I. George III
GEORGE III of Great Britain and Ireland was being driven through Windsor Great Park when he ordered his carriage driver to stop. The King got out, walked over to an oak tree, shook hands with one of its branches and talked to it for several minutes. He thought he was talking to the King of Prussia. He ended up in a strait-jacket.
2. Princess Alexandra
PRINCESS ALEXANDRA of Bavaria was convinced that as a child she had swallowed a full-size grand piano. Nothing could ever shake her from this belief.
3. Ludwig II
LUDWIG II of Bavaria (1846-86) was Alexandra’s nephew. His reign was notable for his decision to reverse night and day. He had a moon painted on his bedroom ceiling and embarked on epic mountain journeys in the dead of night in a golden sleigh, accompanied by coachmen who were forced to dress in the style of Louis XIV. Known as the ‘Dream King, he built fairy-tale castles before finally being declared unfit to rule.
OTTO, younger brother of Ludwig II, decided the only way to preserve his own sanity was to shoot a peasant a day. Every morning he would start taking pot-shots at the peasants working in the royal garden. As staff numbers diminished, one servant was given the task of loading the king’s pistol with blanks while another dressed as a peasant and pretended to fall down dead when Otto shot him.
5. Catherine The Great
CATHERINE THE GREAT of Russia (1729), discovering that she had dandruff, imprisoned her hairdresser in an iron cage for three years to stop the news spreading. Enhanced by a primrose in the royal garden, she posted a sentry to guard the plant day and night.
6. Queen Joana
QUEEN JOANA of Spain worshipped her husband Phillip, who died in 1506, so much that she refused to allow him to be buried and had his coffin accompany her wherever she travelled.
7. Ferdinand II
FERDINAND II of Sicily (1810-59) would only allow the country to have its own postage stamps as long as his portrait was not marred by an unsightly franking mark.
8. Charles VI of France
CHARLES VI of France (1368-1422) was convinced he was made of glass. So he hated travelling by coach in case the vibration caused him to shatter into a thousand pieces. He also started prowling the corridors of the royal palace, howling like a wolf, much to the consternation of Queen Isabeau. Deciding that she no longer wished to share the King’s bed, Isabeau came up with a humble lookalike, Odette de Champdivers, to take her place. Every night for 30 years Odette wore the Queen’s clothes in the royal bed and Charles never once spotted the deception.
9. Henry Christophe
HENRY CHRISTOPHE. King of Northern Haiti (1767-1820) ordered his guards to prove their loyalty to him by marching over a 200ft-high cliff. Those who obeyed plunged to their deaths; those who refused were tortured and executed. Henry Christophe ended up shooting himself.