I’m enjoying The Sleepwalkers, Christopher Clark’s history of the start of the First World War. I may well not make it through all 700-odd pages, but so far he has an eye for the comically grotesque in early 20th century Europe.
So there’s the story of how a military officer nicknamed Apis, veteran of several regicidal plots, was trusted to look after the crown prince:
when King Petar looked in the winter of 1905 for a companion to accompany his son, Crown Prince Djordje, on a journey across Europe, he should choose none other than Apis, fresh from a long convalescence and still carrying three of the bullets that had entered his body on the night of the assassinations. The chief architect of the regicide was thus charged with seeing the next Karadjordjevic king through to the end of his education as prince. In the event, Djordje never became king; he disqualified himself from the Serbian succession in 1909 by kicking his valet to death