‘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!

After 39 Years on the Throne, King Juan Carlos I Announces Abdication

SPAIN-POLITICS-ROYALS-ABDICATIONWhile most were transfixed to their television screens last night watching the fictional Game of Thrones, those on the Spanish court were preparing the announcement of the latest move of their own throne.

King Juan Carlos AbdicationAdmittedly a shock to most royal watchers, King Juan Carlos I had been swimming in more and more controversy as of late, and abdication had been a topic of more discussion.

SPAIN-POLITICS-ROYALS-ABDICATIONOn the heels of the abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in January of 2013, and King Albert II of Belgium in July of 2013, some think this is becoming a trend. Going out ‘on top.’

Though many Swedes reportedly wish their King–King Carl XVI Gustaf–to do the same, it’s quite unlikely. He is still young (68), respectively, and Crown Princess Victoria still has a young, growing family.

Crown Prince Frederik is known as ‘the reluctant King,’ so I think the same is to be said for the Danish royals–not just yet.

As for Queen Elizabeth II, as much as Prince Charles may have urged his mother to relinquish the throne to him in the past, I think he has accepted the fact that she will stick to what she had said more than 65 years ago on her 21st birthday:

“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

As pointed out by many on Twitter, every heir (aside from CP Victoria) will soon be under 12 years old, except for England, where the heir is nearly 70.

Nonetheless, an exciting day for royal news, especially soon-to-be King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia*!

*Queen Consort

Royal Book Review: ‘The Queen — A Life in Brief’ by Robert Lacey

The Queen by Robert Lacey


Earlier this week I was at my local library hunting for some royal reads. Unsuccessful in finding any specific to royal weddings (strange, right?), I did find this gem of a book, The Queen. It’s a mere six chapters, full of beautiful, rare photographs, and a brief, yet interesting read. So, after my sister saw I was reading it, she said she expected a book report… always willing to please, I’ve complied. 😉

About the author

The author of this book, Robert Lacey, is a British Historian who has covered extensive royal topics for nearly 40 years. He wrote the book Majesty which is noted as the influence for the film, The Queen. He is well connected with his topics, often able to get information from primary sources.

Part I.

Time Magazine Cover 1929

‘The Princess of Hearts’

Chapter one of this book covers, appropriately expected, the early years of a then Princess Elizabeth. It’s an interesting look at how she was merely a Princess, never expecting to be Queen. She was essentially a York girl, like Eugenie and Beatrice are today.

Nonetheless, she was an incredibly popular princess, even from an early age, and the world reported all about her every move. Including her yellow dress, that was very groundbreaking compared to the mere blue or pink choices for babies of the time. She was even included as the cover feature of Time magazine in 1929, sporting that yellow dress.

The ‘Princess of Hearts’ was also rather close with her grandfather, King George IV, calling him ‘Grandpa England.’ She’d wave from her window every morning and he’d wave from Buckingham Palace. It’s quite adorable the connection they shared.

A Princess (unexpectedly) turned Heiress Apparent

Of course then was the great abdication of Prince Edward VIII came with it the realization of the Princess’s new found fate.

“‘When our father became King,’ Princess Margaret recounted nearly sixty years later to the historian Ben Pimlott, ‘I said to her [Princess Elizabeth], ‘Does that mean you’re going to become Queen?’ She replied, ‘Yes. I suppose it does.’ ‘She didn’t mention it again.'”


It goes on to talk about Princess Elizabeth’s diary entry about the day of her parents’ coronation, which is said to now be ‘bound in pink ribbon’ and stored within the royal archives.

Part II.

Princess Elizabeth Playing Tag on Ship

Royal Romance

Lots of detail regarding the courtship and marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip is covered in part two and it’s quite interesting. It expounds far more than I wrote about in their wedding post, as expected, and it’s overall a good read even if you know most of the story already.

And baby makes 3

I was quite surprised how quickly the Queen had had Charles after the wedding, less than a year later. She was one busy mama, even covering tour appearances her father was unable to make due to his declining health. She really stepped up and got down to business, newlywed, new mother… all before she was 25. She seems to really put William and Kate’s work to shame… but that’s another topic for another time.

