I was in Sofia when I saw a flash of chartreuse through a gate. Attracted to its roof I drew this before I went inside. And in there, I found the tomb of the original Handsome Prince, beloved Prince Alexander Battenberg, 1857-1893, First Prince of the new country of Bulgaria.
A LIKEABLE GUY Respected for his diplomatic and military skills, Prince Alexander ruled for only five years before being deposed at gunpoint, forced to resign because of dealings with Russia. But he lives on to generations of little girls, as the model for the classic Disney Prince.
DOOMED ROMANCE The Prince fell in love with Viktoria, granddaughter of Queen Victoria and an actual relation, but the other side of the family blocked the marriage. The disappointed princess, doomed to a short marriage and one miscarriage with another prince, eventually married a gigolo and died destitute and alone. Just look at her expression: she knows he’s a rotter, but she’s determined to wrest some semblance of happiness from life.
SHORT BUT SWEET Prince Battenberg fared better but not for long. After his forced abdication he married Johanna Loisinger, an opera singer everybody liked, and retired to private life. They had two children before he died. As the Countess Hartenau, patroness of the arts in Vienna, she outlived him by fifty years, dying in 1951.
GUESS WHO The Battenbergs were a large and influential family. Because of anti-German sentiment, the British branch of the family changed their name to Mountbatten. Yes, Lord Mountbatten who helped India get ready for independence and who was blown up on his yacht by IRA terrorists. Lord Mountbatten carried on the family popularity: his murder brought down the wrath of the entire world on the Irish Republican Army.
As to Prince Alexander, his only failing seems to have been a lack of ruthlessness. “Goodnight, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest–” or at least the memory of two great loves.
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