Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal wedding hullabaloo — 100 years ago

True love: Princess Victoria Louise married Prince Ernst August in May 1913. Photo thanks to

HAVEN'T GOTTEN YOUR FIX OF THE ROYAL WEDDING HOOPLA? Then check out these five early 1900s aristocratic nuptial festivities.

• Feb. 1901: Prior to the Spanish royal marriage of Prince Charles of Bourbon to the Princess of the Asturias, 5,000 people attended a royal ball. Reported The New York Times: “The magnificent structure, which was ablaze with electric lights, could scarcely accommodate the invited guests, whose carriages were wending their way thither as early as 9 o’clock.” Thither. Don’t you love it?

• Also Feb. 1901: Hollanders enthusiastically celebrated the marriage of their 18-year-old Queen Wilhelmina to Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The New York Times scoffed that the marriage was simply “an alliance” and that the German “princeling” had “nothing to lay at the feet of his mistress but his pedigree and his debts.” No matter: Queen Wilhelmina proved to be a capable, forceful and savvy ruler, with and without Henry — he passed away in 1934.

• June 1905: Following their age-old custom of escorting royalty, Berlin butchers accompanied the Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin to the Berlin castle for her wedding to Crown Prince William. Upon arrival at the Pariser Platz — outfitted with pillars decorated by images of flower-throwing bears (!) — she was met by both children and maids of honor, all wearing rose wreaths on their heads.

• May 1906: When King Alfonso XIII of Spain married Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain, the streets were carpeted with 1,200 tons of flowers and the bride rode to church in a tortoiseshell coach drawn by eight white horses. Let's see 2011's celebration top that.

• May 1913: Festivities began more than a week before Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia, the Kaiser’s favorite child and only daughter, married Prince Ernst August of Hanover in a “love match.” The Berlin nuptials featured a gala opera event, a 1,000-guest wedding banquet, an ancient Torch dance and a 36-gun salute.

Two AttaGirl notes:
A couple of these royal marriages are addressed at length at Visit to read more.

Congratulations to Heather, who will receive a copy of the real-life 1927 diary, Through No Fault of My Own. The winner? Chosen by my 13-year-old daughter.  Heather, just drop me a note at

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coco's diary: Don't read this "under pain of death"

Through No Fault of My Own is the bona fide diary of Coco Irvine, age 13, back in 1927.
A GIRL'S DIARY IS SACRED, often guarded by lock and key, always hidden in a secret location. That is, until it's found in a library.

Peg Meier, a retired newspaper reporter and author, discovered Coco Irvine's 1927 diary at the Minnesota Historical Society Library when researching another of her books, Wishing for a Snow Day: Growing Up in Minnesota, published late last year.

Meier says she had to stifle her guffaws in the library so funny were many of Coco's entries — although she didn't always mean them to be humorous. In one passage, the 13-year-old explains how when bouncing a basketball at school, she "inadvertently hit the fire alarm" and caused "a rumpus." She adds that "most everyone I know is the worst kind of sissy and they don't have the least idea of how exciting it is to hope very much with one side of you that the ball will hit the fire alarm and the other side is scared to death it will!" This adventure is tame by comparison to several of her other exploits, which would get any teenager in trouble still today.

No wonder her 80-plus-year-old diary finds wide publication this month as Through No Fault of My Own, the title selected in honor of her many entries that begin with those words.

Meier says she knew immediately that Coco's diary had to be published. "I'm so grateful that the University of Minnesota Press agreed," she says. Meier not only supplied the introduction, offering the Jazz Age context as the diary's backdrop, but researched Coco's family, history and estate. And what she found made the diary extra riveting: Coco was the daughter of a lumber baron and grew up in the mansion now home to the Minnesota governor.

Like to read more? Order the book directly from the publisher ( or through a major online seller. Better yet, leave a comment here: One lucky AttaGirl reader will win a signed copy.

Minnesota readers: Attend the book launch event on Saturday, April 16, 2 p.m., at Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church in St. Paul (sponsored by Common Good Books). Peg Meier will also read from the book at Magers & Quinn, Minneapolis, on Monday, April 18, 7:30 p.m.