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A Family of Kings: The Descendants of Christian IX of Denmark

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Theo Aronson

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Author: Theo Aronson
Publisher: Weidenfeld Nicolson Illustrated
1 review about A Family of Kings: The Descendants of Christian...

Eye-opening look at an influential family

  • Dec 3, 2001
Rating:
+5
Queen Victoria so dominated her time that the epoch is named after her. As monarch of the world's largest economic and military power, it's no surprise that her children and grandchildren married into nearly all the royal families of Europe, affecting history for generations to come.

What's more surprising is that that the unprepossessing sovereign of a weak and relatively backwater continental kingdom achieved essentially the same feat. It's the story of this sovereign, King Christian IX of Denmark, and his family, that Theo Aronson tells in this excellent and revealing book.

Prince Christian of Denmark was not expected to become king until a series of 'fortunate circumstances' made him heir in 1852. He succeeded to the throne in 1863. At his death in 1906, his children or grandchildren sat on the thrones of Great Britain, Russia, Norway, Greece and, of course, Denmark itself. Later generations of his descendants would add the thrones of Belgium, Spain, Romania, and Yugoslavia to the list, as well as the titular throne of Hanover. Christian's youngest son had been offered, and refused, the throne of Bulgaria.

How Christian and his family achieved all this is just a part of Aronson's fascinating tale. Not a biography of the King himself, it is in fact a portrait of an entire family, including his daughters Queen Alexandra of Great Britain and Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia and their children. It is also a fascinating portrait of their times, and of the impact (great in some cases, limited in others) royal families can have on their nations and governments.

Aronson paints Christian and his family as by and large sympathetic characters. Though imbued with a deep anti-Prussianism, they also tended to be unaffected, cheerful, approachable (once or twice with tragic consequences) -- in short, very different from the stuffy and pretentious scions of some other royal houses. It was a pleasure to get to know them, and to trace their lives and influences over the decades.

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