Review: Lady in Wating: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner

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My Interest

It should be obvious by now to any reader of this blog why I’d want to read this one! I actually read parts of it in a British paper last year.

The Story

Lady Anne Coke [“Cook”] grew up with visits from Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret and their parents. Like Lady Diana Spencer, her father was a courtier and often hosted the King for shooting parties at their family estate. As part of the King’s household, her father regularly saw the King’s fabled “gnashes” or fits of over-the-top anger. Anne’s life as “a disappointment”–i.e. the first of three girls born to a peer needing a male heir has been very colorful. And emotional. Princess Margaret is merely one of the good parts!

“I once asked [Colin] why he had picked me, when he had millions of sophisticated girlfriends. He could have married any of them. Why was it that he wanted to marry me?

He replied, ‘Well, I knew that with you, you would carry on, you would never give up.'” (p.109)

When virginal, lovely, young Lady Anne married Colin Tennant [later Baron Glenconner] a member of the so-called “Princess Margaret set,” she went off to her wedding night with a quick remembrance shared by her mother of something one of the dogs had done. Her new husband, who even Princess Margaret had described as “decadent” educated her in the rites of the marriage bed in a unique way [no spoliers].

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Appalled? Yes, I was. I was also left wondering on today’s spectrums of sexuality and gender-identity where Colin Glenconner would place himself if he was a young man today. It also occurred to me that had fetal alcohol syndrome been a diagnosis in 1926, if he’d have had some of its effects. (Similarly, if Anne and Colin’s oldest son wasn’t touched by that). Finally, I had to ask myself if Colin had been molested. He was just that abnormal–not 100% of the time, but something was truly “off” with him. [Wedding photo: Alamay/Shutterstock]

What I did not expect was to have something in common with a woman four years older than my late father and for it to be something so horrific. I knew the Tennants were one of those families like the Kennedys who are often referred to as “cursed.” Heroin takes hold of rich and poor, aristocratic and the lowliest of villagers all with the same vicious hold. I nearly cried in part of that story–for both our sons, though mine is still with me.

“Colin never tried to divorce me. As he always said, ‘We were brought up not to throw in the towel but to bite bullets and fold towels neatly.'”

That Anne stayed with Colin and kept focusing on his good “side,” is a tribute to the British Stiff Upper Lip indeed. But far worse than the life he gave her was the ending he gave [no spoilers] her upon his death. Wow, again.

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Photo: Corbis via Daily Mail

But what about Princess Margaret? Understandably, she comes off looking fairly decent. Spoiled? Entitled? Of course, but also vulnerable and human. I liked Anne more than I did Margaret, but it was refreshing to see such humanity in a woman often spoofed as cold as ice and full of herself. I suppose after Colin, Anne never notices those traits!

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner

To read more about the Tennant family see this post at the Esoteric Curiosa

Here’s a hilarious recent interview that shows Anne’s true personality while she tells the most outrageous, but true, story from the book:

Royal Spectacles!

 

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Queen Victoria was 81 when she died–that was extremely old in 1901.  At his christening only a few months before she died, Prince Philip’s “Uncle Dickie,” then Prince Louis Francis of Battenberg, knocked the spectacles off the great Queen–his great-grandmother. Self-propagated legend this may be, but it makes a good story.

If not for Victoria, looking back through old photos of the British Royal Family you would assume they were gifted with life-long perfect eyesight. Not true! But back in the day, wearing “spectacles” was seen as a weakness and unbecoming, so people, ladies especially, but gentlemen, too, often groped their way blindly around until the lights went down at the theatre or the cards were dealt at after-dinner bridge or similar times. Prince Philip’s father often sported a monocle!

It was even big news when Queen Elizabeth started wearing glasses and that was in the 1990s. Prince Philip adopted contact lenses as soon as they were available and I suspect a number of other royals may have as well. These days, no one cares if Prince William wears his specs instead of his contacts. Today, I’m looking at some of the glasses, aka “spectacles,”  royals have sported over the years.

