Wednesday 31 March 2021
Tuesday 30 March 2021
Monday 29 March 2021
Sunday 28 March 2021
Spencer is an upcoming drama film directed by Pablo Larraín and written by Steven Knight. // VIDEO: Kristen Stewart Looks UNRECOGNIZABLE as Princess Diana
New photo shows Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana ahead of biopic Spencer
Shooting has moved to the UK on the forthcoming film Spencer, as Poldark’s Jack Farthing cast as Prince Charles
Fri 26 Mar 2021 12.36 GMT
A new image of Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana has been released, as shooting on forthcoming biopic Spencer moves to the UK.
Stewart, 30, will play the late princess in the film, directed by Chilean film-maker Pablo Larraín, whose biopic of Jackie Kennedy starring Natalie Portman won multiple Oscar nominations in 2017.
In the photograph, Stewart smiles directly at the camera, wearing a prosthetic nose and layered blond bob, as well as tartan blazer and diamond engagement ring that appear to be copies of those sported by the real woman.
The film’s autumn release follows rave reviews for the most recent season of Netflix’s The Crown, in which Emma Corrin played the princess, winning a Golden Globe for her performance, as did Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles.
The actor playing Prince Charles in the new film will be Jack Farthing, best known as baddie George Warleggan in BBC’s Poldark. Farthing, 35, also played John Lennon in ITV’s Cilla Black series and featured in The Riot Club, the big-screen version of the play Posh.
The film is scripted by Peaky Blinders’ Steven Knight, and scored by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood.
Supporting cast include Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins and Sean Harris. The actors playing the young princes William and Harry have not been announced; last year, British passport holders were ruled out of contention for the roles over post-Brexit visa concerns.
Spencer is set over the course of a decisive weekend in December 1991, during which Princess Diana spends the Christmas holidays with the royal family at Sandringham, and decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.
“The Prince and Princess of Wales’ marriage has long since grown cold,” reads a press release. “Though rumours of affairs and a divorce abound, peace is ordained for the Christmas festivities at Sandringham Estate. There’s eating and drinking, shooting and hunting. Diana knows the game. This year, things will be a whole lot different.”
It’s the first big feature film to be made about the princess since 2013’s much-ridiculed Diana, which starred Naomi Watts and was labelled “car crash cinema” by the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw.
Stewart described Spencer in a statement as “a dive inside an emotional imagining of who Diana was at a pivotal turning point in her life”.
Filming was taking place in Germany, but has moved to the UK. The film is scheduled for release this autumn.
Spencer is an upcoming drama film directed by Pablo Larraín and written by Steven Knight.
On 17 June 2020, it was announced that Pablo Larraín would direct Spencer, a film starring Kristen Stewart as Diana, Princess of Wales. On 26 June 2020, it was reported that Neon had acquired the rights to distribute the film in the United States in a deal worth more than $4 million. STX Entertainment and DCM Film Distribution will distribute in the United Kingdom and Germany.
Filming began at the Schlosshotel Kronberg, Germany in January 2021 with Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins, and Sean Harris joining the cast. Other filming locations were the Schloss Marquardt in Marquardt, northern of the city Potsdam and Nordkirchen Castle.
On 25 March, production moved to the UK for the final stretch of filming and Jack Farthing joined the cast as Charles, Prince of Wales.
Friday 26 March 2021
When the Pilgrims Met the Native Americans
By Francis J. Bremer
March 12, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET
TERROR TO THE WICKED
America’s First Trial by Jury That Ended a War and Helped to Form a Nation
By Tobey Pearl
It’s always about the Pilgrims. Even during the pandemic, the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower has been marked with public events, exhibits and academic conferences in England, the Netherlands and the United States. Numerous books have explored new angles on an old story, some of them directing attention to the Native population, the people who inhabited the land they called Dawnland. In “Terror to the Wicked,” Tobey Pearl, a lawyer and educator, focuses on an important episode in the story of colonist-Native relations.
In the summer of 1638 an English indentured servant in the Plymouth Colony, Arthur Peach, ran away from his master. He was joined by three other servants. As they journeyed through the wilderness they encountered a Native whom they attacked and robbed. The Native, Penowanyanquis, though mortally wounded, escaped and was able to tell his tale to Roger Williams in nearby Providence before he died. While one of the runaways escaped, Peach and two of his fellow perpetrators were put on trial in the Plymouth Colony for murder. The English jury convicted all three and they were speedily executed. The story as such is well known and speaks to the willingness of an English jury to provide justice in a case where Englishmen murdered a Native.
Pearl has not unearthed any facts that have not been previously reported in many studies of the Plymouth Colony. She adds conjecture to what the sources actually tell us, with speculation about what Peach and his associates may have been feeling, the possible motivations of major characters and the supposed thoughts of the jurors, to mention just a few examples.
One can’t go beyond one or two pages without encountering something that “may have,” “possibly” or “likely” happened. John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts, must have been present at the trial and the executions, though there is no evidence that he was. Many pages are devoted to imagining the details of a discussion between Roger Williams and the Wampanoag Massasoit. What sources consider possible, Pearl presents as certainty. For such supposition to be persuasive readers have to be confident in the author’s deep knowledge of the times and culture, but there are too many factual inaccuracies and jumblings of chronology to provide that confidence in this case. An example is the citation of the famous 1670 English trial of William Penn and William Mede that established a jury’s right to act against a judge’s instructions, which Pearl seems to employ to support the independence of the jury in the 1638 Peach trial.
“Terror to the Wicked” is well written and draws upon important new insights into Native culture. But the underlying arguments that this was “America’s first trial by jury” and that it “ended a war” (as the subtitle has it) are misleading. As for being the first trial by jury, Plymouth’s governor William Bradford recorded that in 1630 “John Billington the Elder … was arraigned; and both by grand, and petty jury found guilty of willful murder by plain and notorious evidence. And was for the same accordingly executed.” As for the claim that this trial “ended a war,” the Pequot War was essentially over; churches in Plymouth and other New England colonies had celebrated a day of thanksgiving for their victory 10 months earlier. The Peach trial was important, but Pearl’s reasoning exaggerates how important it was. It was not, as she asserts, “the trial of the century.”
Francis J. Bremer is the author of “One Small Candle: The Plymouth Puritans and the Beginning of English New England.”
Thursday 25 March 2021
Wednesday 24 March 2021
VIDEO: Italian traffic police // Return of Traffic Cops to Landmark Piazza Brings Unlikely Joy in Rome
Return of Traffic Cops to Landmark Piazza Brings Unlikely Joy in Rome
While motorists in Rome are known for their chaotic driving, the return of police officers directing traffic at the intersection was greeted by many as a sign of normality at a difficult time.
By Elisabetta Povoledo
March 20, 2021
ROME — If, as it’s said, all roads lead to Rome, then they intersect at Piazza Venezia, the downtown hub of the Italian capital, watched over by a traffic officer on a pedestal who choreographs streamlined circulation out of automotive chaos.
