zondag 11 juli 2010

A prince and his father

A few weeks ago, we went to Portugal on holiday. Since I couldn’t sew in the evenings, I read a lot. This book was one of my favorites. It’s about our former Prince Bernhard, the husband of queen Juliana (the parents of our present queen, Beatrix).
I bought it, because of the author. She’s an historian and I’ve been reading an biography from her before. Frankly, I’m not that interested in our Royal family as such. But I’m interested in people. Annejet van de Zijl frankly states that Bernhard married Juliana because of the money. No romance, no love, but a desire to live the life of a playboy. And he succeeded, although there were many pitfalls along the way (Lockheed, alienating his wife who was spiritual inclined and had pacifistic ideas about the world). Instead of making a moral judgment, the author explores the past and family history of Bernhard. And that’s the most interesting part of the book. It’s a sketch of the German nobility at the beginning of the 20 the century. How they struggled to keep up their way of life and failed, after the first World War. How a way of living fell apart and status was lost. How hard it was, to survive after the Great War, especially in the Eastern part of Germany. How this all created the sentiments that led to another war and a fascist ideology. And the most interesting character in the book is not the Prince, but his father. Who marries a divorced woman, which was so not done at the time. Who’s family fortune fluctuates from very wealthy (financial aid to help exploit the Eastern part of German, revenues from American investments) to having hardly any money and being forced to seek a whole new way of earning money (after the Second World War). Up and down it went, and he had to adjust to every change in his live. The personalization of a generation and way of living that doesn’t exists anymore.

Compared to him, my life is very dull. But I can always read, to brighten it up. And get a bit more understanding about people as children of their time. Because that's the moto of the book.

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