2013-09-30

2013-09-29

A Royal Photographer

I have mentioned before that the Swedish Queen Viktoria, wife of King Gustaf V, was a keen photographer. Fairly recently, Kungliga Husgerådskammaren (= the royal household chamber) published this book, "Resan till Egypten. Drottning Victorias fotografiska liv" (= the trip to Egypt. Queen Victoria´s photographic life), by Göran Alm and Björn Axel Johansson, about Viktoria as a photographer, focusing on her journeys to Egypt in 1890-91. And here I become very confused about the spelling of Vi(c?k?)toria´s name.

Spelling conventions have changed over the years. I´m pretty sure I have always seen Queen Viktoria spelled with a k, and the Swedish Wikipedia article has the k-spelling in brackets. The English article does not. According to the Swedish news agency, Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå, older Swedish royals are now spelled according to Swedish customs, up until Oscar I, when they are adressed the way they spell(ed) their names themselves. From this, I gather that Viktoria herself used the c, even though the German spelling is with a k (and she was German, so who would have thought?). So that´s what I will use from now on. (Check out the way Icelanders adress Prince Charles...)

Victoria´s studio
Victoria was born 1862 in Baden, married the Swedish Crown Prince Gustaf in 1881, and had three sons by the time she went to Egypt. They were, of course, Gustav, Wilhelm, and little Erik, who died young of the Spanish flu. She was very artistically talented and had her own studio at the royal palace. Photography was brand new technology - at the time of Victoria´s wedding, it was not possible to publish photographs in newspapers, and the illustration from the wedding was actually a wood cutting!

At 25, she became seriously interested in photography and always used the best, most modern equipment. To help her, there were the court photographers, but she also frequently visited photoshops in Stockholm, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, and Karlsruhe.

She brought two travel cameras with her, and this is the smaller one. I imagined that most photography in those days were done with large wooden cameras on sturdy tripods, with the photographer hunched under a black sheet, forcing the poor folk in front of it to stand absolutely still for minutes at a time. But look at this: she was into street photography! She liked to take snaps during transport and while walking.




She would have had a lot of help, of course, and it´s unlikely that she did much work in the darkroom. The Crown Prince couple travelled with a party of courtiers and friends, and the Khedive of Egypt (kind of like a viceroy in the Ottoman Empire) was a generous host. They stayed in Egypt most of the winter due to her bad health (she had lung problems) and then came to Capri in Italy, where she met and consulted dr Axel Munthe for the first time. They then returned to Sweden, where she fell ill again, and late in 1891 she returned to Egypt without her husband.

Gustaf, Victoria, and Blixen-Finecke on the Nile.
According to the Wikipedia article on Victoria it was during the first trip to Egypt that the marriage broke down in a way that never healed. There were rumours in Stockholm that she had had an affair with the Crown Prince´s adjutant Gustaf von Blixen-Finecke, but that sounds like malicious gossip to me and pretty hard to pull off. I don´t actually know what the book says about it, as I only could leaf through it very quickly due to my own lung problems (this book was poison for my air pipes!), but I´d be surprised if a book published by the Swedish court adresses that particular issue.

The party had masses of luggage, particularly clothes, as it was very important for people of their status to be properly dressed at every occasion. They never, however, tried to dress in a way that blended in culturally or was suited to the climate. Look at her waist in that tight black dress (she was in mourning clothes after a relative had died) - no wonder she had difficulty breathing!

She continued to photograph during her travels, which were extensive, and exhibited until 1906, but stopped due to eye problems. In 1907 she became Queen of Sweden. She kept taking snaps of the family, though, but these are private and have not been published.

When she returned to Egypt in November 1891, without Gustaf, she didn´t do much photography. Instead, she focused on doing watercolours, and look how talented she was! When she came home, she coloured some of her photos, as they did in those days, like the one below with the beduin on a camel in front of the pyramids, which was much published.