For many Romans and tourists alike, those traffic controllers are as much a symbol of the Eternal City as the Colosseum or the Pantheon.
That may explain why the return this week of the pedestal (plus its traffic cop) after a yearlong hiatus while the piazza was being paved, set off a media frenzy — even if there was little traffic to direct given the widespread lockdown that began this week to contain an upsurge of coronavirus cases.
“In this difficult period, I think that it was seen as a sign of something returning to normal,” said Fabio Grillo, 53, who, with 16 years under his belt, is the senior member of the team of four or five municipal police officers who direct traffic from the Piazza Venezia pedestal.
In rain or sleet, or sweltering through Rome’s sultry summers, officers have directed traffic from the Piazza Venezia pedestal near the mouth of the Via del Corso, one of Rome’s main streets, for as long as anyone can remember. And the gestures they make with their white-gloved hands is something that all Italian motorists dutifully memorize for their driver’s tests. (Important note: Two hands straight out with palms facing motorists is equivalent to a red light).
“It’s been compared to conducting an orchestra,” said Mr. Grillo.
Apart from regular traffic, Piazza Venezia is also a crossroads that leads to City Hall, the Parliament, Italy’s presidential palace and a national monument where visiting heads of state routinely pay homage — which all contributes to the chaos at the hub.
“This piazza is the aortic epicenter of the country,” said Angelo Gallicchio, 62, who has managed a newspaper kiosk in the square since 1979. “Every person of note who comes to Rome has to pass through Piazza Venezia — you can’t avoid it.”
For many years, Roman the traffic police were instructed by Mario Buffone, whose three decades on the pedestal — making him one of the city’s most recognizable figures — was immortalized in a book. He retired in 2007. “He was an icon for us,” said Mr. Grillo.
Giuseppe Battisti, 47, an officer who has been on the pedestal for 12 years, said that all that’s required to do the job well is passion and “a little elegance.” Though the traffic signals are enshrined in the driver’s code of conduct, “every agent personalizes it,” he said.
Pierluigi Marchionne’s elegance on the pedestal (his gestures earned him a “He’s bellissimo! It’s marvelous!” from a passer-by on Thursday) — is likely what grabbed Woody Allen’s eye when he was scouting locations for his 2012 movie “To Rome With Love.” After seeing Mr. Marchionne in action, he was so taken with the traffic officer that he rewrote the beginning of his script so that he could cast him in the movie, Mr. Marchionne said.
It’s notable that Romans in particular should feel so friendly toward someone paid to punish traffic infractions, which are notoriously frequent in the Italian capital.
Until the 1970s, every Jan. 6, the feast day of Epiphany, Italians would express their gratitude to the officers by covering traffic pedestals with gifts. The loot was then given to charity, Mr. Grillo said.
That unlikely affection may have had much to do with Alberto Sordi, an actor who frequently played traffic officers in movies, most notably in the 1960 classic “Il Vigile.”
Sordi, who died in 2003, was also named an honorary Roman traffic officer. Last year, the uniform and props from these films went on display in a museum opened in the actor’s home in Rome, now shut because of the pandemic.
“Because of Sordi, traffic cops became more simpatico,” as well as a symbol of Rome, said Mr. Grillo, who can recite scenes from Sordi movies word for word.
That affection has not been without some criticism, however. The image of the municipal police, of which the traffic officers are a part, has been tarnished in recent years by investigations into possible wrongdoing — like closing an eye to illegal construction and taking kickbacks.
A history of municipal police forces in Italy posted on the website of one national association traces their origins to the guardians of a Roman temple in the 5th century B.C. An educational film from the early 1950s from Italy’s national archive, Istituto Luce, however, instead traces the corps’ history to the first century B.C., during the reign of the Emperor Augustus (there’s a nice touch of a chariot segueing into a convertible).
Today, Piazza Venezia has the only traffic pedestal left in the city. “It is part of the architecture of the piazza,” said Mr. Gallicchio, the kiosk owner.
At first, the pedestals were made of wood, and traffic officers would carry them into crossings.
At one point, a fixed, cement pedestal was installed in the piazza, lit up by a spotlight on a nearby building at night when no officer was on duty, Mr. Gallicchio said.
The spotlight didn’t help as “motorists kept smashing into it,” Mr. Grillo said. So in 2006 it was replaced with a mechanical pedestal that rises from the paving stones to welcome officers arriving for work.
Now, with the work done on the piazza this year, the officers say they are keen to get back to a job they love and hopefully, become a focus of tourists’ cameras again after the pandemic passes.
“Maybe we weren’t as famous as the Fountain of Trevi, but we were a tourist attraction.” Mr. Battisti said with a smile. “I bet there are even photos of us in North Korea.”
Elisabetta Povoledo has been writing about Italy for nearly three decades, and has been working for The Times and its affiliates since 1992. @EPovoledo • Facebook
Monday 22 March 2021
The Collection of Pierre Le-Tan presented by Sotheby's , Paris comprises 500 lots from the late artist’s eclectic Parisian apartment. Le-Tan came from a background that was literary, artistic and international. He was born in 1950 in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris, the son of Vietnamese painter Lê Phổ (and grandson of the last Viceroy of Tonkin) who had married the daughter of a French officer after WWII.
At 17, on the advice of an American friend of his mother's, Pierre sent drawings to the New Yorker – and by the age of 19 the prestigious magazine had published two covers drawn by him. Over the course of his life, his artworks were published in @theworldofinteriors, New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Madame Figaro, and Harper's Bazaar among many others.
Sotheby's sale includes forty drawings by Le-Tan himself which have not been on the market since 1995 as well as paintings by his father. The sale also includes works of art and objects including, photographs, 20th century decorative arts, ceramics, Islamic art, African art, manuscripts and fabrics. Highlights include a portrait of Le-Tan drawn by David Hockney and a 1930s plaster cast of socialite Stephen Tennant’s left hand ( he was said to be the “brightest” of the “Bright Young Things”).
Collection Pierre Le-Tan, Session II, till 18 March.
Pierre Le-Tan chasseur d’objets
Le 10 juin 2016, par Sylvain Alliod
Difficile de ne pas reconnaître la veine poétique de celui qui a aussi bien dessiné pour le New Yorker qu’avec Patrick Modiano. Son trait à découvrir ? La folie de la collection.
