Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Fifty-Five
11th February 1975
It being a late winter afternoon in Canada meant that there was little to do outdoors as was evidenced by the snow that was seen falling outside whenever Marie Alexandra looked out the windows. That didn’t mean that there were not other opportunities for recreation. When Henriette had been told by her mother that she was going out with Marie while she stayed home with Alice. She was to go do something that a young woman would find enjoyable, that was nonnegotiable.
As it had turned out, Henriette had a few ideas about what they could be doing as they had ventured into the City and in a somewhat ironic twist, Marie found herself swimming in the heated indoor pool in a Women’s Athletic Club which had let them in without raising too much fuss about membership. Henriette had told her that they knew perfectly well who Marie was and that they were hoping for her patronage, which struck her as a bit absurd. Though laying on a lounge chair basking in the warmth when it was freezing cold outside might make it worthwhile. Then the subject of the wedding invitation which Marie had in her bookbag came up.
“I got that invitation plus airline tickets” Marie said, “When I told the Professors of the classes I am going to miss that week I got the impression that many of them would go with me if they were given the chance.”
“I would too” Henriette said looking at the elaborate invitation that had arrived at the Blackwood house the week prior. “This just sounds amazing.”
“Events like this are not nearly as entertaining as you might imagine” Marie replied, “Because this is the wedding with two of Opa’s grandchildren getting married, one to the daughter of the Marshal of Bohemia the entire thing is steeped in politics and posturing. Ina’s marriage to Christian Weise is considered more of a love match, though Manny and Suse have been a couple for a long time. Suse absolutely hates this sort of spectacle which is why they have been putting things off for the last few years.”
“This Opa, he’s important, right?” Henriette asked.
“He’s the Prince Elector of Silesia” Marie replied, “Though here in Canada he is known as the Red Barron for his exploits in the First World War. There are many who think that this is going to be his last great hurrah before he retires from public.”
Henriette looked back at the invitation. “It gives your full name here, Prinzessin Marie Alexandra Kristina von Mischner-Blackwood” She read aloud, “Is that Princess thing for real?”
“My mother is the Prefect of Berlin” Marie replied, “It is considered a Principality, that makes me a Princess because I am her daughter.”
“I never thought of that” Henriette said, “Berlin is your biggest city, right?”
“Largest city, National Capital, City-State, a collection of dozens of municipalities, all of those things” Marie replied, “It has its own Government and an appointed Monarch. Katherine von Mischner, my mother, who has more power within the City than most of the Kings and Queens in the Empire but was named Prefect as a sop to those who would prefer a democratically elected leader.”
“Wow” Henriette replied, “That is not something I ever heard about in school, they made it sound like your Kaiser is a Dictator or something.”
Marie wasn’t annoyed that Henriette had said something like that. The impression that many people in Canada had of Germany was left over from the First World War, regrettably that included Marie’s own grandmother.
“The Emperor was once an Autocrat, but events elsewhere in the world revealed the folly of one man having that much power” Marie said, “Reforms were made and even without that, Friedrich IV grew up with his cousin Jehane Thomas-Romanova as a babysitter when she was hiding from the Bolsheviks. She taught him a thing or two about being gracious to ordinary people.”
“She’s the girl who everyone thought had been killed with the rest of her family, who the previous Kaiser hid?” Henriette asked, “I thought that her name was Alexandra.”
How to explain this to Henriette, who had only ever left Montreal a handful of times on family vacations? The Russian Revolution had haunted the German Royal family in the decades between the two World Wars. Even Wilhelm II who was not remembered as being a particularly reasonable man had faced that reality during the March Revolution in 1921 when he had discovered that the Military had been unwilling to crush the revolution, opting for a bizarre workaround instead which then Generalmajor von Wolvogle said was done to preserve the honor of the Heer. He along with all the Officers of the Detachment said that they were going to take piss rather than fire on their own people. He left a Feldwebel in charge, one Walter Horst, who was a close friend of Augustus Lang, who was the leader of the revolution and later the Chancellor of Germany. Historians debated the significance of that single event, how it would shape the Nation in the decades since. All Marie knew was that the discussion in History Class had felt surreal.
“No matter” Henriette said, “Are you prepared for this? A wedding is a huge deal.”
“Klaus Voll, who is doing the clothes for the wedding party has my measurements on file” Marie replied, “All I have to do is show up for the final fitting and the rehearsal.”
As soon as Marie said she knew she had made a mistake. Henriette was a bit self-conscious about how she had gained a great deal of weight when she had been pregnant. Six months later, she was discovering that it was seemingly impossible for her body to go back to how it was before. She just hoped that her friend wouldn’t see that as a personal insult.
“I’m totally jealous of how you can still do that” Henriette said, “If I tried that getting me into the dress would be like stuffing sausages.”
“It’s not that bad” Marie replied, and Henriette was happy she said that.