Simon Sebag Montefiore

Simon Sebag Montefiore’s The World: a Family History is out on 27 October.

Putin should fear those closest to him

I was interested to see that amid the Byzantine intrigues of embattled Conservative panjandrums, two Spice Girls have criticised the government. When the Spices manoeuvre politically, pundits sometimes cite my 1996 interview with the group in which they declared their Thatcherism and opposition to the single European currency. Such is their influence that it could

Spice girls back sceptics on Europe

190 years of The Spectator   14 December 1996   The Spice Girls were at the time the biggest girl group in the world, their debut album selling 23 million copies. The interview brought the magazine its highest sales figure for a generation Interview the Spice Girls, I thought. But the Spice Girls are interviewed

The fall of tyrants is always a family story

Robert Mugabe’s resignation fascinates because the fall of tyrants is always a family story, decline of the father, writ large. What a strange creature he is. Who else would give a speech of such orotundity that it contained archaic words like ‘pith’, ‘collegiality’, ‘comported’, ‘untrammelled’ and ‘vicissitudes?’ No British politician has used such language since

Israel is becoming ever more part of the Arab Middle East

This month, I attended the spectacular centenary dinner for the Balfour Declaration at Lancaster House, with descendants of many of its creators: Lloyd Georges, the photographer Christopher Sykes, grandson of Sir Mark Sykes. The dinner was hosted and organised by Jacob Rothschild and Roderick Balfour, who entered with the prime ministers of Israel and Britain.

Diary – 23 November 2017

At the top of Machu Picchu last week, I saw two wide-winged condors swoop over Sacred Valley through a rainbow that curved between two holy mountains. Weary after many books and travels, I felt restored and inspired by this magic. There was hardly anyone in Machu Picchu; its cliffs vertiginous, its cloud jungle lushly impenetrable,

A bolt from the blue

The memoirs of the Grand Duchess Olga are an entertaining record for anyone interested in the imperial family’s home life during the last years of Russian autocracy. The memoirs of the Grand Duchess Olga are an entertaining record for anyone interested in the imperial family’s home life during the last years of Russian autocracy. Olga

Diary – 1 December 2007

It has been a monarchical week — despite the election of a republican in Australia. I don’t just mean the Queen’s wedding anniversary, Ugandan tour, and the unveiling of the BBC’s famous TV series (of which more later). No, I’m thinking of the blossoming of the world’s more traditional monarchies — by which I mean

Diary – 19 May 2007

Stalin and the Rothschilds is one of the more bizarre connections that I discovered while writing a book on the dictator’s early life.  Stalin worked for the Rothschilds;  he burnt down their refinery and ordered the assassination of their managing director — yet later they helped fund Lenin and Stalin. There were always rumours, but

Democracy may die

A few months ago I asked a Kremlin grandee, who worked with both Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, which president of Russia he preferred. I expected him to favour the warm but shambolic Yeltsin rather than the competent but icy Putin. I was wrong. ‘The difference,’ he explained, ‘is that Yeltsin was a capricious Tsar;

How Stephen the Small came to save Montenegro and afterwards

In 1766, a diminutive adventurer appeared in Cetinje, the capital of the mountainous principality of Monte- negro, and managed to supplant the rightful claimant to the position of Vladika, the ruling Prince-Bishop. The adventurer was remarkable in many respects. Firstly, he was known as ‘Scepan Mali’, ‘Stephen the Small’, in a country where physical stature