From the Royal Archives: Henry VIII’s Break-Up Letter

I suspect we’ve all been plagued with a passive aggressive break-up text or two in today’s day and age. I most definitely have. But unlike the following scenario, I doubt the guys in my life who chose such a cowardly approach to do it would thought more than 5 seconds about what to write.

Unlike… King Henry VIII who called a counsel to craft the perfect break-up letter. (And I’m not sure which is the worse of the two, calling a council or firing of a text with little to no thought at all.)

[The following takes place during the divorce of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.]

Catherine waited a few days; then, as more and more of the courtiers that remained rode off to join the King, she wrote her husband a letter. She was sorry she had not been roused before he left to bid him Godspeed. She would be happy to know that he was well.

Back came a curt and querulous reply. Little she cared about his health or peace of mind. Her obstinacy was destroying both. He was better when he did not see her.

Catherine wrote again, submissively, but with a dignified hint that if this was good-bye, at least their long life together made it only decent that good-bye should be spoken face to face.

This time Henry chose to treat his wife’s letter as a state document. He made it the subject of a council meeting which consumed several days in drafting a short, harsh answer, the gist of which was that the Queen’s disobedience in refusing the neutral court at Cambrai had so displeased the King that he did not wish to see her again.


Mattingly, Garrett. “Part III: The Divorce of Henry VIII (1527-1536); Chapter Three, Section iv” Catherine of Aragon. New York: Quality Paperback , 1990. 334. Print.

British Royal Lineage: A Brief History


The lineage of the British Royal Family is hairy and hard to follow. I must admit, up until a few days ago I was hardly able to begin to explain it. But earlier this week I came across this summary and thought it was incredibly informative and well done. Perhaps you’ll feel the same.


More than anything, it truly shows just how fateful it was for Queen EII to end up on the throne. Plus, how lucky are the Windsors to have a family tree with so much detail! I would love to have libraries full and dedicated to my family’s heritage! 😉

‘History in 10’ Sunday: King Ludwig II

History in Ten

Happy Sunday, everyone! I’m really excited to introduce this new weekly feature for Duchess-at-Large: ‘History in 10’ Sundays. There’re so many fascinated royal figures in history and I really want to share some of the cool things I’ve researched over the years… that’s where History in 10 comes in. Every Sunday I’ll be sharing 10 facts about various royal-related topics, everything from historical royals to palaces, as well as provide some further resources for you to learn more.

For the first ‘History in 10’, I’ve chosen one of my all-time favorite royals, King Ludwig II. After living in Munich for a year, it’s no surprise that I’ve really been inspired to dive more into his life. That’s what I love about living in Europe, royal history is literally all around… So let’s get down to it!


10. Ludwig II, son of Maximilian II and Princess Maria of Prussia, was born August 25, 1845 at Nymphemburg Palace in Munich. He had an isolated childhood, as many royal children did, and was reminded of his royal duties since a young age. Though he wasn’t close with his parents, his father did build him a fantasy castle, Castle Hohenschwangau, which had walls adorned with scenes from fairy tales where Prince Ludwig enjoyed times of solitude, lost in his own imagination.

“Ludwig enjoyed dressing up … took pleasure in play acting, loved pictures and the like … and liked … making presents of his property, money and other possessions”, said his mother. This was not to change. His vivid imagination, his tendency to isolate himself, and his pronounced sense of sovereignty were also already evident when Ludwig was a child. (Source.)


9. Prince Ludwig ascended the throne in 1864, at the young age of 18. He was well-received by the Bavarian people, and was known for “his brooding good looks.” Though he was painfully shy and preferred isolation to large public functions, King Ludwig II tried his best to take over the role of King.

“I became king much too early. I had not learned enough. I had made such a good beginning … with the learning of state laws. Suddenly I was snatched away from my books and set on the throne. Well, I am still trying to learn …” (Source.)

8. Since childhood, King Ludwig II had a close friendship with his cousin Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria, later Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria. She was one of his closest confidants and they would write letters often. She called him “Eagle,” and he called her “Dove.”


7. On New Year’s Day, 1867, King Ludwig II’s engagement to Duchess Sophie Charlotte, Empress Elisabeth’s sister and King Ludwig’s cousin, was announced. The wedding was planned to take place on King Ludwig’s 22nd birthday, but was postponed to October. The week before the wedding, Ludwig broke off the engagement with Sophie through a letter, explaining that he only loved her like a sister, and hoped they stay friends. (Royal breakups, they’re just like ours!)


6. It’s been widely speculated that King Ludwig II was gay. He was close with a few male companions throughout the years, but there is no proof that their relationships were amorous. He was a devout Catholic and was said to have struggled with his sexuality because of his religious devotion.

5. King Ludwig II was obsessed with composer Richard Wagner (to say the least). Upon his becoming King, Ludwig immediately summoned Wagner to Munich, where Ludwig essentially saved Wagner from financial ruin.

“… Today I was brought to him. He is unfortunately so beautiful and wise, soulful and lordly, that I fear his life must fade away like a divine dream in this base world … You cannot imagine the magic of his regard: if he remains alive it will be a great miracle!” wrote the composer after his first meeting. (Source.)

Political conflicts and Wagner’s anti-Semitic sentiments ultimately led to King Ludwig II having him removed from court.

4. King Ludwig II became obsessed with creating a fantasy world which he could rule. He began spending less and less time in Munich and more time at palaces in remote locations. Starting in 1875, Ludwig would only sleep during the day and live at night, forcing his servants to do the same. He had special pulleys and levers created so he could be served through floorboards, so as not to have any contact with servants.

