to have on Dora's future and on my 
own, I cannot deny myself the pleasure of portraying in 
these pages the ideal man of my devotion, who, having 
secured my moral safety, also gave me a new lease of 
life. 

I will not deny it. According to the ordinary laws of 
the world, his presence at that time on the Riviera and 
afterwards in Paris offended all the traditions of ordinary 
respectable conventions. 

Certain situations can only be judged in a manner 
suitable to them. If it is true that owing to my entreaties 
— the entreaties of a desperate woman who found herself 
isolated, and at the mercy of the man who was still her 
husband — the Count of Geza Mattachich was at the Cote- 
d'Azur at the same time as thyself, and mixed with my 
entourage on the footing of a man of honour (as is the 

148 



The Holsteins 

custom in the households of princesses), then I beg my 
readers to agree that my future son-in-law had no fault 
to find. This statement I think suffices. 

Gunther of Holstein showed the count both respect 
and friendship, and further to prove this he asked him 
to act as his second in an affair of honour which he was 
able to arrange. But what was still more unfortunate, 
Dora, who had apparently some kind of instinct as to the 
troublesome times in store for her at Berlin, returned her 
ring to her fiance and released him from his engagement. 

Gunther of Holstein begged Count Mattachich to in- 
tercede with me to prevent the rupture, and I consented. 

For this kindness I was destined to be basely repaid. 

I did not wish to be separated from my daughter 
before her marriage, and especially to leave her in 
Vienna at the Coburg Palace. When we were leaving for 
the Riviera, I had told the assembled servants with tears 
in my eyes that I should never return there again, and 
the prince had listened without saying a word to contra- 
dict my assertion. I was afraid of the influence of 
Vienna, where my unfortunate son finally perished, and 
where owing to his misconduct he was destined to end his 
days in a horrible manner. A fearful punishment for his 
faults, and the moral parricide which he committed in 
disowning his mother. No ! at all costs Dora must 
remain with me. 

However, the Duke of Holstein insisted that Dora 

ought to be introduced to his family and to the Hohen- 

zollerns. He gave me his word of honour to bring her 

149 



My Own Affairs 

back if I would allow her to go to Berlin for a few days 
accompanied by her governess. I made this soldier of 
Berlin swear this, but " vanquished is he who pushes the 
wheel of the conqueror's chariot," and I let her go. 

She did not return. She was kept far away from me. 
This was the open avowal of the plot of which the melan- 
choly vicissitudes were about to be precipitated. 

I only learnt of the marriage of my daughter to 
Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein from the newspapers, 
when I was incarcerated in the Doebling Asylum at 
Vienna. I had just been taken there. 

This plot — have I mentioned it? — was one of the 
vilest of plots — it was a plot which concerned money. 

I was not mad, but my enemies thought that I should 
most certainly become mad in the midst of lunatics. 
Madness is contagious. My destruction had been deter- 
mined. For as insane, or passing as such, I should be 
incapable of managing my own affairs. I should possess 
no civil rights, and my representatives could do as they 
pleased with my property. The King was old, and 
doubtless it would not be long before he " passed over." 
It was then certain that each of his children would inherit 
about three thousand millions. Was I to be allowed to 
inherit such a fortune, which I was sure to surrender into 
inimical hands, and which would then be squandered? 

It is not to be wondered that my son, my daughter's 
husband, perhaps even my daughter herself, who was then 
a prisoner where William II and his wife ruled, agreed 
with the wishes of the Prince of Coburg, who was anxious 

150 




Photo : E. Biebet 

DUKE GUNTHER OF SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN 



The Holsteins 

to revenge himself for the bitter feelings which he had 
inspired in my heart. 

Besides, his vengeance would not fall on me alone. 
It would overtake and crush the count, whom he hated 
for his presumed influence over me. And this influence, 
how could they possibly understand it? People see only 
what they want to see. It is beyond their miserable com- 
prehension to understand superior beings with lofty souls 
and aspirations, and they describe as infamy what in 
reality is sacrifice. 

I will pass rapidly over the shame and the sorrow, and 
I will only relate as much as is necessary to make known 
to the world the high and pure character of the count, who, 
a Bayard without fear and without reproach, dauntlessly 
confronted a military tribunal. 

I will confine myself to stating that in the unprece- 
dented drama of incessant persecutions which I was 
forced to endure from the year 1897 until the victory of 
the Entente, the Imperial Houses of Berlin and Vienna 
were the prop and support of the different attacks, 
pressure, outrages, defamations and calumnies which 
would assuredly have overwhelmed me if public opinion 
had not instinctively revolted thereat. 

And the public knew nothing of the rights and wrongs 
of the case. 

Strengthened by public sympathy, I have been able to 
resist oppression. Justice is slow but sure. 

The principal Austrian mental specialists refused to 

certify me as insane, and an asylum in Germany was 
K 151 



My Own Aiffairs 

found where I was destined to serve a life sentence. I 
then said to William II : 

" As an accomplice of this crime, you will be 
eventually punished." 

I reflected at this time that the man who was a party 
to the crime of thrusting a sane being into the abyss of 
madness was capable of other abominations. I did not 
believe that God would permit him to go unpunished. 

He has been punished. 

The same blow has struck the companion of his life, 
the wife who was so intolerant of the faults of others, so 
uncompromising from the height of her unchristian-like 
virtue. As the enemy of her neighbour, her influence 
would have been enough to bring about the war, since the 
worst of warlike tendencies is the spirit of intolerance. 

It is not sufficiently well known, but it is a fact, that 
the awful conflict of 1914-1918 was simply the result of 
the pitiless and inhuman hate of Lutheran Prussia, which 
was devoured by the wish to dominate, to govern and 
to oppress. 

Disbelief caused the war. Belief only will bring about 
lasting peace. 

Belgium and France must understand that, although 
Prussia held and enriched Germany, Germany never 
liked Prussia. 

Germany can only be won by confidence and by 
affection. 

The Catholic section, who are no less generous than 
the Socialists, who although the greater part are sincere, 

152 



The Holsteins 

are indifferent to Divine will, should show an example of 
reconciliation. The bishops would then have a great role 
to perform. Religious conferences and pilgrimages 
might afford occasions of meeting on a better footing, and 
before I die I should like to see Germans, Belgians and 
French united in the presence of the God of Love, in the 
same faith and in the same hope, and through the hove 
of His Law they would then exchange the kiss of peace. 



'53 



CHAPTER XIII 
The Courts of Munich and Old Germany 

EACH time I have stayed at the Court of Vienna I 
have regretted that I did not know Louis II per- 
sonally. When I first saw him he had already 
taken refuge in his dreams and his dreamlike castles. 

Like Rudolph, he had been seized with a great mis- 
trust, not of humanity, but of those who directed human 
affairs. He did not, like Rudolph, find a way of escape 
in suicide. Louis II created for himself a paradise of art 
and beauty, where he endeavoured to lose himself, 
away from his people, whom he loved, and by whom* 
he was loved in return. 

I once caught sight of him in the park at Munich 
sitting alone in his state carriage, escorted by rather 
theatrical outriders. Behind the bevelled plate-glass 
windows framed in gold, he sat imposing and motionless.. 

He was an astonishing apparition, one which the crowd 
saluted without his seeming to take any notice. 

After his extravagances the Court, forced to economize, 
easily adopted a more or less bourgeois existence. 

I rejoiced to see the patriarchal customs of the Regent, 
Prince Luitpbld. I had not then much experience of 
politics, and only saw the surface of things. The im- 
patient insubordination of Bavaria to Prussia, from which 

154 



The Courts of Munich and Old Germany 

a more intelligent and less divided Europe might have 
derived so much advantage, escaped me. I only saw in 
the Regent a character out of one of Topfer's stories. 

He devoted the greater part of his time, even in his 
old age, to physical exercises. Shooting and swimming 
were his favourite pastimes. He bathed every day all the 
year round in one of the large ponds on his estate in 
Nymphenburg. And when he was not shooting he was 
walking. His outward appearance gave no indication of 
his rank. I met him one autumn day in Vienna in one of 
the little streets off the Prater behind the Lusthaus; he 
was in his shirt sleeves ; his coat and top hat were hanging 
on the point of the walking-stick which he carried over 
his shoulder. He seemed happier than a king. 

His inseparable companion, a poodle no less shaggy 
and hairy than his master, accompanied him. They 
looked exactly like one another. At a distance a near- 
sighted person might easily have mistaken the dog for the 
Regent and the Regent for the dog. 

Louis HI, his son and successor, inherited his father's 
simple tastes, which he believed he could simplify still 
more. But excess in anything is a mistake. His abuse 
of simplicity was practically his only way of making a 
mark in contemporaneous history. History will not pre- 
serve the memory of this mediocre King of Bavaria, but 
it will remember his unfashionable clothes, his concertina 
trousers, his square boots with rubber heels and his 
vyrinkled socks, by which he wished to demonstrate his 
democratic tastes. He would have done better to have 

155 



My Own Affairs 

recollected that the duty of a king is to raise the man iii 
the street to the level of the throne, and not to let the 
king descend to the level of the man in the street. 

He was not popular, owing to his bad taste. In vain 
he paraded his love of beer, coarse jokes, sausages and 
skittles. The Bavarians remembered Louis II as a good 
king, and at the same time as a grandly spectacular king. 

People are flattered when a king who is a king un- 
bends to them, but if he looks like a carter they experience 
no pride in seeing him drive the chariot of State as if it 
were a cart. 

The Court of Bavaria, which had slightly retrieved its 
former position before 19 14, fell between Scylla and 
Charybdis when the Crown Prince of Bavaria and the 
Man of Berlin played with the thunderbolts of war. The 
Wittelsbachs vanished like smoke in the defeat of 
Prussian ambitions. 

They might still have been at Munich if they had 
furthered legitimate Bavarian ambitions, and judged them 
fronn the exclusive point of view of the political and' 
religious needs of their country. 

It must be recollected, however, that the German 
thrones were threatened. Neither the rigid discipline of 
Berlin, the go-as-you-please rule of Munich, nor the 
mixed systems which existed between these two extremes 
could have kept up the anachronism of worn-out forms 
which the people instinctively rejected by paying more 
attention year by year to Socialism and Republicanism. 

The German kings have vanished. It is not impos- 

156 



The Courts of Munich and Old Germany 

sible that they may return ; if not the same, others, perhaps 
better qualified to rule. Nations are restricted in their 
choice as to the methods of government. Monarchy is the 
form which pleases them, or rather which they tolerate, 
more often than any other. Monarchy originates from the 
family principle, which is an eternal principle. The true 
king is a father. Monarchy may be reborn in Germany 
and elsewhere, but its powers will be modified and re- 
stricted by the times. As it existed in Germany it has 
been condemned to extinction by reason of its archaism. 

The Church alone has the privilege of not becoming 
obsolete, by the constant return of mankind to an immut- 
able doctrine. Monarchies become obsolete owing to 
men of the same blood, the same name and the same race 
who aspire to exist uninfluenced by the constant changes 
of the conditions of life. When they fall exhausted, then 
comes the time of the Republic. But because the family 
principle is the foundation of social existence, and because 
a Republic favours the individual rather than the family, 
the Republic in its turn disappears and Monarchy re- 
appears. Such is the way of the world. 

Germany would be the first to admit this if she 
possessed any philosophical sense whatever. It is a 
popular legend that Germany possesses the philosophical 
spirit, and nothing is more invincible than a legend. But, 
as a matter of fact, there is no nation on earth at once 
more metaphysical and less philosophical than the 
German nation. Metaphysics alone help her people to 
dream and to accept these dreams for realities. In no 

157 



My Own Affairs 

way does it lead them to a condition of wise clear- 
sightedness. 

The German nation has fallen into the pit dug 
for it by Imperial Prussia. Every Court, important or 
otherwise, was convinced that Berlin and the Hohen- 
zollerns would be masters of the hour. 

Certain showy Monarchies, feeling the pressure of a 
rather frock-coated Socialism, have tried to accommodate 
themselves to Social Democracy as Social Democracy 
adapts itself to them. 

Nevertheless, one saw some maintaining their tradi- 
tional ceremonial undisturbed. 

Such a Monarchy was the little Court of Thurn and 
Taxis at Regensburg, the most picturesque and most 
amusing Court which I have known. 

I have often played skittles at Regensburg; but what 
a spectacle we presented ! We played skittles wearing 
our tiaras and our long-trained gowns. There was 
etiquette in handling and bowling a large ball. More 
than one tiara became insecure, and more than one player 
groaned in her jewels, silks and embroideries, not to men- 
tion her corsets. Luckily clothes were then capable of 
more resistance. If this had occurred nowadays, when 
women dress in transparencies which are as scanty a^ 
possible, what would not one have seen.-* 

It must not be thought that this was a chance game of 
skittles which I played dressed in full Court toilette. It 
was the fashion. You did everything at Regensburg in a 
procession, preceded by a Master of the Ceremonies. And 

158 



The Courts of Munich and Old Germany 

because and for all that, as Victor Hugo says somewhere, 
it was very droll. 

Life at Regensburg was agreeable. The prince and 
princess entertained magnificently. The palace lent itself 
admirably to entertaining, as it was a superb residence, 
royally furnished and surrounded by gardens which were 
tended with love. The cooking equalled that of the 
cuisine dear to the heart of Ferdinand of Bulgaria. The 
charming part about it was that the antiquated ceremonial 
was so well ordered that certain exaggerations were quickly 
forgotten in the beauty of rhythm and arrangement, which 
recalled the dignity of bygone days. 

We went to the races in splendid state barouches, 
preceded by equally well turned out outriders. The 
Count of Stanfferberg, Master of the Horse, an old 
Austrian officer, rode at the side of the prince's carriage, 
and the gentlemen-in-waiting were so attentive that, had 
there been no step to the carriage, every one of them 
would have supplied the place with their persons. 

If we went to the theatre we went in full dress, pre- 
ceded by torch-bearers to the princely box. 

An etiquette of this description compelled one to 
maintain the dignity of one's station. But the prince and 
his wife liked this ceremonial; they only lived to prolong 
the pomp of past centuries. 

It had been said that Princess Marguerite of Thurn 
and Taxis somewhat resembled Marie Antoinette. The 
prince, who believed in the said resemblance, wished 
to give his wife a set of diamonds which had once 

1 59 



My Own Affairs 

belonged to the unfortunate Queen of France. He 
bought them and the princess wore them. I was afraid 
that' there might be some fatality in this, but there were 
no superstitions at the Court of Thurn and Taxis. The 
future was seen through rose-coloured glasses, and in 
order to make the appearance of the princess suit the 
historical diamonds the famous Lentheric was once sent 
for from Paris on the occasion of a Court ball, to 
arrange the princess's hair " h. la frigate," and trans- 
form her into a quasi Marie Antoinette, whom one 
would have been very sorry to have seen starting for 
the scaffold. 

When the wind of revolution swept over Germany the 
dethroned princes were spared this punishment. They 
departed for foreign countries, and not for the scaffold. 
Germany, left to herself and no longer intoxicated by 
Berlin, has not massacred a single one of her sovereigns 
of yesterday. And this fact alone should rightly afford 
food for reflection to all those who speak of Germany 
without really knowing her. 

* * * m * 

In the little Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha life wasj 
quite different from that at the Court of Thurn and Taxis. 
Here nature and art joined hands. There were no showy 
processions, no studied etiquette; only a charming and 
distinguished simplicity which exemplified the taste of 
this German prince of high and human culture — my 
uncle, the reigning Duke Ernest H, whose kindness to 
me I have already mentioned. 

i6o 



The Courts of Munich and Old Germany 

He never tired of spoiling me, and he wished me to 
feel that whenever I was at the palace I was a queen. 
His affection never changed. In his society and that of 
my aunt the duchess, who was also very affectionate and 
kind to me, I have often forgotten the misery of my 
marriage. 

His stag-hunts in the beautiful country of Thuringia, 
through forests of firs and beeches, were for me an 
intoxicating pleasure. 

I followed the duke's lead ; he was a good shot and a 
good horseman; his years did not trouble him. Often, 
in the mountains, I rode a white mule, and the duke re- 
marked on the touch of colour which my mount and I 
made in that rustic countryside. 

In the evening, when the weather was fine, we dined 
under the big trees, which were lit up by well-arranged 
lanterns. I usually wore a light dress to please the duke, 
who also liked me to adorn myself with a garland of 
flowers which he himself made up every day, as an 
act of delicate homage from the most courteous of 
uncles. 

When I stayed with the Duchess Marie at Rosenau, I 
also passed many happy hours. Her daughters werq 
lovely girls. What a radiant apparition was Princess 
Marie, now Queen of Rumania ! Once seen — she was 
never forgotten ! 

Coburg, the cradle of a family which has given to 
Europe so many kings and queens, princes and princesses, 
Royal and Imperial, has witnessed numerous gatherings 



i6i 



My Own Affairs 

of the present generation. A marriage, an engagement, 
or a holiday invariably brought the members of the 
Coburg family to their native country. Young and old 
were happy to return and forget some of the duties which 
their position demanded; others were glad to forget the 
burden of their studies. Each tried to be himself and to 
behave as an ordinary human being. 

The delights of a normal existence are very attractive 
to those who are deprived thereof by their position and 
their duties. The general public has a false idea of 
royalty. It believes them to be different from what they 
are, while, as a matter of fact, they really wish to be the 
same as anyone else. 

No doubt princes, like William II, are to be met with 
who think that they are composed of a different clay 
from the rest of mankind. They have lost their heads 
by posing before the looking-glass and by inhaling the 
incense of flattery. They are merely accidents. Any 
man who suffered similarly would be just as bad, no 
matter to what class he belonged. It is true that the 
disease would not then have the same social conse- 
quences. Again, Monarchism has become more and more 
under control and is practically limited to a symbolic 
function, since it depended more on one man than 
another. It could have been both efficacious and influen- 
tial if the prince had possessed personality; but if he 
possessed mediocre qualities without serious influence of 
any sort he was merely a nonentity. After him would 

perhaps come a better ruler. But everything is a lottery, 

162 



The Courts of Munich and Old Germany 

and universal suffrage and the elections of Parliaments 
are no less blind than fate. 

At Coburg I was brought into close association with 
the Empress Frederick, who died with her ambitions un- 
fulfilled, great in her isolation. She saw with an eye 
which knew no illusions the Royal and Imperial crown of 
Prussia and Germany pass swiftly from her husband to 
her son. The egotism and the vanity of the " Person- 
age " aroused in her more fear than hope. And with what 
an expression of pity did her eyes rest on the mediocrity 
of her daughter-in-law ! 

The Romanoffs and their relations also remained 
faithful to Coburg. The grand dukes the brothers of the 
Duchess Marie, her sisters-in-law the Grand Duchesses 
Vladimir and Serge, who were both beautiful in a different 
style, brought with them echoes of the stately and com- 
plex Court of Russia, that Asiatic Court which I always 
felt was a thousand miles and a thousand years beyond 
the comprehension of the present century. 

Amongst other memorable ceremonies which I have 
witnessed at the cradle of the family, I have retained the 
remembrance of the marriage of the Grand Duke of Hesse 
with Princess Melita, who became later the Grand 
Duchess Cyril. Happiness seemed to preside at the fete. 
Love had been invited — a rare guest at princely unions. 

I will not say much about the betrothal of poor " Nick " 
with Alice of Hesse, which was also celebrated at Hesse. 

He who was to become the Tsar Nicholas H, appeared 

a sad, timid, nervous and insignificant man, at any rate 

163 



My Own Affairs 

from a worldly point of view. His fiancee was distant in 
manner, absorbed and self-centred. Already her en- 
tourage was concerned about her visionary and rather 
eccentric tendencies. 