Before she died, Victoria arranged to have much of her private archive destroyed, like all the letters she and her husband had written to each other and all her glass plates, including those from Egypt. The janitor at Tullgarn (one of the summer palaces) dumped most of her photographic legacy in the sea, and when there was talk of salvaging them a few decades later, the one person who knew where they were refused to help, respecting her wishes.

She seems to have had a rather miserable life, poor Victoria, longing for divorce and freedom and love. Only a few letters remain, and it´s clear from them that she and Gustaf were estranged for most of their marriage, and that her closest friend (and perhaps lover) was dr Axel Munthe. However, Munthe did marry an English lady in 1907, and the First World War caused a rift between him and Victoria as he sided passionately with the English, serving as a field surgeon at the French front. He wrote a book about it (which you can still buy) after the war that was a fierce attack on the Germans (it was published anonymously at the time to save Victoria from embarassment). Munthe was a prolific writer and many of his books are still in print, both in Swedish, English, and other languages. You can even get them on Kindle. I have read "The Story of San Michele", but it was a while ago.

I want to like her, but I think - from what I have read about her before - that she wasn´t always that easy to get along with. Being unhappy probably didn´t help. But I think she looks pretty happy in the photos with her husband and her children before that journey to Egypt. Whatever happened there - and no one is likely to find out what it was - ruined her life and her happiness.



All photos are snapped from "Resan till Egypten. Drottning Victorias fotografiska liv". It´s a grand volume, with much more lovely photos in it, and much to read as well, if you are curious and read Swedish.

2013-09-27

Minimalist Inspiration

Sometimes I just have the energy to read stuff I already know, but are too tired to remember. You know, a little pep talk. This little book, "The Minimalist Woman's Guide to Having it All" by Meg Wolfe, definitely falls into that category. As head of the domestic sanitation division, I am engaged in an eternal battle against clutter and grime, and sometimes the piles of the first that needs to be dealt with in order to get to the second just feels too overwhelming. And it´s the emotional side to it that trips me. Wolfe understands, and this is one of the things she has to say:
"There is an odd disconnect between keeping things for Just in Case or not wasting money and the way things are made, disposed of, and dumped into landfills. We don’t make the association between personal waste and landfill waste. So we create these little landfills inside our homes—and junk drawers—out of some inner notion that we won’t be wasting resources. The absurdity is lost upon us."
Not all ruins are pretty.
It´s a no-brainer really: empty the entire kitchen, put the stuff in the living room, clean the kitchen out, put back what we use and give the rest away (or throw it in the bin). Oddly, it didn´t even occur to me that I could before I read Wolfe. I suppose that after 22 years in the same flat, I have just gotten so rooted that I am stuck. I am surrounded by debris from old lifestyles, abandoned projects, well-meant but misguided gifts, and plain silly ideas.
"No doubt many of those unfinished dreams and projects cost a bit of money. So I ask you: Why are you paying for them twice or thrice over? All of those unresolved things are taking up space in your head, so there’s one extra cost. And they are taking up space in your residence, which is another cost. Goodness only knows what further cost they will take if they are hanging around for the rest of your life!"
So true. I just took another look at my wardrobe and threw out another ten or fifteen pieces of clothing that I never wear. Take the pretty brown bluse that fits me perfectly, goes so well with my hair colour, and I have worn exactly once in what, three? four? years: I can´t fit a silk undershirt under it (low neckline) which makes it uncomfortable for sweaty hot summers, it has 3/4 length sleeves (and that low neckline) which makes it too cold to wear in the winter. Every time I see it I feel bad. I sometimes find myself wearing things that are uncomfortable to stop feeling so guilty about never using them!

Wolfe is a good rhetorician and she both enlightens and inspires me.
"It is time to live in the here and now, and not in the old mindset from five, ten or thirty years ago. You’re not that person anymore. You’re not in that time of your life anymore. If somewhere along the line you do decide to do those things, you’ll start fresh, from your current place in life, which is so much more satisfying. Freeing yourself up from both expectations and regrets is literally freeing yourself to live life in the fullest, in the here and now, without all the baggage from the past having a controlling vote. You’re free to move Onwards and Upwards."
Meg Wolfe has a blog where she writes about minimalism, writing, and life. I understand from some reviews that if you follow her blog, this book may hold familiar ideas for you, but for me, this was the perfect read right now. And I will go see if that blog has more good stuff.


