Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria

By Julia Gelardi
St. Martin's Press, New York, 2005
ISBN 0-312-32423-5

The epic biography of Queen Victoria's five most famous and powerful granddaughters.

All five were married to reigning European monarchs and their lives shaped the fate of a continent.

Alexandra: The last Czarina of Russia, whose beauty and controversial faith in Rasputin, not to mention her family's brutal murder is the stuff of legend.

Marie: Romania's flamboyant and promiscuous queen, whose affairs and love children scandalized her peers, but whose heroism saved her country.

Victoria Eugenie: Spain's very English queen who, like Alexandra, introduced hemophilia into her husband's family and whose grandson is the King of Spain today.

Maud: Edward VII's daughter who was Norway's reluctant queen.

Sophie: Sister to the Kaiser, whose family was driven from the throne of Greece and ended her days in bitter exile.

Using unpublished letters, memoirs, diplomatic documents and interviews with their descendants, Julia Gelardi's Born to Rule is the riveting story of five extraordinary women and will find an eager audience in the readers that made Hannah Pakula's The Last Romantic: A Biography of Queen Marie of Romania and Jerrold Packard's Victoria's Daughters so successful.

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 Coquitlam, British Columbia.

March 2005 is Women’s History Month

Born to Rule

Five Reigning Consorts, granddaughters of queen victoria

Julia Gelardi

"The Excellent Adventures of the Five Royal Cousins: sometimes solemn, sometimes frisky, but always captivating."—Kirkus Reviews

"Engaging…lively book…well-told adventures make the recent escapades of the Windsors pale in comparison. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

In BORN TO RULE (St. Martin’s Press; March 19, 2005; $29.95 Hardcover; ISBN 0-312-32423-5), a groundbreaking new biography of the granddaughters of Queen Victoria, independent historian and author Julia Gelardi delves into a world of beauty, power, death, and history.

Based on extensive research, including letters, memoirs, diplomatic documents, secondary sources, and interviews with descendents of the subjects, BORN TO RULE unravels and interweaves the fascinating stories of these five royal granddaughters. All married to reigning European monarchs, their lives shaped the fate of a continent. Presented are the moving 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.

Full of tales of betrayal, perseverance, bravery in the face of court and family intrigues, marital discord, and violent death—all against the backdrop of a Europe undergoing massive political and social transformation—BORN TO RULE is a powerful reminder of the lives and times of a unique group of Queen Victoria's descendents.

Julia Gelardi was granted her Master’s degree in History (focusing on British foreign policy during the Italo-Abyssinian crisis of 1936-7) from Simon Fraser University (1998), which has been consistently ranked as Canada’s top comprehensive university. As an independent historian, Julia currently specializes in European royal history encompassing Victorian era to the present and has had articles published in such journals as Royalty Digest, Atlantis: In the Courts of Memory, The European Crown, The Imperial Russian Journal, The Habsburg Quarterly and The European Royal History Journal. Julia, who is married and the mother of two daughters, presently resides in Plymouth, MN.


Elizabeth Coxe, Publicist
T: 212.674.5151 ext. 525/ E:

Vicki Lame, Assistant Publicist
T: 212.674.5151 ext. 540/ E:


Born to Rule

Five Reigning Consorts, the Granddaughters of Queen Victoria

Julia Gelardi

St. Martin’s Press; March 19, 2005; $29.95 hardcover; ISBN 0-312-32423-5

So you marry a prince and live happily ever after with your perfect little princes and princesses in your beautiful palace located in your beloved country that’s filled with adoring peasants, right? Well,what happens to the fairy tale when you almost get blown up on your wedding day, your eldest son and heir makes it a point to make your life miserable, your palace doesn’t even have a toilet, you’re forced to live your life in exile, and your peasants are revolting? On top of all that, you’re stuck in themiddle of the worst war the world has ever witnessed. For these five granddaughters of Queen Victoria, however, scattered across Europe from Spain to Russia, that’s exactly what their fairy tales involved.

Alexandra of Russia – Having lost her mother at the age of six, this royal beauty manages to capture the heart of the Autocrat of all the Russias, Tsar Nicholas II. Yet life at the more glittering and licentious St. Petersburg court doesn’t exactly jive with Alexandra’s more prudish English tastes. To escape from the nattering nobility, Alexandra turns to her family, which has its own problems when her only son and heir turns out to be a hemophiliac. Alexandra’s religious nature and motherly concerns causes her to believe in the mystical powers of a mysterious monk named Rasputin. And to make matters worse, those pesky peasants she and the aristocracy ignored now want revolution and Romanov blood.

Marie of Romania – Royal princesses are usually expected to behave themselves, but beautiful Marie of Romania was an unusual princess. Forced by her domineering mother to marry the heir of the Romanian throne, Marie begins life in Bucharest with a boring husband, a strict uncle, and a bizarre aunt who takes Marie’s eldest son away from her. But Marie doesn’t like to give up anything without a fight and so she slowly begins to win her freedom by having affairs and endearing herself to the Romanian people. During World War I, her courage and strong will help save Romania from a few tight situations. It’s just too bad that Marie can’t save herself from her difficult eldest son, King Carol. Talk about a dysfunctional family.

Victoria Eugenie of Spain – Known as ‘Ena’ to her family, Victoria Eugenie, the youngest of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters, was also a favorite of the old queen. Ena was also the favorite choice for a bride for Alfonso XIII of Spain when he came to England looking for a queen to rule by his side. But Ena’s reign ends almost as soon as it began when a bomb, hidden in a bouquet, explodes near the royal carriage, just missing Ena, but drenching her white wedding dress red with blood. Ena gets on with her duties, however, and manages to bear her husband several children, except that she transmits the dreaded disease of hemophilia to two of her sons and another son becomes a deaf mute. Alfonso doesn’t play the role of supporting husband, taking on a string of mistresses. Political intrigue plays a part in getting Ena, Alfonso, and their entire family exiled from Spain.

Sophie of Greece – Some people have a lot of trouble dealing with their siblings, but Sophie had to deal with the notorious Kaiser Wilhelm II, her eldest brother. Life was not so bad when Sophie first married Constantine of Greece, but after her conversion to Greek Orthodoxy Protestant Wilhelm threatens to cut her off from her native Germany. The Allies didn’t care much for Sophie either, or Greece, during World War I, throwing Sophie and her family into exile. After her son took the throne and died, Sophie and Constantine return to rule the ecstatic Greeks. Yet life becomes a Greek tragedy, however, when those busybody Allies turn on Sophie and Constantine - again!

Maud of Norway – The favorite and rambunctious daughter of Edward VII of England, Maud loved England more than her possessive mother loved her children. Maud escapes the clutches of Motherdear by marrying her cousin, Carl of Denmark. All Maud wants is the quiet life. Yet she gets more than she bargained for when Carl gets elected king of a newly independent Norway. Maud now has to prove herself to the Norwegians, a task she tries to perform - whenever she isn’t in England, that is.

For More Information, Please Contact:

Elizabeth Coxe, Publicist
T: 212-674-5151 x525/ E:

Vicki Lame, Assistant Publicist
T: 212.674.5151 ext. 540/ E: