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The Archduchess' Diaries

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2 November 1997

My name is Antonia and today I turned ten years old. Mama gave me this fancy notebook to write in so that I can get better at writing. I think I’m doing fine, thank you very much, but Mama says otherwise. Just because I’m not like my sisters! I don’t know how she wants me to be like them. I’ll never be like Christina however much Mama whinges. Everyone knows Christina is the fauveri fayvor faverit best liked child! Mama always squeaks and asks, why can’t I be more like Christina? Nevermind that Christina is twenty-three! The only thing stupid Christina has ever wrong was date a boy Mama didn’t like very much. First was Louis Eugene Wuttemberg (he always got mad if we left out Eugene) who Mama said wasn’t wealthy enough or well-connected enough. Maybe if he was an older brother, she would say. But now she’s engaged to stupid Albert Wettin and one day soon they’ll get married and have stupid babies.

 

That reminds me - today, I was so exit happy cause it was my birthday, and Carolina (my best sister ever!) bought me the Spice Girls new CD ‘Spiceworld’ and I got to play it on my stereo all day. My eldest brother Joseph got me the best doll in the whole wide world - the 50th anniversary barbie doll in porcelain! Elisabeth said she chipped in too but I don’t think she did cause all Elisabeth thinks about is who she’s going to kiss next. But anyway it was really fun and better than normal Sundays because my tutor let me have the day off which is good. But then Mama gave me her gift, that was this stupid diary because I need to get better at ritin writing. (I just had to ask Carolina how to spell it). Why does it matter? I don’t need to be good at writing to dance to the Spice Girls! Because one day, they’re going to need another Spice, and they’ll ask me to join, and I’ll be Blonde Spice or Austrian Spice.

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3 November 1997

Again, writing. I’m meant to write every day, Mama says. Carolina offered to buy a diary too, but I told her no. If I have to write, I want it to be just me. I ought to be something special for once. Mama, I think, loves everyone but me. Even Carolina gets in less trouble than I do, even though she thinks everything up. Mama says we’re thick as thieves and Joseph always echoes it. Anyway, look, I’ve written. This should keep Mama happy.

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4 November 1997

One of my sisters, Josepha burst into my room today, probably because Carolina was playing dolls with me, and she was crying. Carolina asked her what was wrong and she grabbed both our hands and dragged us over to my big mirror (it’s very nice - it’s a pink vanity with twinkling circle lights around the edge of the mirror like I’m a Hollywood starlet, maybe Marilyn Monroe) and jabbed a finger at her chin. She said she was dying, and then started crying again. I turned around and took a good look at her chin, and it really was disgusting. There was a big yellow head on it, probably filled with pus. I told her it looked like what Johanna had had (Johanna was another of my sisters, a year older than Josepha and five years older than me. She died of chickenpox a few years ago, because Mama said that if He didn’t want her to die then He would’ve made her well. Anna said He had given her a ‘fucking vaccine’ that Mama ignored.

 

I’m glad Anna is around. If she wasn’t, Mama would hate me most. Mama never makes Anna do anything because Anna is ‘useless’, in her eyes. I agree Anna isn’t very pretty but she’s very smart and Papa loved her very much, I think. Ferdinand sometimes teases me for being called Antonia, because my sisters who start with ‘A’, Anna and Amalia, are not very much liked by Mama. So I said he reminds me of Ferdinand Parma and then he started crying even though he’s eleven.

 

Josepha screamed when I said she looked like Johanna, so loud that Mama (even though, in our manor, she is all the way over in the west wing on the fourth floor and we’re on the east wing on the second floor) was soon puffing at us and howling about why was Josepha so upset. Josepha said she had acne and was going to die and Mama scolded her quick smart and asked why didn’t she just get acne cream? It would easily be arranged. Then they both left and Carolina and I giggled and giggled and giggled and both promised that if we ever got pimples we wouldn’t be so cruel. See, Mama? I’m smart, I know the word cruel (cause Carolina just told me, still.)

 

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5 November 1997

Carolina says in diaries you have to write out all your siblings especially if you have as many as us or else it will be confusing. I think that’s stupid because nobody else will read this but she kept annoying me about it because she wanted to go ask Amalia about something. So I guess I have to.

  • Anna. She’s the eldest and is twenty eight and she’s always always sick. She also needs a wheelchair. Mama is really mean to her and calls her embarrassing. She’s very good at science though and apparently won lots of competitions for science back when she was at school (because Mama wasn’t so crazy then) and some people think the Americans might have invited her to NASA had Mama not been so crazy. I think she might have liked that.
  • Joseph. Joseph is Mama’s favourite and he is twenty four. He’s set to inherit everything - even our super big manor! He works as a lawyer for now but if Mama has her way he will go into politics. He’s already on his second wife, Josie, who nobody likes, least of all him, and it’s kinda gross because she’s our second cousin. Isabel was much nicer and she’s the reason I have my little cousin, Teresa, but then she died and the doctors didn’t save her even when Mama screamed at them. Joseph likes to think he’s the best at everything and he kinda is.
  • Christina. She’s engaged and she’s pretty and smart and Mama always gives her expensive jewellery. Albert is her finan fion fyanci to-be husband and he has a sticky up nose but sends me dolls so I can forgive him for it. Christina is the perffffeeeecttttt daughter and Mama will die of happiness if we all turn out like her.
  • Elisabeth. Elisabeth is twenty-two and the prettiest daughter, Mama has never not said that. She kisses everyone, so people say, and loves to dance and be happy. She doesn’t like the Spice Girls though (shocker!) and says she is not too big a fan of the Americans. At least I know she won’t steal my spot.
  • Charles. Charles died in a car accident and as bad as it is I don’t miss him very much. I didn’t really know him. Nobody misses Charles. Mama said Charles was a bad egg.
  • Amalia is nineteen, nearly twenty and listens to some band called Nirvana and Mama says she’s a disappointment and a rebel and Carolina is much kinder and says she just likes being by herself. It’s not that she isn’t smart or anything - she always likes to prove that she’s plenty smart, because she was the first child of Mama’s that wasn’t allowed to go to a normal school. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life so she sits around the manor listening to music and Mama shoots her dirty looks.
  • Leopold is eighteen. Mama has gotten him engaged to Luisa Bourbon even though they’re both young because it’s ‘too good a match to waste’, as if somebody else will snatch her up. Leopold hates Luisa anyway, but he has to marry her otherwise Mama won’t let him have our country estate. She’s very pretty but I don’t know her very well and she’s Spanish and speaks mostly Spanish, which isn’t a problem for Mama who probably speaks every language in the whole world but it’s a problem for me. All I understand that she says is “Danke, Antonia,” or “Entschuldigung,” and even that’s with a strange accent. Leopold is cheating on her anyways and always has other girls over and he makes me say hi to them all. They all look the same and blur sometimes and I can’t really tell them apart, but it’s okay because they never last long. I don’t know why they all like Leopold, he’s really snappy and cold and when he gets mad he just doesn’t say anything for days.
  • Johanna died from chickenpox because Mama thinks that vaccines are the work of Satan which Amalia says is stupid, and all made up. Johanna and Josepha were really close and were only one year apart and Johanna was the oldest of all of us on the second floor, and organised all our games. I cried a lot for her. Everyone did.
  • Josepha is fourteen and, as you know, has recently got acne. Josepha always runs to Joseph for everything and probably would have if he was here yesterday (he’s at work). All she does is worry about things, like a little copy of Mama. She would surely cry if I said that to her face. That is never a good thing.
  • Carolina is my best liked sister. She turned thirteen this year and so now is a teenager but she still plays games with me. She lets me listen to whatever music I like and lets me use all her spare CDs for them, and watches really good American videos with me like Clueless and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Mama says she is too moody and stormy and she doesn’t usually listen to what Mama says, as she says she can make her own rules. Joseph says she’s a little like Mama and she spits when he says that!
  • Ferdinand is a year older me and is absolutely horrible just like all older brothers are. He is always putting too much gel in his hair and it smells very horrid and when we are forced to sit together at breakfast I nearly choke! And he likes the Backstreet Boys, but not for the right reasons. He thinks that when he’s older the Backstreet Boys will let him be in their band which is completely wrong because Ferdinand looks nothing like them!
  • Max is my only little sibling and he’s an absolute slime. He’s only a year younger and he’s always turning his nose up at things and ‘tut tuts’ and always looks cross. He really likes music though, but not new music - just the old classical ones! Is he a snore or what? Carolina and I are set on sending him to an old folks’ home.