2013-09-25

Carisbrooke Castle Surprise


The place I really wanted to see on Isle of Wight, the reason we came there in the first place, was the lighthouse at the Needles. I am a fan of "Coast", and Neil Oliver is an entusiastic lighthouse afficionado. When we arrived, we checked the weather forecast and they promised clear, sunny skies on Sunday, so that´s when we planned our trip to the Needles.

The lighthouse is on the western tip of the island, at Totland Bay. There is also an amusement park there called Needles Park, and that´s where we got off the bus. Unfortunately, we were met by dense fog. And a sign pointing us to a Marconi monument. Marconi seems to have been sending out his experimental radiowaves from every bit of southern English coast that we have visited, we later found he has been in Dover, too! But no sign of the lighthouse - we could hardly see the beach!

The husband, being an optimistic extrovert, suggested we stay put, since it was sure to clear up in just a little while. So we did, played some crazy jurassic golf (it really did involved some excavation...), watched an impressive glass-blower´s demonstration, and had a rather uninspiring lunch at the Marconi Café. The fog didn´t clear up. So, we decided to go with my backup plan, which was visiting Carisbrooke Castle in Newport. I didn´t know much about it, had only seen a small advertisment in a brochure, and we didn´t really expect much. A quaint little ruin, and then a consolation dinner, that´s what we aimed for.

Carisbrooke used to be a village of it´s own, but has become part of Newport, which is the cheif town on Isle of White, and where we were staying. Since we holiday travel mainly by bus, we always go for accomodation in a centre of communications, if we can. Penzance was great for this, and Newport also.

Anyway, the busdriver dropped us off, and we followed the signposts into what felt like a green cave in an upwards slope. I got the impresson this was a boundry beween fields or properties, and wonder if this is what Austen used to refer to as "hedgerows"? They are perfect places for eavesdropping, I imagine.


When we got up, we were met by some impressive earthworks and walls. And hello! Fairy tale castle!

Turns out, Carisbrooke Castle is an amazing place, run by English Heritage. It was fortified before the Romans, by the Romans, and so on, until it was modernized and inhabited by Princess Beatrice, one of Queen Victoria´s daughters. She also built a beautiful garden here. Much of the castle is in ruins, of course, but the kind of dilapidation that the Victorians would have considered romantic and very attractive.

There is a well inside the castle that is still run by donkey power; this is demonstrated several times a day, but unfortunately we missed that. There is a film, however, where an animated donkey walks in the "wheel of time" and gives you a quick introduction to Carisbrooke and its history.  He looked like he might be related to that donkey in "Shrek". Apparently, the donkeys love to walk in the wheel. I´d love to go back and see it, and I´m thinking I might just do that, as my sister-in-law and I have been talking about perhaps walking the island together some summer in the near future.


The castle was under siege by the French in 1377, and Peter de Heyno, the Lord of Stenbury, took a successful shot at the French commander from this loophole, since then known as Heynoe´s loop. This tipped the scale in favour of the English and the French withdrew.

The Woodvilles have been lords of this castle, and if you have seen the BBC series "The White Queen" (I have not, but I have heard about it) they may be familiar to you. She was queen to Edward IV and mother of the princes in the tower, you know the boys Richard III had killed - according to Shakespeare, anyway - and her daughter Elisabeth married Henry VII. This was during the period that is known as "the war of the Roses" which is a part of history I´d love to read more about. Some day.


Carisbrooke was important during the Civil war as well, as this is one of the places where Charles I was imprisoned before he was executed, in 1649. His daughter Elisabeth died here from pneumonia, with her head on her bible according to tradition, and the sentimental Victorians were much moved by her fate. I understand there was almost a cult, and some relics are on display in the museum.

