25 FEBRUARY 1938, Page 32

A ROYAL RACONTEUR Memoirs of Prince Christopher of Greece. (Hurst

and Blacken. I2S. 6d.) THIS is a considerably better book than the selected extracts published in a London evening paper would suggest. The Greek royal house, it must be remembered, is of Danish origin. Prince Christopher's father, who went to rule Greece as King George I in 1863, was Prince William of Denmark; Queen Alexandra was his sister. Prince Christopher was therefore a cousin of King George V, and as his mother was the Grand Duchess Olga of Russia he had close associations with the Russian royal house. Princess Helen of Rumania, King Carol's lawful wife, was his niece, and he is linked in one way or another with almost every surviving royal family in Europe. At the same time his first marriage, with Mrs. W. B. Leeds, gave him a footing in the best American society, and some time after her death he married a daughter of the Duc de Guise, the claimant to the throne of France.

With such associations it would be surprising if Prince Christopher .had not a story worth telling to tell. , He quite definitely has. His book is written lightly and readably, but it is of quiti another ()icier from the trivial chronicles which pour out weekly from the presses. Primarily a raconteur, the Prince is shrewd in his judgements of political events, and whate''er may be thought of his views on certain questions— he is naturally a warm champion of his brother ICing,Constantine against Venizelos—they are never arbitrary or capricious. The picture of the old stately life at the Russian Court at St. Petersburg is admirably drawn, and the growth of the sinister influence of Rasputin over the credulous Czarina skilfully traced. There is real literary talent in the stories of the expul- sion of King Constantine and the rest of the Greek royal family from Athens in 1916, and of the wild rejoicings of Greece over their return in 1920.

Prince Christopher visited England in 1909 for the first time to stay with King Edward and Queen Alexandra, and those who like anecdotes about our reigning house will find them here in abundance, down to the date in 1935 when he came to London for the wedding of his niece Princess Marina, and at a Palace reception in the evening the Prince of Wales laid a hand on his arm and said " Christ°, come with me, I want you to meet Mrs. Simpson." Not quite all the anecdotes deserve perpetuation, but as a whole the volume is both enter- taining and instructive, and by no means negligible as a contri- bution to contemporary history.