Les collectionneurs, Pierre Le-Tan les connaît bien. Non seulement il leur a consacré un ouvrage, paru en 2013 chez Flammarion, mais il fait lui-même partie du sérail… et de l’espèce la plus intéressante pour le marché de l’art, lui-même se définissant comme un insatiable acheteur. C’est donc tout naturellement que le marché Paul Bert Serpette s’est tourné vers lui pour fêter son 70e anniversaire. La demande était des plus légitimes, puisque que c’est aux Puces de Saint-Ouen que tout a commencé : «Mon père m’y amenait. Il aimait beaucoup aller chez les antiquaires, il était moins compulsif que moi, mais c’est lui qui m’a transmis le virus. J’avais sept ou huit ans ; il connaissait pas mal de marchands, qui me donnaient des bricoles». Faut-il le rappeler, le legs paternel concerne non seulement la collectionnite aiguë, mais aussi la fibre artistique, l’illustrateur étant le fils du peintre Lé Phô. «Vous le connaissez bien, glisse-t-il malicieusement, il est souvent dans les pages de votre publication. C’est lui qui m’a appris à regarder les antiquités. J’aimais beaucoup tout ce qui était asiatique puis, comme tant de petits garçons, je me suis intéressé aux armes, particulièrement japonaises. D’ailleurs, pour mes 14 ans, on m’a offert une armure nippone.» S’il collectionne donc tout jeune, il dessine également, et, très vite, sur les conseils d’un ami américain de sa mère, envoie des feuilles au New Yorker, qui le publiera bientôt. Sa carrière d’illustrateur est lancée… Pierre Le-Tan va réaliser des campagnes publicitaires, illustrer des ouvrages, en écrire, peindre des toiles pour le restaurant Le Mirabelle, à Londres, et même imaginer les décors du film Quadrille (1997) de Valérie Lemercier.
«Mon père avait des goûts assez éclectiques. Il appréciait la céramique chinoise, mais aussi la sculpture religieuse médiévale et toutes sortes de choses !» Le fils affiche une approche tout aussi pléthorique, comme en témoigne son appartement de la place du Palais-Bourbon, un véritable cabinet de curiosités, plein de charme, où il vous accueille un téléphone à la main. «J’attends une miniature islamique qui passe à Drouot», souffle-t-il. S’il dit ne pas avoir de mode d’achat privilégié, il goûte particulièrement les ventes aux enchères. «Mes origines doivent y être pour quelque chose, car les Asiatiques sont très joueurs et je sais que si je n’avais pas eu cette passion de la collection, j’aurais peut-être passé ma vie dans les salles de jeu. On y éprouve à peu près la même excitation. On peut acheter sans avoir un centime, mais on ne le regrettera jamais. C’est la différence avec le jeu. Là, on perd beaucoup ! À la salle des ventes, on gagne presque toujours.» Difficile de lui faire revendiquer un thème de collection. À peine concède-t-il avoir un temps réuni des œuvres de l’école néoromantique, signées de Christian Bérard, Jean Cocteau, Pavel Tchelitchev ou des frères Berman, pour aussitôt déclarer les avoir vendues d’un bloc en 1995, toujours aux enchères. «Je me laisse séduire par les choses, c’est très imprévisible. Ce flot jamais interrompu qui passe est vraiment extraordinaire. D’aucuns disent qu’il n’y a plus rien, mais ce n’est pas vrai : il y a toujours des affaires à saisir.»
Saisir ce qui relie les choses
«J’ai beaucoup acheté et aussi beaucoup vendu, c’est comme cela que j’ai pu posséder des milliers d’objets». L’homme, s’il vend parfois par nécessité, avoue aussi avoir la chance de pouvoir éprouver un grand détachement par rapport aux choses. «Je n’ai jamais regretté de m’être dépossédé de quoi que ce soit. Ce qui m’a toujours excité a été de penser que j’allais trouver quelque chose, même dans les endroits les plus inattendus. J’ai pu pourchasser une œuvre durant des années et, tout d’un coup, ne plus m’y intéresser. Ainsi en décembre dernier, dans la vente de la collection Georges Hugnet chez Christie’s, il y avait un portrait de Gertrude Stein par Eugène Berman. Je connaissais l’œuvre depuis l’époque où elle était exposée chez Myrtille Hugnet, qui ne voulait pas me la vendre. Eh bien, en décembre, je l’ai suivie mais pas achetée. Pourtant, Dieu sait si je l’avais désirée !» Notre amateur explique aussi son goût pour les provenances : «J’aime les ventes de collections, les ensembles ayant appartenu à une personne. Le plus excitant est d’évaluer tout ce que quelqu’un a pu accumuler dans une vie, comme un concentré d’existence. On peut alors saisir ce qui relie toutes ces choses entre elles».
Coups de cœur
Pour le moins paradoxalement, Pierre Le-Tan déclare regretter de ne pas vivre dans un intérieur minimaliste. «Mon rêve absolu. Une impossibilité étant donné ma boulimie ! La plupart des gens achètent un objet pour un endroit précis. Moi, je ne pense jamais à cela. De nombreuses fois, j’ai acheté des meubles qui ne pouvaient même pas rentrer chez moi, notamment dans mon ancien appartement, où il y avait un escalier compliqué. Je les laissais en bas et les revendais… » Son truc à lui, c’est le coup de cœur, sans jamais acheter dans une quelconque perspective spéculative : «J’ai souvent acquis ce qui n’était pas à la mode et l’est devenu par la suite, mais alors, ça ne m’intéressait plus.» Cette promenade nonchalante en dehors des sentiers battus se remarque à nouveau lorsqu’on lui demande quel est son artiste préféré : « Je suis incapable de me prononcer. Il y en a de très grands et puis d’autres que presque personne ne connaît, mais qui peuvent me donner autant de joie que Goya. C’est ça, le plaisir de chiner : trouver un petit artiste inconnu. Philippe Jullian, un écrivain merveilleux et grand collectionneur très érudit, qui fréquentait assidûment Drouot, a aussi laissé des dessins formidables, très méchants, très drôles. Qui les connaît ?» Et si l’on aborde le monde des livres, celui qui a notamment beaucoup travaillé avec Patrick Modiano constate : « J’ai beaucoup plus d’amis écrivains qu’artistes. J’ai toujours été entouré de livres. Des maisons sans bibliothèque ce qui est de plus en plus le cas , ça me désole profondément. Toutes les semaines, des livres arrivent chez moi. J’en achète, j’en reçois, sans parler des catalogues de ventes… Tous sont très importants. Ils représentent en outre un instrument de travail, une base de documentation». Soulignant ce rapport étroit que Pierre Le-Tan entretient avec l’écrit, son ami Umberto constate, dans le catalogue de la rétrospective que le musée national d’Art moderne de Madrid lui a consacrée en 2004, que ses compositions peuvent être appréhendées comme des «dessins qui doivent être lus et des mots qui doivent être regardés». Et si les livres sont indispensables pour le travail artistique de notre invité, ils le sont aussi pour mieux comprendre sa collection, elle-même considérée comme l’une de ses inspirations. D’ailleurs, quand on lui fait remarquer qu’entre les dessins, tableaux, livres, étoffes, céramiques et objets qui l’entourent, on a beau scruter, on n’a repéré aucune de ses propres œuvres, il nous répond en plaisantant « si ! dans les toilettes ! »… mais aussi sur un abat-jour où se détache, sur fond de croisillons, un œil éclairé. Celui, toujours curieux, que Pierre Le-Tan pose avec discrétion et érudition sur les choses…
Sunday 21 March 2021
Jeremy Clarkson calls Meghan Markle ‘silly little cable TV actress’ in defence of Piers Morgan
The Grand Tour host accused Markle of ‘simpering victimhood’
5 hours ago
Jeremy Clarkson has weighed in on the debate around Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey and Piers Morgan’s subsequent departure from Good Morning Britain.