The views are amazing, and it was quite windy up in the keep - I had to button up my coat to keep my skirt from blowing up completely over my head! There is a beautiful church on the grounds, a tea room (of course!), canons (naturally), and I even got a few shots of a kestrel hovering in the air above, doing the occasional dive for an unlucky mouse.

This is a wonderful place, and I´m so happy we went there. Blind luck, really.



The view in the western direction - you can see the fog over Totnes bay.

Princess Beatrice´s garden from the wall near Heynoe´s loop.








Old water piping from Newport.

Walking up the keep.

2013-09-23

In Passing

This summer, when we were on the train from Portsmouth to Dover, I was lucky enough to get a glimps of this: The Long Man of Wilmington. I wouldn´t have seen it at all - much less gotten a snap of it - if the guy across the aisle hadn´t been bending down over some paperwork. The Long Man is near Eastbourne and plays a part in "The Language of Bees", one of Laurie R King´s Mary Russell mysteries.


2013-09-22

Incendiary Dramatics

I decided I needed a light read after that Ellen Mattson novel, and reached for one of my favourites: Laurie R King. Unfortunately, I have read all her Mary Russell-novels (write more of them, Mrs King!), so I thought I´d get aquainted with another hero of hers, Harris Stuyvesant. And I was really seduced by her moodboard for the novel.

The setting is familiar, for King readers. We are once again in London, it´s the 20´s, there are flappers, social destabilization, miner´s strikes, and Europe is trying to bounce back from the calamity of the Great War. The plot is not unlike that of "Garment of Shadows": things are happening behind the scenes of real-life political events and our hero is caught up in it, rubbing shoulders with historical figures of importance as well as fictional characters.

Land´s End 2011.
Harris Stuyvesant is an American agent, working for the organization that would later become the FBI. He comes to England looking for a terrorist bomber, driven by rage and grief over some personal losses that have made him go against his boss; he does not actually have Hoover´s backing and is funding the trip himself. He has a few leads and try to get the attention of the British authorities - most officials just brush him off, but finally he gets someone´s attention. He has to travel to Cornwall, to Land´s End, to find a man who might be the key to solving his puzzle, a man who is unlikely to want to help him. It all takes off from there.

Stuyvesant is a veteran of the trench war, and so is another important character. Next year it will be 100 years since the start of the First World War - something that is sure to be remembered. Somehow, the carnage of the trenches has been overshadowed by the Second World War, at least in the collective memory of this country. The other day - in the middle of reading this novel - I found this on the internet. Chilling images in 3D, not in the best shape, but you still get a sense of what someone of Stuyvesant´s generation would have been coming from.

This novel is, first and foremost, an entertainment read. However, King´s extensive knowledge of this period also makes it educational and makes me want to know more about the Great War. And a plot with terrorist bombers isn´t entirely passé, is it? This is a good-paced story, and if you are a sucker for those upper class weekends at great houses in the country, running downstairs and upstairs, fox-hunting with horse&hound, fancy dress for dinner, and hobnobbing with dukes and what have you, you will get your fix.

The follow-up, "The Bones of Paris" is not yet published on Kindle, but I´m hoping they will have come around to it for Christmas. Another Stuyvesant story is just the thing for a break from all the jingle bells!

2013-09-20

Wilhelm & Jeanne

Wilhelm and son Lennart.
As I was reading about Gustav VI Adolf, I got to talking with mum-in-law about him and the royals in general. After a while we got into princes in particular and realized we had no idea who was in what generation. I decided to check the facts, and while I did so, I stumbled upon a prince I knew nothing about: Gustav´s brother, Prince Wilhelm.

Wilhelm was married off to a cousin of the Russian Tsar, a Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. Or she was married off to him, rather, as she was the one who had to come here. They had one son, Lennart, and then the marriage became so miserable that they were granted a divorce.