She had replaced Princess Beatrice (who had married 
Henry of Battenberg) as Queen Victoria's reader and 
favourite companion. The Queen desired the throne of 
Russia for her granddaughter, and she brought about the 
marriage of which I witnessed the betrothal ceremonies. 
The old Queen presided. But everything lacked gaiety. 
If joy appeared to reign for a moment it seemed never- 
theless to be forced. One felt depressed by the weight 
of some unknown calamity. Perhaps Destiny wished to 
warn Alice of Hesse and Nicholas of Russia of their 
impending fate. 



164 



CHAPTER XIV 
Queen Victoria 

IS it possible for me to mention the name of Queen 
Victoria without remembering that the Prince of 
Coburg and myself were often the guests of our aunt 
and cousin? One of the most hospitable of women, she 
revelled in the joys of domesticity, and liked nothing better 
than to gather her relatives around her, preferably the 
Coburgs, the family of which the Prince Consort was a 
member. 

Although the Queen was extremely short, afflicted with 
a corpulency that was almost a deformity, and an exces- 
sively red face, she nevertheless possessed an air of great 
distinction when she entered the room, supported by one 
of the magnificent Indian servants who were her personal 
attendants. She usually carried a white handkerchief so 
arranged that the lace border showed, and she favoured 
a black silk gown with a small train, the corsage cut in 
V shape. She wore round her neck a locket containing 
a miniature of Prince Albert, her never-to-be-forgotten 
husband, on her head a widow's cap of white crepe; she 
very rarely wore gloves. On special occasions the 
Koh-i-noor, that wonderful diamond, the treasure of 
treasures of India, sparkled with a thousand fires in the 
folds of the crepe cap. 

'65 



My Own Affairs 

The Queen did not leave much impression of her per- 
sonality, although she was most impressive in her move- 
ments, her tones and her look. Her nose had a curious 
way of trembling, which was almost an index of her 
thoughts. And how shall I describe that amazingly cold 
glance which she was wont to cast over the family circle ? 
The slightest error in dress, the slightest breach of 
etiquette was instantly noticed. A hint or a reprimand 
followed in a voice that brooked no reply. Then her nose 
wrinkled, her lips became compressed, her face flushed a 
deeper scarlet, and the whole of the Royal Person 
appeared to be swept by the storm of anger. 

But once the storm had passed, the Queen smiled her 
charming smile, as if she wished to efface the memory of 
her previous ill-humour. 

In arriving or departing she always bowed to those 
around her with a curious little protective movement. 

On one occasion I had the misfortune to displease 
her. 

The Queen detested the curled fringes which hid the 
forehead and were then fashionable. This rather unbe- 
coming mode is within the recollection of many. I admit 
I adopted it. Fashion is fashion. This style of coiffure 
greatly annoyed the Queen, who said to me one day: 
" You milst dress your hair differently, and in a manner 
more suitable to a princess." 

She was right. Unfortunately the Prince of Coburg, 
who equally disliked this curled coiffure, was present when 
our aunt made this remark. If she had given him the 

1 66 



Queen Victoria 

Koh-i-noor he could not have been better pleased. I 
was therefore treated to a sound scolding from my 
husband, which resulted in making me decide not to take 
any notice of the Queen's censure. My hair still remained 
in curls on my forehead. 

At Windsor, as in the Isle of Wight, the Queen drove 
out every evening about 6 o'clock — no matter what the 
weather might be. We were usually honoured by accom- 
panying her. Occasionally we were obliged to wait quite 
a long time for the Queen to make her appearance. At 
last, preceding the Queen, a plaid on his arm, a flask of 
whisky slung over his shoulder, came John Brown, the 
faithful Scotsman whose doings occupied such a pro- 
minent position in the Court Circular, and who, like many 
others of his kind, represents an unpublished feuilleton in 
the history of Courts. 

He led the way, ensconced himself in the brake drawn 
by two grey horses, and the drive — which lasted about 
two hours — began. 

Evening fell. John Brown moved about in his seat. 
He frequently turned his head, hopeful to receive the 
Queen's orders to return. Was this anxiety on account 
of his fear of rheumatism, or of some chill, which, notwith- 
standing the comforting properties of whisky, would have 
affected his health and prevented him fulfilling his duties 
to the Queen? I really cannot say. All I know is that 
John Brown detested twilight drives on a damp even- 
ing. They always affected his temper, and he did not 

attempt to conceal his feelings — but, for that matter, 
L 167 



My Own Affairs 

he never attempted to do anything contrary to his 
inclination. 

Even the Queen's children experienced John Brown's 
autocracy. 

It happened that the Prince of Wales, afterwards the 
great King Edward VII, once wanted to see his mother 
on urgent and unexpected business. But John Brown 
opened the door of the Queen's room and said decisively : 
" You cannot see the Queen, Sir." 

If in the intimacy of her daily life Queen Victoria 
allowed herself some moments of relaxation, she was, 
nevertheless, a great Sovereign and an imposing figure. 
Her Jubilee, celebrated with a splendour which my con- 
temporaries will easily remember, showed her real status in 
the world. The procession through London in the midst 
of a delirious and cheering populace, the cavalcade of 
kings, princes, rajahs, and other representatives of the 
Dominions, resplendent in their magnificent uniforms and 
blazing with precious stones, was a spectacle worthy of the 
" Arabian Nights." 

We shall never look upon the like again. Men will 
never honour temporal power as they did when they thus 
exalted a woman who so nobly represented the Past, the 
Present and the Future of the United Kingdom, the 
Empire of India, and the Colonies. 

Do not say " vanity of vanities." Pomp and Circum- 
stance have their reasons for existence. A society which 
does not possess a theocracy, an aristocracy and a pomp in 

proportion to its institutions is a moribund society. It will 

1 68 



Queen Victoria 

always be necessary to return to the equivalents of Sove- 
reignty, the Court and Divinity, without which the dis- 
crowned social edifice will be a barn or a ruin. 

It was on the occasion of one of the great Jubilee enter- 
tainments that, owing to my annoying and incorrigible habit 
of unpunctuality, I arrived late to take my place in the 
Royal cortege. I will admit that I was often purposely 
late, because I knew that this enraged the Prince of Coburg 
beyond anything else, and he always began the day by 
saying that he knew beforehand I should not be punctual. 

Women who read this book will understand how diffi- 
cult it is to be quite punctual for an engagerhent when one 
is wearing a special gown for the first time. Men will 
never understand these feminine difficulties ! 

I frankly acknowledge that on this occasion I ought 
to have arranged matters differently; I did not wish to be 
in fault. State ceremonial exacted that nobody should be 
absent at the formation of the cortege. And, as owing to 
my marriage, my rank and position relegated me towards 
the end, quite a number of kings and queens had been 
obliged to wait until I made my appearance. 

When I entered I was, naturally, in a state of extreme 

confusion. But at this period I was in the heyday of my 

beauty. I knew that I was beautiful and admired. I saw 

most eyes turned unsympathetically in my direction. The 

women looked cross, but happily the men, who at first 

seemed severe, were not long in softening towards me. I 

was dazzled by the light of these earthly suns ! 

But to hesitate was to be lost ! It behoved me to 

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My Own Affairs 

derive instant advantage from the situation. Silence and 
impassiveness greeted the apparition of the culprit who 
had dared hold up the progress of the Queen of Eng- 
land and her illustrious suite. I realized that my entrance 
must be of the kind which succeeds only once in a lifetime. 

I took my time — and I put all the grace imaginable 
into my curtsy to the Queen, and my bow to the assembled 
Court. 

I approached to kiss my mother's hand, who, overjoyed 
to hear the flattering murmur which followed my method of 
asking pardon, drew me towards her, saying as she did 
so : " You were made to be a queen." 

Even now a tear rises from my heart to my eyes. What 
a strange nature we possess ! But when one has been 
metaphorically born on the steps of a throne, one feels the 
need for success, homage and ovations. One not only 
preserves their memory, but one also retains the wish for 
them and the regret when they no longer exist. 



170 



CHAPTER XV 

The Drama of my Captivity and my Life as a Prisoner 
—The Commencement of Torture 

MY misfortunes, alas ! are known to the public all 
over the world. But it is not on me that they 
weigh most heavily. 

If calumny and persecution, assisted by the most 
powerful influences, have continually added blow upon 
blow, one truth, at least, is patent : / was not — / am not — 
mad, and those who endeavoured to affirm that I was 
insane, did so to their shame, and, I also hope, to their 
sorrow. 

" Nevertheless," it was said, " the princess is peculiar." 
Others, better informed, declared emphatically, " She is 
weak-minded." 

Not that, thank Heaven ! 

My " expenditure," my " prodigality," my " debts," 
and " my relinquishing my interests and my will to my 
entourage " have all been objected to. 

Let us briefly discuss these " peculiarities " and these 
" weaknesses." 

It is perfectly true that at times I have been extra- 
vagant. I have said, and I still repeat, that this extrava- 
gance was a way of revenging myself for the constraints 

and pettiness of an oppressive avarice. 

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My Own Affairs 

It is true, as I have also admitted, that, as in the natural 
order of events I thought I should inherit a considerable 
fortune, I have been weak in some things and I have not 
resisted certain temptations. 

People talk of the fantastic sums of money which I 
have spent. I calculate that I have not disbursed ten 
millions of francs since 1897, the year when I made a bid 
for freedom. Higher figures have been given, but these 
are represented by the exaggerations of speculators and 
usurers sent by my enemies to help their case, and to bear 
witness of " follies " after having palmed off their worthless 
securities on me. 

Everyone knows the edifying story of the German 
creditor who appeared before the Court at Brussels de- 
puted to pay my debts out of the funds accruing to me 
from the inheritance of the King, and put in a claim for 
seven million marks, which was reduced to nothing after 
due inquiry and verification of what he had really advanced 
and received. 

If I were to lower myself to write the story of the 
various manoeuvres against my independence, all with one 
object of placing me in such a position that I could neither 
live nor act, my readers would say : " It is impossible, she 
is romancing." 

But the most unlikely romances are not those which 
are published. Life alone reveals them. 

Reflect ; I had to choose between slavery, imprisonment 

in a madhouse, or flight and, in consequence, an active 

defence of my personal rights. 

172 



The Drama of my Captivity 

I fled, and I have defended myself. But, in order to 
capture and break me, my allowance was reduced to a 
mere pittance, and, later, even the means of getting my 
daily bread were cut off. 

I had lost the best of mothers ; the King, deceived and 
irritated, but more politic than I in all that concerned me, 
placed appearances above the obligations of his conscience, 
and took no further interest in the cruel fate of his eldest 
daughter. 

From the time of my incarceration my sisters and the 
rest of my family sided with the King. I saw myself 
forgotten by my relatives, who for years never came near 
me in the asylum. 

/ was either mad or I was not mad. To abandon me 
thus showed that I was not. 

The Press at last became indignant a< this neglect. 
Then my relatives came, but oh, very rarely ! It was so 
painful, so embarrassing for them — but it was not em- 
barrassing for me. 

When I escaped, their pretended pity gave way to open 
anger. . . . 

It was necessary, however, for me to live and to make 
as much return as I could for services which had been 
rendered me. At last I was compelled to go to law — a 
new crime ! 

My crime did not consist in my rebellion against a 
husband and a marriage of convenience that had become 
impossible. . . . Have I been the first woman to be forced 
into matrimony? . . . My crime consisted in showing that 

173 



My Own Affairs 

deplorable spirit which the world rarely pardons — the 
fighting spirit, the spirit of resistance. 

The world dislikes a woman who defends herself, and 
I admit the mystery of procedure and the devious ways of 
the law have always been beyond me, but a woman who 
defends herself resolutely, for the sake of principle, honour 
and right, this woman is detestable. . . . She wishes to 
prove herself in the right against established authority; 
she creates a scandal; she cries : " I am not mad ! " She 
cries : " I have been robbed ! " Why, such a woman is a 
public nuisance. 

As a rule, well-bred people who are imprisoned and 
robbed do not make much noise about it. But in the case 
of the daughter of a king and the wife of a prince who 
objects to being thought either demented or a dupe, it is 
unforgivable of her to create a scandal. Had she done 
the right thing she would not have been talked about. 
She would still be in the shadow of the lime trees of the 
Court; and, as she wants to dabble in literature, she could 
have written a book about the glory of human justice in 
Belgium and elsewhere. 

Many thanks ! My conscience is still my own. I will 
not yield it up. I will die misunderstood, slandered and 
robbed, my last word will be a word of protest. That for 
which I have been reproached must be vindicated; I will 
make good. I have nothing to be ashamed of as regards 
my past " extravagances." 

God be thanked that my " victims " have always been 
paid in full, and always to their own advantage. 

174 



The Drama of my Captivity 

I should consider myself dishonoured had I caused 
anyone to lose anything due to him, no matter how small 
the sum. I would rather have settled with the cheats than 
have disputed with them. 

Having written so fully about my expenditure, let me 
now turn to the so-called surrender of my fortune and my 
will to my entourage. 

Let none be deceived ! Touching this, slander has 
always attacked one person alone, he to whom I have con- 
secrated my life as he has vowed his life to me. His 
enemies have credited him with their own base motives. 
They did not want to see, and they denied that he was, 
by his greatness of soul, far above all miserable calcula- 
tions of self-interest. 

In vain he threw into the abyss all that he had, all 
that he was likely to possess. What sublime abnegation, 
stifled by hate beneath its hideous inventions ! 

Oh, noble friend, what has not the howling and 
monstrous beast of hatred said of you? 

No doubt you, like myself, were unable to struggle 
against fraudulent financiers, deceitful men of law and 
treacherous friends. But to dare to insinuate that you 
have ever subjugated my will, misled my steps, falsified 
my acts — ah ! it is more absurd than infamous. 

I have, I always have had, a power of resistance capable 
of sacrificing everything to an ideal of honour and liberty, 
otherwise I should have been a mere doll, or a weather- 
cock responsive to every breath. 

Full of consciousness as regards the essentials of- 

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My Own Affairs 

human dignity, I should then be unconsciousness personi- 
fied for things of secondary importance. 

Is not that foolish ? 

But let us leave this topic and throw a new light on the 
subject of the incredible attempts of a hatred which nothing 
could disarm up to that day when another justice, not that 
of man, overthrew thrones so unworthily occupied and 
delivered me from the persecutions of which I was the 
object. 

On the eve of their fall the German and Austro-Hun- 
garian monarchs still believed they could do as they liked 
with me. The wrongs I suffered are only one example of 
what they dared do. What crimes have they not com- 
mitted which still lie hidden ! And what corruption clings 
even to their memory ! 

The commencement of the intrigues which brought 
about my fall is known to the world. 

I was at Nice with my daughter. Dora, who repre- 
sented alike my hope and my consolation, was taken from 
me by her fiance, who was in league with the Prince 
of Coburg, and who broke the solemn promise he had 
given me. 

The prince instinctively felt that I intended to make my 
escape, and he knew that with me would also vanish his 
hopes of possessing my inheritance from the King of 
the Belgians. 

" She might get a divorce," he thought to himself. 
" She might marry again." 

I had thought of divorte. This might well have to 

176 



The Drama of my Captivity 

come much later. But if I could not help freeing myself 
from a promise to a man who had destroyed the reasons 
which were the basis of the spoken vow, I hesitated about 
freeing myself from my vows to an invisible and silent 
God, who does not corrupt, deceive or persecute. 

The indissolubility of marriage is one thing ; the sever- 
ance of the ties of the flesh is another. The longer I live 
the more I have become convinced that divorce is a 
scourge. We must have courage to admit that individual 
cases ought to be considered of no account, the interest of 
the community must alone be considered. The higher the 
value that is set on marriage the better will society become. 
The marriage tie has become something excessively fragile, 
and as a result society possesses no solidity. The Church 
is right. But who among us does not stumble, and which 
of us does not disregard the fact that Divine law is 
essentially a human law? 

The count received at Nice the seconds of the Prince 
of Coburg, to whom the Court of Francis Joseph had rele- 
gated this duty. The duel brought the two adversaries 
face to face in the Cavalry Riding School at Vienna in 
February, 1898. The lieutenant fired twice in the air, 
and twice the general fired at the lieutenant. They were 
then handed swords. The lieutenant continued to treat 
the general with respect and touched him lightly on the 
right hand. 

He thus added to the feelings of hatred which the 
prince already had towards him. Three weeks later he 
was implicated in that abominable story of the forged bills 

177 



My Own Affairs 

of exchange which was entirely an invention, and to which, 
later, the Reichsrath accorded full justice. 

The impossible judgment which pretended to dis- 
honour one of the most noble of men would never have 
been pronounced if I had been called as a witness. 

But my enemies hastened to have me incarcerated. 
My evidence was suppressed and the count was 
condemned. 

A man still lives, silent and hidden, who, if I reckon 
rightly, must be seventy-five years old. I write these 
lines hoping that he will be able to read them before he 
disappears finally from the world. 

Now, when my memory invokes him, I see him stand- 
ing at the threshold of the madhouse into which his hatred 
had caused me to be thrown, and I see him at the gate of 
the prison where he had caused Count Geza Mattachich 
to be confined. But I should like him to know that his 
victims have pardoned him. They could, to-day, demand 
satisfaction from Austrian justice, now freed from the con- 
straints of former years. His victims will spare him. Let 
Him who will judge us all, judge this old man. I do not 
even know who were the instruments of his vengeance. 

Not long since in Vienna a poor creature three-parts 
blind and with one foot in the grave was pointed out to 
me, and I heard the name of the Jewish lawyer, now re- 
pudiated by all that is estimable in Jewry in Austria, who 
was the agent, the instigator, and the counsellor of the 
implacable hatred which determined on my destruction. 

I looked back at him thinking that this same personage, 

178 



The Drama of my Captivity 

so stubborn in his system of police severity, and in his 
service of the abuse of power, had also armed the hand 
of the woman who killed my son. . . . 

And greatly moved, I asked myself : 

" Have they understood? " 

Yes, perhaps. Doubtless they are no longer what they 
were. Life must also have changed them. 

Can they, without pain, remember yesterday ? 

To speak candidly, we fled in order to escape these 
enemies ; I did not stop to think, and I believed that they 
could have ordered our arrest. I also believed the word 
of emissaries in the pay of the prince. We were then in 
France where I ran no risk. I wished to leave for Eng- 
land and implore the help and protection of Queen 
Victoria who had given me so many evidences of her 
affection. 

My faithful lady-in-waiting, Comtesse Fugger, shared 
my fears and accompanied me in my hasty flight. 

We had scarcely reached London when we received all 
sorts of mysterious hints from pretended friends. We 
must go back at once or the count and I would be lost. 
We therefore left London without any attempt on my 
part to rejoin the Queen, whom we had passed on our 
journey, as she had just left England for the south of 
France. 

We were not of the stuff of which criminals are made. 
They are more callous. Hemmed in by our own too- 
credulous imagination, we then thought of taking refuge 

with the count's mother at the Chateau de Lobor. 

179 



My Own Affairs 

No one has ever understood why, and how, I brought 
myself to go to Croatia, to the house of Countess 
Keglevich. 

Her second husband, the stepfather of Count Geza 
Mattachich, was a member of the Chamber of the Hun- 
garian Magnates, a Deputy and friend of the Vassals of 
Croatia. I felt convinced that nobody would dare to carry 
me off whilst under his roof. 

