Marengo is a history student from Amsterdam with a special interest in Portuguese, Napoleonic and Dutch royals.
After an unhappy childhood in the court of her father King Leopold II, Princess Louise Marie of Belgium gained some freedom in her marriage to Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. However, the couple drifted apart, and Louise finally found happiness with Count Geza Mattachich. Her life with Mattachich involved scandal, debt, imprisonment, and exile, but she stayed with him until his death and outlived him by only a few months.
"Beggars are no choosers." Dutch Queen Wilhelmina and her husband Hendrik had only one child: Princess Juliana. Because of a change in the constitution of 1922 it was impossible for anybody other than a descendant of Wilhelmina to inherit the Dutch throne. On Juliana alone rested the future of the Dutch monarchy. This all meant that her consort was chosen even more carefully than normally would be the case. In the end, Dutch diplomats looked for seven years but did not find anybody, until a certain Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld introduced himself to the Princess.
The crisis known as the "Belgian Royal Question" shook the foundations of the Belgian monarchy after World War II and would split the country in two. Some even feared that a civil war would result. The core of the crisis was the conduct of Leopold III during World War II: was he a collaborator or not? And then there was his secret marriage to Lilian Baels, which did not sit well with the image of a grieving widower locked up in his castle and sharing the same fate as his troops. Walloons, Flemish, Catholics, Liberals, Socialists, and even Belgium's French and British allies all had different opinions about Leopold's conduct.
When on April 10 1783 Hortense Eugénie Cécile de Beauharnais was born, nothing indicated the tumultuous future that lay ahead. This girl would become stepdaughter of the Emperor of France, Queen of Holland, and mother of Emperor Napoleon III. Her name would be slandered, and she would end up exiled from France. She spent her final years living in relative obscurity, far from the seats of power, where she could indulge her artistic talents. Who was this unknown first Queen of Holland?