Lennart was raised by his grandmother Viktoria, more or less (I remember reading some article years ago about how she inspected her children in a similar manner to how she inspected the troops - she was Preussian, after all), while Prince Wilhelm tried to make it as a poet. Like his uncle Eugen before him, he wanted to be a real artist, not just an artistic prince.

He didn´t make it - if he had, I would have known about him. But in his time, he was a hardworking writer and filmmaker. He produced and participated in several hundred documentary films, then - before television - a regular feature at the cinemas. He wrote very popular reportages from his extensive travels and made several lecture tours in the United States, where apparently people happily paid to shake his hand. Unfortunately, he was inclined to be conservative and romantic, and his work is severely dated.

The cover is a portrait by Carl Larsson.
He didn´t remarry, but in 1914 he met Jeanne de Tramcourt, and after an on-off relationship for several years, he lived with her at his manor Stenhammar. She was known as "the hostess" of Stenhammar. She was French, the ex-wife of Swedish artist Christian Eriksson, and mother-in-law of Einar Nerman, the artist and illustrator who made the iconic caricature of Greta Garbo.

Jeanne was a true Parisian lady, very beautiful (she was in a few Swedish silent era films), had a fashion boutique for a while, and probably had at least one other wealthy lover. I couldn´t find a single picture of her online, but there is a book from 1971 with Wilhelm´s letters to her. I borrowed it and tried to read it, but unfortunately they are terribly boring. I did get some snaps from there, though, and she really was very beautiful.

Lennart, Jeanne, and Wilhelm at Stenhammar.


She lived quietly with Wilhelm and became one of the family - even Queen Viktoria decided that she wanted to meet her finally in 1930, but the Queen died before Jeanne had time to make the visit. In 1952 Jeanne died in a car accident, 76 years old. 

I guess I wanted Jeanne to be more interesting and intellectual. Or perhaps she was, maybe it was just Wilhelm´s letters to her that were dull. I don´t know if her letters have been saved, they have not been published anyway. She seems to have been the archetypal wife - even though she never got to marry her prince. Einar Nerman has said that she was a wonderful mother-in-law, quite the opposite of the stereotype.



As for Wilhelm and his ambitions, I don´t think he wanted to rebel. Seems like he was genuinely fond of his mother. He called his parents "morsan" and "farsan" in his letters to Jeanne, which is a very working class way of adressing a "mum" and a "pop". Perhaps Wilhelm and Jeanne are forgotten because they were just too ordinary. Just regular good folk.

I had to add Einar Nerman´s portrait of his mum-in-law. It reminds me slightly of his Garbo portrait, and Jeanne´s beauty is no lesser than the Divine´s - even though Jeanne must have been around fifty when it was made.

Wilhelm was heart-broken after her death and he wrote this poem for her:
 
Bär min älskade i paradiset 
vingar efter sista modet?
Går hon klädd i den svarta
som gjorde midjan smal och höften bred.
Sitter vårhatten käckt på sned,
hänger floret på nästippen,
kan hon spegla sig i naglarnas lack
där hon trippar bland liljor på sin svängda klack.
Det skulle vara likt henne. Det enda jag vet
är att hon sveper kring arbetslampan
slöjor av goda tankar från sin obefintlighet. 
Does my love wear in Paradise
wings after the latest fashion?
Is she dressed in the black one
that makes the waist thin and the hip wide.
Is the spring hat pertly angled,
is the veil resting on the tip of her nose,
can she see her reflection in the polish of her nails
where she trips among lilies on her curved heel.
It would be just like her. All I know
is that she wraps around the desk lamp
veils of good thoughts from her non-existence.
(my own translation)

2013-09-18

The Heron

One of the good things about travelling slowly, on foot, is that you have time to really see things. Like when we travelled from Portsmouth to Newport on Isle of Wight. It´s a short distance, I´m pretty sure you could do it in less than an hour with the catamaran and a taxi. We decided to make it into a bit more of an adventure, though, and took the ferry. On foot. From the ferrystation we had to walk one or two kilometers to get to the busstop, and as we were treading on, I saw something in the corner of my eye. A gigantic thing of a bird, with long legs.