Our adventure was by this time a public topic. The 
papers of every country referred to it. The duel was the 
culminating point of this terrible publicity. And, since 
calumny and its manoeuvres had not, as yet, had any 
effect, we were looked upon as romantic persons whose 
sincerity disarmed criticism and called forth feelings of 
sympathy. 

When I think that since then I have been taxed with 
duplicity, I cannot help smiling. Few cases can be 
quoted of a more open existence than mine. I have never 
concealed from my friends what an exaction my life with 
my husband was to me, and when I was powerless, I never 
made any mystery of the help which I found in a chivalrous 
deliverer most providentially placed in my path. 

But the world does not forgive those who will not wear 
a mask of duplicity, and who refuse to conceal the feelings 
of their heart. 

So many people are compelled to hide their feelings. 
But we, but I . . . truly, where is the crime? 

I am quite prepared to die; I have no fear of the 

justice of God. 

1 80 



The Drama of my Captivity 

Strong in our common loyalty we were foolishly per- 
suaded that in France, England, Germany and elsewhere 
we should be in danger; we had been warned that my 
husband's intention was to put me in an asylum — Gunther 
of Holstein had told me this, and had spoken of having 
me protected by his all-powerful brother-in-law. . . . What 
an unforgettable comedy ! We arrived in Croatia feeling 
sure that under the Keglevich roof I should be safe. 

The count confided me to his relatives for so long as 
it would take to obtain a separation from the Prince of 
Coburg. The talk died down. Public opinion was on my 
side, chiefly in Agram where the count and his family were 
regarded with affection. At Vienna even the inimical 
camarilla was disarmed. We were now only two creatures 
like so many others ; the one bruised by her broken chains, 
the other willing to assist her. And this devotion perhaps, 
one day, would be sanctified by time. 

Oh dreams ! Oh hopes ! We are your playthings. 
The awful reality rises up and rends us. 

We had not foreseen the plot against us and what 
odious accusations would be levelled at the count. 

Suddenly his stepfather, who was well known at 
Court and had influence in other directions, was separated 
from us. Apparently he had been told, in confidence, of 
the crime imputed to his stepson, and the accusation did 
its work. 

This explanation of his change of manner is the most 
indulgent I can give. 

The support of Count Keglevich thus failing us, the 

i8i 



My Own Affairs 

countess, torn between love of her son and her husband, 
was placed in a very delicate position, and our enemies 
had therefore a free field at Agram. 

However, there were two parties ; on our side were the 
students and the peasants, and against us were the police 
and the authorities. 

Directly the count thought that we had the support of 
the students and the country people, he was afraid, and 
delivered us up. The prince's lawyer — this man whom I 
cannot name — was given full power. The Emperor con- 
sented to let him act as he thought best, and he had a 
pocket full of warrants. 

I ought to say, on behalf of Francis Joseph, that he 
had been assured that the count wished to kill me. To 
which the Sovereign is said to have replied : 

" I don't want a second Meyerling. Do what is 
necessary." 

The prince and his hirelings were not lacking in inven- 
tive skill. Their measures were well taken and their plans 
well laid. A special train was kept in readiness at the 
station at Agram for the woman who was to be declared 
mad for reasons of State, and a cell in the military prison 
was prepared for the man who was to be made a criminal 
in the eyes of the world. 

All Austria knew this, as well as many other things. 

A doctor (an official whom I had never seen), with my 

certificate of lunacy in readiness, was waiting for me at 

Agram by order of the police, together with a nurse from 

the Doebling Lunatic Asylum. 

182 



The Drama of my Captivity 

These people and a fosse of detectives lay in wait for 
a whole week. All depended on getting us to go into the 
town. They would not have dared to have arrested us at 
the Chateau of Lobor in the open country, where our 
defenders would have hastened to our succour in the 
twinkling of an eye. 

The military authorities ordered the count to proceed 
to Agram, and being an officer on leave he was forced to 
obey. 

We had a presentiment of some " coup." But our 
situation at the chateau had become awkward owing to the 
change of attitude of its owner, who had now left, taking 
Countess Keglevich with him. It seemed to us that 
nothing could be worse than this cruel estrangement. How- 
ever, the count had to obey orders, so I, too, resolved to 
go to Agram. It was impossible for me to shun any danger 
that threatened him. 

Sd we left. I went, with my devoted Countess Fugger, 
to the Hotel Pruckner. The count went to the rooms 
retained for him, and I to mine. We arrived late at night. 

In the morning, towards nine o'clock, when I was still 
in bed, the door of my room was forced open. The 
prince's lawyer entered, followed by men dressed and 
gloved in black — police officers in full dress. The doctor 
and the nurse from Doebling formed the background. 

The special train was waiting with steam up in the 

station. Some hours later, without having a chance to 

collect myself, I was suddenly snatched from normal 

society and found myself in a cell at the Doebling 

M 183 



My Own Affairs 

Asylum on the outskirts of Vienna. By means of a 
grating in the door I could be constantly watched. The 
window was barred on the outside. I heard shouts and 
howls in the distance. 

They had placed me in the part of the asylum reserved 
for those who were raving mad. I saw one patient who had 
been released for an airing running round a little sanded 
court, the walls of which were padded with mattresses. He 
was jumping and throwing himself about, uttering piercing 
shrieks. 

I started back, horrified, covering my eyes and ears. 
I threw myself on my narrow bed and, sobbing bitterly, 
I tried to hide my head under the pillow and the bed- 
clothes so as neither to hear nor see. 

What might I not have become without the memory 
of the Queen and withouf the help of God? My faith 
sustained me and gave me the courage of martyrs. 

Meanwhile at Agram, the count, also under arrest, was 
being told that by virtue of the Austrian Military Code of 
1768 he was accused — by whom will soon appear — of 
having negotiated bills bearing the signatures of Prin- 
cess Louise of Saxe-Coburg and the Archduchess 
Stephanie. 

I was to be declared mad, and he was to be proclaimed 
a forger ! 

The worst they did to me was nothing compared with 
what they brought against him. 

Ah ! this justice of the Court which revolution has since 
swept away ! Ah ! this code of an army, a slave to a throne 

184 



The Drama of my Captivity 

and not the guardian of the country ! What defiance of 
good sense at the dawn of the twentieth century ! 

And then we are astonished when the people rise ! 

The count was put in prison on the accusation of the 
same nameless individual who had interested himself as 
a police agent in- my affairs. The Governor of Agram was 
under his orders. He believed the word — or appeared to 
do so — of this petty lawyer who stated that Count Geza 
Mattachich had forged my signature, and that of my sister 
Stephanie, on bills which had already been nine months 
in the hands of the bill discounters of Vienna, who had 
suddenly ( !) discovered the signatures to be forgeries. 

My signature was in my own writing. This was why 
it was not advisable to allow me to speak. 

My sister's signature was a forgery and added after- 
wards, but by whom and why? 

It would have been most inadvisable to have allowed 
me to ask this. The count knew nothing about these bills 
and the use of the funds which they represented. 

It would have been most inadvisable for me to have 
been on the scene. I was thoroughly well guarded. 

The count, according to Austrian military justice, found 
himself in the presence of an auditor, a magistrate who was 
accuser, defender and judge combined. 

All this may be deemed incredible. But there was 
worse to come. On December 22, i8g8, the count was 
condemned to forfeit his rank and his title of nobility, 
and to undergo six years' cellular detention for having 
" swindled " about 600,000 florins from a " third person." 

185 



My Own Affairs 

But on the preceding June 15, when the forged bills 
became due, the third person mentioned . . . had been 
wholly reimbursed by the Prince of Coburg, who was 
entitled to act for me from the day I arrived at Doebling, 
and the count was lost. Yes, lost and for ever — at least 
so thought his executioner. But, although, thanks to 
zealous friends, the count had been able to obtain a de- 
claration signed by the bill discounters attesting that they 
had no claims and that no harm had been done them by 
Count Geza Mattachich, this evidence was refused and 
held up by the auditor. It was not even on the register. 

And the abominable judgment pretended to make the 
count, this gentleman amongst gentlemen, a forger and a 
thief, although he was innocent and everyone knew his 
innocence. 

But I am dwelling on infamies which it is superfluous 
to recall. It is well known that the judgment was quashed 
four years later by the Reichsrath, thanks to the indignant 
Socialist party.' The count has been avenged from the 
height of the parliamentary tribunal, and the sort of justice 
that dishonoured the Austrian Army has ceased to exist, 
and has been swallowed up in the ruins of a Monarchy 
and a Court which was too long a criminal one. 

' Extract from the proceedings of the sitting of the Reichsrath, held on 
April 17, igo2. Speech by the Deputy Daszynski : 

" Gentlemen, the second judgment which has been pronounced following the 
demand for the revision of the first trial has admitted that Monsieur Mattachich 
has not forged any one of the signatures ! 

" This verdict of the superior military tribunal is of great importance in 
the whole of this affair. For, gentlemen, if the superior Military Court had 
simply rejected the appeal we might still believe that Geza Mattachich had 
forged the two signatures. But, since Mattachich has wronged no one, since 

i8d 



The Drama of my Captivity 

the usurers have recovered the money together with a high rate of interest, 
totalling several hundreds of thousands of florins, on the very day the bills feU 
due, since out of all this money not a farthing has found its way into the pocket 
of Mattachich, a matter which, in fact, has not been raised against him, we 
have the right to ask ourselves what interest Mattachich-Keglevich would 
have— apart from admitting a singular taste for perversity on his part— to 
corroborate by a forged signature the bills of the Princess of Coburg which 
were recognized as good? 

" And now, gentlemen, if we put the question qui frodestf We will reply 
certainly not Mattachich-Keglevich, for that would have no other result than 
that of sending him to the penitentiary of Moellersdorf— but good for money- 
lenders. It was of the greatest advantage to them that a forged signature should 
be added to a. real one, for it is a fact well known to usurers that a forged 
signature is worth more than an authentic one, and I will tell you why. 

" With an authentic signature the husband who is obliged to honour this 
sort of debt can say : ' I consent to pay the principal but not the excessive 
interest.' It is thus that the Prince of Coburg has paid in many instances. 
But this time the usurers replied : ' No ; thanks to the forgery, we are in a 
position to cause a scene — to threaten : we have in our hands a weapon directed 
against the Prince of Coburg and against the Court circles.' 

" Gentlemen, I have sufHciently proved to you that the second judgment put 
the affair on a different footing, and threw quite a new light on the subject. 
Taking advantage of this fact, Mattachich appealed to the Court of Sovereign 
Appeal, and that tribunal has decided, that after the examination of the proce- 
dure they had cause to confirm the second judgment and to reject the appeal 
of the condemned man. 

" At the same time, gentlemen, numerous facts have accumulated which 
clearly prove the innocence of Mattachich. Notably, a. letter has been produced 
which was equally forged, and which indicated to the judges the line to follow. 

" This document was a letter written in German addressed to Leopold II, 
King of the Belgians. It has been superabundantly proved to be fictitious. It 
had not been written in the interests of Mattachich but in those of the money- 
lenders. And those who had committed this forgery were much more in the 
company of usurers than in that of Mattachich. 

" For the question is not one, gentlemen, of simple moneylenders^ Our 
business is not with ' Directors of a house of Commission," as they call them 
in the judgments, but with artful business men who lend money to various 
persons of the Court at a totally usurious rate of interest, and to whom the 
signatures of these persons, notably of the widowed Hereditary Princess 
Stephanie, are perfectly well known. 

" Very well ! I tell you, gentlemen, if I cannot put before you all the 
elements of the froch, I rely here, not only on vague presimiptions but on the 
depositions of witnesses, on absolutely incontestable affirmations which prove 
that Mattachich-Keglevich, who languished for four years in a penitentiary, is 
an innocent man. 

" Eight days before his arrest they consented to recognize, by notarial deed, 
that they had given him every ' opportunity to flee ' (' Hear, hear ! ') on 
condition that he should abandon the Princess Louise. 

" Gentlemen, one does not propose to assure a man like Mattachich- 
Keglevich by notarial deed of his freedom to depart to a foreign land. These 
people simply wished to rid themselves of him, they wished to glut the ven- 

187 



My Own Affairs 



geance of the husband prince, and it is on this account that judicial military 
murder has been accomplished. And, if that did not suffice, by order of the 
Count Thun, then President of the Council, Princess Louise was banished, 
like an unfortunate stranger, from the territory of kingdoms and of countries 
represented in the Reichsrath, despite the fact that she was the wife of an 
Austrian general. (' Hear, hear ! ') Yes, gentlemen, we are now going to 
make this fact public; read to-morrow in the report of the sitting, my inter- 
pellation on this subject, and you will then find the dates and all the relative 
details. Yes, gentlemen, in the interest of certain exalted personages who 
possess much wealth, certain things take place that could never happen if we 
were a truly Constitutional State. {' Very true ! ') 

" And now, gentlemen, I ask you : who should be held responsible for having 
thrown these persons into prison solely in order that the wealthy Prince of 
Coburg might glut his vengeance? Were they, by chance, officers? No, I tell 
you quite frankly, the officers were guiltless. They would never have pro- 
nounced such a sentence if Mattachich and the witnesses had appeared before 
them, and if the accused had been allowed to question the witnesses, if the 
Press had been able to give a report of the debates, if the gifted lieutenant had 
had liberty of speech in a public audience, if he had been able to have a lawyer 
to represent him. Is it not truly malignant to throw people into prison and 
cause them to be condemned by an auditor and by judges who know nothing 
of the affair ! Gentlemen, I wish to accuse no one of forgery, I wish to charge 
no one. My aim is not to denounce an institution which is the fatal source of 
all faults and mistakes. 

" And, seeing that we have here the occasion of debating on such doings 
in open Parliament, I address myself to M. the Minister of National Defence : 
Does he wish, he who is a man of honour, does he wish, not only as an old 
man with white hair, but also as a soldier whose conscience is pure and tranquil, 
to take on his shoulders the responsibility of the anguish and tortures inflicted 
on an innocent person ? Will he keep silent, or will he speak ? 

" If he is not, perhaps, in a position to make a decision to-day, he has no 
right to hesitate any longer to throw light on this mysterious affair." 



i8S 



CHAPTER XVI 
Lindenhof 

CAN anyone adequately realize the sufferings of a 
woman who sees herself erased from the world 
and taken to a madhouse — the conscious prisoner 
of an odious abuse of power ? 

At Doebling, and afterwards at Purkesdorf, my tortures 
would have been beyond human endurance if I alone had 
been obliged to suffer. But with the hope of Divine 
justice, the knowledge that another was submitting to a 
worse punishment solely on my account gave me strength 
to endure. The loss of honour is as terrible as the loss of 
reason. I could not abandon myself to utter despair whilst 
the count heroically resisted his persecutors with a dignity 
which was afterwards admitted when the debates in the 
Reichsrath threw a new light on my affairs. 

But what terrible hours I have passed ! What nights 
of agony ! What horrible nightmares ! What tears, what 
sobs ! I tried in vain to control myself. Fortunately my 
attendants pitied me. That was some consolation. I 
even felt that the doctors, embarrassed by the responsibility 
of my case, looked at me kindly. With the exception of 
two or three miserable creatures, bought over by my 
enemies through greed or stupidity, I have hardly found 

any physicians who were not disgusted at the injustice 

189 



My Own Affairs 

meted out fo me, and who asked nothing better than to 
shift the responsibility of keeping me in a madhouse on 
to someone else's shoulders. 

Public opinion in Austria being extremely hostile, my 
executioner and his accomplices found it advisable to 
transfer me to a quiet and charming asylum in Saxony. 
I was therefore taken to Lindenhof , near the little town of 
Koswig in the midst of the forests, less than an hour's 
journey by rail from Dresden. 

Lindenhof ! The actual meaning signifies " The Lime 
Trees of the Court," Calming lime trees ! Charming 
lime trees ! The name recalled to me " Unter den 
Linden" (Under the Lime Trees) at Berlin, and the 
obligations which I owed to my son-in-law and his family, 
who were now reassured by the knowledge of my captivity 
in Saxony. The inheritance of the King would not fall 
into my wasteful hands ! 

No member of my entourage dear to me was allowed to 
remain with me. My good Countess Fugger was forced 
to leave me from morning till night to the care of my 
jailers. By way of compensation those at Lindenhof were 
supposed to treat me with all the deference due to my 
rank. Fear of public opinion is the beginning of wisdom 
where princes are concerned. 

It was impossible for anyone now to say, as in the case 
of my former experiences, that I was not treated as a 
princess and a king's daughter. I had a separate house, 
a carriage, maids, and a companion ! I was allowed to 
go out when Dr. Pierson, the medical superintendent, 

190 



Lindenhof 

thought it advisable. But my house was surrounded by 
the walls of a madhouse ; the coachman and footman were 
policemen; the companion only occupied that position in 
order to keep me a prisoner and make voluminous reports 
about all Ihat I said or did. 

My cage was certainly gilded, and it possessed various 
outlets on the country and the adjacent town. But, all 
the same, it was a tomb, and I realized that I was dead to 
all those who had once known me, beginning with the 
members of my own family. 

I have said that, ashamed of the crime to which they 
had tacitly consented, my relations allowed years to pass 
before they came to see the " invalid." It was only when 
public opinion censured their heartless behaviour that they 
decided to visit me. 

The indignation against the wickedness of the punish- 
ment meted out to Count Mattachich had become stronger 
than the power that desired to crush him. In mentioning 
him, the Press remembered my existence. It was then that 
my daughter and my aunt, the Comtesse de Flandrej came 
to see me, and my sister Stephanie gave some sign of life. 

I had lost my beloved mother without seeing her again. 
Her letters — although at the same time good and cruel — 
were my most cherished relics. But whenever I read them 
my heart was torn, as I felt that my mother had been 
convinced that I was really insane. 

As for the King — alas ! — he sent me no word. Doubt- 
less his mind, like that of the Queen, had been poisoned 

— was he, too, not certain of the count's guilt? What 

191 



My Own Affairs 

guile had not been employed in his case ! In order to 
play my husband's and my son-in-law's game it was 
necessary to make my father believe absolutely in our 
" crimes." 

What could I do, alone in my madhouse, deprived of 
help and liberty? 

But I guessed the plots which were hatched at Brussels, 
and what support my enemies had obtained in order to 
triumph over a poor tortured woman. I saw my only 
chance of salvation by the side of the unfortunate man 
who was enduring martyrdom in the penitentiary of 
Moellersdorf, for having endeavoured to save me from an 
earthly hell and its dishonouring abysses. 

Perhaps our mutual fidelity may astonish some people. 
Few really understand that, for certain natures, suffering 
constitutes a common bond. Our joys had been ephemeral, 
our sorrows had been prolonged. We had been misunder- 
stood, misjudged, defamed and tortured. But we had 
reposed our trust and our hope elsewhere than in men. 
Often the best have neither the time nor the possibility of 
knowing and understanding, and thus they condemn the 
innocent on the strength of appearances, which hatred and 
duplicity know so well how to exploit to their own 
advantage. 

I had been certified " insane " for four years, when the 
Court of Vienna, terrified by public outcry, was obliged 
to abandon one of its victims. The count was pardoned. 
No sooner did he regain his freedom than, fearless of 
consequences, he began to plan my deliverance ! It was 

192 



Lindenhof 

indeed a perilous enterprise, as the Austrian and German 
police, in default of a justice which fear of the Press and 
Parliaments kept somewhat in restraint, were nevertheless 
at the orders of my enemies. 

I have said, and I again repeat, that it seems incredible 
that we still live. 