Ow ow! My hand hurts now. Riting is evil.

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6 November 1997

My horrid horrid tutor was here today. Stupid Madame von Brandeis! We were talking about some of the world events, and she asked if I knew of anything of importance that had happened lately. I said, “my birthday?” and Carolina said, “Leo DiCaprio’s new movie was at a film festival?” Madame von Brandeis got mad at us both, as if we were, silly, and started shrieking. “No, no!” she yelled. “There was a Typhoon in Vietnam!” We both got into more trouble, because I didn’t know what a Typhoon or a Vietnam was and Carolina said it was too far away to care. Madame van Brandeis looked like she could’ve killed somebody then, and said that the new Leonardo DiCaprio movie had premiered in Tokyo, which is further away than Vietnam!

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7 November 1997

No! Mama is evil! This afternoon, after our lessons, she came and told me and Carolina that she had heard of our ecspl exploy stuff and that she wants us to be better. So tomorrow - a Saturday! - we have to spend the full day with Christina. Yes, Christina! Mama est mal! (That’s for Madame von Brandeis, who said I was abominable at French (Carolina, again, told me the spelling). Carolina is very angry now and has pulled out a doll, which we always play as being Christina, and is now hacking into its neck with a pair of scissors. I think it’s a bit mean, so instead I’m playing with a makeup kit that Josepha got me. My eyelids are all shiny white pink! Next I think I’ll crimp my hair. If only Mama would let me wear shirts that show my bellybutton! But she scoffs and says - ‘so improper’. You know what’s improper, Mama? Looking like a girl from the 1700s!

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8 November 1997

Sad. Christina made us work on our walks all day and then confiscated Carolina’s MP3 Player to show Mama. Now we can’t listen to music without carrying around the stereo which is so bad! And we had to look at all her stupid paintings. There must be a hundred of Joseph’s old wife Isabel. Christina and Isabel were best friends and were always together, even more than Joseph and Isabel ever were, which was funny.


Carolina isn’t very happy now and she’s properly ripped the head off the Christina doll, and thrown it into the bin. “I’m Christina, I’m so perfect, I’m in love with Alberttttttt!” That’s what she’s been saying. I’m trying to clean my flute because usually I play it well but the other day I got told it sounded messy. Now I’m making it not messy. And then my playing will be back to normal! And maybe Mama won’t be so angry.

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9 November 1997

Carolina is still angry at Christina and called her from the line in our room to Christina’s line, which is over on the west wing of the third floor, just below Mama. I listened in but it was a bit scary because Carolina was so angry. She swore a lot in French and I don’t know French swear words because I don’t get taught them. Some of the things she said in German and I understood those and they weren’t very nice. I could hear Christina kind of on the other end of the phone and she didn’t sound very mad, she just said that she was trying to help us jenn gynu really truly. Carolina slammed the phone down and stormed out of the room, screaming for Mama.

 

Teresa was here today though which was very nice. After Carolina went screaming out, Joseph came in and Teresa was hiding behind him. She had on a pretty blue dress that Josie got for her, with a big pink bow around the middle and her blonde hair all in little curls. We dressed up all my dolls, though I had to hide Christina from poor Teresa. I don’t think she needed to see her without a head. I think that would be so horrible, to die by losing your head. So very scary!

