Who: Fiona Bennett Where: Berlin Meet me 4 Tea Since…
Who: Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis
Where: Berlin, Germany
Her Highness is about to go: Gloria von Thurn und Taxis has an appointment with the Reverend. The convinced Catholic woman nevertheless takes time for a tea with MyStylery. I meet the Bavarian Princess at the Berlin Hotel de Rome, the favorite of the nobles in the capital. The housekeeper of the largest inhabited castle in Europe regularly sits here, whether to the vernissage of her portrait-art or the presentation of her new book*. The mother of three grown up children rehabilitated the family business after her husband’s death. These include various private banks, numerous properties, industrial shares and a brewery. The wild times of the Regensburg aristocrat as a punk princess are legendary. Just like their provocative and controversial statements on Aids and contraception. Gloria von Thurn und Taxis does not criticize the criticism. I waved the waiter over and ordered tea: “Garcon!”
Gloria von Thurn und Taxis: Garcon… hardly anyone is saying that today. This will always remind me of you now.
MyStylery: I take that as a compliment! Are you a tea drinker, Princess?
GTT: I drink tea all day, made with fresh mint, a few drops of lemon and peeled ginger. I pour it over with hot water. Finished. My Russian grandmother brought me closer to tea culture. You take a porcelain tank, which is previously rinsed with hot water. Only then the tea leaves enter. It is important that the tea has the right color and does not steep too long.
MS: The English leave the tea leaves in the pot all the time …
GTT: Yes, horrible! They pour everything over with milk and you cannot taste anything. I like to mix things up: Earl Gray and its magnificent bergamot aroma with the Chinese smoke lapsang souchong. That tastes delicious.
MS: Is the teatime celebrated at your castle?
GTT: In the afternoon, I regularly drink tea with my mother. She is Hungarian and actually drinks only East Frisian tea in the tea bag. For me an absolute no-go. I spend the winter months in my house in Kenya, where I like to drink Keniatee. It is not perfumed and very fresh.
MS: You are a practicing Catholic. Does faith in God make life easier?
GTT: I believe that through the sacred sacraments I can master life better. I go to confession at least once a month. Otherwise you might forget what you wanted to confess. (laughs) Confession is ultimately always the same. It is like showering or washing hands: you always get dirty in the same place. I hope that through confession I act a bit more sensitive.
MS: One puts ten euros in the bell and the sins are washed away?
GTT: Confession only works if you really regret. This has nothing to do with money.
MS: What do you regret?
GTT: Each of my sins, e.g. if I do not notice someone else because another seems more important. That is not right. Or in the workplace: how often does it happen that one plays with his power.
MS: Do you?
GTT: If I’m in a hurry, yes. Impatience, arrogance, and egoism are my great weaknesses. In the Catholic Church, no one believes that people are perfect. We are always sinful.
MS: How does your arrogance express itself?
GTT: If I feel badly placed, I wonder why I’m sitting here, this can really not be my seat. Do they really not know who I am?
MS: You say about yourself that you are hedonistic.
GTT: At some point I faced the question, am I getting fat or do I have to discipline myself and say no when I’m fed up. This is hard for me, especially with sweets. Chocolate is a big temptation.
MS: Your eldest daughter was pregnant for the first time two years ago; in the middle of her thirties, your younger daughter and your son are still unmarried. Do you find that strange?
GTT: We are all children of our time. Today the education lasts long. Afterwards you want to become a professional. In the past, women were conditioned to start their own family early, just to not bother their own family any longer.
MS: Your daughters have made a career, both living in London. You dropped out of school at that time. How would you have reacted if your daughters had done the same?
GTT: I always told them it’s okay if they want to drop out. An apprenticeship would have been the other option. I would have insisted on an education in any case. Just because I myself did something wrong, the children should not necessarily repeat that mistake.
MS: Do you regret not having finished school?
GTT: Of course. I really wanted to go to the drama school. But the nightlife in Munich distracted me. I had a little voice in my head shouting to me, school is much too boring, come with me to the “Why Not”. That was THE nightclub, that was owned by my friend Edith, where I could drink with my friends for free. The next morning, there was no way of going to school.
MS: You lived your revolutionary phase when you were already married. Were the shrill hairstyles and outfits your rebellion against the establishment?
GTT: Everyone always looked adjusted and the same. I loved the crazy looks of the international catwalks. Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin, Courrèges or Jean Claude Montana, they all loved the fact that I wore their fancy creations. I was young and found it exciting how positive the press responded to it. And Gerhard Meir gave me the colorful punk look on my head for the catwalk.
MS: Would you do it again today?
GTT: No, that was too much carnival. And took an enormous amount of time.
MS: In your marriage, it is said, sometimes the palace walls wiggled more often when you had a fight with your husband. Is this a reason why you have not married again?
GTT: When we argued, we always came to peace before going to sleep. It was never about really important things. Why did you come late? Why did you drink so much today?
MS: Were your fights due to the great difference in age? After all it’s 34 years …
GTT: I had a great marriage with a fascinating man. Ten great years. A six in the lottery. The comparison would have always remained. Maybe it would be out of my head if I were to fall in love. But that has not happened since then.
MS: You were thirty when you became a widow. Do you sometimes feel lonely?
GTT: I do not feel lonely, but I’m sometimes alone. My mother told me that one could also enjoy the loneliness from a certain age. And it’s true. I am looking for some alone time today.
MS: Is this how you came up with the idea of painting?
GTT: Exactly. I can only paint when I am alone. I regenerate when painting. I paint no more than one picture a day, always faces after photo templates. By now there are hundreds.
MS: Who can make it on your canvas?
GTT: For the exhibition in Josef Voelk’s store “The Corner” I deliberately chose only Berlin personalities from all sectors. Supported by the selection, my niece, the daughter of my brother Alexander, who lives in Berlin.
MS: A photo is always a snapshot, which is why some of the people in the portraits do not feel so well applied. Does this lack of appreciation hurt you?
GTT: Not at all. It is a difference, how one sees oneself and how one is seen by others.
MS: You painted Sven Marquardt, Berlin’s most important doorman. Have you ever been to Berghain?
GTT: Never. This is just too late for me. I was in the most amazing clubs in the world, in New York in Studio 54, in the Area, in the Nells …
MS: Does it bother you, that the critics designate your pictures as lovely water color portraits?
GTT: Painting portraits is actually really petty. Since portraits are often seen as assigned works, they don’t count as art.
MS: Well, you do not want to earn money with it…
GTT: Well, I’d be happy, when someone pays for finished work. This also expresses a certain appreciation. Nevertheless, I often give away my paintings as a present because I mostly paint friends. I come from the portrait tradition that exists in the nobility. When I was looking for painters who portrayed my children, it was hard enough. Hardly any artist accepts such assignments. I recognized the market gap.
MS: And then the art critics start complaining.
GTT: It’s great, if they say anything at all. And now she is also painting … (laughs). By the way, I can also sing and used to have a rock band. The great thing about today is everyone can try things out. I like to watch these newcomers casting shows on television …
MS: What? DSDS (German singing competition), you watch that?
GTT: I love it and switch it on, no matter where I am. It fascinates me, what talents they discover there. There comes a car dealer who sings so beautiful that you can hardly believe it. Incomprehensible!
MS: You would be the perfect jury member …
GTT: Absolutely. I would love to do that. I even mentioned it to an agent. But so far nobody has come by to ask. BvH
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