I can understand if people are put off from reading this based on the first part, but I thought this latter part was particulary interesting:
“The British don’t like foreigners coming over and stealing their princes,” a friend of Princess Michael’s once said to me. It was an odd thing to say, because the royal family was not just chock-full of foreigners; it was basically foreign itself. It was why someone like Ella did not have a single English relation between her and Queen Victoria, who was herself of German descent and married to a German. But when Queen Victoria made the system of marital alliances that linked her family to every major royal family in Europe, Britain had been outward-looking. At the time it was a question of expansion; now it is one of contraction. My own enduring memory of the Windsors was of constant cutbacks and reduced circumstances. To fly with royalty was to fly EasyJet. On the flight back from Sardinia, a velvet rope cordoned off the first row alone, behind which Their Royal Highnesses—Prince and Princess Michael—sat with Ella and me. A moment of silence ensued, then there was a dull roar on the Jetway, and a planeload of lobster-red British tourists poured onto the flight, muttering, “Wot’s this, wot’s this?,” as they rushed past the grandson of George V, Emperor of India.
“According to Tocqueville,” wrote Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism, “the French people hated aristocrats about to lose their power more than it had ever hated them before.” It was then—more than when they had been politically powerful—that they saw them as parasites, for “wealth without visible function is much more intolerable”; nobody can understand why it should exist.