My book, Eczema and Atopic Dermatits: The Best Websites has recently been published. I've also had many articles published, but I'd like to write more non-fiction books and, of course, a novel!
My articles can be seen at many websites, including Life in Italy, Crescent Blues, Paris Eiffel Tower Newsletter, and France This Way.
I watched one of my favourite films again during Easter - The Song of Bernadette. In this movie, there is a scene in which several people are arrested because they took water from the miraculous spring at Lourdes where Saint Bernadette (played beautifully by Jennifer Jones) had her visions of Mary. These people are asked to pay fines. One well-dressed lady offers to pay everyone's fines. There is great shock when this lady states imperiously that she is the nanny to the Empress Eugenie's son who is gravely ill, and the Empress has requested a bottle of water for him.
Was this true? According to the Catholic News Agency, Empress Eugenie 's son was cured, so she did support Saint Bernadette. However, the movie dramatized the situation. I haven't read an account of the nanny asking for the water from the spring in these circumstances!
Mary told Saint Bernadette that she was the Immaculate Conception, and asked her to have a chapel built on the site of the holy spring. The authorities tried to close the site and delay construction , but the Empress had seen for herself the power of the holy water, and supported the young saint. She intervened to make sure that the chapel was built.
I was lucky enough to see the Queen's Wattle Spray brooch during my recent trip to Sydney. Our Queen's spectacular wattle brooch is on display for three months at the Powerhouse Museum. This brooch which features a design of yellow wattle and tea tree blossoms with 150 yellow and white diamonds was made by the Melbourne jewellers William Drummond & Co was presented to Her Majesty in 1954. People flocked to the window of the jewellers to see it in early February. She wore it on many occasions in 1954, including the Davis Cup.
It is not surprising that this lovely piece of jewellery is one of the Queen's favourite brooches, and she often wears it. I was a little surprised that the brooch, part of the exhibition 'A Fine Possession: Jewellery and Identity,' is right at the back of the collection, and not really prominent. I thought that it should have been the centrepiece. However, it is displayed with a video clip of the young Queen wearing it with dark blue, and it certainly looked beautiful!
Beautiful Sophia Dorothea of Celle, only 17, kicked up a huge fuss when she learned that she had to marry her cousin, fat George of Hanover. She complained that she didn't want to marry 'Pig Snout', and she was right, because the marriage was unhappy.
Born in 1666, Sophia was the only child of the Duke of Brunswick and his strong-minded mistress. The Duke eventually married his mistress, probably because Duchess Sophie of Hanover wanted his lovely daughter for her son, and she disliked the idea of George marrying someone whose parents were not married. Sophia had the choice of several other suitors, but the nasty duchess saw to it that she didn't marry any of them.
Sophia and George had two children, Georg August and Sophia Dorothea, but this wasn't enough to keep George happy. He chose a mistress, Melusine, who was quiet, shy and not beautiful. George's mother couldn't understand why George was attracted to this 'scarecrow'. However, she was a sensible woman, and he probably found young Sophia rather volatile and difficult to deal with. He mistreated her and constantly scolded her, so it isn't surprising that she started finding other men attractive.
Handsome and charming, Count Philipp von Konigsmark courted Sophia for two years, and the couple eventually started an affair. They wrote letters to each other and tried to keep the romance secret, but they were playing with fire, and the young couple was warned to end the affair by the Duchess and other members of the family. George's brother Ernst August was especially upset, because he thought that the affair might ruin George's chances of becoming King of England. Legend has it that he ordered Konigsmark to be murdered.
George placed Sophia Dorothea under house arrest, and she agreed to a divorce, because she hoped that she would be able to begin a new life with the urbane count. However, she was sent to Ahlden Castle, a bleak and cold castle, where she began a long imprisonment. Her children were kept from her, but she was allowed to see her mother. Here, she was guarded by 40 infantry and cavalry and a marshall. Her imprisonment lasted 33 years.
George became King George 1 in 1714, but he never had a good relationship with his son, who blamed him for the mistreatment of his poor mother.
An Australian author, Helen du Guerry Simpson, wrote A Sarabande for Dead Lovers based on this sad tale. The novel was made into a film with the wonderful Stewart Granger perfectly cast as Konigsmark.