Born To Rule

Written by Julia Gelardi
Review by Sarah Johnson

This biography chronicles the tumultuous lives of the five granddaughters of Queen Victoria who became consorts to European ruling monarchs. Maud, Edward VII’s daughter, married her cousin Prince Carl of Denmark, hoping for a quiet life – only to see him chosen as Norway’s next king. Marie of Edinburgh, daughter of Victoria’s son Alfred and his imperial Russian bride, grew up wholly English but came to symbolize the spirit of Romania. Ena, Princess Beatrice’s only daughter, made a splendid match with Spain’s Alfonso XIII, but their firstborn son’s hemophilia destroyed their marriage. Shy Alix of Hesse, daughter of Princess Alice, married Nicholas, tsarevitch of Russia, for love but was thrust uncomfortably into the spotlight all too soon. And Sophie, daughter of England’s Princess Royal, ascended Greece’s throne with her husband, but false rumors of her German sympathies during WWI caused her untold grief. Gelardi intertwines their stories in chronological fashion. While Marie and Alix (later Empress Alexandra) are fairly well known to many readers, Ena, Maud, and Sophie are not, and it’s fascinating to see how their lives, and those of their adopted countries, impacted one another. The result is an engrossing historical study that reads like the best fiction.