Wielding a classy lorgnette

 

 

The Queen’s Grandmother, Queen Mary,  used a very grand dame’s lorgnette–glasses that look like a prop from one of today’s fun photo booths! These handheld specs were more acceptable socially for older ladies to drag out at the theatre or opera.

Pince-Nez, the gentleman’s lorgnette

Monocle–a once-fashionable gentleman’s accessory

 

Americans recognize pince-nez as those nose-hugging glasses word by President Theodore Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson,  and President Franklin Roosevelt, who wore them long after they’d fallen out of style. Prince Philip’s father, Prince Andrew (Andrea) of Greece wore pince-nez in his early adulthood. The monocle, beloved as the eyepiece of bad guys in cartoons and movies, was once the fashion. Andrew also wore a monocle.

If you look closely, you’ll spot Edwina’s specs in her hand

Prince Philip’s Aunt, [then] Lady Louis Mountbatten–later Edwina, Countess Mountbatten, hid her spectacles all the time. She also frequently carried a suspiciously glasses-shaped clutch.

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Photo is mine taken of a page in India Remembered by Lady Pamela Mountbatten Hicks

The Mountbatten’s younger daughter,  Pamela, shared the specs-vanity problem. Here is a rare photo of her wearing them in India when her father was the last Viceroy.

 

The Ex-King

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Photo source: Interior Archive

The Duke of Windsor used reading glasses, but being very vain, he left them on his desk.

 

The Prince Who Has Worn Glasses Since Boyhood

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Prince Richard, his mother HRH the Duchess of Gloucester, and his elder brother, Prince William of Gloucester at Eton.

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Even today’s Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s paternal first cousin, who has worn glasses since childhood, was occasionally made to take them off for photos. As Prince Richard of Gloucester, he is seen here with his parents and elder brother, Prince William (who died in 1972). Off to the side are his specs–caught for posterity by the photographer.

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Photo Credit: Majesty Magazine

His Grandson, Xan, Baron Culloden, wears glasses as well. That’s him to the Queen’s right. He is a Paige of Honour–one of the boys who carry the Queen’s train on ceremonial occasions.

The 1960s and onward–times begin to change

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Princess Marina,  Duchess of Kent, was one of the first royals to give in and wear her specs in public. Seen above at Epsom with her daughter, Princess Alexandra, and son-in-law Angus Ogilvy,  and at Wimbledon with her son, Prince Michael, and Princess Anne, Marina was seen at Wimbledon in sunglasses regularly.

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Marina’s son, the Duke of Kent

Photo sources: (left) Getty/Canada (right) Damien McFadden
Left photo: Lord Nicholas Windsor and elder brother George, Earl of St. Andrews. They are the sons of the Queen’s paternal first cousin Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. Right photo: George’s son, Edward, Baron Downpatrick and an unidentified friend.

Marina’s Grandsons George, Earl of St. Andrew’s and Lord Nicholas Windsor, have worn glasses for years. George’s son, Edward, Baron Downpatrick, has occassionally appeared in specs.

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Marina’s grandaughter, Lady Helen Windsor’s husband, Tim Taylor, has long worn glasses as well.

Princess Margaret

Photo Credits: (Left)  GETTY IMAGES / TIM GRAHAM via Town and Country

The Queen’s late sister, Princess Margaret, wore very stylish glasses at the end of her life–I especially liked these round ones.

 

Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother

 

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Photo source: https://members2.boardhost.com

The Queen Mother looked very nice in her glasses, but she was of that very vain 1920s generation who didn’t like to be seen in them!

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh

 

Photo sources: (Left) NY Post (Right) womanandhome.com

The Queen first used glasses in public sometime around 1982. The Duke of Edinburgh has worn glasses most of his adult life. He just wears contacts most times. The Queen recently had cataracts surgery and appeared in public in sunglasses, just like her late Uncle, The Duke of Windsor did after his surgery in 1965.

