In 1888 my parents went to Russia and we remained at Tatoi with our governesses and tutors. That July [August 11, New Style] as I was returning to the house, a servant handed me a telegram to take up to my sister. When I came into the room I found her sitting together with my brother Nicholas. I showed them the telegram, which they tried to grab, and as I saw they were so excited about it, to tease them I refused to give it up. An awful rumpus ensued when they tore it out of my hands. My amazement was great when they announced that the wire was from out father telling us that a new little brother had been born, and was to be called Christopher.So, there you have it. Not terribly exciting, I'm afraid. I'm His Royal Highness Prince Christopher (Kristophoros in Greek) of Greece and Denmark, the youngest of King George and Queen Olga's eight children (as my brothers and sisters would be SURE to remind you!). I was very much an afterthought--I was no less than 20 years younger than my eldest brother Constantine (Konstantinos, called Tino) and six years younger than even the second youngest, Andrew (called Andrea). Between Tino and Andrew were: George (Georgios), Alexandra, Nicholas (Nikolaos), Marie, and Olga, who never lived to see her first birthday. Because my brothers and sisters were so much older than me, my true playmate was me nephew George, Tino's eldest son, who was only two years younger.
As for myself, I wasn't a particularly interesting child. I was called "Christo" and I had the usual troubles with shoelaces and dislike for baths (though, in my defense, baths in the palace in Athens WERE quite the ordeal!), and was decidedly less than enthused in regards to my studies. When I came of age I joined the army--it was either that or the navy--although I'd have rather studied the piano. During my life I attained the rank of Major-General in the Greek Army, although my service was. . . less than distinctive. I'm not going to lie to you: Constantine and Nicholas were the soldiers, not me! But piano! I was very fond of it, and have been told that I was an exceptional accompanist. I loved music. I honestly don't think I could sing to save my life, though.
Because my father was a Danish prince and Greek king, and my mother a Russian, language was a rather complicated matter in my family. We children spoke Greek to one another and English to our parents (they spoke German to each other, of all things). All of us ended up being able to speak five or six languages. I could speak Greek, English, Danish, Russian, French, and Italian. Russian especially always came naturally to me.
I was a relatively good-looking child, if a bit plump. Then heredity kicked in. From my father I, sadly, inherited somewhat early baldness, and my kind Mama gave me poor eyesight (myopia, to be more precise), hence the spectacles and monocles. Not the typical 'prince charming,' I'm sorry to say.
In about 1910, I was briefly engaged to Alexandra, a lovely English princess, the daughter of the Duke of Fife. An older, unmarried princess had decided to pair us up, and neither of us were really opposed to the idea--at 22, I was very much in love with the idea of love, and I admired Alix, if from a distance. This "maiden aunt" arranged for me to spend some time with the young princess and her family, but did so by assuring the worried father that I would not, under ANY circumstances, propose to the girl. Unfortunately, this same maiden aunt neglected to tell me about this stipulation. Alix and I became engaged on the sly, and when it finally occurred to us to tell her parents, everything turned sour. Her father thought me a cad for breaking my word (even though I never gave it!) and everything was called off. Alix later married Arthur of Connaught, and years later, at my niece Marina's wedding to Prince George of Kent, we were able to laugh at our ill-fated "romance."
Other English adventures included befriending David, Prince of Wales (Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor) and spending time with Queen Alexandra, my favorite aunt. She once had me dress up as Queen Victoria to entertain her sister, Minnie, the Dowager Empress of Russia. Through the two of them I was a first cousin to both King George V and Tsar Nicholas II. Minnie had been married to Emperor Alexander III, whom my sister Marie had called 'Uncle Fatty.' We were all really too cruel to poor Aunt Minnie. I remember one time, when we were both visiting in England:
She was staying at Sandringham House she was so ill that for weeks she was unable to walk and was taken around the gardens in a bath-chair. I met her one morning, being slowly wheeled along in the direction of York House, and offered to take over the chair for a while. The nurse who was accompanying her unsuspectingly relinquished it.And this brings me to Russia, a country which I loved dearly. Mama was born Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna. She never really got over her homesickness, and took many trips to Russia were I spent time with my various relations, including the Tsar and his family. I even entertained the idea of marrying the Tsar's eldest daughter, another Grand Duchess Olga, but Cousin Nicky wasn't too overly fond of the idea. Some of my greatest friends in Russia were Nicky's younger siblings, Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna. They were not only my cousins, but best friends. I would also take pains to entertain Maria Pavlovna and Dmitri Pavlovich, the children of my late sister Alexandra, who were not much younger than I. I took many pictures of the country and my Russian relations, and have maintained a rather extensive snapshot collection!