 

Teresa was still here when Carolina came back. Her face was very blotchy and red and ugly. I told her to go ask Josepha for some wipes for her face and she started yelling so much that poor little Teresa cried, and I had to take her hand and walk all around the manor to find Joseph and take her back. And then he scolded me for upsetting her! I was very mad then but couldn’t say anything, so I just ran down to the kitchens (where we aren’t supposed to go, but I do anyway) and made our cook whip me up some sweet treats. Elisabeth says my sweet tooth will rot out my pearly whites and give me acne like Josepha and turn me into a hag but Amalia disagrees. I decide to agree with the ‘A’ sisters. Sugar is yummy!

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10 November 1997

Yuck! Monday! My flute lessons went well (I am playing better now that I cleaned it out! Hurray!) but Madame van Brandeis was the worst again. Today we mainly focused on German and she says that I don’t pronounce anything right and that I speak like I am five. I am not five! How dumb! I was meant to be learning grammar, but Carolina and I got into a game of drawing pictures and the other guessing what it was supposed to be. She made it very hard on me and I lost most of the time but it was still good. And then after tutoring finished, we went to the little ballroom that Mama has for big parties. Frederick and Max were practicing their dancing and we partnered them. I could hear Carolina and Frederick arguing the whole time! Max acted all prissy but he is actually a good dancer considering he’s a boy, so it was good. The music was old fashioned, but I could pretend I was a princess, especially cause we were doing an oldish dance. And Joseph walked in! He said we were doing good and that he’d go tell Mama, which will make her happy. I broke into a happy dance then! Max shook his head at me, but Carolina and I swung each other round and even Frederick made some sounds with his hands (he calls it beatboxing but if it is, it isn’t very good).

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11 November 1997

Mama had some guests over so we all had to sit for a big fancy dinner. There were lots of yum foods and we even got allowed wine!!! Most kids aren’t allowed that because it’s alcohol but Mama says we are above that. Everything was so good. There was food of every different colour and good drinks. Anna wasn’t there but everyone else was, even Amalia. She kept looking sour and left halfway through, which I think is a bit rude. I know she doesn’t like Mama but she doesn’t have to be so down all the time!

One of the big fancy men in his special suit talked to me. I was so scared! He leaned over. “Antonia,” he said. “You look very beautiful (thank you, Carolina, for spelling!) tonight.” And I said, “Thank you.” Mama snapped at me after, as I should have been more modest, but I do not care much. I think I did the right thing. I was just spicing up my life! Aint nothin wrong wit dat!

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12 November 1997

Josepha is yuck! She came into our room today and leaned over, right in Carolina’s face, and squished her pimple. Yellow went everywhere! She said it was fair because Carolina had told one of the guests all about her acne problem. Carolina was screaming and said now she’d get pimples. Then Josepha started crying because she felt bad, and tried to hug Carolina, but Carolina just said she was going to talk to Amalia. Eugh. I hugged Josepha though. I know she felt bad. I still don’t wanna end up like her, but she doesn’t need to be screamed at.

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13 November 1997

What’s there to write about today? Nothing, nothing, nothing. It’s all boring. Carolina and Josepha won’t talk to each other. They’re making me run messages between them! Instead, though, I’ve been taking a super duper long time because I keep sneaking into Ferdinand’s room. I found out that he’s been hoarding macaroons - yes, really! My favourites are the strawberry ones because they taste nice and they’re pink. So each time I go to deliver a message, I try to sneak in there and grab one. He’s only caught me once. So far, so good!

 

Later

So he caught me and had the idea of telling Josepha. Now everyone’s mad at me! I don’t know why, I was just trying to have some fun. At least they didn’t tell Mama. I have an idea to make them feel better, though! I’m going to convince Elisabeth to take me out tonight (she goes out every night) and while she goes and sees her friends, I am going to get all of my saved money and go to a florist and buy them each lots of pretty flowers. That should make them happy!

Even Later

Elisabeth said no. Stupid! She says it’s too dangerous. Humph!