 

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Photo credit: Getty via Cosmo Magazine
Queen Elizabeth wore sunglasses to avoid canceling engagements after cataract surgery.

Safety Glasses

 

Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip- Wearing Glasses. Picture Shows The Queen Visiting Nigg Oil Centre. Lord Linley And Prince Edward Are Also Wearing Protective Glasses.

The Queen in hideous safety glasses, trailed by Prince Edward and Princess Margaret’s son the then Viscount Linley also wearing the glasses. The Queen has been seen in safety glasses many times.

Photo credit: unknown

I’m fairly sure these were safety glasses required for the visit she was making, but still worth including here.

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Photo source: Daily Mail

Her daughter-in-law, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has worn safety glasses as well.

The Rest of the Family

Today all three of the Queen’s sons have been seen in glasses to read or drive. Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is frequently seen sporting her spectacles for reading. Prince William and his cousin, Peter Phillips, are not shy about wearing their glasses when they choose to.

Photo credits: (Right) Daily Mail  and (Left) Daily Mail
Left photo: Prince William in his glasses. Right photo: Peter Phillips, the Queen’s eldest grandchild. wearing his glasses.

 

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Prince William in regulation RAF glasses

 

The Prince of Wales and his wife The Duchess of Cornwall have both been seen wearing reading glasses.

 

Photo Credit (both photos) Daily Mail
Prince Edward, with son James, Viscount Severn and wife Sophie with their daughter, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor

At Wednesday’s (12/18/2019) Royal Family Christmas lunch, both Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, were seen driving to the palace wearing glasses.

 

The Happy Royal Groom

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Photo credit: Daily Mail

Princess Eugenie’s husband made sure to bring his glasses to their wedding so he could put them on at just the right moment to clearly see her come down the aisle–a very sweet scene in that lovely royal wedding.

The Disgraced Royal

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Photo credit: Princess Eugenie/Instagram via Hello Magazine

Jack Brooksbank’s disgraced father-in-law, Prince Andrew has given in to middle age as well and donned reading glasses.

 

Sunglasses are another story–everyone wears them!

 

The Duke Of Cambridge And The Duke Of Sussex Take Part In The King Power Royal Charity Polo Day

Photo Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty via People Magazine

Prince Louis of Cambridge, aka “Boss Baby,” wearing Mum’s shades.

 

 

Leaving you with these two fashionable brothers–the future Edward VIII and the future George VI–in shades

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And The Best Royal Meme Ever

 

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If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy my post:  Smoking Hot Royals!

Sixth in line to the British Throne

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Just as President George H.W. Bush and his son, President George W. Bush became known as 41 and 43 for their place in the long line of U.S. Presidents, so too has Prince Harry become known as “sixth in line” for the British throne. Sixth is the highest he can hope to be now. Each child born to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and eventually those children born to George, Charlotte, and Louis, will all push Prince Harry further down the line of succession. Today, I’m looking at some of the royals who have occupied sixth place in the past.

Prince George of Cambridge (the 19th Century Prince)

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George, later Duke of Cambridge, was Queen Victoria’s 1st cousin.  In 1837 he was the sixth in line to the throne at the time of his Uncle, King William IV’s death. Victoria’s father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent,  was the elder brother of George’s father–hence Victoria ascended to the throne when their Uncle William died. Today’s little Prince George of Cambridge is related to him via Queen Victoria as well as through Queen Mary whose mother was his sister. “Old” George Cambridge also had an uncle who was Duke of Sussex. He had red hair and made a disastrous first marriage, just like today’s Duke of Sussex–Prince Harry!

 

Princess Alice

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In 1853, Princess Alice, Queen Victoria’s second daughter, was sixth in line to the throne. At that time, sons came before daughters in the succession. She is the Great-Grandmother of Prince Philip and the mother of the murdered Tsarina Alexandra of Russia. She was number 23 in line when she died.

