The Last Archduke
In 1918, at the end of World War I, presumably for some act of treachery against the Italian crown, the Archduchy of Sanremo went from being a vassal state of the Kingdom of Italy to being fully annexed, with the royal family being ousted and forced to re-settle in London. As with Monaco, the royal family was never recognized as such by any of the other houses in Europe, and as such were forced to seek residency status as mere commoners. Despite the hardships, they never renounced their titles or claims.
The Archduke Alphonse Phillipe XV was disheartened by the loss of his throne, lands and income, and was forced to sell family jewelry and art piece by piece just to be able to feed his large family. He continually petitioned the government for a return of his kingdom and lands, even suggesting he renounce his claim for a lower title – all to no avail. Exhausted and virtually penniless, he died in 1930 … never having seen his homeland again.
The First Crown Prince
Prince Albert Philippe was last member of the direct line of succession to be born in the Archduchy of Sanremo. At his birth, he was made Crown Prince of Sanremo, a title he held the rest of his life.
A young teen when they emigrated to the UK, he was heavily impacted by the immediate transition in his life, and swore he would not let the same thing happen to him. Upon emerging into adulthood, he found employment in a sympathetic banker’s firm and was able to accommodate an affluent lifestyle for his mother, the Queen, and his future family.
He also petitioned the government of Italy for a restoration of his minor titles and lands, stopping immediately once the second World War broke out. He ensured his children went to university, and he died with modest wealth.
The Second Crown Prince
Prince Albert Edward was born in 1935 in the UK – his name changed slightly in an effort to gain sympathy with the British crown. He was the first in the family to attend university, and despite his desire to maintain family claims, he wanted to further pursue his father’s dream at a restoration of the family’s wealth.
He invested heavily in oil, and once those dividends earned the family tens of millions of dollars, he decided to move the family to the United States, where they settled in an affluent neighborhood in Connecticut.
He was popular in Connecticut, referred to as the Mediterranean King in Connecticut’s Court, and his funeral held in 2005 was attended by most of the moneyed families of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Even Washington was in attendance, represented by the brother of the First Lady, and a former Secretary of the Interior.
He ensured that he and his family maintained their British passports, and anglicized their titles to capitalize on the popularity they were attaining in their new home country.
The Third Crown Prince
Prince Albert Edward II was a son of privilege and wealth, growing up with fairy tales of a life gone by, he felt detached from reality. While he graduated from Harvard and married, he was aimless, depressed … and drifted into alcoholism after his father’s death.
Substance abuse worsened when there were rumors of an affair between his wife and brother-in-law (the Princess Royal’s husband), and often, he would disappear for days, no one knowing about his whereabouts.
It’s been ten years since Grandpa Al’s funeral. Memorial Day, 2015, to be exact. “Bert” Fernase, his heir, has brought together his kin for the annual family gathering at the compound in Greenwich, Connecticut. His mother, Reggie, the Dowager Crown Princess, is presiding over the event attended by all four of her children, and several of her grandchildren (the rest abroad at school).
The famiglia di sangue retires to the guest house to discuss the family business. Their spouses move to the main house while the teens gather around the pool.
Something happens … an event that will change the family forever.
Young John Cross is sunning near the diving board. Bradley Farnese, his young cousin, is sitting close … his mind deep in thought as he stares out aimlessly. Bradley’s sister, Kammy, is huddled under an umbrella, avoiding as much of the sun as she can, enormous shades blotting out all light as her earbuds blast “Ghost” in her ears. She’s trying to get over her latest breakup, and tomorrow mercifully starts the last week of school.
Bradley hates the rumors about his mother, but he wonders what she is actually doing to prevent them – after all, he witnessed her and Uncle Stephen walking into the house not five minutes behind each other. He hopes to God it isn’t true – that none of the rumors are true. He cringes at the thought he may be more closely related to John than he should be, and he’s sure John isn’t as mortified about the prospect as he is.
The back yard seems to light up. Bradley is startled. John sits up. Kammy pulls off her shades just as the shockwave from the blast has her jumping in the pool. She screams as she hits the water; she sees Bradley grabbing John by the arm just as she goes under.
A few seconds later, she emerges. Bradley is screaming in his barely-deepened voice, as John is backing toward the main house in horror. She turns to the guest house – where her Grandmother, Mom, and her other uncles and aunt had been meeting … and all that remained was a shell of charred wood, flames, and smoke billowing from where it once stood.
Her mother and Uncle emerge from the main house half-dressed.
All adult members of the famiglia di sangue are dead.
The dynasty is doomed.
A New Beginning
It is now early fall, and Eddie, the new Crown Prince presumptive, is back from a London boarding school. His older sister, Lisa, has decided to take a year off from Harvard to assist a mourning family. Their mother, a wistfully absent and newly widowed Dowager Crown Princess, Rebecca, has risen to the occasion to guide this fragile family into the maturity it needs.
Eddie, however, is more concerned with his new friends in the City, while Lisa hates the fact that the family legacy will be wasted on someone more interested in music, alcohol (and sex) than anything else.
Together, Rebecca and Lisa cobble together family and friends to plan their social calendar for the fall, beginning with the investiture of the new Crown Prince, who will lead this family … even if Mother and daughter must lead through him by name.
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