BORN TO RULE tells the stories of five cousins who all grew up under the mantle of their grandmother, Queen Victoria. Alix, Missy, Ena, Maud and Sophie were childhood friends, who were to become the rulers of opposing nations as Europe descended into war. Alexandra (1872-1918), the last Czarina of Russia, whose family's brutal murder is the stuff of legend. Marie (1875-1938), the flamboyant queen of Romania whose affairs scandalised her peers but whose heroism saved her country. Victoria Eugenie (1887-1969), a very English queen who returned to Britain after Franco took power in Spain and was the only cousin to live to see a second European war. Sophie (1870-1932), sister of the Kaiser, was exiled from the Greek throne after the First World War. Maud (1869-1938), daughter of Edward VII, the reluctant Queen of Norway. Julia Gelardi's book is both an intimate portrait of the five cousins told through their own correspondence and papers, and a remarkable evocation of the family dramas that created the backdrop to the unfolding political crisis of early 20th-century Europe and the First World War.