 

Lady Alexandra Duff (later Princess Alexandra of Fife)

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In  January 1901, when Edward VII became King, his granddaughter, then Lady Alexandra Duff was sixth in line to the throne after her Uncle George (later George V) and his first four children. Alexandra and her sister, Maud, were the last members of the Royal family to be only “Her Highness,” not “Her Royal Highness” after her Grandfather elevated them to the status in 1905. At the time of her death, she was 17th in line and was officially known as “Her Royal Highness Princess Arthur of Connaught, Duchess of Fife“–her status having undergone yet another upgrade when she married her first cousin.

Princess Mary (later The Princess Royal)

 

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Princess Mary with her elder brothers, [left to right] Prince Henry, Prince Albert (seated–future George VI), Prince Edward (in uniform–future Edward VIII), Prince John (seated wearing a dress), and Prince George

When her father George V became king in 1910 Princess Mary was the sixth in line to the throne, after her five brothers–the future kings Edward VIII, George VI, and Princes Henry, George and John. She was a nurse during World War I before marrying the Earl of Harewood. You can read more about them here in my post,  Cross-Generational Romance in the Royal Family. When Mary died in 1965 she was 17th in line.

 

The Earl of Harewood

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The future Queen Elizabeth II with her paternal first cousin the future Earl of Harewood and a nanny.

In the 1920’s Princess Mary’s elder son, King George V’s eldest grandchild, George Lascelles, later Earl of Harewood, was sixth in line to the throne. By the time he died, aged 88, he was around #40–not far above the Norwegian Royal Family.

 

Prince George, Duke of Kent

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King George V and Queen Mary had seven children–six of whom lived to adulthood. Prince George, named for his father, was the sixth child. In 1935, and until his father died in January of 1936, he was sixth in line to the throne. His son, Edward, today’s Duke of Kent, was a newborn and ranked seventh. George was killed in a flying accident during World War II, he had actually gone up a notch to 5th in line, owing to his Uncle’s Abdication.

Prince Edward of Kent

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In 1936, the Year of Three Kings,  until Edward VIII signed the Instrument of Abdication, his namesake Godson-nephew, Prince Edward of Kent, was sixth in line to the throne. Upon his father’s death in 1942, he became possibly the youngest Duke in the country at that time. Today the “other” Prince Edward is 37th in line.

Prince William of Gloucester

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William’s father, the last Prince Harry [Henry], was the Queen’s uncle. William was born fourth in line to the throne in 1941. When he died in 1972, another air crash victim, he was ninth–after his father and Princess Margaret’s children.

Prince Richard of Gloucester

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Prince Richard of Gloucester (in glasses), his mother the Duchess, and his elder brother, Prince William.

Better known today as the Duke of Gloucester, Prince Richard was in the 6th position when his Uncle, King George VI, died and his first cousin, Elizabeth became Queen. Today he is 27th in line after the grandchildren of the late Princess Margaret.

Princess Margaret

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Fourth in line at the time of her birth in 1930, the Queen’s little sister, was expected to move farther down the line of succession–hopefully by the birth of children to her uncle, the Prince of Wales, as well as by the birth of a longed-for son for her own parents. Neither happened. Margaret, like Prince Harry, was the “spare” for many years. She was pushed down to sixth by the birth of Peter Phillips, the Queen’s first grandchild, in 1977.  By the time Margaret, died on February 9, 2002, she was way down at 10th after all of her sister’s children and grandchildren.

 

Princess Eugenie of York

 

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Princess Eugenie was sixth in line to the throne from the day of her birth in 1990 until the birth of her cousin Prince William’s first child, Prince George in 2013. She has been demoted two more times with the birth of George’s siblings. Prince Harry’s child also pushed her down one rung. Today she is 10th.

 

Prince Henry (Harry) of Wales, Duke of Sussex

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For the foreseeable future, Prince Harry will remain sixth in line to the throne until either the Duchess of Cambridge has another baby or until her children grow up, marry, and start their own families.