Before long we came to the top of a steep slope and I regret to record that the temptation proved too much for me. With one well-directed push I sent the chair careening down it at headlong speed. The Empress's despairing shrieks rent the air as she sped down to the very bottom and then, driven by her own impetus, was rushed half-way up the corresponding incline, only to start the descent again, this time backwards. When I rescued her she was terrified out of her wits, but she had quite lost her lumbago. Either the fright or her violent movements she had made to free herself had cured her.
In 1914, in England, I became engaged to Mrs. Nancy Leeds; a widow, a commoner, and an American. Thus people looked upon our match unfavorably, saying that I was only marrying her for her money (love was the only reason) and she was "much older" than me (she was only four years older). She was pretty--fair with a perfect complexion--and had a wonderful sense of humor, but her greatest and most attractive feature was her kindness. She helped one and all who appealed to her, and she had the wealth to be of a great amount of help indeed! We had hoped to marry immediately, but we ended up having to wait for six years, trying to sort out the dynastic difficulties of a prince marrying a commoner. Things weren't really resolved on January 1, 1920, but we simply refused to wait any longer! Upon her baptism and conversion to the Orthodox faith, she took the name Anastasia, and was known (to my great delight!) as "Princess Christopher."
In the course of my life my family has been exiled from Greece several times, the first in 1917, when we ended up living in Switzerland, while my nephew Alexander 'ruled' as a puppet king in Athens. He died at age 27 of an infected monkey bite, leaving behind a pregnant wife. She was a Greek commoner, and the baby, Princess Alexandra, was the only member of the Greek royal family to have any Greek blood! Incidentally, as a young man I was offered no less than three thrones--Portugal, Lithuania, and Albania--all of which I turned down. What would possess a man to be a king when he was not destined by birth and confined by duty to do so is beyond my comprehension! Nor did Nancy relish the idea of being a queen, "I'd rather be a lamppost in New York!"
Speaking of New York, I've always had a great fondness for America and Americans (after all, I married one!) and was always glad to visit. I loved being mistaken for an American, and people there would call me "Mr. Christopher." The winters in New York reminded me of winters in Russia. While in America I was able to discretely take part in seances and the like. I'm very interested ghosts and the occult. After all, I've had many supernatural experiences myself, including seeing a ghost in England and participating in an automatic writing experiment that foretold the assassination of my father! While in America, my niece, Princess Xenia Georgievna of Russia, daughter my sister Marie, got involved in the Anna Anderson controversy, inviting this woman who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia to stay with her. I had a strange experience at a seance relating to Mrs. Anderson:
At first I heard only a faint murmur, then the words came clearly. To my amazement they were Russian.Believe it if you like, dismiss it if you must, but I tell you--that's what happened!
"Don't you recognize me?" The soft voice seemed curiously familiar, but I could not identify it. "I have been following you around," it went on with a little laugh. "I am Tatiana."
The only Tatiana I knew was the second daughter of the Czar, Nicholas II, and I said so.
"Yes, of course." I could swear thre was a note of triumph in the voice.
"We are all here," it went on in perfect Russian. "We send you our love and kiss you"--there was a sound of someone blowing a kiss--"and Anastasia wants you to know that the person who is on her way to America is not she. You must tell Auntie Xenia [my cousin Xenia Alexandrovna] this."
My niece Xenia never let me meet Anna Anderson. I felt sure I would be able to tell if she were indeed the Grand Duchess or not, having seen Anastasia as recently as 1916. Although, not having met the woman, I didn't feel qualified to issue an opinion, I doubted she is who she says she is (and not just because of my psychic experience).
Sadly for all involved, my Anastasia--my wife Nancy--developed cancer and died in 1923. We had no children, but she left behind a son from a previous marriage, William, who had marrried my niece Xenia Georgievna. In 1929 I married Princess Francoise of Orleans, the daughter of the Duc de Guise, in a civil ceremony on February 10 and religious on the 11, in Palmero, Italy. She was my "dream lady." We spent most of our time in Rome, thanks to further unrest in Greece. In fact my only child, Prince Michael of Greece, was born in Rome on January 7, 1939. Unfortunately, I didn't have very long to spend with our son, as I died on January 21, 1940, in Athens, after seeing the bodies of my mother, brother, and sister-in-law--all rules of the Hellenes--returned to Greece and buried.