Sometimes one is just lucky. The heron, which is what it was, landed perfectly angled on top of what I think is a yew-tree, and gave me plenty of time to get my camera out before he decided to swallow his prey. We did feel a bit bad for the duckling, but I suppose that´s just the way it goes.






2013-09-17

Follow-up on the Mindless Eating

So, I realized the other day it´s been a year following the advice from Brian Wansink. What has happened to my foodscape?
  • I have downsized my plates. Not for parties (that would look cheap!), but for everyday. One portion is about 20% smaller than I used to eat.
  • We buy food in small packages. Instead of buying a large bag of chips, which I will eat most of, we buy two one-portion bags. If I crave chocolate, I don´t stock up, I go for the smallest piece in the store. To tell you the truth, they don´t really make small pieces any more.
  • I started making desserts with fruit and meringue instead of cake and whipped cream. 
I have also changed my eating scripts:
  • At restaurants: beer = a treat. No beer in the house (except at parties).
  • At cafés: coffee and one piece of cookie or cake. No more "vrålfika" = cookie plate the size of a whole meal. 
  • I eat knäckebröd for breakfast and saves the home-made bread for dinners with salads and soups. 
Sizzling chocolate cake - the tastiest thing food-wise in Luleå right now.
Some things I did for the first few months didn´t work out in the long run, like making porridge every morning and baking cookies with raisins or stocking up on licorice (no one ate them!). And we have not stayed away from health-food; actually, the husband came home from Nashville converted to Whole Food-ism, and now we even drink ecological milk. I can´t imagine this is a bad thing.
    The first thing I noticed was that I became hungry from my stomach again. For a long time, mealtimes would come sooner than hunger. It gave me the feeling of being on a diet (without being on a diet) while still not being deprived of cookies (in cafés and at friends´ houses) or sweets (individually wrapped) if I wanted them. There was never that pressure of "now I can´t have anything I like until I have lost the six pounds I owe myself". Which made me relax. A year on, I find I have stopped snacking between meals. No more reading snacks.

    In May, a doctor called me to tell me my blood-sugar was exceptionally high and needed to be checked out. The first test indicated that everything was probably all right, but I confess I was nervous about it. In July, I saw that BBC documentary by Dr Michael Mosley that everyone else had seen in March, and was so impressed that I started the much talked about 5:2 diet. This isn´t really a diet at all, but rather a method, not aimed at weight-loss primarily, but health and longevity.

    Since then I have semi-fasted two days a week, and my sugar has gone down a bit - I am all out of danger of having diabetes, as a second round of testing has proved. I have also noticed that my vision is better, oddly enough, but then the fasting is supposed to lower your levels of growth hormones and turn the body to self-repair, so perhaps that´s what´s actually going on. I have no illusions that I will not be needing reading glasses eventually, though. Actually, the fasting method suits me well; I don´t normally have strong hunger feelings, nor do I really know when I´m full - which is why I gain when I eat socially. Fasting days are like a vacation from eating and takes the pressure off when I´m eating with others; I´m more relaxed about food issues overall.

    Also, the intermittent fasting days make me more mindful of what I eat, which is great. My sweet-tooth seems to be gone, and when the number of meals I eat in a week has gone down, I am more keen on really good (for me) food when I actually do eat. I find that I am spending more time cooking, and going for recipes from my childhood. Perhaps that is just a phase.

    Today I weigh 65 kilos, which is two less than last year, and perfect. I gained 3-4 kilos when we were on vacation (this really doesn´t sound much, but it pushes me into a size above what I normally wear, which is annoying - I don´t keep a two-sized wardrobe), but with the fasting I lost it pretty quickly. I don´t go under 65, though, and don´t really need to.

    To summarize, Wansink´s advice has really changed the way we think about food, food purchases, and eating in this household. As long as we stay in this environment that we control ourselves, we stay slim and healthy. Add to that the semi-fasting for me, and I think I have pretty much nailed it for the future.