To begin with, my chivalrous defender found himself 
entangled in the meshes of the police net, and could not 
take a single step without being followed by spies of all 
descriptions. As for myself, I beheld Koswig in a state of 
siege. Lindenhof was surrounded by gendarmes; even 
the fir trees afforded them a screen ! 

Fortified by prayer and hope, I had now become if not 
accustomed to my chains at least able to support their 
weight. Always a lover of Nature, I revelled in the sylvan 
solitudes where I was allowed to walk with my sorrow, of 
course under the observation of my suite of jailers of both 
sexes. 

I had only one friend — my dog ! Shall I ever see that 
loyal fine face again, and those clear eyes, in which alone 
in a world of corruption I have seen the disinterested light 
of welcome .-', 

However, I did not despair. What would happen to 
innocent prisoners if they were deprived of the pleasures 
of Hope? 

Ah, I well remember that autumn day when I first saw 
the sun of liberty appear on my horizon, and with its advent 
those chances of truth, reparation and happiness which my 
imagination pictured all too quickly ! 

'93 



My Own Affairs 

It was delightful weather. The splendour of the sun 
illumined the Saxon countryside. It touched with gold the 
sombre forests that covered the hill near which I loved 
to walk. This sandy desert planted with fir trees was en- 
livened by a little hotel called " The Mill on the Crest of 
the Hill," and it was one of my favourite drives. On this 
particular day I was driving myself, accompanied by my 
companion and a groom. Suddenly a cyclist appeared 
coming in the opposite direction, and who actually grazed 
the wheels of my carriage as he passed. He looked at me. 
I knew who he was — it was the count ! . . . I had the 
presence of mind not to betray myself. He was, then, 
free ! I believed that I, too, should regain my liberty on 
the morrow. 

Three years were destined to pass before I escaped. 

The alarm had been raised in the enemy camp ! It 
was known that the count had left Vienna. A search for 
him was at once instituted at Koswig. 

My companion, who, influenced by some kindly feel- 
ings or by some hope of gain, had allowed the count and 
myself to have two brief interviews in her presence, securely 
hidden in the forest, was not long in changing her mind 
and repenting her leniency. 

The count was obliged to desist from any further at- 
tempts to see me. The countryside swarmed with police. 
I was not allowed to leave Lindenhof. My saviour went 
some distance away in order not to prevent my taking those 
drives which allowed me a few hours' freedom and com- 
parative happiness away from the horrors of the madhouse. 

194 



Lindenhof 

There now remained only one way to free me. This 
was first to proclaim, and then to establish my sanity, and 
to appeal to public sympathy and public meetings in order 
to achieve my liberation. 

A book appeared in which the count demonstrated his 
own innocence and described the cruelty of which I was 
the victim. The entire Press re-echoed his indignant 
outcry. 

And the hoped-for help cTime at last from that generous 
land of France where my misfortunes were so keenly felt. 
A French journalist, a writer equally well known and re- 
spected (whose name I should like to mention with grati- 
tude, but whose reserve and dislike of publicity I am forced 
to respect), had gone to Germany in order to prepare some 
political work. At Dresden he was told about my suffer- 
ings. He went at once to see the head of the police, who, 
greatly embarrassed, acknowledged that I was the victim 
of Court intrigue. In order to see me personally, this 
gentleman visited Lindenhof in the character of ai 
neurasthenic. But either from mistrust, or the impossi- 
bility of tampering with the diagnosis, he was not accepted 
as a patient. He returned to Paris, and through his influ- 
ence Le Journal, the powerful daily paper whose inde- 
pendence is so well known, took up my cause. From this 
moment the count found the support which this paper has 
extended to so many other deserving cases. 

He was still unable to return to Lindenhof. The 
French journalist, however, came there, and the first news 
which rekindled my hope came in a letter from my then 

195 



My Own Affairs 

unknown friend, which — together with one from the count 
— was thrown into my carriage by a little boy. 

This letter was stolen from me by my companion. The 
other missive remained in my possession, and in vain did 
my police-woman attempt to dispossess me of it. 

When I read it with a throbbing heart I only found one 
word, written in a language which I never heard in my 
captivity — the language of my native land. My eyes filled 
with tears, I read and re-read this word : 

"HOPE." 



196 



CHAPTER XVII 

How I Regained my Liberty and at the Same Time 
was Declared Sane 

Jk S I had not been in good health it seemed advisable 
/ % for me to take the waters at some cure. I really 
needed treatment, and as small thermal establish- 
ments abound in Germany it was not difficult to find a 
place suitable to my state of health, where my keepers 
would have no fear of a cosmopolitan crowd, and where 
they could still guard me as an isolated prisoner. 

However, soon after the incident of the letters which 
had been thrown into my carriage, I was told that I was 
to stay at Lindenhof . The promised cure was abandoned. 

Fortunately the doctor who was called in consultation 
sided with me, and promised to intervene on my behalf. 
In the meantime my daily walks ceased. I even decided 
not to go out at all, as I was completely misled by all the 
stories which were told me, especially by Dr. Pierson. 

He rigorously guarded me, although he always treated 
me with respect. He knew perfectly well that I was not 
mad, but he also knew that I was a very remunerative 
patient; the idea of losing me was extremely unpleasant 
to him. He continued to watch me, but he also tried to 
humour me, and he easily persuaded himself that Linden- 
hof was a really enchanting place. 

197 



My Own Affairs 

Had it not been for his position of Doctor in Lunacy 
and my jailer, his visits would not have been disagreeable 
to me, as they were not lacking in courtesy. 

Dr. Pierson adopted an air of kindness and devotion. 
He told me, in tones of real alarm, about certain informa- 
tion which he declared came from a reliable source, and 
which he advised me to take into consideration if I did 
not wish to grieve him. He said he had heard that bandits 
had resolved to attack me suddenly in the forest and rob 
me of the jewels which I usually wore. Dr. Pierson did 
not deny that the count might have written to me. But 
he said that the letter which had been seized by my " lady- 
in-waiting " was not what I imagined it to be. It was 
spurious and very mysterious. It could not be shown me 
because it belonged first of all to the Law. I should be 
well advised to give up the letter I had kept. It evidently 
emanated from the gang who had planned to rob and 
assassinate me. 

Frightened into listening to him and being utterly de- 
pressed by my existence I allowed myself to be convinced. 
I did not want to go out. For several days I lived in 
anguish, oppression and uncertainty. I could not sleep. 
When I reflected, I did not know what to think and what 
to believe. Suffering upon suffering overwhelmed me. 
Nobody can conceive the will-power necessary to preserve 
a certain amount of lucidity when one lives for years among 
lunatics. The haunting terror is such that if you have not 
the strength to detach yourself from your surroundings you 

must inevitably succumb. 

198 



How I Regained my Liberty 

But God permitted me to escape in spirit and to rejoin 
my hoped-for rescuer. I ended by pulling myself together 
and I again asked to go out. They dared not refuse. 

However, I was still somewhat impressed by what I 
had heard, and I dared not go as far into the forest as 
formerly. And if I saw one or more cyclists I was afraid, 
although I said nothing. 

Had they come to attack me ? I wondered. Had they, 
perhaps, come to rescue me ? 

What a power is imagination ! The cyclists were only 
harmless people quietly going about their business. 

My doctor-professor had not forgotten his promise. 
His intervention obtained the desired effect, and it was 
decreed that I should go to Bad-Elster in Bavaria. This 
place is in the mountains about a quarter of an hour's 
drive from the German frontier. If I escaped Charybdis 
I should encounter Scylla ! 

The country is wild and the spa deserves to attract a 
cosmopolitan clientele. But its fame, which is purely Ger- 
man, reassured my jailers. No one would look for me in 
this modest Bavarian Wiesbaden. And if, peradventure, 
my defender should arrive, he would find all the avenues to 
escape well guarded. 

In fact, the hotel at which I arrived with my suite of 
police officials, male and female, was immediately sur- 
rounded, according to the rules of the profession, by a 
cordon of sentries and inspectors. 

If any unknown or suspicious person approached he 
was followed, observed, and promptly identified. 
N 199 



My Own Affairs 

The count took care not to show himself, although, 
through information which he had procured at Koswig, 
he was not slow to learn that I had left for Bad-Elster. 

The police notified nothing out of the way to my 
keepers. Personally I was, as usual, neither impatient 
nor excited. My " lady-in-waiting " could not deny my 
affability. But within myself I felt that deliverance was 
at hand. 

This intuition was promptly confirmed. 

One day, when I was playing tennis, I noticed a fat 
man whose gait, hat and clothes pronounced him to be an 
Austrian. His eyes met mine in a very curious manner, 
but he saluted me respectfully. I could have sworn 
that his look heralded the coming of the count. 

I was not deceived. 

A little later, when I was coming out of the dining-room 
of the hotel, preceded by the doctor attached to my person, 
and followed by my " lady-in-waiting," a fair man brushed 
past me and whispered : " Listen ! Someone is working 
for you." 

I was obliged to lean against the door ; I was suddenly 
incapable of movement. Fortunately I recovered myself. 
My two watch-dogs noticed nothing. 

The following day I came down to dinner escorted by 
the doctor and my companion. The waiter who usually 
attended on us was a little late and was finishing laying 
the table. Ordinarily he hardly dared look at me, but 
I now saw that his eyes were speaking to me. At the same 
time he passed and re-passed his hand over the tablecloth. 



200 



How I Regained my Liberty 

He first made a fold, and afterwards he arranged and re- 
arranged the linen. I seated myself and, at the same 
moment, I carelessly touched the spot the waiter had 
seemed to indicate. I heard a crackling of paper under- 
neath the cloth. . . . 

My two keepers were discussing Wagner; they talked 
on ordinary topics. They could see me approving their 
banalities with a gracious smile, and they redoubled their 
eloquence. I profited by this to seize and hide the letter 
so cleverly placed within my reach between the tablecloth 
and the table. 

I read the letter — I devoured its contents — as soon as 
I was alone in my room. It was from whom I guessed ! 
It announced my approaching liberty. It gave me ex- 
planations of what had been done and what still had to 
be done in order to effect my escape from my long torture. 
I was to answer in the same way. I could rely on the 
waiter. 

This is how a daily correspondence began between the 
count and myself. I very soon knew what measures I 
should have to take, what attitude to adopt, what necessary 
preparations to make, whom to fear and whom to trusf. 

The night watchman had been gained over on our side. 
This brave man, like the waiter, ran a grave risk. No one 
will ever know the extent of the devotion which the fright- 
ful persecution to which I was a victim has evoked and 
still evokes ! 

At last I received the eagerly awaited note, which said : 

" It will be io-monow." 

20 1 



My Own Affairs 

To-morrow ! To-morrow ! I haH only another day to 
wait, and then I should be free. . . . This was in August, 
1904. For seven years I had been in captivity; I had 
lived among lunatics, and I had been treated as a lunatic. 

One thought alone froze my blood': the count would, 
no doubt, make his appearance. And I remembered that 
quite recently my " lady-in-waiting " had shown me a 
revolver, and coldly warned me that she had orders^from 
whom? — to shoot any would-be rescuer. 

Never were my prayers more ardent. Then, recover- 
ing my serenity and my confidence, I made all my 
preparations. 

I needed a few hours in which to arrange my papers, 
destroy letters, and to sort what I intended to take with 
me. How was I to do all this without arousing suspicion ? 

I decided to say that instead of going out in the after- 
noon I would wash my hair. This proceeding, which I 
often did myself, afforded me the opportunity of being 
alone, without the " lady-in-waiting," that indefatigable 
spy, being alarmed. The chambermaid arranged every- 
thing that was necessary, and I made jt great show of 
splashing with the water. But I took good care to keep 
my hair dry for fear of contracting rheumatism or 
neuralgia, which would have considerably diminished the 
good condition of health in which it was so necessary for 
me to be. I rolled a towel round my head, and I took the 
necessary measures without being disturbed. When even- 
ing came, rested and refreshed by the opportune " wash- 
ing," I went to the theatre with my usual escort. 



202 



How I Regained my Liberty 

Of all the plays I have ever seen, none has left me 
with so slight remembrance as that with which the little 
theatre of Bad-Elster regaled its honest audience that 
evening. I was lost in thought concerning what was to 
follow, and I said to myself : 

" Come what may, if life is a game let us play it to the 
end." When the performance was over, I returned to my 
hotel, without letting my secret agitation be noticed. The. 
doctor and the other follower were amiably dismissed on 
the threshold of my room, and my last words added to 
their tranquillity : 

" We arranged to go to tennis a little earlier to- 
morrow morning," I said, " but I feel that I shall have a 
good night — so let us put off our party until an hour 
later." 

How could they doubt but that I was wisely going to 
try and have a long sleep.? Moreover, every evening my 
clothes and my shoes were taken from me, and although 
I was not locked in my room (they had intended this at 
first, as on my arrival all the locks had been renewed), the 
night watchman had orders not to lose sight of my room, 
and a cordon of sentries surrounded the hotel. 

But, as I have said, the watchman had been won over 

to my cause, and as to the sentries, I should soon see what 

was going to happen. I was much more afraid of my 

" lady-in-waiting," who slept in the room next mine. She 

had a keen sense of hearing, and she was always on the 

alert. 

I had in my room my favourite dog, the good and 

203 



My Own Affairs 

faithful Kiki. What was I to do with him?. How would 
he take my flight ? He barked at a fly ! The hour had 
indeed arrived, but I saw many harassing obstacles in the 
way. 

I ruminated on all this while the chambermaid finished 
her duties. At last I was alone. . . . 

I promptly dressed myself in a costume and put on a 
pair of boots which I had succeeded in concealing in an- 
ticipation of my flight. My packing was soon completed. 
All lights were extinguished, and, hardly daring to breathe, 
I awaited the signal. 

But what signal ? I knew nothing. I must listen. ... 

By degrees complete silence reigned in this tranquil 
corner of Bavaria after the theatre, as is usual in Germany, 
closed at lo o'clock. Those who partook of late suppers 
were few. The calm night enveloped Bad-Elster — a 
beautiful night with a full moon — one more danger. But 
I had no choice, and my vigil was soon about fo end. 

The twelve strokes of midnight sounded, then the half- 
hour, then one o'clock struck, and almost immediately I 
heard a scratching at my door like that of a mouse. Kiki 
raised himself ... but with a sign I quieted him, and he 
understood. 

I opened the door softly. The shadow of the watch- 
man could be dimly seen in the corridor. 

" Here I am," I said, in a low whisper. 

" Silence ! . . . Hold yourself in readiness. I will 

return when it is time." 

He went away. 

304 



How I Regained my Liberty 

I remained for two hours absolutely glued to my door, 
my valise beside me. At last I saw a glimmer of light. 
It was the watchman. I turned to my dog, who was watch- 
mg me uneasily. He pricked up his ears, and, sitting on 
the corner of a cushion in a chair, he understood that I 
was going away without him. 

I caressed him, saying as I did so : " Kiki, don't make 
a noise. If you do, I am lost ! " 

He did not move, he did not bark, he did not even 
whine. 

I was now beside the watchman at the threshold of 
the door. 

" You must take off your boots," he whispered. " You 
will be heard." 

He stooped down and removed my boots ; then, taking 
charge of my small baggage, he conducted me forth, 
leaning on his arm. 

With one last look I said good-bye to the familiar 
things which I had left in my room, and I again enjoined 
my good little dog to silence. I went along the corridor 
into which the rooms of my " lady-in-waiting " and the 
doctor opened. Thank God, the doors remained closed ! 
Another corridor took us to a staircase by which we gained 
the ground floor. There, in almost total obscurity, I per- 
ceived a shadow, with one finger on its lips. It was 
the count. . . . 

The night watchman would not allow us to delay; he 

gave me back my boots and guided us, sheltered from 

the light of the moon by the hotel building, as far as a 

205 



My Own Affairs 

small conservatory, and then to a terrace which adjoined 
the road. 

There two sentries had met and were talking peace- 
fully in the moonlight, which, unfortunately for us, now 
illuminated the road to safety. 

We waited anxiously. Luckily they soon separated, 
and walked away in opposite directions. . . . The count, 
taking his chance, made me cross the road in a few light 
bounds. He held my valise; the night watchman re- 
mained hidden on the terrace. We were now under the 
trees on the other side of the road. The sentries had 
seen and heard nothing I We had still to reach the car- 
riage, which was waiting a little distance away. This was 
a landau with two horses, a local equipage, which would 
pass unnoticed. Any other, unknown to the district, 
would have been signalled and reported. 

But a catastrophe occurred. The carriage was not 
where it should have been. We had a moment of despair. 
What a night ! What suspense ! All this agony of mind 
occurred under the trees pierced by the moon-rays, which 
seemed peopled with fearful phantoms. At last some of 
our friends who knew of my escape joined us and con- 
ducted us to the carriage. It started, but the tired horses 
wetit slowly. Suddenly, in the middle of the wood the 
vehicle came to a standstill; the driver confessed that 
he had lost his way. 

We had reached a place known as " The Three 

Stones," the boundaries of three kingdoms, where 

Bavaria, Saxony and Austria join. 

206 



How I Regained my Liberty 

The driver turned his back on the right direction and 
returned towards Bad-Elster, where we hoped to get to 
the little station and catch a train for Berlin. 

We had the good luck to be rescued from our anxiety 
by two of our partisans, who, worried by our non-arrival, 
came upon us unexpectedly and opportunely. 

We arrived at the Hof without further incident, and a 
few hours later we were in the capital of Prussia. When 
the news of my escape reached my son-in-law and his 
Imperial brother-in-law they did not believe it. The fuss 
was tremendous. But matters had been well arranged at 
Bad-Elster. The brave people there took my part so 
thoroughly that the German and Austrian police had 
actually to go to the expense of making inquiries. I had 
vanished into thin air like a spirit, and they could not find 
a trace of the count. 

In Berlin the secret agents of the Socialist deputy. 
Doctor Sudekum, who generously defended my cause, 
awaited us and sheltered us until a lull in the tempest 
enabled us to gain a hospitable soil. 

Everything considered, we resolved to go by auto- 
mobile to the station where the Orient Express stopped, 
and then to depart for France across Belgium by this 
train de luxe. 

Let us pass over an alarm at the hotel at Magdeburg, 
where I should have been recognised and denounced had 
I not called Doctor Sudekum my husband ! We seemed 
very devoted, and it was quite evident that a celebrated 
Socialist could not have a king's daughter for his wife. 

207 



My Own Affairs 

At last I was able to get into a sleeping compart- 
ment, and luckily I had it to myself. The train rushed 
across Germany. The count watched over me and 
remained outside in the corridor as much as possible. 
The hours rolled by. At last I heard cries of 
" Herbesthal " ! 

I was just entering Belgium. I was about to see my 
country once more. Without, however, daring to stop 
there ! Alas ! The King was on the side of the Prince 
of Coburg ! I hardly dared approach the window. I 
trembled. The Belgian Customs officials passed through 
the carriages. There was a knock at the door of my com- 
partment, and the Customs officials appeared behind the 
conductor. But I had been vouched for, and they retired 
unsuspiciously. 

Oh, the irony of the banal question : " Have you 
anything to declare ? " 

On the contrary, what had I not to declare ? I was the 
eldest daughter of the great King of these good people 
who did not recognize me. I wanted to cry out, so as to 
be heard as far as the Chateau of Laeken, and denounce 
the injustice of Fate, which made me a victim and an 
exile. 

I was thinking thus when an old superintendent 

of the Belgian railways passed. He did not glance 

carelessly at me as the Customs officials had done; he 

scrutinized me gravely, and I saw that he knew at once 

who I was. 