First Minutes of Queen’dom

It was terrible reading of how she found out about her father’s passing while abroad, and how she became Queen quite literally while in the tree-topped jungle in South Africa. She is said to have not been seen crying, only coming back from the bathroom on the return flight with puffy eyes a few times. I also learned that every royal is to pack a black outfit for tours in case of a tragedy while gone, in turn needing an outfit for mourning.


Another thing I learned was that the coronation was originally banned for television, causing outrage worldwide. But the Queen relented, and the coronation was broadcast, however, without any closeups, of course.

Part III.

A slap in the face

In 1953, John Grigg, Lord Altrincham, wrote an editorial regarding the Coronation and the number of places allotted for members of Parliament, the true representation of the people. Only 100 seats were granted of the 625 elected members. Then again, four years later, he wrote more criticisms of the Monarchy in a special edition of the National and English Review (a publication he owned and edited). Only he was more critical of HM herself. This did not go over well for many, even though polls showed the younger people of Britain were in agreement with much of his claims.

On August 6, 1957, a group of the League of Empire Loyalists waited for him outside of Television House and smacked him across the face. Wild.

A Princess and her Captain

Margaret and Peter Townsend

The author goes on to talk of Princess Margaret’s falling in love with Group Captain Peter Townsend, a divorced RAF Officer, 16 years older than the Princess. Being only 22 required HM’s approval for marriage of the two, and this was out of the question because Townsend was divorced. The Queen was sympathetic, but could not allow the marriage. Instead Townsend was essentially exiled until the summer of 1955 when the Princess would be 25, an age that allowed her to marry without HM’s consent.

It’s quite sad that while their relationship continued, upon his return upon her 25th birthday, Parliament would not consent to continue its support of funding the Princess and the captain should they marry. When the Princess learned that she would lose all royal standing should she marry the captain, she  would lose all royal prestige. She immediately broke it off with him and issued a statement that she would not marry him in order to uphold the Church’s beliefs regarding divorce. Of course it’s the ultimatum of losing her royalty that really caused the separation.

Issues abroad

Lots of explanation is given regarding the 1956 invasion of the Suez Canal, which left the Queen feeling embarrassed by the new PM Sir Anthony Eden. More political drama occurred after the PM’s collapsing under pressure, leaving the Queen to help choose his replacement. Full disclosure: Unfortunately, being quite illiterate regarding the British Government, I wasn’t very interested in this section, so the details are admittedly murky.

Royals do Television

Royal Family BBC

The BBC produced Royal Family, a documentary with the family, it was released in 1969. It is one of the most viewed documentaries of its time. It proved to be wildly successful around the world. (And I am still looking for a copy of it to watch.) 40 hours of unshown footage are locked away in high-security vaults, and are labeled ‘Religious Programming.’

Part IV.

Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales

Becoming the ‘Prince of Wales’

A month after its premiere came the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales. The last bang of ‘Royal Mania.’ For the 60s, at least. He then went on to tour of his principality and even though tensions were high regarding the Monarchy, his subjects received him well. Though he had a relatively difficult relationship with his parents, he found in his great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, what he didn’t find with them. He encouraged the young prince to ‘sow his oats’ and then settle down later. It was during this time that Charles met Camilla. Her alleged pick up line ‘my great-grandmother was you great-grandfather’s mistress, so how about it?’ Charming, that Camilla…

He could not then propose to his ‘one true love’ because they had been having regular romps. ‘The bedded could not be wedded,’ the author writes. So she married someone else, but she and Charles carried on.

 Part V.

Charles and Diana's WeddingWhat’s love got to do with it?

The courtship of Prince Charles and Diana was quite quick, and quite telling. First of all, Prince Charles had first dated Diana’s older sister. He had also been a huge playboy, the opposite of Diana, an 18-year-old Kindergarten teacher. Oh, and he was 13 years older. He was in love with Camilla Bowles to boot. But she had become Camilla Parker-Bowles, leaving a broken hearted Prince in need of an heir. Cue engagement to Diana.

“‘Can you find the words to sum up how you feel today?’ the couple were asked when their engagement was made public on 24th February 1981, ‘…in love?’

‘Whatever “in love” means,’ came Charles’ famous reply. ‘Put your own interpretation on it.'”

Tensions rise

The ’80s seemed to be a rather tumultuous time for the royals. From the race riots in 1981, to the Queen being shot at during the Trooping the Colour ceremony in 1983, issues were abound.