3. The creation of this fantasy world ultimately led Ludwig, and the State of Bavaria, to financial ruin. Because of his refusal to stop his spending, he was deposed as King and declared as being “insane” by psychiatrist Bernhard von Gudden.

If anything, Gudden’s diagnosis of paranoia and insanity casts a dim light on the doctor’s own decidedly odd methods. Instead of examining the king himself, he based his report on interviews with a few of his aides in secret night-time meetings. (Source.)

It’s also worth noting that Ludwig’s brother, Otto, was already locked away at this time under claims of him also being “insane.”

2.  On June 13, 1886, King Ludwig II went for a walk with his psychiatrist, Dr. Gudden. Their bodies were discovered floating in Lake Starnberg, they had drown. No one knows much more than that, and the details surrounding their deaths continue to remain a mystery.

1.  One of the most famous quotes of King Ludwig II. also happens to be the most fitting:

“I wish to forever remain an enigma, both to myself and to others.”

To learn more about the fascinating life of King Ludwig II, I recommend…

This article from the Atlantic about the 125th Anniversary of his death.

This piece from Der Spiegel on whether or not he was truly mentally ill.

This podcast episode about him from the brilliant Stuff You Missed In History Class.

This book, The Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria by Christopher McIntosh.

And this movie, which I just watched last night (and loved!), Ludwig II.

Bonus: King Ludwig II’s modern-day doppelgängers.

Do you have any recommendations for future ‘History in 10’ posts? Let me know!

New Book Claims Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl Thought Marriage of Prince Charles and Diana Was ‘Idiotic’

ap8406100373-1-A new book has been released and claims to expose the true feelings former German chancellor Helmut Kohl had regarding various heads of state during his time as the head of Germany from 1982-1998.

Though Mr.Kohl is said to have tried vehemently to halt the book’s publication, it published nevertheless and seems to contain some fascinating insight.

The Daily Mail writes:

The former German chancellor Helmut Kohl branded the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana ‘idiotic’, an explosive new book has claimed.

The 84-year-old, who led Germany from 1982 to 1998, also added that had Diana become queen immediately, she ‘would have done her bit in bed’.

It has also emerged he described Prince Philip as a ‘blockhead’ and accused former prime minister Margaret Thatcher of falling asleep at meetings.

The claims come in a controversial book by by journalist Heribert Schwan and is based on extensive interviews with the former chancellor.

According to the book, Mr Kohl told Mr Schwan that while Prince Charles was ‘entirely friendly’, he was unimpressed with his marriage to Diana Spencer in 1981.

He said: ‘Her marriage was an absolutely idiotic affair.

‘Had she become queen immediately she would have done her bit in bed, created three princes and her duty to the nation would have been fulfilled. But like this she had to travel around, talk to mayors and so on and then she withered away.’ (Daily Mail)

I don’t think he said anything particularly damning, but I understand a person, especially a public figure, not wanting their personal views remembered ahead of their political career.

Royal Doppelgängers: British Royal History Edition

1Prince William and his 14th Century ancestor King Edward I.

Royal Doppelgängers: British Royal History EditionPrincess Beatrice and her great-great-great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

Royal Doppelgängers: British Royal History Edition Prince Charles and his distant relative Edward VII, who also once held the title of Prince of Wales.

Royal Doppelgängers: British Royal History EditionLord Freddie Windsor and his ancestor Louis Frederick, Prince of Wales.

Royal Doppelgängers: British Royal History EditionPrince Michael of Kent and his grandfather, King George V.

Royal Doppelgängers: British Royal History EditionPrincess Beatrice and her great-great-grandmother, the Queen Mum.

Royal Doppelgängers: British Royal History EditionQueen Elizabeth II and her grandmother, Queen Mary.

Royal Doppelgängers: British Royal History EditionPrince Harry and his great-great grandmother, Queen Mary.

Royal Doppelgängers: British Royal History EditionPrince Edward and his grandfather, King George VI.

Royal Doppelgängers: British Royal History EditionLady Louise Windsor and her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

While some of these may be a stretch–like Prince Harry and Queen Mary, for one–some of these are eerily spot-on–like Prince Charles and Edward VII. What do you think?


Royal Protocol 101: Royals Meeting the Pope

Pope Francis Met King Felipe And Queen Letizia - VaticanSince King Felipe and Queen Letizia met with Pope Francis today–their first overseas engagement as King and Queen–I thought it was an appropriate time to discuss the protocol of Popes and Royals.

Princess Charlene

Le Privilège du blanc

“Privilege of the White” describes the tradition of allowing Catholic queens, princesses, and archduchesses to wear white in the presence of the Pope. You can view a complete list of who’s eligible to wear white, as well as “controversial beneficiaries” here.

QEII Pope John Paul IIDress

Others should wear black gowns, arms covered, hemlines beneath knees, and black tuxedos or suits. However, royals and many women dignitaries have begun wearing different colors than the traditional black. Most notably, Queen Elizabeth wore blue during her last meeting with His Holiness, back in January.


As the Pope is the head of the Catholic Church, and Vatican City, it is appropriate for Catholic royals to genuflect, and, should he extend his hand, to kiss his ring. For non-Catholics, it is a sign of respect to curtsy or bow, however, not mandated.

The Pope, in turn, is often seen bowing politely to royalty, even those of different faiths.


Royals, as well as non-royals, should address him as Your Holiness or Holy Father.