Sunday, June 25, 2023


It's amazing to think that these photos somehow survived all 
the upheavals that Estonia went through in the 20th Century.



  1. In 1945, Anthony Blunt, Surveyor of the King's Pictures - and Comintern spy who so spectacularly betrayed his country as one of the Cambridge Five - was asked by King George VI to go to Friedrichshof Castle near Frankfurt, in the American Zone of occupied Germany, to retrieve nearly 4,000 letters written by Queen Victoria to her daughter, Empress Victoria, the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm. Friedrichshof served as a billet for American troops, who refused his request. The oleaginous Blunt kept the top brass entertained while his men were dispatched to the top of the castle, on the grounds that aristocratic families always kept their paperwork - along with one or two mad, discarded wives - in the attic. The ruse worked and they just simply walked out with the correspondence. (This is often regarded as a cover story for the King retrieving correspondence from his brother, King Edward VIII - later the Duke of Windsor - who had knowingly divulged Allied secrets to Philipp, Landgrave of Hesse, the owner of Friedrichshof.) The moral of the story is that it is indeed quite remarkable how family and military history can be preserved in authoritarian societies, hidden in crooks and crannies and in attics. Goodness knows how much came to light in the former Soviet Union, preserved by families - and a photographic record that revealed that Imperial Russia was not peopled by downtrodden, starving serfs alone as Communist propaganda would have it.

    1. The Duke of Windsor was a mess, and so was his very worn wife.

    2. There is one of an interminable number of photographic portraits of them both where the ageing Duke of Windsor really does resemble his Hanoverian ancestors. They have watery eyes and clearly cannot focus. I have always called this study "The House of Hangover".