Following the interview, Morgan suggested that he thought Markle was lying about experiencing suicidal thoughts during her time as a senior royal. After being challenged by his GMB co-star Alex Beresford and storming off set, Morgan then quit the ITV show.
His comments prompted a record number of complaints to broadcast watchdog Ofcom (more than 57,000).
In her interview with Winfrey, Markle had also claimed that a member of the royal family relayed concerns regarding “how dark” the skin of their son Archie would be when he was born.
Writing in his column forThe Sun, Clarkson said Markle is “much revered by the young and the stupid who believe that her brand of simpering victimhood will one day bring down the monarchy, but it won’t”.
He argued that given everything the British monarchy has been through – “beheadings, affairs, abdications” – he is “fairly sure it’ll be able to weather the banal musings of a silly little cable TV actress”.
He added: “Trust me on this one. Markle’s toast, and within five years, I suspect she’ll be posing for photographs, on her own outside the Taj Mahal or sitting on the back of a playboy’s yacht in the Med, and poor old Piers will realise that he lost his job over absolutely nothing at all.”
Clarkson’s support of Morgan is unusual. The pair have not always been friendly, having had an infamous punch-up at the 2004 British Press Awards.
Reports at the time claimed an inebriated Clarkson “ambled over to The Mirror’s table […] and attacked, swinging a right hook at Morgan”.
“It was actually three punches,” Morgan later said. “He permanently scarred me above my temple because he had a ring on, but the good news was he broke his little finger hitting my head because I’m that hard.”
Saturday 20 March 2021
From wax jackets to medical gowns: Barbour joins coronavirus battle
By Reuters Staff
LONDON (Reuters) - British fashion brand Barbour has turned over its production line to making protective gowns for frontline healthcare workers battling the coronavirus outbreak, reviving memories of its patriotic efforts in both world wars.
Many of Britain’s healthcare workers have complained there is not enough protective equipment, including gowns, masks and hoods.
The 126-year old Barbour, famous for its wax jackets and country fashion, is targeting the manufacture of 23,000 gowns over three weeks, chairman Margaret Barbour told BBC radio on Wednesday. It hopes to have made at least 7,000 by the end of the week.
“It’s extremely worthwhile to know that we’re playing our part,” she said.
Barbour, 80, said the project stemmed from her close relationship with the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, northeast England, which was the first hospital in Britain to treat novel coronavirus patients in January.
She offered to help by recalling machinists at Barbour’s South Shields factory who in line with the national lockdown were not working, reorganising the plant’s layout to comply with the government’s social distancing regulations.
“They are so enthusiastic to help, I think we all are in this desperate time,” she said, noting that Barbour is no stranger to adaptation.
During both world wars the factory was turned over to make military garments to assist the war effort.
“We even made trench sleeping bags in World War One, which really upsets me a bit,” said Barbour.
Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Stephen Addison and Mark Potter
Thursday 18 March 2021
Scan technology reveals secrets of a 300-year-old letter
Society March 3, 2021
The unopened letter: Photo: Jana Dambrogio (MIT)
An international team of researchers have used advanced scan technology to read a 300-year-old letter without opening it. The letter forms part of a treasure trove of 2,600 letters that were written and sent between 1689 and 1706 but never reached their destination. Undelivered and unclaimed, these so-called dead letters were kept in a linen-lined leather chest waterproofed with sealskin where they remained, perfectly preserved, for the next three hundred years. The prudent owner of the chest was Frenchman Simon de Brienne. In 1676 De Brienne became postmaster of The Hague and assumed responsibility for the postal traffic to and from France, the southern Netherlands and Spain. The chest now forms part of the Museum for Sound and Vision in The Hague. Many of the letters have since been read, revealing gossip and scandal as well as reports of political turmoil and heartbreak but some 600 have remained unopened because it would mean breaking the seals or cutting up the letters. No envelopes were used at the time. The contents of the letters were protected from prying eyes by means of letter locking, a folding method particular to the sender which could be very intricate. The team of scientists from Leiden, Groningen, Utrecht, Oxford and Yale universities, chose one of these letters to become the object of a scanning technique called X-ray microtomography, a technique normally used to analyse bone and teeth. ‘We wanted to read the letter but it’s a historical artefact and opening it by hand would have damaged it. We had to turn to technology to see if we could read it unopened,’ researcher Rebekah Ahrendt told broadcaster NOS. Jigsaw The letter, dated July 31, 1697, was sent by Jacques Sennaques to his cousin Pierre Le Pers, a French trader in The Hague at the time. The scans picked up iron particles in the ink to render an image of the individual letters, while an algorithm unfolded the letter digitally. The resulting bits had to be put together like a jigsaw puzzle, Ahrendt said. The contents of the letter revealed that Sennaques asked for a watermarked death certificate of one Daniel Le Pers. He also asked after Pierre’s health. ‘The letters are important because they tell us about the life of ordinary people. These are not letters written by the elite,’ Ahrendt said. Researcher David van der Linden said team are hoping to adapt the algorithm so that the other letters can be read as well.
Tuesday 16 March 2021
Allen v Farrow review: The new documentary will sound the death knell for Woody Allen’s career
The chilling four-parter allows Allen’s adopted daughter Dylan, now 35, to make her childhood sexual abuse allegations in a new medium, and with new layers of stomach-turning detail
Monday 22 February 2021 12:56
Woody Allen’s career has been in a state of free fall for a few years now. In 2014, the once-iconic director’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow wrote an open letter in The New York Times, claiming that Allen sexually abused her in their Connecticut home when she was a child (he denies the claims). A few years later came the advent of the #MeToo movement. Top-tier actors and Hollywood elite distanced themselves from Allen. His 2020 memoir, Apropos of Nothing, was dropped by its publisher. Now, the chilling new HBO documentary Allen v Farrow will surely sound the death knell for his career.
The fact that Allen has been blacklisted by Hollywood does not make Allen v Farrow an exercise in redundancy. The four-parter allows Dylan, now 35, to make her allegations in a new medium, and with new layers of stomach-turning detail. Through home movie footage, recorded calls between Allen and Farrow, interviews with family friends and Dylan herself, investigative filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering demonstrate what appears to be a horrifying pattern of abuse. (Allen has always maintained his innocence, alleging that Farrow had lied about the abuse as revenge for his involvement with her older adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn. Allen also was not interviewed for Allen v Farrow; instead, the documentary gets his side of things via Apropos of Nothing audiobook passages.)
As the documentary depicts, for many years Woody Allen and Mia Farrow were something of a New York power couple – and an idyllic example of a modern blended family. Farrow appeared in a number of the famed director’s films (1986’s Hannah and Her Sisters perhaps being the most well known). Over the course of their relationship, they kept separate residences across Central Park in New York City and had one biological child, Satchel (who later changed his name to Ronan). Farrow had adopted a number of children prior to her relationship with Allen, one of whom was Soon-Yi, whose adopted father was composer Andre Previn. After her divorce from Previn, Farrow adopted two other children: first Moses, who is shown to have been very close to Allen, and then Dylan.
