The diplomat who entertained the King and Queen of England .jpg

The diplomat who entertained the King and Queen of England

Luís Pinto de Soveral, the first and only Marquis of Soveral, who was one of the most famous Portuguese diplomats of his time and a close friend of King Edward VIII and Queen Alexandra, is  the subject of an exhaustive and entertaining biography by Paulo Lowndes Marques.

The book, O Marquês de Soveral, seu tempo e seu modo (1851-1922), published in Portuguese, tells the story of this flamboyant and eccentric aristocrat who mediated a dispute between England and Brazil over the island of Trinidad, which Britain occupied thinking it abandoned. It was returned to Brazil. A diplomat in Berlin, Madrid and London, he was faced with calming the difficult situation between Britain and Portugal after the ‘Ultimatum’ which ended in the 2nd Treaty of Windsor in 1899.

The crisis was triggered by a memo sent by the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, on January 11, 1890 in which the British Government demanded the withdrawal of Portuguese troops from Mashona and Matabeleland (Rhodesia) and Shire-Nyasa (Malawi) where Portuguese and British interests overlapped in one of the many mini colonial crises that were part of the Scramble for Africa by France, Germany, Britain and Belgium.

Popular in the courts of Europe, this bon vivant and wit knew most of the kings and presidents in Europe at the time and as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Portuguese government had an important role in Portuguese-European relations right up until the end of the Portuguese monarchy in 1910.

A terrible womaniser, who charmed and was said to have seduced some of the British aristocracy’s most fashionable society women, he was a close friend of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, a patient confident of his long-suffering and deaf wife Alexandra and was decorated by Queen Victoria.

Later in life, he was said to have refused a generous advance from an American journal to publish his colourful memoires, but thankfully his life once again takes on its rich and vibrant hues in this entertaining biography. O Marquês de Soveral, seu tempo e seu modo is published by Texto. C.G.