Shared Royal Birthdays and More Interesting Royal Dates Part III

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Princess Anne and husband Admiral Sir Tim Laurence

As in any large family, the British Royal family has a lot of shared dates for births, deaths, marriages–even the announcements of divorce! That one was March 19th. In 1976 Princess Margaret’s separation from Lord Snowdon was announced and in 1992, the Duke and Duchess of York announced their separation.

Births and Deaths

December 3rd

Left to right: Princess Victoria, Princess Louise (de Laszlo), Prince Andrew (Andrea) (de Laszlo) and Prince Philip with his parents.

Princess Victoria, sister of King George V known as “Toria,” was never allowed to marry. Her mother, Queen Alexandra kept her at home as a companion–a very selfish move. She died on December 3, 1935, a little over a month before her brother the King was to die.

Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyl,  Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, died on December 3, 1939. Her husband then Lord Lorne was one of two Royal Governors-General of Canada, then other being Queen Mary’s brother, Lord Athlone. Louise herself was a professional sculptor. She was even allowed to attend art school like her Great-Great-Great-Niece, Lady Sarah Chatto (nee Armstrong-Jones).

Prince Andrew (Andrea) of Greece, father of Prince Philip died on December 3, 1944, in Monte Carlo while living with his mistress. At the time of his death, his surviving daughters were in Germany–all married to minor German princes, two of whom were Nazis and Prince Philip was serving in the British Navy.

Scale

Princess Victoria’s sister, Maud, became Queen of Norway. Her great-great-grandson, Prince Sverre Magnus, was born December 3, 2005. He is 3rd in line to the Norwegian throne, after his sister and his father, but is also in the top 100 of the British line of succession to the throne.

Photo Credit: Official Norwegian Royal Family Website

A Royal Execution, a Royal Wedding, and a Royal Birth

May 19th

Photo credits: (Left) Wikipedia; (Middle) Unknown; (Right) credit

Henry VIII’s 2nd and most famous wife, Anne Boylen, was beheaded on this day in 1536.

Henry Ulick Lascelles, grandson of Princess Mary (sister of George VI) and son of Queen Elizabeth’s 1st cousin, the Hon. Gerald Lascelles, was born on this day in 1953.

Another royal Henry–aka Prince Harry, was married on this day in 2018 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

More Shared Birthdays

March 1st

Photo Credits: (Left) credit; (Middle) found at credit Alan Davidson; (Right) found at credit copyright:Mark Stewart Photography Ltd

Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the husband of Princess Anne, was born March 1, 1955.

Serena, Countess of Snowdon, wife of Princess Margaret’s son David (better known by his life-long title, Viscount Linley), was born March 1, 1970.

Lady Rose (Windsor) Gilman, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, was born March 1, 1980.

 

A Royal Wedding and Two Birthdays

July 1st

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Princess Alice, second daughter of Queen Victoria, and great-grandmother of Prince Philip (also the mother of assassinated Tzarina Alexandra and martyred Grand Duchess Serge (Ella) and grandmother of Lord Mountbatten and Queen Louise of Sweden) married Prince Ludwig (Louis) of Hesse on July 1, 1862. Little could she know that just over a century later, the future bride (and ex-wife) her of Great-Great-Great Grandson Prince Charles, would be born.

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Lady Diana Spencer, the future bride of the Prince of Wales, was born on July 1, 1960.

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Also born on July 1 (1999) was Princess Margaret’s grandson, Charles, Viscount Linley.

 

 

 

A Future Queen Marries and a Future King is Born

July 22nd

 

Princess Maud of Wales (daughter of Edward VII) married Prince Charles of Denmark–soon to become King Haakon of Norway on July 22, 1896.

 

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Photo copyright Jason Bell/Camera Press

Prince George of Cambridge was born July 22, 2013. He is related to Princess Maud through both the Queen and Prince Philip. Princess Alexandra (Maud’s mother) was the sister of King George I of Greece, Prince Philip’s paternal grandfather.

 

To see Parts I and II of this post series click on the linked titles below:

Shared Birthdays etc Part I

Shared Birthdays etc Part II

 

To see all of my Royal Family posts, click on the words Royal Family in the tag cloud in the right sidebar.