Come 1992, a media and legal frenzy overtook the family due to a combination of events: Farrow found graphic photos of a then-21-year-old Soon-Yi in Allen’s possession (Soon-Yi and Allen have been married since 1997) and the seven-year-old Dylan alleged that Allen had sexually abused her. A year later, a six-month criminal investigation by the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of Yale-New Haven Hospital concluded that Dylan had not been sexually abused. The investigation is a historical bullet point Allen’s team is quick to utilise on the rare occasion the director defends himself in the media, but it’s difficult for some not to question a 30-year-old finding after viewing the diligently executed Allen v Farrow.
Though she has been a vocal advocate for abuse victims in recent years, and her brother Ronan, who helped break the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, has echoed his support for her, Dylan has never had the chance to tell her story in this way. The results are as compelling as they are disturbing. In speaking to her, plus several key witnesses, and Mia, Ronan Farrow, and Mia’s older son Fletcher Previn, Allen v Farrow presents in painstaking detail what appears to be a grooming process and subsequent pattern of inappropriate behaviour on Allen’s part. In one anecdote, Mia Farrow claims that one time Allen abruptly slapped Dylan’s hand away from him. When she asked why he’d slapped her, he replied that she’d tried to touch his genitals. Why, Farrow wondered, would a little girl think to do that?
Elsewhere, multiple family friends corroborate Farrow and Dylan’s account that Allen’s interest in Dylan appeared nearly obsessive, with a young Dylan, who had once been outgoing and effervescent, becoming sullen and withdrawn. “I was always in his clutches. He was always hunting me,” she says to the camera at one point. “I have memories of getting into bed with him … He would just wrap his body around me very intimately.”
It’s worth noting that Moses and Soon-Yi, who did not participate in Allen v Farrow, have spoken publicly about their own experiences growing up in the Farrow-Allen household, alleging constant physical abuse from Farrow. Even Moses, who is now a licensed therapist specialising in adoption trauma, pointed out in a 2018 essay that paedophilia is a “compulsive sickness” and “deviation that demands repetition”, arguing that Allen’s one reported instance of alleged abuse was unlikely because it was a one-off. He alleges that Dylan was brainwashed by Farrow and is a staunch defender of his adopted father.
What Allen v Farrow proves time and again, though, is that Allen’s alleged behaviour towards Dylan, which is at times captured on video and is repeatedly described as “intense” and “intimate” by eyewitnesses, appeared to be highly consistent with abuse. To actually get at the truth, Allen v Farrow might have benefitted from the impossible: interviews with every last family member. Regardless, it’s safe to say that whatever dwindling respect Allen has enjoyed in the last few years may be wiped away after Allen v Farrow.
Allen v Farrow review – effective docuseries on allegations of abuse
The sexual abuse allegations leveled at Woody Allen are put under the spotlight with exhaustive research in a damning if bloated series
Allen v Farrow. The series has a lucid sense of its central image: that of a family ripped in half, with the kids left to choose sides.
Thu 18 Feb 2021 16.04 GMT
Woody Allen will not be ignored. After decades of controversy engulfing his personal life, it would have been easy enough for him to retire and enjoy what must surely be a lot of money, or to just continue working in volitive obscurity, making his ever-worsening movies in Europe for a rapidly shrinking audience. But as viewers of HBO’s new miniseries Allen v Farrow will amply learn, a refusal to back down forms a key part of the pathology animating the man referred to by the mononym of “Woody”.
From a New York magazine interview alongside his wife, Soon-Yi Previn, in 2018 to a mud-slinging memoir last year, he is still doing press and insisting that he is innocent of the claims of sexual abuse levied against him by Mia Farrow’s daughter Dylan. The four-part documentary from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering represents an equal and opposite effort, as Dylan herself and those in her corner meet Woody’s unbudging denials – he has forcefully denied the allegations – with their own steadfast determination. Starting with the title, the series portrays this long-and-deep-running acrimony as a domestic war between two feuding camps. It decisively takes a side, too, but only once a comprehensive presentation of the information has made that much appear to be the lone reasonable option. Coupled with affecting testimonials from Mia and Dylan, telling her story with an immediacy inaccessible to her accounts in the printed word, the reportage does everything short of actually proving guilt. Dick and Ziering leave the matter a he-said-she-said, and methodically show that what he is saying is unconvincing, while what she is saying seems too well-founded (and shattering) to be doubted.
Spanning nearly 40 years and spun around an intricate family tree, this complicated case requires a lot of untangling. To that end, the series is almost diligent to a fault, repeatedly reiterating the same points and analyses already known to anyone with even a passing familiarity. Like so many true-crime nonfiction cinema projects these days – the clear mold from which this approach has been cast – it seems to bulk up its own length for length’s sake, topping out at over four hours. Though more palatable when doled out over a month’s broadcasting, viewing the screeners in a single binge underscores just how much of that time gets eaten up by restatement and rephrasing.
But Ziering and Dick, along with a stable of interview subjects ranging from tertiary characters in the Farrow orbit to film critics contextualizing Woody’s life and works, do convey the key information authoritatively and emphatically. Mia and Woody linked up around 1980, and while he took a shine straight away to her adopted son Moses (a glaring absence in the series, like Woody himself and Soon-Yi, cast here as a coordinated opposition), he would cultivate a more fraught relationship to young Dylan, adopted by the couple in 1985. As an adult, she recounts him allegedly smashing her face into a plate of spaghetti and other enraged outbursts, an enmity which culminated in her allegation at age seven that she had been sexually violated by her father. Woody countered that the girl had been coached into a false confession by Mia, furious with him upon her then-recent discovery that he had been conducting an affair with the college-aged Soon-Yi.
One of the miniseries’ primary objectives is to expose the apparent lapses in the justice system that exonerated Woody in the 90s, even as his reputation now sinks deeper into the toilet with each passing year. He filed for custody of Moses, Ronan, and Dylan in 1992 to get Mia on the defensive, a trial that would unduly come to stand as a referendum on his innocence. Ziering and Dick question the results that shot down both his custody bid and the accusations of sexual abuse, drawing attention to a Connecticut district attorney lacking in zeal and pivotal psych evaluations since discredited. Woody’s legal team did everything in its power to cast Mia as a vindictive manipulator and Dylan as the impressionable child in her thrall, but the mainstream embrace of feminism clarifies that those attacks were largely rooted in misogynistic notions of hysterical, untrustworthy women.
