Saturday, June 28, 2014

How good are your WW1 connections?

On the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, there's inevitably a lot of reflection on the 'great' war of 1914 -1918. Virtually every British publication has been preparing its own tribute or analysis. The Richmond Magazine is no exception.

The glossy freebie, already familiar to readers of Washed and Ready to Eat, normally survives on a staple diet of articles from local divorce lawyers and ads for preparatory schools. In the latest edition, however, they have gone to town in commemoration of centenary of the European conflict. 

Who better to ponder the implications of WWI than the great-granddaughter of the Archduke whose death kicked the whole shooting match off? 

It goes without saying that Her Serene Highness Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg is herself a recipient of The Richmond Magazine, living as she does in the upmarket south-west London district of St Margarets. We are introduced to her husband, the 'interfaith campaigner' Anthony Bailey OBE (apparently described by The Observer in 2007 as 'one of the most influential men you've never heard of'), and their son, Maximilian. 

In typical style, the prose of the interview is just a little overblown. 

"From the soil of calamity darker flowers sprang," writes magazine Editor Richard Nye, when he refers to the seeds of Hitlerism sown in the Treaty of Versailles and ultimately traced back to that 'tumultuous Balkan morn' of the assassination. 

There's much talk of the couple's religious beliefs - 'faith is not a fortress to keep the infidel out; it is a bridge to believers on other shores' - as well as their welcome support for the beleaguered EU. 

"Vienna may have lost its throne," comments Nye, "but deep within its melancholy ashes the European dream lives on."

Indeed it does. So much so, in fact, that Mr Bailey is pictured wearing what looks like traditional Austrian garb, despite the fact that he was born in London. He's really entered into the spirit of the thing. And the Princess? According to the editor, she brings the 'aroma of a vanished court'. 

The gauntlet has been thrown down. If your local rag tries to fob you off with the tale of some anonymous Private Baldrick, point them in the direction of Richmond.

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