Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark
7 January 1939|
|Spouse||Marina Karella (m. 1965)|
Princess Alexandra of Greece|
Princess Olga, Duchess of Apulia
|Father||Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark|
|Mother||Princess Françoise of Orléans|
|Greek Royal Family|
Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark, RE (born 7 January 1939) is the author of several historical books and biographies of Greek and other European figures, in addition to working as a contributing writer to Architectural Digest. He is a grandson of King George I of the Hellenes, a descendant of King Louis Philippe d'Orléans and a first cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Birth and family
He was born in Rome to Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark, the youngest son of George I of Greece, and his second wife Princess Françoise of Orléans, a daughter of the Orleanist claimant to the defunct French throne, Jean, Duke of Guise. His paternal great-grandfather was Christian IX of Denmark.
His father died when he was a year old, leaving Michael an only child, and his mother died in 1953 when he was 14, leaving him an orphan. Although a Greek prince, like many members of his dynasty he grew up largely abroad, sometimes in exile. As Europe marched into World War II, the infant Michael's family scattered: his mother's father, the Duke of Guise, left his residence of exile in Brussels, the Manoir d'Anjou, for their property at Larache, Morocco in March 1939 where he died on 24 August, the Manoir having become the Belgian headquarters for Germany's invading Wehrmacht. Less than six months after her father's death, Françoise was widowed by the death of Prince Christopher, following an abscess of the lung, in Athens in January. She took Michael to join her mother's household in Larache where her elder sister, Princess Isabelle Murat and her family, had also taken refuge from Europe. Their brother, Henri, Count of Paris, who succeeded his own father as head of the Orleanist monarchist movement, sent for his wife and children to come from their relatives in Brazil, and by the spring of 1941 they too were settled in Spanish Morocco (still being banned from the French sector), near Casablanca, in a small house without electricity that was named Oued Akreech in the town of Rabat. Michael lived his early childhood years on the African continent in the midst of his mother's family. Later, they also spent time in Spain.
By the time Michael's mother died in Paris in early 1953, France had repealed the law of banishment against its former ruling families (24 June 1950) and the Comte de Paris had taken up residence in the capital. When, in August 1953, Monseigneur moved the Comtesse and their children to a new estate, the Manoir du Cœur Volant in Louveciennes, Michael joined the couple and their four eldest children in the main buildinhg, while the seven younger children and their governesses occupied an annex given the name la maison de Blanche Neige ("Snow White's cottage"). Henceforth, Michael was given into the care of his uncle and raised with his Orléans cousins.
Michael later acknowledged that his uncle had been a poor manager of his ward's assets, but maintained that there was no malfeasance or attempt to conceal losses. He would also comment that, allegations to the contrary notwithstanding, his uncle's notorious relationship with his assistant Monique Friesz in his later years, during which substantial assets were presumed to have been consumed or diverted, did not reflect manipulation on her part so much as the desire of the Comte de Paris for companionship when he chose to isolate himself from the society, culture and luxury to which he had previously been accustomed.
He inherited from his mother a half-interest in the domain of the Nouvion-en-Thiérache, once the seat of the Dukes of Guise, from whom the Bourbon-Orléans inherited the vast property, which included a grand château and a petit château, in Aisne. The Comte de Paris owned the other half of the Nouvion. He and Michael sold the grand château in 1980 to the city of Roubaix, which subsequently became a conference center for environmental studies, while the petit château was sold in 1986 to the local government of Nouvion.
List of works
Having watched his mother observe a family tradition by igniting what he called a kind of auto-da-fé in which she burned his late father's papers and memorabilia following the sale of his villa in Rome after the war, Prince Michael grew up to become a biographer and historian. He has written several biographies about members of ruling dynasties, those about contemporaries often including accounts and anecdotes attributed to his royal relatives. He has also written novels about historical royalty, distinguished for meticulous detail.
- Sultana (1983, reprinted several times)
- Louis XIV, the other side of the sun (1984)
- Rani, La femme sacrée, a novelised but well documented biography of the Rani of Jhansi (French: 1984 ; English: 2013) ISBN 978-2266023610
- The royal house of Greece (1988), illustrated album
- Living with ghosts (1995)
- The Empress of Farewells: the story of Charlotte, Empress of Mexico (1998)
- The White Night of St. Petersburg (2000), historical novel
- Jewels of the Tsars (2006), illustrated album
- Le Rajah Bourbon (2007)
- Voices of light (2012), illustrated by Marina Karella
Michael married Marina Karella (b. 17 July 1940) on 7 February in Athens, daughter of Theodore Karella and Ellie Chalikiopoulos. A Greek artist and sculptor of international reputation whose work has often been exhibited in Athens, Paris and New York, the marriage was held at the Royal Palace in Athens. This was a non-dynastic marriage, which obtained the legally required authorisation of King Constantine II only after Michael renounced all rights of succession to the Greek throne for himself and his descendants.
The couple has two daughters:
- Princess Alexandra of Greece (born 15 October 1968), married to Nicolas Mirzayantz on 27 June 1998. They have two sons: Tigran (16 August 2000) and Darius (April 2002).
- Princess Olga of Greece (born 17 November 1971), married in 2008 to her second cousin HRH Prince Aimone of Savoy, Duke of Apulia, a member of the former royal family of Italy. Aimone and Olga are the parents of two sons, Prince Umberto (b. 7 March 2009), Prince Amedeo (b. 2011), and of a daughter, Princess Isabella (b. 2012).
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark
|Reference style||His Royal Highness|
|Spoken style||Your Royal Highness|
Titles and styles
- Denmark : Knight of the Order of the Elephant (11 September 1964).
- Empire of Iran : Commemorative Medal of the 2500th Anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire (14 October 1971).
- Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh. "Burke’s Royal Families of the World: Volume I Europe & Latin America, 1977, pp. 94, 326-327. ISBN 0-85011-023-8
- de Badts de Cugnac, Chantal. Coutant de Saisseval, Guy . Le Petit Gotha. Nouvelle Imprimerie Laballery. Paris. 2002. pp. 458-460, 522-525, 532-533 (French) ISBN 2-9507974-3-1
- de Montjouvent, Philippe. Le Comte de Paris et sa Descendance. Editions du Chaney, 1998, Charenton, France. pp. 23, 77-78, 92, 96, 136, 173. (French). ISBN 2-913211-00-3.
- Beéche, Arturo. The Gotha, Volume 1. Kensington House Books, California, 2009, pages 81, 235, 237. ISBN 978-0-97-719617-3.
- Jørgen Pedersen: Riddere af Elefantordenen 1559–2009, Odense: Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2009. ISBN 8776744345