In an effort to touch on everything, some sub-topics (separating the art from the artist for Woody fans, the scuttled release of his latest film A Rainy Day in New York) get addressed so glancingly, they’d be best omitted. But however overinflated, the series has a lucid sense of its central image: that of a family ripped in half, with the kids left to choose sides. Like them, all the public can do is believe one set of premises or the other. Did a man famed for his well-documented, self-confessed attraction to teenage girls cross a line with his daughter, or did the Farrows, one of whom has a name synonymous with defense for abused women, concoct and spend their whole lives defending a conspiracy as a spiteful response to a sexual indiscretion from nearly 30 years ago? Dick and Ziering’s presentation hones Occam’s razor to a point sharp enough to draw blood.
Allen v Farrow begins on HBO on 21 February with a UK date yet to be announced
Monday 15 March 2021
Sunday 14 March 2021
His Ancestors Were German Kings. He Wants Their Treasures Back.
A public dispute over thousands of artworks and artifacts could hinge on whether a crown prince supported the Nazis during their rise to power.
By Catherine Hickley
March 12, 2021
POTSDAM, Germany — Georg Friedrich Prinz von Preussen’s quest to recover thousands of artworks and artifacts that were once in his family’s possession is not going well.
As the current head of the Hohenzollern dynasty, which spawned the kings of Prussia for 300 years and emperors of Germany for half a century, Prinz von Preussen, 44, has been negotiating with officials since 2014 over the ownership of royal treasures — paintings, sculptures, medals, glass, furniture, tapestries, porcelain, books and documents — that were confiscated from his family in eastern Germany after World War II and are now part of museum collections.
Those talks were conducted in secret until 2019, when documents from the negotiations were leaked to the news media. The process stalled, and the atmosphere soured.
Officials in the German states of Berlin and Brandenburg, whose museums hold the disputed objects, now say a major obstacle to restarting the talks is a slew of injunctions that Prinz von Preussen has filed against historians and journalists for publishing what he says is inaccurate information about his family. These lawsuits, in the states’ view, are stifling a critical debate about German history and, in particular, the role of Prinz von Preussen’s great-grandfather in the rise to power of the Nazis. Prinz von Preussen says this criticism is unfounded.
“I am confident that we will meet together again, because it is in all of our interests to reach an agreement,” he said in an interview on Tuesday in his office in Potsdam, about 20 miles from Berlin. “We have an interest in avoiding endless court processes that drag on,” he added.
Prinz von Preussen’s hopes for a negotiated settlement were dealt a blow on Thursday, when state legislators from Berlin’s governing bloc introduced a motion in the regional assembly that, if passed, would withdraw the state from the talks. This would leave the courts as Prinz von Preussen’s only option to continue his claim.
When news of Prinz von Preussen’s demands became public, they were characterized in news media as exorbitant and unrealistic, and he was mocked as “Prince Dumb” on a satirical German television show. The Left Party pasted posters featuring the slogan “No gifts for the Hohenzollerns!” around Brandenburg, and, this week, a petition the party instigated calling for further negotiations to be canceled collected enough signatures to secure a debate in the legislature of that state, too.
“The Hohenzollerns are not just any noble family,” said Torsten Wöhlert, a Berlin official involved in the talks. “They are the imperial family, and the role they played in the colonial past, World War I and World War II is always a part of that.”
Prinz von Preussen’s great-great-grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was the last emperor of Germany and by far the richest man in the country before World War I. After Wilhelm abdicated in 1918, he retained substantial wealth: At least 60 railway wagons carried furniture, art, porcelain and silver from Germany to his new home in exile in the Netherlands. The kaiser and his family also held onto substantial cash reserves and dozens of palaces, villas and other properties.
But after World War II, the Hohenzollerns’ forests, farms, factories and palaces in East Germany were expropriated in Communist land reforms, and thousands of artworks and historical objects were subsumed into the collections of state-owned museums.
Prinz von Preussen’s claim for restitution was first lodged by his grandfather after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when thousands of Germans took advantage of new laws allowing them to seek compensation and restitution for confiscated property. Officials assessed it for more than 20 years before negotiations with the family began.
If Prinz von Preussen pursues the case in court, success could hinge on how much support his great-grandfather, Crown Prince Wilhelm, gave to the Nazis in the 1930s. Under German law, if a court deems someone lent the Nazis “substantial support,” then their family is not eligible for compensation or restitution of lost property.
The crown prince hoped that Adolf Hitler would reinstate the monarchy, and wrote him flattering letters. He defended Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies and wore a swastika armband in public. If a court were to agree that Crown Prince Wilhelm’s support for Hitler was “substantial,” then Prinz von Preussen’s claims would be dismissed.
Prinz von Preussen said his great-grandfather had “recognized this criminal regime, and it very quickly became clear that he didn’t have the moral fortitude, or courage, to go into opposition.” But he questioned whether that amounts to “substantial” support, adding that this was a “question that has to be cleared up by legal experts.”
Contrary to media reports, Prinz von Preussen said, he has no intention of cleaning out Berlin and Brandenburg’s museums: He was simply fulfilling his family duty by pursuing the claim.
Yet officials in those states said Prinz von Preussen had acted aggressively, and that one of the major obstacles to resuming talks is the legal battle he has initiated against what he describes as false statements by scholars and media figures. Six historians, and a number of journalists and media organizations, as well as the Left Party, have received warnings from Prinz von Preussen’s lawyers, or become the subjects of injunctions.
“It’s not a clever strategy,” Wöhlert said. “The prince is very badly advised. He has an excellent media lawyer who is winning almost every battle in the first round. But in the end, he is losing the war.”
In the interview, Prinz von Preussen conceded some mistakes. “After things became very stormy, we began trying to counter the incorrect reports,” he said. “Now the original accusations have faded, but there are new accusations that I am trying to limit freedom of thought or academic freedom. I am reflecting on these in a self-critical way.”
Prinz von Preussen has already changed tack once in the dispute. In 2019, when his claims became public, his proposal that he should have the right to reside in Cecilienhof, a former royal palace in Potsdam, provoked outrage and ridicule. Though he quickly retracted it, “with hindsight, it was regrettable,” he said.
More recently, a Jan. 29 letter that an adviser of Prinz von Preussen wrote to lawmakers in Brandenburg has been interpreted by some as a threat.
The letter refers to items that the Hohenzollern family owns without dispute that are on loan to Berlin and Brandenburg museums, including a ceremonial sword, cases for crown jewels, and portraits of Prussian officers. Those objects, the letter said, are in demand elsewhere in the country and “could just as well be exhibited in an appropriate context” outside Berlin and Brandenburg.
Manja Schüle, Brandenburg’s culture minister, said she was “very irritated” by the letter. “Some of the media coverage even referred to it as extortion,” she added.
Prinz von Preussen said the letter was “wrongly interpreted” and he plans to keep the loans in place “as long as the interest is there” from the museums.
Wöhlert said it was the Prinz von Preussen’s right to withdraw the loans, but added that it “would be political suicide. I would send in a camera crew to film the objects being removed, and I don’t think it would go down well.”