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Admiral Sir Tim Laurence with step-granddaughter Mia Tindall

Review: The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel by Georgie Blalock

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My Interest

If you read this blog, you know I’m a royal fan! Princess Margaret was both the Diana and the Harry of her day, so this re-telling of her story piqued my interest. That I happened to listen to the book on the birthday of David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowden and son of Princess Margaret was just extra fun.

The Story

When her cousin brings her to an event Princess Margaret is attending, the Hon. Vera Strathmore [interesting choice of name–Margaret’s maternal grandfather was the Earl of Strathmore] hits it off with the 19-year-old second daughter of King George VI.  When Margaret is advised that Vera is the real name of novelist Rose Lavish the Princess takes her into her so-called “Margaret set” [think Harry’s Glossy Posse] as one of Her Royal Highness’s Ladies in Waiting–a role that combines nanny, friend, confidant, social secretary, and protocol chief all in one.

As the years go on and Margaret rejects any thought of marriage to the eligible future Dukes, Marquesses or Earl in her set, Vera, too, has to push aside ideas of marriage. Her future and her status as Lady in Waiting are too intertwined. Her life mirrors that of the Princess who cannot give up everything, as she had thought she could, to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend.

When photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones hits the scene Vera sees the future all too clearly.

My Thoughts

The story is well-told. Happily, the author did not try to create personalities for the entire royal family. She kept her narrative tightly focused on the small ensemble of Margaret, Vera, Charmaine Douglas (daughter of the American Ambassador) and a few others. Her characterization of Princess Margaret was very believable. At times, I had to remind myself I was reading about “Margot” and not her errant great-nephew Prince Harry and his wife. The Windsors have had many rebels. All seem to want what they can never be: to be “ordinary” in that they are ignored by the press. None ever wants to do without the deference, money, lavish lifestyle or the rest of it. Just the press “be gone”!

My Verdict on the Story

Four Stars

 

The Problems

If you are going to write about the Aristocracy and Royals GET THE TITLES RIGHT. Yes, it is fiction, so you can have your characters say whatever you want them to say, but….

Ms. Blalock’s inability to master titles, forms of address and even, in one scene, the basic assignments of servants, detracts from a story that was very well told.  Of course, many readers won’t know or care–but many others will. Fact-checking seems to have vanished from all forms of publishing today. This is the sort of thing an intern could have fact-checked by grabbing a copy or online free trial to Debrett’s!

And do your homework on slang!  Buckingham Palace is known as BUCK HOUSE! Not “Buck Place.” Since this was the single most overused phrase in the entire book, I have to point it out. It is fine to refer to it as “the Palace” and leave it at that.

Titles and Forms of Address Mistakes

The King and Queen are “Their Majesties,” not “Their Royal Highnesses”

The Queen and her consort, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are “Her Majesty and His Royal Highness” as a male consort does not become a “King Consort” [though Denmark’s Prince Henrik died trying for it].

Prince Philip was always a royal and a royal Duke in the time of the story’s setting. No ROYAL Duke is ever “His Grace”. [Philip is a descendant of Queen Victoria and of Christian IX of Denmark just like the Queen and Margaret. He became “Philip Mountbatten” for political reasons].

The Earl of Somewhere is “Lord Somewhere,” not “Lord First-Name Last-Name” which is a designation only for the younger sons of Dukes and Marquesses.

A Duke would only ever have been “Lord Whoever Posh-Person” if he was born a second or lower son. He would never be referred to in that manner after becoming a Duke.

“Lady Imogene Spencer-Churchill” [in the book] cannot be referred to as “Lady Spencer Churchill” only as “Lady Imogene.” Geesh, watch Downton Abbey! Lady Rosilind explains it to Sir Richard way back in Season 1. “Lady Spencer Churchill” would be the wife of an Earl Spencer Churchill or a Viscount Spencer Churchill or a Baron Spencer Churchill or a Sir Chinless Spencer Churchill (but he would be Sir Chinless, never Lord/Sir Spencer Churchill).

