Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Thirty-One
31st January 1968
When Vicky had been asked if she wanted to travel to Vietnam with her father, he had gently suggested that she might not be in a state to take such a trip a year from now. That had sent her mind reeling as she understood the implications of that. It was what had caused her to fret for the entire flight from Berlin to Hanoi. Spending the week since at a luxury resort at Cam Ranh Bay a few kilometers from the Space Center had pushed that from her mind as she had made use of the amenities and had a lot of fun with Nella and Nan on the beach.
She couldn’t help but notice that her father was trying to keep tabs on a crisis that was unfolding back home. Something about Poland, how he was feeling that he could no longer trust the Government of the Protectorate as they had minimized the situation and told him that it was a strictly internal matter. Vicky was getting the idea that there was far more to in than that. News had also arrived that Kiki had landed in the hospital with a bad case of influenza. It had been a few years since the last time that had happened and Vicky’s father just shook his head, he said that he wished that Kristina would take better care of herself and not work as hard. She didn’t have anything to prove anymore by behaving that way. That had been when Vicky had noticed just how much the pressures of his Office and being the pater familias of the House of Hohenzollern weighed on him.
Finally, they were able to make their way from Cam Ranh Bay up the coast to the ancient Imperial capital of Vietnam.
The way that Huế was decorated for the holiday made it beautiful with red and yellow decor everywhere Vicky looked. Almost all the government functions were handled in Hanoi these days, but the ancient city and citadel remained the cultural capital of Vietnam. It had frequently provided a spectacular backdrop for key civic events, the Tet Holiday which celebrated the Lunar New Year was an example. Earlier in the day, there had been a military parade through the city. Vicky had seen that different units of the Vietnamese Army from either the north or south had maintained their longstanding rivalry. This had come in the form of trying to out do one another in their presentation. Then came the banquet as they waited for sundown and the start of the festival that would last for the next nine days.
As she had waited, Vicky had found herself talking with the wife of the American Ambassador to Vietnam. Wishing that the sun would hurry up and set already the entire time. She had introduced herself to Vicky with the same breath that she had told her that she was from Texas and it seemed she was an avid reader of the American version of the tabloids that Vicky abhorred.
“I’m glad in was the Kaiser’s good daughter who came visiting” The Ambassador’s wife said, “I don’t know what I would say to those other two.”
“Excuse me?” Vicky asked.
“You know, your oldest sister as an Army Doctor and the other one is…” The Ambassador’s wife paused as she thought about what to say next. “You have to see how she looks with her hair cut short and the way she dresses. People get an impression.”
“I see” Vicky said in disbelief, the irony was breath taking. This woman was presuming that Kiki was way out of line for not fitting into a neat little box labeled Princess by having a career, and that Rea was a lesbian based solely on her appearance.
“Don’t get me wrong, I understand how it must be having black sheep in the family and you have my sympathy. Back home we would have straightened them out and back on the Lord’s path in no time.”
Vicky maintained her outward calm but inside she was screaming. Anna had warned her about how there were well meaning people out there who were prepared to do the most appalling things in order to “fix” people like them. It got even worse when they couched their actions in religion, it meant that they could rationalize anything and get others to look the other way. To actually meet someone like that…
“I saw a while back that you are getting hitched” The Ambassador’s wife said with a dazzling smile that made Vicky’s skin crawl. “To the Crown Prince of Bavaria, no less.”
“Yes” Vicky replied, and she understood that people like this woman were the reason she was entering into the marriage in the first place. Both she and Franz needed it to shield them from their presumptions and how they would react if the truth ever came out.
“You must be so happy” The Ambassador’s wife said, and Vicky actually wished that she had Kiki’s courage and combat training at that moment.
Fortunately, Vicky was saved by the first fireworks going off in the distance as the sun set. As had been arranged weeks earlier, Vicky joined her family and followed her father and stepmother with Nella and Nan as they entered the Imperial Palace of Vietnam as the first visitors of the new year where they were warmly greeted.