How Times Change: Queen Elizabeth at the Vatican

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom finally got round to visit Italy, her first foreign visit since 2011. The trip had been planned for 2013 but was subsequently cancelled. Her visit in Rome enabled her to stop over for a chat with Pope Francis whom she hadn't met before. 



Aristocrats and No Noblesse

There are aristocrats, and then there are people with titles. Marcus Scriven piles it on thickly in his collection of the less than sublime. He recounts tales of aristocrats who fell on hard times. He jumbles the unpleasant on top of the unlucky, narrates the eccentric with the plain weird, and lists the madmen with the bad apples. All of this adds up to a colourful book with an appeal to the Schadenfreude crowd. It also caters to the readers who enjoy real life story that are hard to believe but true.

John Hervey and Francesca Fisher


Emperor Frederick II: Diplomacy by Power

Arab chroniclers converted him to Islam; and his family became related to that of Saladin. Christian history writers made him a philosopher, a consummate diplomat, and an icon of tolerance and multiculturalism. Emperor Frederick II would have been wondering about whom they were writing. He was none of that. If anything, he was the epitome of what Germans mean when talking of Realpolitik.

Emperor Frederick II


When Monarchs Abdicate

When Monarchs abdicate, then there usually is title conundrum. The exception can be found in the Netherlands due to its unique constitution and in Andorra with its foreign princes. But all other European monarchies are basically unprepared for such an event. This leads to some curious situations. And some questions are never quite officially answered because there is no answer (yet).

Queen Maxima, Princess Beatrix, King Willem-Alexander


New Law for Queen Maxima of the Netherlands

What is the role of the Queen in the Netherlands? (Hint: The Netherlands currently has no queen.) Who succeeds King Willem-Alexander in case of his death? And how to go about it if that successor is only 10 years old? Should she be taken out of school to be bored by the likes of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin? The Netherlands obviously have a constitutional crisis.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands


Popes’ List With Basic Information in Book Form

If you have a desire for (almost) complete lists, then there is a book that will being you the Popes in chronological order. As there were quite a few of them, the information on each of them is limited and sometimes anecdotal. But it is enough if you have to keep up with some Catholic small talk at the next reception in the Vatican.

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI