The Wandering Princess

Princess Hélène of France, Duchess of Aosta (1871-1951)

Edward Hanson

Hélène's adventuresome life went from an ill-fated romance in Queen Victoria's court to an Italian royal marriage. She fled from boredom to explore and hunt in Africa, but returned to serve Italy in the national crises of earthquake, epidemic and war—heading the Red Cross nurses in the front lines of the Great War—and watched its move into Fascism.
Date Published :
June 2017
Publisher :
Fonthill Media
Illustration :
black and white photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781781555927
Pages : 464
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6.15 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Hélène was a strong-willed princess, raised in France but closely connected with the court of Queen Victoria. After the premature end to a romance with Victoria’s grandson, she married into the royal family of Italy. However, Hélène began extended adventuresome trips into Africa where she became a big-game hunter, explorer and travel writer, escaping from an unhappy marriage and the boredom of court life. Her travels took her around the world, but her sense of royal duty brought her back to nurse aboard a hospital ship in Libyan waters, then to an important role as head of the Italian Red Cross nurses during the First World War while her husband headed Italy’s Third Army, and her two sons served in the artillery and the navy. Afterwards, her strong Italian nationalism made her an ally to Gabriele d’Annunzio and Benito Mussolini, but the disastrous Second World War saw her grandchildren interned in Austria and her older son die as a British prisoner-of-war while she continued her charitable work in Naples. When the country voted to become a republic in 1946, Hélène was the only member of the royal family allowed to remain in Italy with her second ‘secret’ husband.

About The Author

Edward Hanson trained and worked as an historian in his native Boston, Massachusetts, before moving to England, ordination in the Church of England and parish life. Now retired and living in London he has returned to his historical work while continuing to help with church services, both locally and on the Continent.


“An extraordinarily well researched, written, and organized biography, "The Wandering Princess: Princess Helene of France, Duchess of Aosta (1871-1951)" is impressively comprehensive and informative study of a singularly unusual woman who lived out her remarkable 80 years of life. An extraordinary and engaging read from beginning to end, "The Wandering Princess" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library biography collections.”

- Midwest Book Review, October 2017

More from this publisher