Furthermore, it was barely a month after the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana that the marriage started showing its cracks. By the end of September Diana was already distraught after learning of the affair between Charles and Camilla. The media pressure, betrayal of a spouse and Camilla, who had taken Diana under her wing, proved to be too much for Diana.

No matter the strife between his parents, the birth of Prince William proved to be somewhat of a balm for the royal’s wounds.

While Prince Charles was on the front line of parenthood, his younger brother Prince Andrew was on the front line of the Falkland War. Returning from the war as a hero, the young Prince enjoyed the attention–especially from the ladies. Earning his title of ‘Randy Andy’ from the tabloids.

When he settled down and married Sarah Ferguson, everything seemed perfect. She got along great with the royals and she was a friend for Diana.

However, tensions continued as Charles began to resent Diana for her popularity, Diana’s bulimia and depression were wreaking havoc, and Camilla was on the scene again. These together proved to be the ingredients for the perfect storm.

1992, ‘annus horribilis’

Fergie’s escapades and the hacking of Prince Charles’ phone caused great embarrassment for the palace. The fire which broke out at Windsor Castle and the separation of Charles and Diana were the cherry on top of a year which the Queen herself deemed ‘annus horribilis’.’

Part VI.

The Queen observes flowers for Princess Diana

A grandmother’s love

After the death of Diana in August of 1997, the Queen put her country on the back burner and moved her grandsons to the front. While the country mourned, the Queen acted as any grandmother would when caring for young grieving grandsons. The Queen made sure the boys, Princes William and Harry, were being cared for before she made any move to address the nation and the death of Diana. This caused enormous backlash from the public, prompting headlines of “Say Something” and “Your Nation Needs You, Your Majesty.” After nearly a week, the Queen finally addressed her mourning subjects, putting at ease a grieving and tempered nation.

The Queen sadly lost her sister and mother within only months of each other in 2002. The book goes on to talk about the marriage of Charles and Camilla, William and Kate, and how the monarchy saw a bit of rise in popularity since the early 2000s.


This book was a really quick, yet informative read. If you’re new to the royal scene and want to learn more about the Queen, it’s a great place to start. However, if you’re already well versed in most all things royal, you may want to skip it, while it covers broad topics already known if you’ve read anything on the Queen before. However, it’s a great reference guide to have on hand, and a reliable source to use in your research and writings. Plus, it is beautifully designed, perfect for any bookshelf.

You can buy your own copy here.

Royals gone Vogue.

Royal Vogue Covers

There’s nothing quite like the sitting down with a glossy magazine and getting lost in its pages… add a royal to the mix and it’s a match made in Heaven.

I had intended to include historical facts regarding Vogue and its featuring of Royals in this post, however, after much research, I was unable to find any solid information. So instead of throwing out the post altogether, I figured posts with gorgeous pictures are better than nothing. (If you have any insight please do share! I’d love to include these bits of information!)

Majesties meet magazines

While many Royals have done photo shoots specific for Vogue, many have simply had their photo from other occasions featured on the cover. Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Princess Diana, and Princess Anne are among those who have done feature shoots for the magazines. Many others may have, as well, however my research came up short, unfortunately.

What about the Duchess?

While Princess Diana appeared on British Vogue four times, it’s interesting we haven’t yet seen Kate on its cover. There is lots of speculation as to why this may be, most reasons pointing to the Queen’s disapproval.

Anna Wintour’s miss

This past week the latest US Vogue cover was revealed. Not only did it feature Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, it had the hashtag: #WORLDSMOSTTALKEDABOUTCOUPLE as a headline.

We have to agree with our friends at WWKD on this one:

WWKD Tweet


I’d say after this gaffe, Anna Wintour lost her chance of having Kate on her cover, along with millions of subscriptions…

So Royals and magazine covers… what do you think?

Photo credit: image one

Introducing: Royal Wedding Wednesdays

Duchess of Cambridge veil

Royal Weddings

After reading your responsesA thousand thanks, by the way! And you can still voice your opinion, I check in everyday.–I wrote down a list of topics I think would be perfect for themed posts.

Number one on my list, Royal Weddings. Who doesn’t love a wedding, yet alone a Royal one! So pictured above is just a small teaser of the weddings I’m currently researching for posts! And, if you have one you’d like for me to post about, just let me know in the comments, or twitter, or by pigeon post… whatever you prefer!