    I´d be curious to know if anyone else has experience from the 5:2 method, and if you have any other effect by it than just the weight-loss?

    2013-09-15

    His Royal Highness the Archeolgist


    I went to the library the other day to dig up one of my favourite books: "Kungen som grävde" (= the king who dug) with photos by Jan Mark. It´s a reportage from one of King Gustav VI Adolf´s archeolgical work trips to Italy, where he excavated some Etruscan ruins.

    Gustav Adolf first took part in a dig in 1898, when he was 15 years old. A grave field from the Iron Age was being dug out near one of the summer homes of the royal family, Tullgarn, and he got himself involved. A few years later, his mother´s close friend and doctor, Axel Munthe, arranged a dig for him at Capri, where he had a villa. Munthe was also very interested in antiquity (it was a bit of a gentleman´s sport in the 19th Century, wasn´t it?); we visited the villa a few years ago, and it was full of debris from ancient cities.

    When Gustav studied in Uppsala, he participated in the first course the university arranged in Swedish archeology. He then initiated the excavation of the Håga mound from the Bronze Age, and a few years later a professor of archology stated that the crown prince was without a doubt the best all-round archeologist in Sweden. I can believe it - because I like him, but it´s hard to find anyone from that time saying anything the least critical about any member of the royal family. I wonder how much of the praise is real and how much is just standard servility. He did get 17 honorary doctorates during his lifetimes, among them one from Oxford, both for his work in archeology and his patronage of art, something he was introduced to by his uncle Eugen, who was - and still is considered - a respected artist, besides being a prince.

    Queen Margrethe of Denmark, at 16.
    The Bernadotte family was offered the Swedish crown in 1818, after the last of the Vasa-kings had been dethroned. Jean Bernadotte was one of Napoleon´s generals and had quite a career for a lawyer´s son. His wife and queen was the daughter of a silk merchant. Rich, but not royal. Their descendants have been an interesting mix of artists, intellectuals, and incapables. Of course, being royal, with all it used to mean in terms of duty and class, it can´t have been easy for those inclined to do something really useful.

    Gustav Adolf´s parents were King Gustav V, who is mostly known today for being a homosexual tennisplayer with a keen interest in embroidery, and Queen Viktoria, a Preussian princess who spent much of her time in Italy, both because of a cold marriage (I understand she had a very close relationship with her doctor) and severe asthma. He was set up with a granddaughter of the British Queen Victoria, but fell in love with her sister instead, and married Margaret of Connaught in 1905 at Windsor Castle. They had five children and then she died, very young, after an unfortunate series of minor colds, chicken pox, and ear infections. Gustav remarried, a great-grandchild of Queen Victoria this time, Louise of Mountbatten. They had no children together.

    Queen Louise on the right.
    Gustav VI engaged some of his family for the cause of archeology. Queen Louse often came to visit at the excavation sites, and she did her part of washing old potsherds. Several of his grandchildren, among them Margrethe (the present Queen of Denmark), spent summers there.  Margrehte is also a very accomplished artist and illustrator.

    Gustav was also a good photographer, as was his mother, Queen Viktoria. I´m queueing at the library for a book from last year, about Viktoria´s photographs from Egypt, and will blog about that later. 

    Ok, maybe not always so elegant...
    The reason I like this king the best is, I suppose, that I always thought he seemed so kind. I liked Prince Bertil, his son, as well. They both remind me of my grandfather and of actors like James Stewart and Alec Guinness. I also have a weakness for archeology, and 50´s fashion. He was so elegant, don´t you think? I want to dress like that!

    The photographer Jan Mark, by the way, seems to still be active. His father-in-law was the king´s marshal of the court, and his wife took part in the digs. This is how come Mark and his camera became involved, at this and other royal projects. He has also shot a photo book about Capri and the villa San Michele, where Queen Viktoria spent so much of her time.