The count was watching in the corridor, and he was 

208 



How I Regained my Liberty 

also certain that I had been recognized. He followed 
the superintendent. The man looked at him, read the 
anxiety in his face, and identifying him, doubtless by 
the photographs in the newspapers, stopped and said 
kindly : 

" It is our Princess, is it not? ... Do not be afraid. 
Nobody here will betray her." 

I never knew the name of this good and faithful com- 
patriot. If he is still alive I hope he will learn through 
these lines that my gratitude has often gone out and will 
always go out to him. 

I arrived at last, safe and sound in Paris. I had 
nothing more to fear. I was in a hospitable country, 
protected by just laws. 

It is common knowledge that shortly afterwards the 
most eminent French physicians recognized, after long 
interviews, when I was minutely interrogated and 
examined, the inanity of the pseudo-medical statements 
which had kept me in a lunatic asylum for seven years 
and caused me to be treated as a minor, incapable of man- 
aging my own affairs. My civil rights were restored to 
me; together with my liberty I had miraculously 
recovered my reason ! 

But I found again, alas ! during the dreadful war, 
evidences of the implacable hatred from which I had 
suffered so much. 

This time my enemies thought me in their power, and 
behaved in an odiously grasping manner. It was not now 
covetousness for the millions of my inheritance from my 

209 



My Own Affairs 

father the King, but it was greed for another fortune, that 
of the Empress Charlotte, my unfortunate aunt, whose old 
age is sheltered by the Chateau of Boucottes. This fresh 
possibility of wealth aroused the same covetousness, and,' 
as of old, it produced the same line of conduct. But 
once again I was providentially saved. 



CHAPTER XVIII 
The Death of the King— Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

A CERTAIN book exists of which only no copies 
have been printed, and these have been carefully 
distributed among those who were unlikely to 
mislay them. 

This book, of which I deplore the fact that a greater 
number of copies were not printed, contains all the 
evidence concerning Niederfullbach, and the various 
judgments against my claims. Such as it is, and for the 
sake of what it contains and does not contain, I should 
be glad to see this book in the Colleges and schools of Law 
throughout the world. It would be both useful and sug- 
gestive. Also if it were under the eyes of the general 
public it would doubtless be consulted with great 
interest. 

What reflections would it not inspire, not only amongst 
jurists, but still more amongst deep thinkers, historians 
and writers, to see documents which throw new light on 
a century, a people and a man. 

What would not be found hidden in high-sounding 
words and enormous figures ! What a prodigious part is 
played in this book by a gifted spirit surrounded by 
collaborators devoted to his greatness so long as he lived, 
but who, enriched and satisfied, forgot his work and his 
name when once he was dead. 

211 



My Own Affairs 

" Gratitude," said Jules Sandeau, " is like those per- 
fumes of the East which retain their strength when kept 
in vessels of gold, but lose it when placed in vessels 
of lead." 

There are few golden vessels amongst men. There 
are vases which seem to glow with this precious metal, but 
which are really made of the worst kind of lead. Appear- 
ances are mostly deceitful. 

The book which I should like to see more widely cir- 
culated, is a large volume bound in green cardboard, 
printed at Brussels under the title, " The Account of The 
Inheritance of His Majesty Leopold II — Documents 
published by the Belgian State." 

One of the best-known French lawyers wrote to me 
concerning this work': 

" It is a great treasure, an inexhaustible mine. Some 
day lovers of Right, the young and old of every country, 
will publish essays and works inspired by the documents 
concerning the estate of King Leopold 11. They are 
priceless. Here are to be found a glowing romance of 
business, of magnificent conceptions, of astonishing forms 
of contracts, of statutes and entails, and finally a mar- 
vellous judicial discussion where morality and immorality 
are at variance. The whole terminates in a fantastic 
judgment, preceded and followed by stupefying trans- 
actions. 

" It was thought that this lawsuit was finished. It will 
recommence and perhaps continue for a hundred years, 
under various forms and under certain conditions which 



Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

cannot be foretold. It is impossible that the menace by 
Belgian justice against natural rights will be accepted and 
remain unchallenged." 

If, as will be seen presently, it is indisputable that the 
King freely made over the Congo to Belgium, a possession 
which originally was secured by his money and under his 
direct superintendence. Reason must admit that such a gift 
could not have been accepted without Belgium, on her 
side, incurring some indebtedness to the family of the 
Sovereign, principally to his children. 

That the donor may have wished to exclude his 
daughters from his real estate is not to be disputed, but 
that he could do so in justice is not presumable, and this 
action will never be admitted. To agree to such an iniquity 
would mean a conflict with that sacred principle which 
forms the basis of the continuity of the family. 

I will now quote the opinion of a lawyer. His brother 
lawyers who read these lines will know him. I could quote 
a thousand opinions. But one will suffice : that of a Bel- 
gian lawyer, who was powerful enough to obtain " in the 
name of the State " what can only be called a sacrilegious 
judgment. 

On the evening before the judgment which settled in 
my person the defeat of Law and Justice, one of my 
principal lawyers at Brussels was so sure of success 
that he telegraphed to one of my counsel, whose 
advice had been of great value : " Congratulations in 
anticipation." 

How could this be doubted? The public prosecutor, 

213 



My Own Affairs 

a real lawyer, had summed up in my favour. He was an 
honest man. He saved the honour of Belgian justice on 
this eventful day. 

My leading Belgian counsel was so convinced of not 
being beaten that he was opposed to a compromise, which 
was then perhaps possible, and I agreed. For I (who had 
appeared so many times before the courts) had a horror of 
legal proceedings. Here, as elsewhere, I have been seized 
and crushed in a fatal cogwheel. It would be easy to 
prove it. But the interest does not lie there ; it lies in the 
extraordinary struggle which I have had to sustain, almost 
alone, in the lawsuit concerning the King's estate. 

My sister Clementine, who perhaps had not read 
Hippolyt'e Taine, yielded to dynastic illusions, and un- 
hesitatingly sacrificed her claims. She accepted from the 
Belgian Government that which the State was pleased to 
offer her. She did not take into consideration the fact 
that she ought to join forces with her sisters. The Belgian 
motto is " Union is strength." This motto is not applic- 
able to all Belgian families ! 

My sister Stephanie at first sided with me, then she 
backed out, then she came in with me, and again she 
backed out . . . 

I remained firm in my mistake — if it be thought a mis- 
take. I knew at least what I wanted. My younger sister 
was not so sure. That is her affair. It cannot be counted 
against me that my cause, being that of the right, was not 
always hers. 

i trust that I may be believed; I only struggled for 

214 



Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

justice. Nobody can possibly say what I should have done 
had I won. 

As regards the Congo, it was never my intention to 
pretend that my sisters and I could possibly dispute the 
wishes of the King and the laws passed in Belgium for 
taking over the colony. But, between the conflict of cer- 
tain points at issue and the acceptance of a disinheritance 
against nature and against legality, a space existed which 
could have been, and should have been, bridged by an 
honourable settlement. 

The Belgian State had one proposition to make, which 
it timidly outlined. My leading counsel did not consider 
this sufficient. The Belgian people, left to themselves, 
would have known better how to act, and how to honour 
the memory of Leopold II, but this duty was delegated 
to those who, to this day, have wilfully and lamentably 
failed. 

Let us consider Belgium as a human being, endowed 
with honour and reason, and jealous of the judgment of 
history and the esteem of the world; mistress of millions 
of Congolese and of other millions of colonial treasure. As 
a reasoning being, would she have considered herself free 
from all obligations towards the unfortunate children of 
the giver of these gifts? Most assuredly not. 

If she thought otherwise she would be without honour, 
without reason, a cruel cynic, justly mistrusted by all 
right-minded people. All the decrees in the world would 
never make her otherwise. 

I have reasoned this out, and I still adhere to my view 
o 215 



My Own Affairs 

I was not alone in this opinion. My Belgian lawyers had 
other opinions besides mine, and believed them to be 
conclusive. 

If I have not succeeded in proving my case I have 
had, at least, the satisfaction of knowing that my lawyers 
have lost nothing. 

My case brought them luck. They eventually became 
Ministers, men to be envied in every way, who are proud 
of having defended me. 

But let us turn to the written words; they are more 
eloquent than any of mine. I only wish to be sincere. 
Here, as elsewhere, I say exactly what I think. I do not 
gloss over or twist things round. I only restrain myself 
from being too vehement. You see me as I am. 

I express myself as if I were standing in the presence 
of the King. I wish to reach my father's spirit, commune 
with his soul, and convince him in the invisible world that 
my claims were just. 

At the commencement of these pages I have placed 
his name, which has remained dear to my respect as a 
daughter. I was never able, and I never dared discuss 
matters with this father who was so deceived and mis- 
informed about me. 

***** 

On December i8, 1909, the Moniteur published the 
following statement : 

"The Belgian nation has lost its King I 

"The son of an illustrious sovereign, whose memory will 
remain for ever as a venerated symbol of constitutional 
monarchy, Leopold II, after a reign of forty-five years, has 

216 



Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

died in harness, having, up to his last hour, devoted the best 
of his life and strength to the aggrandizement and prosperity 
of the country. 

"On December 17, 1865, before the reunited Chambers, 
the King pronounced these memorable words, which since then 
have often been recalled : 

"' If I do not promise Belgium either a great reign like that 
of the King who founded her independence, or to be a noble 
King like him whom we now lament, I promise at least that 
I will prove myself a King whose whole life will be devoted 
to the service of Belgium.' 

"We know with what powerful energy he has kept and 
even exceeded this solemn promise. 

"The creation of the African State which to-day forms the 
Belgian Colony of the Congo was the personal work of the 
King, and constitutes a unique achievement in the annals of 
history. 

"Posterity will say that his was a great reign, and that he 
was a great King. 

"The country now mourning his loss must worthily honour 
one who has died leaving such a splendid record behind him. 

"The country places all its hopes in the loyal co-operation, 
already so happily manifested, of the Prince who has been 
called to preside over the destiny of Belgium. 

"He will be inspired by the illustrious examples of those 
who became, by the help of Providence, the benefactors of 
the Belgian people. 

"The Council of Ministers: 

F. ScHOLLAERT, Minister of the Interior and of 

Agriculture. 
Leon de Lantsheere, Minister of Justice. 
J. Davignon, Minister of Foreign Affairs. 
J. LiEBAERT, Minister of Finance. 
BoN Descamps, Minister of Science and Art. 
Arm. Hubert, Minister of Industry and Labour. 
M. Delbeke, Minister of Public Works. 

G. Hellepute, Minister of Railways, Posts and 

Telegraphs. 
J. Hellepute, Minister of War. 
J. Renkin, Colonial Minister." 
217 



My Own Affairs 

Of the signatories of this moving proclamation some 
are dead, others are still living. 

To those who are no more, and to those who are still 
alive, I say : 

" You have written and attested that the creation of 
the African State was the personal work of the King. In 
his person, then, you have recognized the man, the head 
of the family — and therefore the family itself; otherwise 
the word personal is without meaning. . . . And, as a matter 
of fact, it has suddenly lost its meaning. The King, now 
an entity without terrestrial chains, has enriched Belgium 
to the exclusion of his children, who are declared non- 
existent. 

"And how, with or without you, has he been 
honoured "i 

" In continuing the endowment of Niederfullbach and 
other creations of this gifted benefactor ? 

" Ah ! In no way whatever ! 

" You have liquidated, realized, destroyed and aban- 
doned all that he conceived and ordered. I do not wish 
to describe in detail all that has passed, and I hg,ve no 
desire to touch on the sadness connected with the secrets 
of Niederfullbach and other works of the King, from the 
day when they ceased to be under his direction. I will 
take my stand on the ground of the sin against morality 
which most concerns me. 

" Eleven years have passed since the death of the 
' Great King.' Where is the monument erected to his 



memory ? 



218 



Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

" The people of Ostend, who owe to him the prosperity 
and beauty of their town, have not even dared to show an 
example of their gratitude. They are afraid of vexing 
the ungrateful people of Brussels, who prefer silence." 

His wishes with respect to the Congo and his heirs are 
in three documents, which I append below : 

First : 

(i) An explanatory letter of the King, dated June 3, 
1906, in testamentary form. 

(Attached to exhibit No. 36 in the collection published 
by the Belgian Government.) 

" I undertook, more than twenty years ago, the work of 
the Congo in the interests of civilization and for the benefit 
of Belgium. It was in the realization of this double aim that 
I annexed the Congo to my country in 1889. 

" Cognizant with all the ideas which governed the foundation 
of the independent State, and which inspired the Act of Berlin, 
I am anxious to specify, in the interests of the nation, the 
wishes expressed in my will. 

"The title of Belgium to the possession of the Congo is 
due to my double initiative, namely the rights which I acquired 
in Africa, and the uses which I have made of these rights in 
favour of my country. 

"This situation imposed on me the obligation of ensuring, 
in accordance with my initial and dominant idea, that my 
legacy should prove useful in the future to civilization and to 
Belgium. 

"In consequence thereof I wish to make the following points 
clear — points which are in perfect harmony with my immutable 
wish to assure to my beloved country the fruits of the work 
which I have pursued for long years in the continent of Africa, 
with the general consent of most of my subjects : 

"Upon taking possession of the sovereignty of the Congo, 
with all the benefits, rights and advantages attached thereto, 
my legatee will assume, as is only just and necessary, the 

219 



My Own Affairs 

obligation of respecting all the engagements of the State 
assigned to third parties, and likewise to respect all acts which 
I have established touching the privileges of the natives for 
donations for land, for the endowment of philanthropic or 
religious works, for the foundation of the domain of the Crown, 
for the establishment of the natural domain, as well as the 
obligation not to lessen by any measure the rights of the 
revenues of these various institutions without giving at the 
same time an equivalent compensation. I consider the observa- 
tion of these rules as essential to assure to the sovereignty of 
the Congo the resources and the power indispensable for the 
accomplishment of the task. 

"In voluntarily surrendering the Congo and the benefits 
derived therefrom in favour of Belgium, I must, without adding 
to the national obligation, strive to ensure to Belgium the per- 
petuity of the benefits which I bequeath her. 

"I wish to state definitely that the legacy of the Congo 
to Belgium should always be maintained by her in its integrity. 
In consequence, the territory bequeathed will be inalienable 
under the same conditions as Belgian territory. 

"I do not hesitate to specify this inalienability, for I know 
how great is the value of the Congo, and I have, in conse- 
quence, the conviction that this possession will never cost the 
Belgian nation any lasting sacrifice. 

"(Signed) Leopold. 

"Brussels, June 3, 1906." 

Having read this, no really right-minded person can 
deny that the King speaks of the Congo as private pro- 
perty which he surrenders voluntarily to Belgium, which 
he was quite at liberty to do, and which Belgium was 
equally at liberty to accept as a Royal gift. 

But there is no right without duty. 

I ask whether it was right of the Belgian Government 
to ruin me, an exile and a prisoner, calumniated and mis- 
trusted; to deny me my Belgian nationality, and to 

sequestrate the little money left me in Belgium? 

220 



Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

This, I have said before, was, I believe, the fatal result 
of a general measure, misinterpreted perhaps by an in- 
expert official. 

But let it go ! ! 

I only ask whether the Belgian Government can assert 
to-day that it has fulfilled the conditions imposed on it by 
its benefactor, and especially " the obligation to respect 
the integrity of the revenues of the various institutions " 
established by the King in favour of the Congo. 

I await an answer. I now come to the question of the 
Will. 

Will of the King. (Document No. 42.) 

"This is my will. 

" I inherited from my parents fifteen millions. These fifteen 
millions I have scrupulously kept intact, in spite of many 
vicissitudes. 

"I possess nothing else. 

"After my death these fifteen millions become the property 
of my heirs and must be made over to them by the executor 
of my will, to be divided between them. 

"I die in the Catholic religion, to which I belong; I wish 
no post-mortem to be made ; I wish to be buried without pomp 
in the early morning. 

" Except my nephew Albert and the members of my house- 
hold, no person is to follow my remains. 

"May God protect Belgium, and may He in His goodness 
be merciful to me. 

"(Sgd.) Leopold. 

"Brussels, November 20, 1907." 

A great deal has been written about this Will. The 

statement " I possess nothing " except the declared fifteen 

millions caused the ink to flow. 

The statement itself was proved untrue on the death of 

221 



My Own Affairs 

the King, since in the abundance of wealth of all sorts 
which was found, the Belgian Government was obliged 
to specify as " litigious " certain shares and moneys which 
it could not take over, and which it left to my sisters and to 
myself. These shares and moneys have nearly doubled 
the fortune bequeathed us by our father. 

Let no one say : " The fortune was considerable." As 
a statement it is true. But it must not be forgotten that 
everything is comparative, and that if I explain a point of 
succession which is unique in history it is not because I am 
avaricious. It is because I must insist, as a question of 
principle, to defend what I consider right, and to en- 
lighten the public on a hitherto entangled and obscure 
discussion. 

The second Will, reproduced below, merely states 
precisely the intention of the first : 

The Other Will of the King. (Document No. 49.) 

"I have inherited from my mother and my father fifteen 
millions. 

"I leave those to be divided amongst my children. 

"^Owing to my position and the confidence of various people, 
large sums have at certain times passed through my hands 
without belonging to me. 

" I do not possess more than the fifteen millions mentioned 
above. 

"(Sgd.) Leopold. 

"Laeken, October 18, 1908." 

In this document the King said no more about having 
" scrupulously " saved the fifteen millions. A great deal 
has been written about this, because elsewhere the King 
often declared in his most formal manner that not only 

222 



Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

had he used his own fortune, but also that of my aunt, 
the Empress Charlotte, in the Congo enterprise. 

He might have lost all. If this had been the case, 
would Belgium have indemnified his children at his death ? 
Certainly not ! Fortunately Belgium has been the gainer. 

Is it logical that the King's children should be objects 
of indifference to him.? 

To finish with the question of the fifteen millions, one 
fact remains which I cannot pass over, and which will 
suffice to invalidate the characteristic declaration of the 
King, if the discovery had not already been made at his 
death. 

About this well-known fact everyone will guess be- 
forehand what I could say. . . . 

It is not wise to enlarge on this subject. Age is ex- 
cusable in its errors, and the disposal of sixty millions will 
find many willing helpers. 

But, truly, whom does one deceive, and by whom is one 
deceived? Virtuous airs are strangely a matter of cir- 
cumstance with certain people who lend themselves to an 
astonishing favouritism, to the detriment of the natural 
heirs of the King. 

However, let us forget this. Let us only remember 
the material point, which was that the King wished to 
disinherit his daughters. 

Was it right and moral of Belgium to associate herself 
with this inhuman error and this illegality ? 

Ought she not to have assumed another line of conduct 
on behalf of myself and my sisters } 

223 



My Own Affairs 

the King, since in the abundance of wealth of all sorts 
which was found, the Belgian Government was obliged 
to specify as " litigious " certain shares and moneys which 
it could not take over, and which it left to my sisters and to 
myself. These shares and moneys have nearly doubled 
the fortune bequeathed ijs by our father. 

Let no one say : " The fortune was considerable." As 
a statement it is true. But it must not be forgotten that 
everything is comparative, and that if I explain a point of 
succession which is unique in history it is not because I am 
avaricious. It is because I must insist, as a question of 
principle, to defend what I consider right, and to en- 
lighten the public on a hitherto entangled and obscure 
discussion. 

The second Will, reproduced below, merely states 
precisely the intention of the first : 

The Other Will of the King. (Document No. 49.) 

"I have inherited from my mother and my father fifteen 
millions. 

"I leave those to be divided amongst my children. 

"^Owing to my position and the confidence of various people, 
large sums have at certain times passed through my hands 
without belonging to me. 

