The Panda And The Prince: Confessions of the Panda Diplomat
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Watch Me A Memoir. Storyteller A Foreign Correspondent's Memoir. Instant Mom. Although Franz Josef professed to be very much in love with his new bride, his imperial responsibilities left him with little time for her. Six years before, in , Europe had been rocked by revolutions.
The conclusion of the Crimean War had increased tensions with Russia, and tensions were rising in the Balkans. If Franz Josef felt daunted by having to return to the practical realities of power, any fairy-tale notions Sisi may have had quickly evaporated too. Her life was carefully controlled and monitored. She had little privacy.
The morning after she consummated her marriage, the whole court was informed. Her unorthodox upbringing was at strong odds with the rigid rules in Vienna. Sisi turned to poetry to express her unhappiness, with verses recording a strong sense of desolation:. But what are the delights of Spring to me, Here in this distant alien land? I yearn for the sun of my homeland I yearn for the beaches of the Isar.
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Court etiquette left her feeling crushed. Her ladies-in-waiting were much older than she. With her husband occupied with matters of state, she had little in the way of companionship. Almost immediately, Sisi clashed with her mother-in-law, Sophie. The formidable archduchess, by then nearly 50, had also grown up in Bavaria, but fought tooth and nail to impose her will on the Austrian court.
Franz Josef did not interfere, perhaps because he was in debt to his mother for elevating him to the throne through her skillful maneuvering. Victory was short-lived, however, and followed all too soon by tragedy. In the spring of , little Sophie caught dysentery during a trip with her parents to Hungary.
The Panda and the Prince
The two-year-old died. Her mother, just 19 years old, was consumed with grief. Sisi relinquished responsibility for raising Gisela to her mother-in-law. Despite her inward misery, Sisi appeared outwardly beautiful, owing to her obsession with her appearance. Famous for her beauty, Sisi devoted much time to maintaining it. Records indicate she spent three hours a day taking care of her long hair. When dressing, it took roughly an hour to cinch her waist to a punishing As Sisi aged, she became morbidly afraid of wrinkles, even wrapping slices of raw veal around her face when she slept.
She stuck to a meticulous diet, severely limiting her daily intake of food. She kept a strict exercise regimen, allowing for hours of rigorous activity every day, including hiking, horseback riding, weight lifting, and calisthenics. But rather than an outlet for her anxiety, her fixation on fitness became an unhealthy obsession, resembling the symptoms of modern eating disorders.
Recent biographers have also drawn attention to her active mind and love of literature and poetry, especially for the works of poet Heinrich Heine.