“Sir Lascelles”???? NO!! Sir Alan! (i.e., Sir Alan “Tommy” Lascelles). Even “Sir Tommy”–that was his nickname, but never, ever, Sir Lascelles unless Lascelles was his first name and he was “Sir Lascelles Anstruther-Chinless-Scott” or someone. His wife would be Lady Lascelles.

Patrick Plunkett though WAS correctly called Lord Plunkett because he was Baron Plunkett.

“Group Captain” and “Captain” are not interchangeable. Peter Townsend would have been addressed as “Group Captain” (like “Sergent Major”) and never as “Captain”.

Other Mistakes

The Duke of Marlborough was Winston Churchill’s cousin, not brother, so the title “Uncle Winston” was simply a family custom. He was not the uncle of the Duke’s children. This only caught my notice due to all the other title mangling.

Ruby MacDonald would have DIED before she’d have said “the Queen Mum”!! She’d have said “Queen Elizabeth” for Margaret’s mother. Princess Margaret’s sister would be called “Her Majesty” or “The Queen” in conversation. Ruby was with Margaret until she [Ruby] died–was with her from childhood as her “dresser,” i.e. her ladies maid and had a very fraught relationship with Lord Snowdon (as Tony became).

Anthony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones was educated at Sandroyd and Eton and then went to Cambridge where he coxed a winning boat race crew. He was the step-son (and later the half-brother ) of an Earl and would never call Margaret “Your Highness” for he would KNOW that was a different, LESSER rank! [It last used in the British Royal family by two granddaughters of Edward VII (daughters of his daughter).]

A footman would NEVER be sent to pack a lady’s clothing! Maids looked after female guests–they did not just scrub floors.

Reader Mistakes: I listened to the audio version

It is “Ma’am as in ham, not ‘marm’ as in farm”

Lady Anne Coke’s name is pronounced “Cook” in spite of the spelling. Thank God  “Cholmondeley” wasn’t used anywhere.

 

The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel by Georgie Blalock

 

For More on Princess Margaret see:

 

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99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown

New Royal Novels

I’ve enjoyed a few royal novels in my day, such as Princess Izzy and the E Street Shuffle, or Sue Townsend’s wonderful royal novels, to mention only a few. Now interest in Prince Harry’s wedding, Meghan’s-much-clutched bump, and Archie’s apperance on the scen, has led to a few new novels with royal characters–including an imaginary American Royal Family. There has been quite a renewed interest in Princess Grace of Monaco, too, that has generated several new novels. Finally, this summer we have a lot of reasons to read a best-selling romance between a prince and a resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue round out the list.

Three Forthcoming Royal Novels

#1 The American Royals by Katherine McGee

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From Amazon:

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown.
Two girls vying for the prince’s heart.
This is the story of the American royals.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

American Royals by Katherine McGee releases on September 3, 2019

Thank you to Amy’s Bookish Life for bringing this book to my attention.

#2 The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel by Georgie Blalock

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My most anxiously awaited title of the Autumn! I love the title playing on the superb Other Bolyn Girl! Netflix’s The Crown, for all the mischief it has created with fictionalized storylines, has managed to generate new interest in the Queen’s sister and her doomed love affiar with an Equerry. When you realize that Margaret’s niece, Princess Anne, later married an equerry after her own divorce, you can develop a lot of sympathy for the semi-tragic princess.

From Amazon:

In dreary, post-war Britain, Princess Margaret captivates everyone with her cutting edge fashion sense and biting quips. The royal socialite, cigarette holder in one hand, cocktail in the other, sparkles in the company of her glittering entourage of wealthy young aristocrats known as the Margaret Set, but her outrageous lifestyle conflicts with her place as Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister. Can she be a dutiful princess while still dazzling the world on her own terms?

The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel by Georgie Blalock releases November 5, 2019 (should have been November 3rd, the birthday of Magaret’s son David, [2nd] Earl of Snowdon).