" I do not possess more than the fifteen millions mentioned 
above. 

"(Sgd.) Leopold. 

"Laeken, October 18, 1908." 

In this document the King said no more about having 

" scrupulously " saved the fifteen millions. A great deal 

has been written about this, because elsewhere the King 

often declared in his most formal manner that not only 

222 



Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

had he used his own fortune, but also that of my aunt, 
the Empress Charlotte, in the Congo enterprise. 

He might have lost all. If this had been the case, 
would Belgium have indemnified his children at his death ? 
Certainly not ! Fortunately Belgium has been the gainer. 

Is it logical that the King's children should be objects 
of indifference to him ? 

To finish with the question of the fifteen millions, one 
fact remains which I cannot pass over, and which will 
suffice to invalidate the characteristic declaration of the 
King, if the discovery had not already been made at his 
death. 

About this well-known fact everyone will guess be- 
forehand what I could say. . . . 

It is not wise to enlarge on this subject. Age is ex- 
cusable in its errors, and the disposal of sixty millions will 
find many willing helpers. 

But, truly, whom does one deceive, and by whom is one 
deceived? Virtuous airs are strangely a matter of cir- 
cumstance with certain people who lend themselves to an 
astonishing favouritism, to the detriment of the natural 
heirs of the King. 

However, let us forget this. Let us only remember 
the material point, which was that the King wished to 
disinherit his daughters. 

Was it right and moral of Belgium to associate herself 
with this inhuman error and this illegality ? 

Ought she not to have assumed another line of conduct 

on behalf of myself and my sisters ? 

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My Own Affairs 

I ask it of the King as if he were alive and in the 
entire possession of his faculties; I ask this of the King 
who is now enlightened by death. 

I ask it of my brave compatriots. 

I ask it of the jurists of the entire world. 

I ask it of history. 

Let us put aside the millions of future generations and 
the hundreds of millions of the past. 

I have renounced expectations and the promises of 
fairy tales more easily than most people. I would have 
liked to have made many people happy, to have helped 
beautiful works, to have created useful institutions. God 
knows all my dreams. He has decided that they should 
not be fulfilled, and I am resigned. 

I have only wished to defend a principle and to obtain 
for myself a minimum of the possibilities of a free and 
honourabl.e existence in accordance with my rank. 

Was my action then unjustifiable? 

What do certain documents — which it is easy to consult 
— establish, but which I cannot reproduce here without 
giving to these pages a different character from that I wish 
to give? 

These documents prove that the personal fortune of the 
King had attained a minimum of twenty millions at the 
time of his last illness. 

On the decease of the Sovereign this fortune, or the 

greater portion of it, had disappeared. My sisters and I 

had a round figure of twelve millions. 

But what of the rest ? 

224 



Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

It has been said to us, and to me especially : 

" What? You are complaining? By the terms of your 
father's will you should only have five millions. You 
have twelve millions, and you are not satisfied. You 
argue, you accuse, you incriminate ! You are always at 
war with someone." 

I am not at war with any particular person in this affair. 
I have simply upheld the right, and I believe it to be my 
duty. 

The Government, the judge and the party opponents 
have told me, in fine-sounding sentences, that I was wrong. 

Would they agree to submit their judgments to the final 
verdict of a tribunal composed of jurists from countries 
friendly to Belgium ? 

I renounce in advance the benefit of their decision if 
it should be in my favour. 

Would they agree to accept an inquiry into the subject 
of the real and personal fortune of the King at the time of 
his death and what has become of it? 

I know beforehand. These indiscreet questions will 
only meet with profound silence. 

What consoles me in my misfortunes is the knowledge 
that the men in the confidence of the King have become 
wonderfully enriched. If my father could only leave 
fifteen millions I am confident that they, at any rate, 
will be able to leave much more. I am very pleased 
to think that this is so, as I find it only natural that merit, 
valour, conscientiousness and fidelity should be recom- 
pensed on earth. 

225 



My Own Affairs 

I only regret one thing, which is common to human 
nature. Money, alas ! does not tend to improve it. Instead 
it seems to harden the hearts of those who possess it. 

How can the King's faithful servants and those of my 
family be at ease in palaces, where everything breathes 
comfort and luxury, when I am reduced to living as I am 
now obliged to live, practically from hand to mouth, un- 
certain to-day where to look to-morrow for sustenance, 
although within the grasp of two fortunes : one already 
mine by right of inheritance, and the other which I have 
every anticipation of inheriting? 

People may say that instead of complaining I could 
continue to defend my rights, and it avails nothing to abuse 
the injustice of men. I do not ignore the fact that I have 
only to attack the Societe des Sites, and the French pro- 
perty which the King has given to Belgium, for French 
justice, which is worthy of the name of justice, to condemn 
a fictitious society, whose so-called existence is not unwel- 
come to a Parisian lawyer and the servants of my family 
who have lent their name as circumstances required. 

Law is law for everyone in France, and when the 
Societe des Sites was founded in Paris, it was done with 
the most flagrant disregard of French legality. 

I do not forget that the German law would equally 
condemn what transpired between Belgium and the ad- 
ministrators of Niederfullbach, if I were to attack these 
persons before the Justice of Germany, as I could easily 
do. The two Germans who are included in the list of 
administrators have sensed danger so strongly, owing to 

226 



Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

their properties and positions being in Germany, that, in 
face of possible dangerous retaliations, they have 
sheltered themselves behind the Belgium State by the 
" arrangement " which they have accepted, and which has 
robbed my sisters and myself of considerable sums. 

I also know that the Royal Gift of 1901 is open to an 
attack in Belgium, based on the material error committed 
over the question of the disposable share of the King's 
property. But, really, it is too painful for me to think about 
this and to go into these details. I only give certain 
of them in order to show that I have resisted, and I shall 
still resist, assuring myself that if I have not found 
justice in Belgium I shall find it elsewhere. 

To speak with perfect frankness, I have suffered 
cruelly, and I still suffer on account of the strife in which 
I have been involved. 

When I occasionally re-read the pleadings of the 
talented lawyers who defended or attacked me over the 
question of the King's inheritance, a sort of faintness over- 
comes me. Before so many words, in the face of so many 
reasons for and against, I feel that all things except equity 
can be expected of mankind. 

It is positively stupefying for me to realize that three 
of my lawyers are Ministers, or are on the point of becom- 
ing Ministers, as I write these pages. I have only to take 
up their " pleadings " to hear the voice of their conscience 
proclaiming the justice of my cause, and accusing the 
State in which they are embodied to-day of collusion and 

fraud — in one word, of unqualified actions. 

227 



My Own Affairs 

Do they not remember what they said, wrote and pub- 
lished? I listen in vain for some words from them. . . . 
Nothing . . . never a word. I am dead, so far as they are 
concerned. 

I am unhappy. They know it, and they keep silence. 

Never a thought, a memory for one who confided in 
them. They are in power— and I am in misery; they are 
living in their own country — ^I am an exile. They are 
Men, and I am a Woman. Oh, pettiness of the human 
soul ! 

I think again of all that has been said and written 
against me In the land of my birth for which I was sacri- 
ficed. What errors, what exaggerations, what passions, 
what ignorance concerning my real self ! Nevertheless, 
taken as individuals, those who attack me and defame me 
are really good and brave men at heart. But they rend 
one's soul. Do they not understand what they do? 

Has Belgium no conscience? She ranks so high to-day 

in the opinion of the world, that it seems impossible for 

her to expose herself to the diminution of her moral glory 

which will inevitably follow when History goes into the 

vexed question of the King's Inheritance, and its results 

in my own case. Can she rightly and peacefully enjoy 

that which has been unjustly obtained, or more or less 

greedily seized by her ? History will find, as I find, certain 

ineffaceable words in the address to the Senat by M. de 

Lantsheere, Minister of State, touching the Royal Gift of 

igoi, which all that was best in the Belgian soul then 

found inacceptable. 

228 



Intrigues and Legal Proceedings 

I reproduce these words for the contemplation and 
consideration of all honest men. 

M. de Lantsheere spoke as follows in the Belgian Senat 
on December 3, 1901, to contest the acceptance by the 
Chambre des Representants of the King's Gift, and all that 
had privately enriched the King : 

"I intend to remain faithful to a principle which King 
Leopold I always upheld and from which he never departed, 
one which I also upheld twenty-six years ago with M. Malou, 
M. Beernaert, and M. Delcour, Members of the Cabinet of 
which I had the honour to be a member — which MM. Hubert 
Dolez, d'Anethan and Notcomb, chief of those preceding me, 
who, like others after me, have equally upheld. This principle, 
which it has been reserved for the law to abandon for the 
first time, can be summed up in few words. The common law 
is an indispensable support of the Royal Patrimony. The pre- 
sent project offends Justice. . . . Two of the Royal princesses 
are married. From these marriages children have been born. 
Therefore families have been founded. These children have 
married in their turn, and have founded new families. These 
families may very reasonably have expected that nothing 
detrimental could happen to the hereditary rights which the 
Code declares unalienable from the descendants. ... If, owing 
to some aberration of which you will give the first example . . . 
you do not respect the laws by which families are founded, 
. . . one universal voice "will be heard in Belgium which will 
curse the dominions which have enriched the nation at the 
expense of the King's children. . . . 

"Do you not think that it will look very disgraceful for 
Royalty to be exposed to the suspicion of wishing (under 
the cloak of liberality towards a country) to reserve the means, 
if not of disinheriting its descendants, at least of depriving 
them of that to which they are legally and morally entitled? 
I venture to believe that those persons will serve the interests 
of the State much more faithfully who insist that she must 
remain firm in her acceptance of the rights of Common Law, 
than those persons who uphold the acceptance of the disastrous 

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My Own Affairs 

gift of an unlimited authority. I wish to ignore the possi- 
bility of any of these ulterior motives having entered the mind 
of His Majesty ; you must ignore them if they have not already 
occurred to you ; but I know that man's will is variable and 
certain laws are made in order to prevent possible injustice. 

"If at the time of the King's death a point had been made 
of encroaching on the disposable funds, you would not have 
had the courage to lay the hand upon this patrimony. Why, 
then, do you forge weapons which, when the moment is ripe, 
you will blush to use ? 

"Therefore, Sirs, the uselessness of the project again reveals 
itself, as well as its equally odious and dangerous character . . . 
it is a juridical monstrosity. ... It must never be said that in 
the Kingdom of Belgium any poor girl possesses more legal 
rights in her father's inheritance than the King's daughters 
now possess in the inheritance of their father." . . . 



230 



CHAPTER XIX 
My Sufferings during the War 

1WAS at Vienna when war was declared, and until 
actual hostilities commenced I could hardly believe 
such a thing was possible. The idea that the Emperor 
Francis Joseph, already with one foot in the grave, contem- 
plated appearing as a combatant, after invariably suffering 
defeat, seemed sheer madness to me. It is true that a 
camarilla, acting under orders from Berlin, used the weakly 
old man as a tool. But that Berlin really wished to em- 
bark on a war which could not fail to cause a universal 
conflagration was incredible. It was worse than madness 
— it was a crime. 

But the desire to kill carried away those in power at 
Berlin. I had a presentiment of a mysterious fatality which 
had laid its spell on Berlin and Vienna. 

I wondered what would become of me. And each 
possible solution became more and more difficult. If, 
according to the views of my Belgian countrymen, I am 
unfortunate enough not to have regained my nationality 
in spite of the good sense and approval of the King my 
father, and once more denied the rights of justice and 
humanity, an action against which I protest most strongly, 

I was regarded from the first day of the war as an " enemy 
P 231 



My Own Affairs 

subject " by the Court of Vienna, which was doubtless 
pleased to be able to hurt me in some new way. 

I was asked to leave the Dual Monarchy as soon as 
possible. The Chief of the Police came in person to notify 
me of this decision. This distinguished functionary was in 
many respects courteous, but the order was extremely 
precise and formal. 

I left for Belgium. But certain events detained me 
at Munich. The German Army barred the road, and my 
devoted country was soon to know the horrors of which the 
first responsibility rests with Prussia. 

Until August 25, 19 1 6, I was able to live in the capital 
of Bavaria, as a Belgian princess, without having to ex- 
perience many of the inconveniences to which my position 
exposed me. The Bavarian Government was certainly in- 
dulgent. I was even allowed to retain a French maid who 
had been long in my service. The count — that devoted 
knight, whose proximity in my sad life had brought me 
consolation and unfailing support — was also allowed to be 
a member of my entourage. 

But the German victories convinced my pitiless enemies 
that I should soon be at their mercy. They at once 
arranged their new plan of campaign ! 

I am proud to write this — proud to admit that the suf- 
ferings of Belgium were my own. She was oppressed. I 
was also the victim of oppression. She had lost all. I 
had also lost everything. 

From day to day my resources became straitened, and 

the atmosphere, at first compassionate, became hostile. I 

232 



My Sufferings during the War 

tried to efface myself as much as possible, and to submit 
myself patiently to the exigencies of my delicate situation. 
It was well known with whom my heart was in sympathy ! 
Worries and harshness soon assailed me. 

My son-in-law, Duke Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein, 
did not ignore — and with good reason — the difficulties I 
had to overcome. He lost no time in letting it be known 
that he considered I ought to agree to be placed under his 
guardianship, and forced to receive my last morsel of bread 
at his hands. 

I do not wish to enlarge on the actions of this gentle- 
man. If I were to publish the documents and the legal 
papers which I have kept, I should only add to the remorse 
and confusion which I should like to think have overcome 
my unhappy daughter. But, in duty to myself, I must 
relate a little of what transpired. Nothing else will suffice 
to show the drama which has enveloped me since the day 
when I represented the possible loss of a fortune to my 
family. 

Duke Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein, from the very 
moment when Germany thought herself mistress of Bel- 
gium, occupied himself in ascertaining what might accrue 
to me from the inheritance of my father. Rather more 
than four and a half millions had been deposited in the 
bank, assigned for the benefit of my creditors, by arbitra- 
tion of the tribunal which had been formed on the eve of 
hostilities. 

This sum of money was the object of the touching 
solicitude of my son-in-law. I leave it to others to relate 

233 



My Own Affairs 

his efforts to obtain possession of it and divert it into 
a different channel from the one for which it was 
intended. 

Nevertheless, these four and a half millions were only 
a drop in the ocean compared with the promise of the past. 
My dear country can therefore rejoice, and I rejoice with 
her, that, by the victory of the Entente, she has escaped a 
revision of the lawsuit touching the Royal inheritance, one 
which would have been in direct opposition to the Divine 
and human right, at least as soon as the decree had been 
issued. 

What crime would not then have been committed in my 
name in favour of the final triumph of German arms if, 
threatened with the pangs of starvation, I had signed 
certain renunciations which were extorted from me at 
Munich, and had thereby lost my personality and aban- 
doned my rights to my children in consideration of a 
miserable pittance."* 

They now saw themselves likely to be compensated in 
some measure for all that had previously prevented them 
from acquiring the King's inheritance. They had also 
the certainty of possessing the thirty millions which 
represent my share of the fortune of Her Majesty the 
Empress Charlotte, when my unfortunate aunt succumbs 
beneath the burden of her advanced age. 

My children — from the hour when they became aware 
of the frightful state of destitution to which I was reduced 
during the war — have only pursued one end : without 
troubling to see me or to affroach me directly, they have 

234 




w 
o 

X 

6 






X 
E- 
Z 

D 
O 



X 

u 

D 
Q 

u 

X 



My Sufferings during the War 

endeavoured by the mediation of paid agents to force me to 
sign a renunciation of my expectations. 

In direct defiance of the law I was ordered to sign my 
name to a document by which I relinquished my future 
inheritance from the Empress to my children. At last, 
worn out with sufferings, I was on the point of consenting 
for a consideration of an annual payment of a sum of 
six thousand marks, in exchange for which I was to be re- 
duced to isolation and slavery, and to be further plundered 
of all that might belong to me. 

I will say nothing here to the Duke of Holstein, this 
soldier financier ; but to my daughter Dora, the fruit of my 
body, whom I have fed at my breast, and whom I have 
brought up, I say this : 

" You may possess all the outward appearances of 
respectability. You may enjoy the benefits of a fortune 
of which I know the source, you may experience neither 
shame nor remorse, you may even dare to pray. But God 
can never be deceived. No wickedness, no guilty com- 
plicity, no action contrary to Nature will escape His 
justice. Sooner or later He will judge all men according 
to their works." 

Before I conclude my account of the machinations of 
these human vultures who attempted to assail my liberty 
and my rights, when once I had been unfortunate enough 
to ask help from my children, I must not forget to men- 
tion that later, when I regained the captaincy of my 
soul, I appealed to Justice at Munich. The courts there 
declared the renunciations extracted from me in my 

235 



My Own Affairs 

misery and frenzy when I was starving and homeless to 
be invaUd. 

During the war I have often actually not known where 
I should sleep, or of what my next meal would consist. 

I write this frankly, without a particle of false shame 
— firm in the approval of my own conscience. 

I have never willingly injured anyone. I have suffered 
in silence. I am speaking to-day in my own defence, 
bringing as evidence a family drama which touches con- 
temporary history. I speak with candour, but I am not 
actuated by feelings of hatred. Wickedness has dimin- 
ished. But my personal sufferings have in nowise 
lessened. I was born a king's daughter, I shall die a 
king's daughter. I have certainly pleaded for assistance, 
but more on behalf of my attendants than for myself. I 
could not bear to see these devoted creatures, my comfort 
and support in my misery, weep and grow pale during 
these dark days. 

The count had been obliged to leave Munich. On the 
morning of August 25, 1916, his room was suddenly in- 
vaded by the police. He was put in prison, then taken 
to Hungary, and afterwards interned near Budapest. He 
was by birth a Croatian and therefore regarded as a subject 
of the Entente, even before the defeat which united Croatia 
and Servia. Human justice is really only a word ! 

On the same day Olga, my principal attendant, an 
Austrian who had always shown me an invaluable and 
long-standing devotion, was also arrested. She was after- 
wards released. But I understood the significance of this 

236 



My Suflferings during the War 

— the order had come from the highest authority to 
alienate everyone who cared for me. I will describe what 
followed. 

My French maid, whose care of me was so disinterested, 
was interned. If my faithful Olga had not come out of 
prison, and if I had not had the means to keep her, I should 
have been completely isolated. 

But, shortly after this, I really did not know how to 
supply my daily needs. My last jewels had been sold. 
I was now as poor as the poor souls who implored my 
charity. 

What should I decide to do^^ what should I attempt? 
If I appealed to my daughter I knew that I should be up 
against the Duke of Holstein. He was absolutely pitiless. 
All this happened in July, 1917. 

Providence now threw in my way an honourable 
man, a Swiss professor, who was terribly distressed at 
my fate. 

He generously offered to help me to reach Silesia, 
where my daughter was in residence at one of her castles. 
This castle is not far from Breslau. I therefore left 
Munich, with Olga, in the hope of seeing my child and 
obtaining from her some temporary shelter. 

But when I reached my journey's end I tried in vain 
to be received, listened to, and assisted by Dora. 

I was therefore stranded in a little village in the 
Silesian mountains, where my last few marks soon 
disappeared. 

The count had tried to send me the wherewithal to 

237 



My Own Affairs 

exist. Without any warning, the German postal authorities 
retained the money and returned his letters. ' 

The little inn where I had taken refuge was kept by 
kindly folk who were, however, unable to let me stop 
unless I could pay. I saw myself faced with the most 
extreme misery. The innkeeper seemed frightened of me. 
He told me that he had been ordered to render an account 
of my doings to the police, and that I was kept well under 
observation, although I might not be aware that this was 
the case. 

