Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Born to Rule

Born to Rule

Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria

Julia P. Gelardi

St. Martin's Press



Julia Gelardi's Born to Rule is an historical tour de force that weaves together the powerful and moving stories of the five royal granddaughters of Queen Victoria. These five women were all married to reigning European monarchs during the early part of the 20th century, and it was their reaction to the First World War that shaped the fate of a continent and the future of the modern world.

Here are the stories of Alexandra, whose enduring love story, controversial faith in Rasputin, and tragic end have become the stuff of legend; Marie, the flamboyant and eccentric queen who battled her way through a life of intrigues and was also the mother of two Balkan queens and of the scandalous Carol II of Romania; Victoria Eugenie, Spain's very English queen who, like Alexandra, introduced hemophilia into her husband's family-with devastating consequences for her marriage; Maud, King Edward VII's daughter, who was independent Norway's reluctant queen; and Sophie, Kaiser Wilhelm II's much maligned sister, daughter of an Emperor and herself the mother of no less than three kings and a queen, who ended her days in bitter exile.

Born to Rule evokes a world of luxury, wealth, and power in a bygone era, while also recounting the ordeals suffered by a unique group of royal women who at times faced poverty, exile, and death. Praised in their lifetimes for their legendary beauty, many of these women were also lauded-and reviled-for their political influence. Using never before published letters, memoirs, diplomatic documents, secondary sources, and interviews with descendents of the subjects, Julia Gelardi's Born to Rule is an astonishing and memorable work of popular history.


Praise for Born to Rule

“Five cousins. Five fascinating lives. Julia Gelardi writes about her subjects with verve and passion.” —Dr. Amanda Foreman, author of Georgina: Duchess of Devonshire

“This fascinating story of five princesses ends with one murdered, two in exile, one in distress, and one content. They all made sacrifices to fulfill dynastic demands, and unlike Ambassadors who move about, they were committed for life.” —Hugo Vickers, author of the critically acclaimed biography Alice and The Unexpurgated Beaton

“Julia Gelardi has mastered well the complex craft-within-craft of writing dynastic history. Her multi-stranded story moves smoothly, presenting vivid pictures not only of the momentous and tragic lives of five women, but also of the extraordinary privileged but confined world of doomed European monarchy.” —Derek Wilson, author of All the King's Women and In the Lion's Court: Power, Ambition, and Sudden Death in the Reign of Henry VIII

“A wonderful story, and an enormously impressive piece of research. Julia Gelardi has drawn together the stories of these five queens and kinswomen to give fresh perspective on the turbulent early decades of the twentieth century.” —Sarah Gristwood, author of the critically acclaimed Arbelia: England's Lost Queen and Perdita

“Gelardi tells a compelling story of five of Queen Victoria's granddaughters who became queens themselves. Alongside the oft-told and tragic story of Alexandra, the last Tsarina of Russia, are skillfully woven the tales of Maud of Norway, Sophie of Greece and Ena of Spain, each of whom led remarkable lives. Most fascinating, though, were the adventures of Marie of Romania, the archetypal romantic royal beauty. The author takes us on a tumultuous and enjoyable journey through the lives of five royal women, as they each in their own way attempted to survive 'the Era of the Fall of Eagles.' ” —Leonie Frieda, author of Catherine de Medici

“Julia Gelardi has brought these 5 queens to vivid life, using much fascinating contemporary material and the voices of the women themselves. At the heart of the convulsions of early 20th century Europe, this interwoven story is a rollercoaster of human tragedy and spirited renewal. All five women repay Gelardi's extensive research and affectionate narrative but Marie of Romania stands out as remarkably heroic; compassionate to the impoverished, diseased and dying, courageous in everything, she was nevertheless determined to fill her own life to the brim with adventure and love.” —Jane Dunn, author of Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Julia P. Gelardi

Julia Gelardi was born in Manila, Philippines, and educated in the United States and Canada. An independent historian and author, she lives with her husband and two daughters in Plymouth, Minnesota.

Julia P. Gelardi

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Press

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