As well as public opinion, scholarly discourse also appears to be moving against Prinz von Preussen’s claim. In January last year, his request was scrutinized during a public hearing in Germany’s Parliament, in which historians were invited to give their verdict on whether his great-grandfather, the crown prince, had contributed to Hitler’s ascent. At that time, they were divided on whether the crown prince’s support for the Nazis could be deemed “substantial.” But now a consensus among scholars is emerging that it had been, both Wöhlert and Schüle said.
Christopher Clark, a professor of history at Cambridge University, argued in a 2011 report that the crown prince was too marginal to have “substantial” impact. He has since revised his view in the light of new research by the scholar Stephan Malinowski: In a letter in The New York Review of Books last year, Clark wrote that Malinowski had shown “beyond doubt that the crown prince, though never a collaborator of the first rank, was a more proactive supporter of the Nazis than we thought.”
Although it would serve Prinz von Preussen’s claims to downplay his great-grandfather’s role in Hitler’s rise, he said his family has never tried “to sweep the Third Reich under the carpet.”
“Many people are concerned that if an agreement is reached with the state actors, then the crown prince has been exonerated,” Prinz von Preussen said. “But I think this is wrong — this discussion has to continue. These restitution discussions have to be conducted separately from the public historical debate about the role of my family in the Third Reich.”
While that debate continues, Prinz von Preussen remains in the public eye — a position he seems not to enjoy.
“When it gets personal, it’s unpleasant,” he said. “When posters with my portrait are hung up around Potsdam, and my children start asking why papa is on the poster, this does cross a line. Anything else, I can tolerate.”
Helping Hitler: An Exchange
Christopher Clark and Racheli Edelman, reply by David Motadel
April 9, 2020 issue
In response to:
What Do the Hohenzollerns Deserve? from the March 26, 2020 issue
To the Editors:
On the substantive issues relating to the current Hohenzollern restitution debate, my former Cambridge colleague David Motadel and I are largely in agreement. Neither of us wants to see castles and parklands disappear from public ownership into the hands of the former reigning family. But I must object to his glib misrepresentations of my role in this dispute [“What Do the Hohenzollerns Deserve?,” NYR, March 26]. The report I wrote on the political comportment of “Crown Prince” Wilhelm early in 2011 did not provide “clear endorsement of the Hohenzollern claims” on which this controversy centers, and neither could it have done, because these claims did not exist when the report was written. I have never supported these claims and I do not do so now.
My report of 2011 described “Crown Prince” Wilhelm as a man of violent ultra-rightist temperament who repeatedly called for a “final reckoning” with the German left, sympathized with Hitler, offered to help him into power, wrote publicly in his support, claimed to have won him two million extra votes with just one newspaper article, and, after the seizure of power, appeared at ceremonies designed to project the identity of the new regime. However, I concluded that the “crown prince,” though willing to help the Nazis and convinced that he had, was in fact too marginal to the centers of real political power to make a “substantial contribution” to the installment of Hitler as chancellor. His appalling personal reputation, his silliness and low intelligence, his lack of any formal office from which to exert political traction, and his isolation, even from the monarchist networks that might have been expected to support him, meant that he was in a poor position to contribute significantly to the disaster that befell Germany in 1933. He was among those many senior conservatives who lent a helping hand, but he was not within the first or even the second or third circle of Hitler’s many conservative helpers.
This finding did not fly, as Motadel claims, in the face of a historiographical consensus that had been established “for decades.” On the contrary, it corresponded precisely with the consensus expressed in the most recent literature on the seizure of power, in which the deposed prince appeared, notwithstanding his Nazi sympathies, as a marginal figure, a “parade-pony” who lacked his “own ideas, will, or leadership qualities” (in the words of Lothar Machtan). Even Stephan Malinowski, the leading expert on this question worldwide, initially agreed with my assessment. His remarkable study on the German aristocracy and the Nazis, Vom König zum Führer (2003), thronged with aristocratic collaborators but left the Hohenzollern prince on the margins. Since then, the picture has changed. Through painstaking research over the last few years, Malinowski has unearthed a plethora of new sources showing beyond doubt that the crown prince, though never a collaborator of the first rank, was a more proactive supporter of the Nazis than we thought.
Motadel describes me as a “hero to the German conservative right” who throughout his career has catered to the darkest instincts of German nationalists. No historian can control how arguments are politically construed by readers, of course, but the claim that my German ones are all conservative nationalists is laughable, and I have publicly disassociated myself from the machinations of the Hohenzollern lawyers. What Motadel’s account misses, oddly enough, is the history of the case, which has evolved since 2011 in unpredictable ways.
Regius Professor of History
University of Cambridge
To the Editors:
My late grandfather Salman Schocken was the owner of a department store chain in Germany known as Kaufhaus Schocken, which was confiscated by the Nazis in 1938. Four German banks—the most important ones in Germany—appointed directors to the board to replace the Jewish owner-directors. They confiscated the company’s shares and then sold them to the public. The majority of these shares were bought by the Hohenzollern family, one can assume at a most convenient price.
The Schocken department store chain was the fourth-largest in Germany at the time. Everyone knew that it belonged to a Jewish family, just like the other main department store chains (the Hermann Tietz chain, later called Hertie, the Leonhard Tietz chain, later called Kaufhof, and Wertheim). After the war there were talks between the representative of the Hohenzollern family, Graf Hardenberg, and my grandfather’s lawyers about the return of these shares. Finally in 1949 my grandfather succeeded in getting back only 51 percent of his old company, which after the war was in very bad shape compared to when the Nazis came to power.
Therefore even according to this example of their behavior, the Hohenzollern family’s attempt to clear its name from the Nazi crimes has no foundation.
Schocken Publishing House
Tel Aviv, Israel
David Motadel replies:
Christopher Clark writes that he does not support the restitution and compensation claims of the Hohenzollern family. I am sure that many in Germany will welcome this statement. There are, however, a few points in his letter that require a response.
First, Clark says that the report that he wrote for the House of Hohenzollern in 2011 on the family’s relations with the Nazis did not endorse their claims for restitution and compensation because those claims did not exist at that time. In fact, the first negotiations about the claims had already taken place in the 1990s. According to the Hohenzollern family’s official website, in 2014 the claims, “after more than twenty years of assessment,” were briefly considered valid by the state, “also with reference to Professor Christopher Clark’s report,” before they were challenged again.
The Hohenzollern family insists that “Crown Prince” Wilhelm did not lend any significant support to the Nazi movement. In his report, Clark clearly endorses this argument when he concludes that Wilhelm was politically not important enough to have done so. For many years now his report has been used by the Hohenzollern family in their negotiations with the state. It has been discussed (and criticized) as an argument in favor of their case in the German press and parliament.