He was mistaken. I and Olga had both noticed that 
our slightest movements were watched. Even in our walks 
in the open country we continually met some peasant or 
some pedestrian who appeared not to notice us, but who 
actually spied on us more or less unsuccessfully. 

I felt the influence of an implacable force that wished 
to immure me in some new gaol, madhouse or prison, or 
which would perhaps even make me contemplate self- 
destruction. 

In this extremity Heaven once again came to my rescue. 

On the very day which I thought would be the last I 
should be allowed to stay at the inn, I sat down, miserably, 
on a bench in front of the house. I asked myself in despair 
what was to become of me. Suddenly a carriage appeared 
— a rare sight in that unfrequented region. The coach- 
man signalled to me, and I saw, sitting in the carriage, a 
large, important-looking person who seemed looking for 
something or somebody. 

He was looking for me ! 

238 



My Sufferings during the War 

I was soon acquainted with the fact that this gentleman 
had come from Budapest on behalf of the count, and 
wished to speak to me. 

At these words I felt myself lifted out of the abyss of 
despair. But my trials were not over. 

The count's confidential agent had been charged with 
the mission of helping me to leave Germany. In order 
to do this, it would be necessary to cross Austria into 
Hungary, where I could rely upon active sympathy being 
shown me. 

Things and people had already changed in the Austro- 
Hungarian Monarchy ! 

But, what possibilities such a journey presented ! 
First, I had no official papers. The revelation of my name 
and title would alone suffice to impede my progress; I 
should be instantly detained. 

But although, thanks to the count's messenger, my bill 
at the inn was settled, I had only very limited means at 
my disposal. Austria, it is true, was not far away. We 
could go there across the mountains by way of Bohemia, 
but the envoy declared that, owing to his shortness of 
breath and his troublesome legs, he could not possibly 
follow me over the goat tracks which we should most 
assuredly have to pass. He decided that our best plan 
was to make for Dresden, and from there to choose the 
easiest route. 

When evening fell our host metaphorically closed his 
eyes to my departure. He waited until the next day to 
notify my disappearance to the authorities. 

239 



My Own Affairs 

By the time he did so I was in Saxony. But here 
again it was too dangerous to go near Lindenhof in a 
kingdom where my misfortunes had been the subject of so 
much publicity. At last we remembered a little village 
close to the frontier, on the side nearest Munich, where 
the regime was less rigorous than in the vicinity of 
Dresden, and we arrived there without anything untoward 
happening. 

The present difficulty was not so much in crossing 
Germany. It chiefly consisted in solving the question of 
the possibility of my being able to stay in some retired spot 
without my identity being discovered and notified, and 
afterwards to cross the frontier without a passport and 
gain safety at Budapest. 

This Odyssey alone would make a volume. It ter- 
minated in a Bavarian village where I breathed freely 
once more. A good woman extended the kindest hos- 
pitality towards me and my faithful Olga. 

The count's messenger still continued to watch over my 
welfare, and found accommodation for himself in the 
vicinity. 

From my window I could see the church steeple of 
the Austrian village through which I must pass in order 
to reach Salzburg, Vienna and Hungary. I was now on 
the borders of the Promised Land. A little wood separ- 
ated me from it, at the extremity of which flowed a brook 
well known to the contrabandists, since it separated 
Bavaria from Austria, and served them by night as a means 

of transit. 

240 



My Sufferings during the War 

I dared not risk it ! It would be necessary for me to 
cross a bridge constantly guarded by a sentry. But once 
over the bridge I should have left Germany behind me ! 

When I happened to be near Munich, I had regained 
possession of two favourite dogs. My love of dogs is well 
known. I did not wish to be separated from these, and 
I had an intuition that they would be of use to me in my 
flight. I thought tenderly of the clever Kiki, now a 
prisoner at Bad-Elster. His successors, like himself, 
would surely bring me luck ! One was a big sheep-dog, 
the other a little griffon. 

At first I hesitated to go near the bridge for fear lest 
I should be recognized. Then I reflected that it would 
seem suspicious to a sentry on duty if I always remained 
some distance away. My best method would be not to 
hide from the sentries, but to walk constantly with my 
dogs in their proximity. The soldiers (the same ones 
were always on duty) would soon get accustomed to seeing 
me, and in their eyes I should only represent an inoffen- 
sive inhabitant of the village. 

The count's envoy begged me to hasten my departure. 
I refused. He advised a nocturnal flight. I did not agree 
with him. I said : " I shall go when I see fit, at my own 
time, when I feel that the propitious moment has arrived." 

It is curious, but it is nevertheless true, that I always 

experience a weird kind of intuition under difficulties. It 

is exactly as if some inner voice advised me what course 

to pursue. And whenever I have obeyed this intuition I 

have always been right. 

241 



My Own Affairs 

One morning I awakened under the domination of my 
unseen guide. 

" You must leave at noon to-day." 

I sent at once to the count's messenger. Thanks to his 
official papers he was able to cross the frontier with Olga 
without any difficulty. They therefore went on in advance. 
I arranged to meet them at the foot of the belfry in the 
Austrian village — so near and yet so far. 

If the sentry stopped me and questioned me, I should 
be a prisoner ! . . . 

Towards noon I strolled along by the side of the brook, 
my big dog jumping round me, the tiny griffon in my 
arms. The autumnal sun was quite fierce, and the sentry 
was standing in the shade a little distance from the bridge. 
I sauntered across the bridge, as if it were a matter of 
course. The soldier took no notice. I walked away 
unconcernedly, but my heart was beating furiously ! I was 
in Austria at last ! Upon reaching the village I rejoined 
my " suite." A carriage was waiting. I drove to Salz- 
burg, and put up at a small hotel where I knew I 
should be in temporary security. 

I waited three days for the arrival of my Viennese 
counsel, M. Stimmer, who had been secretly advised of my 
return to Austria, and of my wish to proceed to Budapest 
under his protection. 

M. Stimmer responded to my appeal. He waived all 

the legal difficulties which might arise from the situation. 

The voice of humanity spoke more strongly than the voice 

of obedience to the order which had banished me from 

242 



My Sufferings during the War 

Austria, and given me over to the power of Germany, 
where I should inevitably have succumbed to misery and 
persecution. 

But in Hungary I should stand a chance of knowing 
happier days. M. Stimmer decided to accompany me 
thither. 

I had reached the limit of my endurance when my 
wanderings came to an end at Budapest, and I found 
myself in a comfortable first-class hotel. The authorities 
saw nothing compromising in my presence. At my urgent 
request the count was allowed to leave the small town 
where he was interned, and remain near me for several 
days in order to discuss my affairs. 

Unfortunately the war was hopelessly prolonged. 
Life gradually became more and more difficult. Austria 
and Hungary were no longer the victims of illusion. En- 
lightened by the knowledge of defeat, they cursed Berlin 
as the author of their misfortunes. Budapest was in a 
state of ferment. 

All at once everything collapsed. The wind of 
Bolshevism swept furiously over the Dual Monarchy. I 
now became familiar with the commissaries and soldiers 
of the Revolution. I experienced visits of inspection, 
perquisitions, interrogations. But suddenly my misfor- 
tunes disarmed even the savage leaders of Hungarian 
Communism. I have already mentioned how one of these 
men remarked when he saw to what poverty I was reduced : 
" Here is a king's daughter who is poorer than I am." 

If I were to live for centuries, I should still experience 

243 



My Own Affairs 

in thought those poignant emotions which I underwent 
during the time of torment which overthrew thrones and 
threw crowns to the four winds of heaven. Past ages have 
never witnessed such an upheaval. 

On the banks of the Danube, between the east and 
the west, the downfall of Prussian power and the prestige 
of Monarchy was felt perhaps more keenly than 
elsewhere. 

I often wondered whether I was actually alive in the 
world I had formerly known, or if I was not the victim of 
a long-drawn-out nightmare. 

Our troubles, our worries, our own individuality are as 
naught in the whirlpool of human passions. I felt myself 
carried away with everything which surrounded me into 
the unknown country of a New Era, 



244 



CHAPTER XX 
In the Hope of Rest 

AND now that I have said all that I think is indis- 
pensable, perhaps my readers will make excuses 
for me if I have expressed myself badly in 
narrating the story of my sufferings. 

They will, perhaps, also make excuses for my having 
broken the silence which I have hitherto maintained. 

There has been endless discussion concerning me and 
my affairs. I have not wished it, I have not inspired it. It 
has arisen solely through force of circumstances. 

We are powerless against circumstances. Our lives 
seem to be influenced more by others than by ourselves, 
and the fatality which often orders our actions and our 
days is not our choice. 

A moment's folly can wreck a whole life. This has 
been my personal experience. But I think that at first I 
was the person deceived, because I was not old enough to 
judge rightly and to see clearly. 

Can I grow old without obeying the duty to defend 
the truth, which has been so outraged by my enemies? 
Can I go down to the grave, misunderstood and 
slandered ? 

My life represents a succession of fatalities of which 
I was powerless to avert the final denouement. 

245 



My Own Affairs 

I have already said, and I repeat, I do not hold myself 
guiltless of errors, faults and wrongdoings. But one 
must, in justice, seek their primary cause in my disastrous 
marriage. 

My parents — particularly the Queen — saw nothing 
<vrong in giving me to the Prince of Coburg when I was 
hardly more than a child. 

The King saw in this marriage the possibility of cer- 
tain influences and a political union which would be 
useful to himself and to Belgium. 

The Queen was overjoyed at the thought that I was 
to make my home in Austria and Hungary, whence she 
had herself come, and where I should remember her, and 
at the same time further my country's glory and the King's 
ambitions. 

I have been sacrificed for the good of Belgium, and 
Belgium now includes Belgians who reproach me for the 
gift of my youth and happiness essentially destined for 
their benefit! Belgians to-day regard me as a Ger- 
man, a Hungarian — a foreigner — and worse even than 
that ! Alas for human gratitude ! 

Be that as it may, am I guilty of having voluntarily 
abandoned my country or of ceasing to love it ? 

The whole of my being protests against this vile 
accusation. 

Of what then am I guilty? Of having left my husband 
and my children ? 

I lived for twenty years at the most corrupt Court of 
Europe. I never yielded to its temptations or its follies. 

246 



In the Hope of Rest 

I gave birth to a son and a daughter, I suckled them at my 
breast, and I reposed all my hopes of a mother in my 
children. My son's fate and how he left me is common 
knowledge. It is also well known how my daughter, in- 
fluenced by her husband and her environment, has 
treated me. 

Of what was I actually guilty? It is true that finding 
myself at the end of my courage, and suffocating in the 
atmosphere of a home which for me was detestable, I was 
about to succumb. . . . 

I was rescued at this crisis, and I dedicated my life to 
my deliverer. And, in consequence, my saviour was 
branded as a forger, and by dint of monetary persecutions 
and fines it was sought to annihilate him. 

Both of us have escaped from the murderers who 
desired our destruction. ^ 

Am I guilty of having struggled, of having remained 
faithful to fidelity, and of having resisted the efforts to 
overthrow me ? 

The judgments of error and hatred matter little to me. 
I have remained the woman that I promised my sainted 
mother I would become — the idealist, who has lived on 
the heights. 

Am I guilty in the real meaning of morality and free- 
dom ?, Many women who consider themselves in a position 
to cast the first stone at me have far more with which to 
reproach themselves ! 

What remains to be said ? 

This. ... I believed, I believed in common with the 
Q 247 



My Own Affairs 

greatest legal minds, that in the ordinary course of events 
I should inherit a fortune from my father. My inherit 
ance was considerably encumbered and reduced owing to 
fraudulent schemes and wrongful judgments, which have 
been universally condemned. 

Am I guilty for having been deceived and plundered ? 

Again it is said that my family was not united. Is 
this my fault? 

I always loved my flesh and blood more than myself. 
Have I been found wanting in affection and respect 
towards my parents ? Was I not to my sisters the adoring 
eldest sister who loved and cherished them? 

Am I guilty of the errors of the King and the Queen, 
the latter convinced by my persecutors of the gravity of 
my " illness," the former irritated — not by my independ- 
ence, but by the scandal that it created ?, 

Am I guilty of the selfishness of my sisters — one the 
victim of narrow-mindedness, the other the victim of 
political schemes? 

I freely admit this : I have certainly rebelled against 
disloyalty and restraint. But for what motives ? For what 
ends ? 

My real crime has consisted in my effort to get my own 
property, in waiting for a fortune which I have not 
handled. 

The world only admires the victorious, no matter by 
what means they achieve victory. 

I have been a victim ever since my girlish feet were 
led into devious paths ; I have always suffered defeat. 

248 



In the Hope of Rest 

When the battle was over I did not ask pardon of 
untruth, injury, theft, or persecution. 

I might have been alone, I might have fallen under the 
burden of infamy and violence. But I would not yield 
because I was not fighting for myself alone. 

God has visibly sustained me, by animating my heart 
with feelings of esteem and gratitude for a chivalrous soul 
whom I have never heard utter a word of complaint, no 
matter how atrocious the intrigues and the cruelties which 
encompassed him. 

A base world has judged his devotion and my 
constancy from the lowest standpoint. 

Let such a world now realize that beings exist who 
are far above the sordid instincts to which humanity 
abandons itself, beings who, in a common aspiration to a 
lofty ideal, rise superior to all earthly weaknesses. The 
last lines of this short sketch of a life, the details of which 
would fill many volumes, must be a recognition of my 
gratitude towards Count Geza Mattachich. 

I have not said a great deal about him, because he 
will think that even a little is too much. This silent man 
only appreciates silence. 

" Silence alone is strong, all the rest is weakness." 
Thus wrote Alfred de Vigny, and this line is the motto 
of the strong. 

But you know, Count, that unlike you I cannot force 
myself to be silent. I wish to invoke the vision of the 
hour when you first spoke those words which penetrated 
my conscience and cleansed and illumined it. From 

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My Own Affairs 

that hour, this light has been my guide. I have sought in 
suffering the road towards spiritual beauty. But you pre- 
ceded me thither, and in the dark depths of the madhouse 
I looked towards your prison cell, and in so doing I 
escaped the horrors of insanity. 

We have had to submit to the assaults of covetousness 
and hypocrisy. 

We have struggled in the mire; we have been 
separated in wild lands. The world has only seen the 
splashes of mud and the tattered banner of our combat. 
It has ignored the cause, and its malevolence has never 
pardoned us for emerging from the fight as victims. 

All this was very bitter at the time, but I never 
regret ! My sufferings are dear to me because you. 
Count, have shared them, after having tried so ardently 
to spare me. 

There is always a certain joy in bearing unmerited 
afflictions in the spirit of sacrifice. 

This spirit of sacrifice is peculiarly your own. I never 
possessed it. But you have endowed me with it. No gift 
has ever been so precious to my soul, and I shall be grateful 
to you on this side of the tomb and beyond it ! 

I, who alone know you as you really are, and know 

the adoration that has given you a reason for living, I 

thank you. Count, in the twilight of my days for the 

nobility which you have always shown in this adoration. 

Shall I ever know, will you ever know, the meaning of 

rest otherwise than the last rest which is the lot of 

mankind ? 

250 



In the Hope of Rest 

Will earthly justice ever render unto us the hoped-for 
reparations'? 

Will it be possible for us to remain outlawed from the 
truth, and crushed by the abuse of power and human 
wickedness ? 

Let it be as God wills ! 



251 



INDEX 



Agiam, Princess Louise at, i8i, 182 
Albert, King of the Belgians, 42 
Albert, Prince Consort, influence of, 
n6 
Queen Victoria and, 165 
Alexandrine, Princess, of Saxe- 

Coburg, 64 
Alice, Princess, of Hesse, betrothal of, 
to Nicholas II, 163 
character of, 164 
Am^lie, Princess, of Saxe-Coburg, 
marriage with Maximilian of 
Bavaria, 71 
Ardennes, Royal picnics in, 44 
Augusta (of Schleswig-Holstein), Ger- 
man Empress, 80, 134 
bad taste in dress of, 144 
character of, 142 et seq. 
Duke Gunther's marriage and, 147 
influence on outbreak of war of, 152 
mediocrity of, 163 
Princess Louise and, 144 
Augusta (wife of William I), German 
Empress, Princess Louise and, 

143 
Auguste, Prince, of Saxe-Coburg, 46, 

116, 118 
as Count Helpa, 71 
Ausbach, M., Burgomaster of Brussels, 

S9 
Austria, Princess Louise ordered from, 

232 
return of Princess Louise to, 242 
Automobiles, Princess Louise on, 44, 45 



Bad-Elster, escape of Princess Louise 
from, 200 et seq. 
Princess Louise taken to, 199 



Beatrice, Princess (of Battenberg), 164 
Belgian Government, will of Leopold 

II and, 215 et seq. 
Belgium, constitution of, 27 
fortitude of, 2 

indignation in Berlin against, 43 
King Leopold's fortune and, 32, 33 
Leopold's anti-German policy and, 

134 
Princess Louise and, 38, 40, 41 
Princess Louise's escape through, 

208, 209 
Princess Louise's loss of nationality 

in, 231 
" sacrifice " of Princess Louise to, 
246 
Belgium, Royal House of, and its con- 
nexions, 17 
Berlin-Bagdad railway, 137 
Berlin, Court of, under William I, 143 

under William II, 143, 144 
Biarritz, Belgian Royal family at, 50 
Birthday oaks at Laeken, 37 
Bismarck, Count von, 143, 145 
Blanche de Nemours, 47 
Bologna, Princess Louise at, 74, 77 
Bolshevism at Budapest, 74, 243 
Boucottes, Chateau of. Empress Char- 
lotte at, 210 
Brown, John, and Queen Victoria, 167, 

168 
Brussels, plots against Princess Louise 
in, 192 
Princess Louise an " enemy prin- 
cess " in, 41, 42 
Brussels, Palace at, inconveniences of, 
22 
portrait of Charles I by Van Dyck, 
in, 49 



253 



Index 



Budapest, Bolshevism at, 74, 243 
Count Mattachich interned at, 236 
Princess Louise at, 64, 74 
Society at, 75 
war experiences in, 243 



Cannes, Princess Louise at, 74, 77 
Chantilly, Princess Louise at, 46 
Charlotte, Empress of Mexico, fortune 

of, 32, 41, 210, 223, 234 
Chartres, Due de, 45 
Chartres, Duchesse de, 45, 77 
Chateaubriand, Princess Louise and, 

IS 
Chclteau d'Eu, Princess Louise at, 46 
Chotek, Countess, camarilla against, 
98, 99 
created Duchess of Hohenberg, 97 
influence in Austrian politics of, 98 
marriage with Francis Ferdinand 
d'Este, 96, 97 
Claremont, Queen Marie Am61ie at, 47 
Clementine, Princess, of Belgium, ac- 
cepts Belgian Government's offer, 
214 
as horsewoman, 44 
as musician, 24 
birth of, 21, 34 
birthday oak at Laeken of, 37 
Leopold II's attitude to, 35 
marriage of, 48 
Clementine, Princess (of Orleans), 46 
at Coburg Palace, 67, 68 
Ferdinand of Bulgaria and, 117, 

122-123 
Ferdinand's wife and, 125- 
Princess Louise and, 70 
Clotilde, Archduchess, of Saxe- 
Coburg, 71 
at Budapest, 74 
character of, 75 
Coburg, family of, 116 



Coburg, Prince of {see Philip of Saxe- 

Coburg and Gotha) 
Coburg, Royal gatherings at, 161-163 
Coburg Estates in Hungary, 58 
Coburg Palace, Princess Louise at, 12, 

