Nonfiction November: Expert Recommendations of Royal Books


This week in Nonfiction November, Doing Dewey is hosting Be The Expert/Ask The Expert.

Be The Expert

I am an armchair expert on the British Royal family from Queen Victoria to the present. One of my hobbies is playing “spot the error” in royal books.  There’s a whopper in one of this year’s royal biographies–Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II (click to read the error).

I am also conversant in the proper use of titles of the British Aristocracy–the incorrect use of which is a major pet peeve of mine in historical fiction or in (nonfiction) history or biography. Yet, the misuse and incorrect use abound!

On Friday, I reviewed an otherwise excellent book of royal fiction–The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel by Georgie Blalock. The book is a very good read, but oh, my! The title problems were EVERYWHERE! (Publishers need to rehire fact-checkers).  You can read all of the corrections and get a great grasp of titles here.

In case you are wondering, NO, I no longer watch Netflix “The Crown.” I stopped after the fictionalized scenes of Philip’s father blaming him for his sister’s death and of Prince Charles being fitted for Eton uniforms when it had already been decided he would go to Gordonstoun.

You can read more of my Royal Family pontificating by clicking on “Royal Family” in the word/tag cloud in the right sidebar.

Nonfiction Royal Books That I Recommend

You can click on the link to go to my original Diana-Free Royal Books list on Amazon. Many are now out-of-print.

You can click on the link in this sentence to see the Five Royal Books I Won’t Let Anyone Touch in my personal library. (Hint: One is signed by a now-dead royal).

I’ve included The Little Princesses even though it is somewhat discredited, so I’ve included the huge tome of letters by the Queen Mother which show lots of things the Governess missed due to being on vacation. Princess Margaret’s biographies are all pretty vapid and the ones on Lord Snowdon focus mostly on his sexual escapades.

I’ve included two Romanov books since Alexandra was Prince Philip’s great-aunt (and Queen Victoria’s granddaughter) and George V’s cousin (and Kaiser Wilhelm’s cousin). I’ve included Royals and The Reich because they were Prince Philip’s brothers-in-law and were related to Queen Victoria in other ways. Princess Alice was Philip’s mother and her life was a fascinating story. It also illustrates why Prince Philip is the way he is. It is Philip and his family that makes the Royal Family much more interesting! After all, one of his uncles was Lord Mountbatten, the other, Mountbatten’s older brother, had a library of historic erotic and pornography that rivaled that of the Kinsey Sex Institute! And that gentleman’s wife was accused of an affair with Gloria Vanderbilt. And then there’s the Aunt who was in love with Nehru!

There is no “great” biography of either Edward VII or of his great-granddaughter Elizabeth II. There are biographies of them, just none worth recommending. I’ve listed instead, the book on Prince Eddy and the “biography” of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s marriage. George V was a boring King and his official biography is sleep-inducing, so I’ve included the far more readable book on Queen Mary and the newly released notes of her biographer which tell a whale of a tale! Queen Elizabeth’s children and grandchildren have vapid P.R.-type biographies except for Prince Charles. I’ve included two on him and one on Diana. I was not a fan of Diana, though in light of Meghan Markle I could now almost support Diana.

There you go! An expert experting on royal books!


31 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: Expert Recommendations of Royal Books

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  1. Ooh, this make me giddy! I love royal biographies as well, and some of these definitely look like ones I will try. I am particularly a huge Tudor history buff, so I completely understand why you can’t watch when they dramatize inaccuracies…I’ve seen enough terrible accounts of Elizabeth I to give me a permanent eye twitch.

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  2. This is a really extensive good list of Royal-related titles. Thanks a lot for all the ideas. I’ve just DNFd one bio about Prince Phillip, but for some unknown reason, it didn’t take and I took it back mostly unread. I’m going to look a little deeper into some of these titles – there are some brand-new ones for me. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ohhhhh excellent. I am for sure going through here and adding more titles to my list! Have you read Julia P. Gelardi’s Five Granddaughters about the five granddaughters of Queen Victoria who all became Queens? Very, very good. That Sally Bedell Smith bio of Prince Charles was really great too, I loved it. Is Matriarch the bio of Queen Mary you’re referring to? That one really explained a lot about why the Royal Family is the way that they are. I’ve been meaning to read about Princess Alice and that Victoria’s Daughters book for years and years.

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    1. Matriarch was great until I read Pope-Hennessy. Then I wondered why she wasn’t sued for plagiarism in places, but Matriarch was my introduction to Queen Mary and is very readable and accurate. On Youtube is a documentary The Queen’s Mother-in-law which, if you are pressed for time, says most of what’s in the Princess Alice book (if you mean Princess Alice of Battenberg–Philip’s mother). The Victoria’s daughter book is very readable. The Uncommon W about Vicky if nothing else read about the Kaiser’s horrific birth. It explains so much about what went wrong with him!! Thanks for reading and sharing! I love to talk royals and royal books.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I need to read more about Vicky too! I’ve read about her as Victoria’s daughter but not her in her own right.
        I did mean Princess Alice of Battenberg! I didn’t know about the YouTube bio available! I will have to look into that.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow this is an amazing collection!! I get so confused honestly, with all of them! Lol. My mom LOVES the Royals and reads all about them too, so I usually call her up when I have a question. Lol. I am going to send her your link so she can add these to her list. I have to admit I am curious about Philip after your description!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been following your blog for a number of years and had never picked up you were such a royal expert! (I fear my own area of expertise is probably more obvious). I’m no royalist but I did enjoy Andrew Marr’s “The Diamond Queen” abotu QEII as it gave social historical context, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have lots of royal fiction on here! If you look on the right side of the blog there is a “word cloud”–click on Royal Family to see all the posts. I just reviewed The Other Windsor Girl a novel about Princess Margaret, too.


  6. I think you are a real expert, being able to discover such a mistake in a biography! Well done. I do love reading about royals, but prefer historical ones rather than modern day ones. They are an interesting bunch. I have read a few about the last tsar family, an utterly, fascinating story.

    Liked by 1 person

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