The Coburg Conspiracy – published February 2008 – tells the story of the remarkable rise – and rise – of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family, forbears of England’s own royal family.
How did an impecunious, uninfluential small German principality with a population of just 57,000 in 1820 rise to become the dominant ruling family over the greater part of Europe by 1900? Was it accident or design? As Lord Mountbatten said to the author at a dinner in 1975 – ‘You have to remember that during my childhood at the turn of the century, European affairs were family business.’
Drawing on letters, mainly in the archives of Coburg and Gotha, memoranda and other documents – many translated exclusively for this book and impeccably referenced throughout – the author delves into hitherto unexposed incidents, with often startling conclusions.
In doing so he reveals a cast of characters more fitting to a modern Soap, from Coburg’s Duchess Luise, mother of Prince Albert – the Princess Diana of her age – exiled for life and forbidden to see her children again; to cold unfaithful husbands, scheming stepmothers and even a James Hewitt of the time – to name but a few.
With forensic detachment, the author weighs the evidence for history’s unanswered questions, including:
– why Duchess Luise agreed to such punitive exile conditions – was there a smoking gun?
– how years of plotting went into Victoria’s marriage with Albert, and
– whether Albert was in fact illegitimate and who the credible contenders for his father were. A strong case is made out for a Jewish father – a member of the household in Schloss Ehrenburg, Coburg, in 1818, whose descendants live in London today.
Both history and detective story, The Coburg Conspiracy offers an erudite and fascinating insight into a legacy of deceit and dysfunction that some might argue continues to this day.