63 e£ seq. 
Conde, Prince de, 46 
Congo, King Leopold's policy for, 31, 

32 
King Leopold's will and, 213 et seq. 
Cyril, Grand Duchess (see Melita, 

Princess) 



Daszvnski, Deputy, on Count Matta- 
chich, 186, 187 
d'Aumale, Due, as friend of Belgium, 
46 
at Princess Louise's wedding, 59 
friendship of, with Queen of Bel- 
gium, 46 
Delehaye, M., on King Leopold I, 52, 

53 
d'Este, Francis Ferdinand, camarilla 
against, 98, 99 
influence of Duchess of Hohenberg 

on, 98 
marriage with Countess Chotek of, 
96, 97 
Doebling Asylum, Princess Louise in, 

150, 182, 183, 184, 189 
Donny, General, 36, 44 
Dora, daughter of Princess Louise, 
birth of, 80 
leaves her mother, 150, 176 
marriage with Duke Gunther of 
Schleswig-Holstein, 80, 146, 147, 
148, 150 
Princess Louise's fruitless appeal to, 

237 
" wickedness " of, towards mother, 

235 
Dresden, Princess Louise at, 64 



254 



Index 



Edward VII at Princess Louise's wed- 
ding, 59 
German Emperor and, 134 
John Brown and, 168 
Elizabeth, daughter of Archduke 

Rudolph, 107 
Elizabeth, Empress of Austria, after 
death of Archduke Rudolph, 114, 

"5 
and Heinrich Heine, 94 
as " Martyr," 93 
as " Queen of Queens," 55 
character of, 95 
death of, 115 

meeting between Princess Louise 
and, 94, 9S 
Emperor of Austria (see Francis 

Joseph) 
Empress Frederick, character of, 143, 

163 
Empress of Austria (see Elizabeth, Em- 
press of Austria) 
Ernest, Duke, of Saxe-Coburg, 64, 116 

Princess Louise and, 160, 161 
Etienne, Archduke, 51 
Eucharistic Congress (1914), Emperor 
Francis Joseph at, 115 



Fauee, M., duets with Queen 

Henrietta, 20 
Ferdinand of Bulgaria, adopts title of 
Tsar, 123 
as " Emperor of Byzantium," 121 
character of, 71, 92, 117 ei seq. 
downfall of, 130 

enmity of, to Princess Louise, 130 
excommunication of, 125 
marriage of, 124 
mother's influence on, 117 
Princess Louise and, 1 18-120, 126- 

130 
sons of, baptized into Greek Church, 
124 



Flandre, Comte and Comtesse of, 47 

visit Princess Louise at Lindenhof, 
191 
France, politics and religion in, 97 
Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria, 1 

and Princess Louise's scandals, 89, 
90, 182 

at Eucharistic Congress (1914), 115 

Berlin and, 137 

character of, 84, 134 

death of Archduke Rudolph and, 86 

greatness of, 55 

" justice " of, 85 

Madame Schratt and, 85, 86, 115 

" madness " of, regarding war, 231 

personal appearance of, 134, 136 

refuses help to Princess Louise, 92 
Frederick, Crown Prince, 57 

at Princess Louise's wedding, 59 
Frederick, Emperor, character of, 133, 

143 
Fugger, Countess, fidelity of, 179, 183, 
190 



Geeakd, Queen Henriette's mattre- 

d'kStel, 24 
German Emperor (see William II) 
Germany, evil influence of Prussia on, 

133. 152, 158 
legendary philosophy of, 157 
treatment of ex-kings by, 160 
William II responsible for crimes of, 

133. 140 
Goethe, as Princess Louise's favourite 

author, 15 
Gotha, Princess Louise at, 64 
Gunther, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, 

character of, 146 
coerces Princess Louise at Munich, 

233 
Count Mattachich and, 149 
fortune of Leopold II and, 43 



25s 



Index 



Gunther, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, 
marriage of, with Princess Dora, 80, 

146, 147 
warns Princess Louise, 181 

Heine, Heineich, Empress Elizabeth 

and, 94 
Princess Louise's estimate of, 93 
Helpa, Count {see Auguste of Saxe- 

Coburg) 
Henriette, Queen of Belgium, 4 
and death of Prince Leopold, 25, 28 
as horsewoman, 21, 44 
beauty and character of, 18, 19, ao, 

25, 26 
death of, at Spa, 40 
friendship of, with Due d'Aumale, 

46 
influence at Vienna of, 57 
influence on Princess Louise, 22, 23, 

37. 39 
King Leopold and, 24, 25, 28, 31, 34 
letters of, to Princess Louise at 

Lindenhof, 191 
marriage of, 17 
parents of, 17 
Prince Louise's marriage and, 54, 

57. 246 
Hesse, Grand Duke of, marriage of, 

with Princess Melita, 163 
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Princess 

Louise at, 82 
Hohenberg, Duchess of (see Chotek, 

Countess) 
Hoyoz, Count, at Jleyerling, 11 1 
Hungary, Coburg estates in, 58 

John, Archduke (John Orth), disap- 
pearance of, 96 
Joinville, Prince de, 45 
Joseph, Archduke, at Princess Louise's 
wedding, 59 
at Sadowa, 17 
palace of, at Buda, 74 



Keglevich, Count, and Count Matta- 

chich, 181, 183 
Keglevich, Countess, Princess Louise 

and Count Mattachich take refuge 

with, 180 



Laeken, Chdteau of, childhood of Prin- 
cess Louise at, 49, 52, 63 
commemoration oak trees at, 36 
inconveniences of, 22 
King Leopold and gardens at, 30, 31 
marriage of Princess Louise at, 60 
Queen Henrietta's feat of horseman- 
ship at, 21 
Royal children's gardens at, 36 
Lantsheere, M. de, address to the 

Senate by, 229, 230 
Le Journal, Princess Louise and, 195 
Leopold I, death of, 17, 18, 29 

influence of, 116 
Leopold 11 of Belgium, i, 2 
accession of, 18 

administration of Empress Char- 
lotte's fortune by, 32 
attitude towards daughters of, 34, 

35 

Belgian Government on, 216, 217 
Belgium and fortune of, 32, 33, 2n 

et seq. 
character of, 25, 27 et seq. 
colonial policy of, 28, 31 
death of, 216 

forethought against Germany of, 134 
fortune of, 32, 33, 79, 147, 150, 172, 

212, 234 
gardens at Laeken and, 30, 31 
influence of death of son on, 34 
lawsuit concerning fortune of, 211 

et seq. 
love of flowers of, 30 
marriage of, 17 
marriage of Princess Louise and, 

100, 246 



256 



Index 



Leopold II of Belgium, marriage of 
Princess Stephanie and, loo 
on " blindness " of France, 97 
on William II, 134 
personality of, 28, 29 
Princess Louise at funeral of, 40, 

147. 150 
sarcasm of, 10 
will of, 221, 222 
Leopold, Prince, of Belgium, birth of, 
21 
birthday oak at Laeken of, 37 
character of, 52 
childhood of, 51, 52 
death of, 21, 25, 33, 51 
Leopold, son of Princess Louise, death 
of, 80 
relations of, with mother, 79 
Lindenhof, Princess Louise in asylum 

of, 186 et seq. 
Lobor, Chiteau of, Princess Louise 
and Count Mattachich take refuge 
at, 180 
Louis II of Bavaria, character of 154, 

Louis III of Bavaria, character of, 

'55. 156 
Louis Philippe, King, 46, 47 
Louis Victor, Archduke, as instigator 
of persecution of Princess Louise, 
87, 88, 89, 90 
Louise, Princess, alleged madness of, 
39, 150, 151, 181, 184, 186, 189 
appeal to Munich courts by, 235 
Archduke Louis Victor and, 87 
Archduke Rudolph and, 103^105, 108, 

109, no 
arrest of, 183 
as eldest daughter, 22 
as horsewoman, 44 
as mother, 78, 247 
as Princess of Coburg, 42, 65 
at Agram, 181, 182 
at Biarritz, 50, 51 



Louise, Princess, at Bologna, 74, 77 
at Budapest, 64, 74 
at Cannes, 74, 77 
at Chantilly, 46 
at Chateau d'Eu, 46 
at Coburg Palace, 12, 63 et seq. 
at father's funeral, 40 
at Queen Victoria's Jubilee celebra- 
tions, 169 
at Regensburg, 158, 159 
attitude of King and Queen towards, 

29. 30. 173 

Belgium's treatment of, 2 

betrothal of, 54 

birth of daughter to, 80 

birthday oak at Laeken of, 37 

Bolshevists and, i, 2, 74, 243 

childhood of, 22, 30, 49 

coercion of, by Duke Gunther, 233, 

234 
Comtesse de Flandre's visit to, at 

Lindenhof, 191 
conjugal life of, 38 
Count Mattachich, at Nice with, 148, 

149, 176, 177 ; attempts release of, 

193 et seq. 
Court of Vienna and, 8 
daughter's desertion of, 150 
declared sane by French doctors, 209 
departure for Austria of, 63 
differences with husband of, 68, 76, 

89, 90, 91 
divorce of, 41 

Dr. Sudekum's assistance to, 200 
Emperor William and, 133, 138 
Empress Augusta and, 143, 144 
enemies of, 4, 5 
enmity of Ferdinand of Bulgaria to, 

130 
es.,»pe of, from Bad-Elster, 200 et 

seq. 
exile of, 36 

extravagance of, 171, 172 
favourite authors of, 15 



257 



Index 



Louise, Princess, feelings for Belgiiun 

of, 2 
Ferdinand of Bulgaria and, 118-120, 

126-130 
flight from Silesia of, 238-240 
flight with Count Mattachich of, 179 
Heinrich Heine and, 94 
hereditary qualities of, 9, 12, 13, 14 
ideals of, 11 
in asylum at Lindenhof and Purkes- 

dorf, 186 et seq. 
incident on wedding night of, 60, 61 
infancy of, 18, 21 

King Leopold and marriage of, 100 
King Leopold's fortune and, 32 
lawsuit of, concerning the King's 

fortune, 211 et seq. 
Le Journal and, 195 
life in asylums of, 150, 173, 174, 182, 

183, 184, i85 et seq. 
marriage of, 3, 34, 59 
meeting of Empress Elizabeth and, 

94. 95 
misfortunes of, i, 4 
mother's influence on, 22, 23, 26, 37, 

139 
mother's letters to, at Lindenhof, 191 
M. Stimmer's assistance to, 242, 243 
on motor-cars, 44 
on Shakespeare, 15, 16 
on the theatre, 16 
" peculiarities " and " weaknesses " 

of, 171 
predominant quality of, 8 
presentation to Emperor Francis 

Joseph of, 84 
Princess Clementine of Coburg and, 

46, 47 
Queen Marie Amelie and, 47 
Queen Victoria and, 165 et seq. 
receives 5,000,000 francs under 

King's will, 223 
relations with son of, 79, 80 
religion and, 139, 140 

258 



Louise, Princess, renunciation of 

rights signed by, 234 
restoration of Belgian nationality to, 

41, 42 
return to Austria of, 242 
" sacrifice " to Belgium of, 246 
sufferings during the war of, 231 

et seq. 
taken to Bad-Elster, 199 
takes refuge with Count Mattachich 

at Countess Keglevich's chateau, 

180, 184 
Vienna scandals and, 89-92 
visit to Duke Ernest of, 160, 161 
visit to Rosenau of, 161 
visit to Sofia of, 126 et seq. 
visit to Spa of, 23 
war experiences at Munich of, 41, 

232 et seq. 
Louise, Queen of Belgium, 52 
Luitpold, Prin'ce, Regent of Bavaria, 

154 
Lutheranism, Princess Louise on, 139- 
140, 152 



Marguerite, Princess, of Thurn and 
Taxis, 159 

Marie, Duchess, of Saxe-Coburg- 
Gotha, 161 

Marie, Princess, of Saxe-Coburg 
(Queen of Rumania), beauty of, 
161 

Marie Am^ie, Queen, 47 

Marie DorothSe of Habsburg, mar- 
riage with Duke Philip of 
Orleans, 72, 73 

Marie Louise of Parma, flight to 
Vienna of, 124, 125 
marriage of, with Ferdinand of Bul- 
garia, 124 
return to Sofia of, 126 

Marriage, disillusionment of, 3, 60, 61, 
57 



Index 



Marriage, reflections on, 177 
Mattachich, Count Geza, 5, 38 
ability of, 249 
arrest of, at Agram, 184; at Munich, 

236 
assists Princess Louise to escape 

from Germany, 238, 239 
character of, 175 
charge of forgery against, 177, 178, 

184 
Count Keglevich and, 181 
discussion in Reichsrath of, i86, 187 
duel with Prince Philip and, 93, 177 
Duke Gunther and, 149 
efforts of, to release Princess Louise, 

193 ei seq. 
Emperor William and, 150, 151 
flight with Princess Louise of, 179 
follows Princess Louise to Bad- 

Elster, 200 
imprisonment of, 178 
internment at Budapest of, 236 
" pardon " of, 192 
public indignation at treatment of, 

191 
takes refuge with Princess Louise at 

Chateau Lobor, 180 
with Princess Louise at Nice, 148, 
149, 176, 177 
Maximilian, of Bavaria, marriage and 

death of, 71, 72 
Melita, Princess, marriage with 

Grand Duke of Hesse, 163 
Meyerling, tragedy at, 92, loi, 102, 

109-111 
Moellersdorf Penitentiary, Count 

Mattachich in, 192 
Moltke, Marshal von, 143 
Monarchy, principles of, 157-162 
Moniieur on King Leopold, 216 
Montpensier, Due de, 43 

palace of, at Cannes, 77 
Munich, Court of, 154 et seq. 
insubordination to Prussia of, 154 



Munich, Princess Louise's appeal to 
courts of, 235 
war experiences of Princess Louise 
at, 41, 232 et seq. 



Nice, Count Mattachich and Princess 

Louise at, 176, 177 
Nicholas II, betrothal to Princess Alice 

of Hesse, 163 
character of, 163, 164 
Niederfullbach, report of, 211 et seq. 
Nietzsche, " that fool," 131 
Nymphenburg, Prince Luitpold at, 155 



Orleans family, 45, 72, 73 

Orleans, Prince of (see Philip, Duke of 

Orleans) 
Orth, John (see John, Archduke) 



Paris, Comtesse de, 46 

Parma, house of, and excommunication 

of Ferdinand, 125 
Philip, Duke of Orleans, marriage of, 

72.73 
Philip of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as 

Austrian prince, 42 
at Meyerling, iii, 113, 114 
betrothal of, 54, 55 
differences with Princess Louise, 67, 

68, 76 
divorce of, 41 

duel with Count Mattachich, 93, 177 
" madness " of Princess Louise and, 

i8i 
marriage of, S9 
Pierson, Dr., medical superintendent 

at Lindenhof, 190, 197, 198 
Prague, Princess Louise at, 64 



259 



Index 



Prussia, evil influence on Germany of, 

133. 152. 158 
responsibility for war of, 231 
Prussian Royal House, descent of, 138 
Purkesdorf, Princess Louise in asylum 

at, i8g 



Queen of Belgium [see Henriette, 
Queen of Belgium) 

Queen of Greece (see Sopnie, Queen of 
Greece) 

Queen of Rumania {see Marie, Prin- 
cess, of Saxe-Coburg) 



Regensburg, Court life at, 158, 159 

Reichsrath, discussion on Count 
Mattachich in, i85, 187 

Religion, Princess Louise on, 140, 153 

Republic, principles of, 157 

Reuss, Prince of, 102, 103, 109 

Right of Princes, 41, 42 

Romanofi, House of, relations with 
Coburg of, 163 

Rosenau, Princess Louise at, 161 

Rudolph, Archduke, Archduke John 
and, 96 
characteristics of, 106, 112, 113, 154 
death of, 92, 97, loi, 109 
Empress Elizabeth and, 94 
marriage of, 48, 100, loi, 105 
Mary Vetsera and, loi, 102, 104, 108 
Princess Louise and, 103-5, 108, 109, 
no 

Russia, Court of, 163 



Saint Antoine, Chateau of, 78 
Saxe-Coburg, Duke of, at Princess 
Louise's wedding, 59 



Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Court life of, 160 

Schaumbourg, Chateau of, Archduke 

Stephen at, 17 

Schratt, Madame, Emperor Francis 

Joseph and, 85, 86, 115 

Serge, Grand Duchess, 163 

Shakespeare, Princess Louise and, 15, 

16 

Social Democracy, 158 

Socialists and Count Mattachich, 186, 

187 

Society des Sites, 226 

Sofia, flight of Marie Louise from, 126 

Princess Louise at, 126 ei seg. 

Soignies, Forest of, 36, 44 

Sophie, Queen of Greece, 7 

Spa, death of Queen of Belgium at, 40 

visit of Princess Louise to, 23 

Stanfferberg, Count of, 159 

Stephanie, Princess, of Belgium, birth 

of, 21 

birthday oak at Laeken of, 37 

childhood of, 30, 48 

Count Mattachich's alleged forgery 

of signature of, 184, 185 

King Leopold and marriage of, 100, 

105 
King Leopold's attitude towards, 34 

last letter of Rudolph to, 113, 114 

lawsuit over King's fortune and, 214 

marriage of, 34, 48, roo, loi 

serious illness of, 50 

Vienna scandals and, 89 

Stephen, Archduke, exile of, 17 

Stimnaer, M., assists Princess Louise 

on return to Austria, 242, 243 

Sudekum, Dr., escape of Princess 

Louise and, 207, 208 



The Account of the Inheritance of 
His Majesty Leopold II," 212 ei 
seq. 



260 



Index 



Theatre, Queen Henriette on, 20, 21 

thoughts on, 16 
Thurn and Taxis, Court of, 158, 159 
Tsar of Bulgaria {tee Ferdinand of 
Bulgaria) 



Van den Smissin, 44 
Van Dyck, portrait of Charles I by, 49 
Vetsera, Mary, Archduke Rudolph 
and, loi, 108 
description of, 103 
Vienna, after the war in, 82 
Vienna, Court of, camarilla against 
Francis Ferdinand at, 99 
decadence and downfall of, 83, 115 
etiquette at, 55 
Ferdinand at, 99 

Princess Louise declared enemy sub- 
ject by, 231-232 
Victor Napoleon, Prince, marriage of, 

with Princess Clementine, 48 
Victoria, Queen, 165 el seg. 
character of, 166 
jubilee celebrations of, 168, 169 
Princess Alice and Princess Beatrice 

as readers to, 164 
Princess Louise seeks aid of, 179 



Villa Eugenie, Biarritz, Belgian Royal 

family at, 50, 51 
Vladimir, Grand Duchess, 163 



Wales, Prince of (Edward VII), at 
Princess Louise's wedding, 59 

Waltz, the, as " incomparable queen 
of dances," 75 

Wiemmer, Dr., 44, 50, 51 

William I, 133 

William II, German Emperor, as 
" scourge of God," 43 
as well Kaiser, 121, 137 
character of, 132 el seq^., 162, 163 
Count Mattachich and, 150, 151 
Duchess Gunther and, 150 
Empress Frederick and, 163 
Princess Louise and, 133, 138, 152 
responsibility of, for war and Ger- 
man war crimes, 133, 137, 140 
visit to Vienna of, 144 

Windisgretz, Princess of, 107 

Windsor, Queen Victoria's life at, 167 

Wittelsbach, family of, 156 

Woman, influence of, in Governments, 

14. 15 
Women and the war, 3 



261 



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