Second, Clark says that at the time he wrote his report, the historical consensus was that the crown prince’s support for the Nazis was unimportant. But Malinowski’s Vom König zum Führer mentions the “early, clear and intensive support for National Socialism” of two members of the Hohenzollern family, and concludes that support for Hitler lent by a third, “Crown Prince” Wilhelm, was “of historical importance.” Moreover, the fundamental facts regarding the “crown prince,” some of which I laid out at the beginning of my article, have been known for decades. Among the early biographical works are Paul Herre’s Kronprinz Wilhelm: Seine Rolle in der deutschen Politik (1954) and Klaus Jonas’s Der Kronprinz Wilhelm (1962). One might also mention the doctoral dissertation by Friedrich Wilhelm Prinz von Preußen (an uncle of Georg Friedrich, the current head of the family), supervised by Gerhard A. Ritter and Thomas Nipperdey, on the history of the Hohenzollern family between 1918 and 1945 (1983; published in 1985 as Das Haus Hohenzollern 1918–1945). Although biased toward the family in their conclusions, these earlier works nevertheless laid down most of the essential facts.
Finally, Clark rightly says that it would be “laughable” to claim that all his German admirers are conservative nationalists. But I never made any such claim. His books have justly been huge best sellers appreciated by a wide readership in Germany that goes far beyond conservative circles. Yet it was important to point out that they have also made him a hero to the conservative right, even if involuntarily, in order to explain why the Hohenzollern family trusted him to write the report.
I was touched by Racheli Edelman’s letter. A recent report in Der Spiegel described a similar case in which the Hohenzollern family profited from the Nazi persecution of the Jews: the exiled emperor Wilhelm II, through his connections in the corporate world, enriched himself by buying up shares of companies owned by the Jewish textile magnate Walter Wolf, who was pressured into selling under market value.* Cornelia Rauh at the University of Hannover and Andreas Dornheim at the University of Bamberg are working on this subject. I hope that we will soon have a full account of this part of the Hohenzollerns’ history.
Georg Friedrich Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia (born 10 June 1976 in Bremen, West Germany) is a German businessman who is the current head of the Prussian branch of the princely House of Hohenzollern, the former ruling dynasty of the German Empire and of the Kingdom of Prussia.
He is the great-great-grandson and historic heir of Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, who abdicated and went into exile upon Germany's defeat in World War I in 1918.
Education and career
Georg Friedrich is the only son of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1944–1977) and Countess Donata of Castell-Rüdenhausen (1950–2015). Born into a mediatised princely family, his mother later became Duchess Donata of Oldenburg when she married secondly Duke Friedrich August of Oldenburg, who had previously been married to her sister-in-law Princess Marie Cécile of Prussia. His only sister is Cornelie-Cécile (b. 1978).
He attended grammar schools in Bremen and Oldenburg and completed his education at Glenalmond College near Perth, Scotland, where he passed his A-levels. He then served for a two-year commission in the Alpine troops of the Bundeswehr and was discharged after his term of service. Georg Friedrich earned his degree in business economics at the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology.
Georg Friedrich works for a company specialising in helping universities to bring their innovations to market. He also administered the Princess Kira of Prussia Foundation, founded by his grandmother Grand Duchess Kira of Russia in 1952, now administered by his wife. In 2018 he moved from a house near Bremen, where he had also spent his childhood, to Babelsberg, a district of Potsdam, the capital city of the German state of Brandenburg.
He owns a two-thirds share of his family's original seat, Hohenzollern Castle, while the other share is held by the head of the Swabian branch, Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern. He also owns the Princes' Island in the Great Lake of Plön. In 2017 he founded a beer trademark called Kgl. Preußische Biermanufactur (Royal Prussian Beer Manufactory) producing a Pilsner brand called Preussens.
Prince Georg Friedrich continues to claim compensation for land and palaces in Berlin expropriated from his family, a claim begun in March 1991 by his grandfather Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia under the Compensation Act (EALG).
House of Hohenzollern
Georg Friedrich succeeded his grandfather, Louis Ferdinand, as Head of the Royal House of Prussia, a branch of the House of Hohenzollern, on 26 September 1994. He stated that he learned to appreciate the history and responsibility of his heritage during time spent with his paternal grandfather, who often recounted to him anecdotes from the life in exile of his own grandfather, the last German Kaiser, Wilhelm II.
His position as sole heir to the estate of his grandfather was challenged by his uncles, Friedrich Wilhelm and Michael, who filed a lawsuit claiming that, despite their renunciations as dynasts at the time of their marriages, the loss of their inheritance rights based on their selection of spouse was discriminatory and unconstitutional. His uncles were initially successful, the Regional Court of Hechingen and the higher Regional Court of Stuttgart ruling in their favour in 1997 on the grounds that the requirement to marry equally was "immoral". However, the Federal Court of Justice of Germany overturned the original rulings in favour of Georg Friedrich's uncles, the case being remanded to the courts at Hechingen and Stuttgart. This time both courts ruled in favour of Georg Friedrich. His uncles then took their case to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany which overruled the previous court rulings in Georg Friedrich's favour. On 19 October 2005, a German regional court ruled that Georg Friedrich was indeed the principal heir of his grandfather, Louis Ferdinand (who was the primary beneficiary of the trust set up for the estate of Wilhelm II), but also concluded that each of the children of Louis Ferdinand was entitled to a portion of the Prussian inheritance.
On 21 January 2011, Georg Friedrich announced his engagement to Princess Sophie of Isenburg (born 7 March 1978). The civil wedding took place in Potsdam on 25 August 2011, and the ecumenical religious wedding took place at the Church of Peace in Potsdam on 27 August 2011, in commemoration of the 950th anniversary of the founding of the House of Hohenzollern. The religious wedding was also broadcast live by local public television. The dinner, which many members of German and European royal families attended, was held in the Orangery Palace at Sanssouci Park.
As a Protestant descendant of Queen Victoria, Georg Friedrich was in the line of succession to the British throne from his birth until his marriage in 2011. As he married a Roman Catholic, according to the Act of Settlement 1701, he was thus debarred from the British line of succession until the implementation in 2015 of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which restored any succession rights to British dynasts who had earlier forfeited them to marry Roman Catholics. Georg Friedrich is currently 170th in line to the British throne.
On 20 January 2013, Georg Friedrich's wife, Sophie, gave birth to twin sons in Bremen, Carl Friedrich Franz Alexander and Louis Ferdinand Christian Albrecht. Carl Friedrich, the elder of the two, is his father's heir apparent.Their third child, Emma Marie Charlotte Sofia, was born on 2 April 2015. On 17 November 2016, Sophie gave birth to Heinrich Albert Johann Georg, their fourth child.
In mid-2019 it was revealed that Georg Friedrich had filed claims for permanent right of residency for his family in Cecilienhof, or one of two other former Hohenzollern palaces in Potsdam, as well as return of the family library, 266 paintings, an imperial crown and sceptre, and the letters of Empress Augusta Victoria. This sparked a public debate about the legitimacy of these claims and the role of the Hohenzollern during and before the Nazi regime in Germany, specifically Crown Prince Wilhelm's involvement.
In June 2019, a claim made by Georg Friedrich that Rheinfels Castle be returned to the Hohenzollern family was dismissed by a court. In 1924, the ruined castle had been given to the town of St Goar, under the proviso it was not sold. In 1998 the town leased the ruins to a nearby hotel. His case made the claim that this constituted a breach of the bequest.