#3 The Girl in the White Gloves by Kerri Maher 

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The author of The Kennedy Debutante gives us a novel of Grace Kelly. I am looking forward to this one!

From Amazon:

A life in snapshots…

Grace knows what people see. She’s the Cinderella story. An icon of glamor and elegance frozen in dazzling Technicolor. The picture of perfection. The girl in white gloves.

A woman in living color…

But behind the lens, beyond the panoramic views of glistening Mediterranean azure, she knows the truth. The sacrifices it takes for an unappreciated girl from Philadelphia to defy her family and become the reigning queen of the screen. The heartbreaking reasons she trades Hollywood for a crown. The loneliness of being a princess in a fairy tale kingdom that is all too real.
Hardest of all for her adoring fans and loyal subjects to comprehend, is the harsh reality that to be the most envied woman in the world does not mean she is the happiest. Starved for affection and purpose, facing a labyrinth of romantic and social expectations with more twists and turns than Monaco’s infamous winding roads, Grace must find her own way to fulfillment. But what she risks–her art, her family, her marriage—she may never get back.

The Girl in the White Gloves by Kerri Maher releases February 25, 2020

Already a Best-Seller

#4 Red, White, and Royal Blue: A Novel by Casey McQuiston

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This book is getting a ton of buzz this summer! I’ve been on the library’s waiting list for it since it released.

From Amazon:

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse….Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

Red, White, and Royal Blue: A Novel by Casey McQuiston

New novels with a royal in the title, but with a story mostly about other people:

Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

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I LOVED this story! You can read my review here.

The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

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A new novel with a story involving the influence on fashion of Grace’s wedding dress and a young seastress charged with “sewing another gown in its image” (Amazon).

From earlier this year:

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The Gown by Jennifer Robson tells the “backstory” of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown.  I LOVED this one, too.

More Royal Book Posts

10 New Royal Books for Royal Wedding Week

Royal Books That I all but Refuse to Let Anyone Touch

For My Royal Family posts, click on Royal Family in the tag cloud in the right sidebar

Top Ten [five]Tuesday: Royal Books That I all but Refuse to Let Anyone Touch

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Confession

I have a confession to make: I do not loan print books except to my college best friend and my Mom. That’s it. Sorry. I was burned too many times when young. I will loan Kindle books that are able to be loaned. There. Got that off my chest.

Do Not Touch

I own a few books that I’d rather no one touch. Oh, I will let you. But if you drag page corners to turn pages or something horrible like that, I’ll throw myself on the book to save it.

Once again, I’ve failed to come up with ten. This week I’ve got only the Top Five. But, today’s release of the Downton Abbey movie trailer will make a few people take an interest in these–The Duke of Windsor and his sister and brothers are contemporaries of Ladies Mary, Edith, and Sybil Crawley. Queen Mary and George V are of Robert and Cora’s generation, and their grandchildren Sybie, George and Marigold are the agemates of Queen Elizabeth! In the movie, George V and Queen Mary are visiting Downton Abbey.

The Books

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This book isn’t “rare” it’s merely rare–as in it was mass produced but not in enormous quantities.  It is Hugo Vicker’s most beautiful book and shows the completely over-the-top homelife of the ex-King Edward VIII and “the woman he loved,” Wallis Simpson, at their Paris home which was later taken over by Dodi Fayad’s father.  The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

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I hope I live long enough that Queen Mary’s diaries will be available online. She is perhaps the most fascinating of royals. Fiance of two heirs to the throne, wife of a King, mother of two other sovereigns, she saw it for what it was: the best career going for a woman of her time and class. She saw all sorts of changes in the royal world in addition to the world at large. She was an odd bird, but interesting. These are all pages from her personal photo albums. Family photos are the most interesting and tell so much of the story. These were taken by her or by others in the family or the “suite” (ladies in waiting, equerries, etc.). All are annotated in her own hand. Queen Mary’s Photo Albums.

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Louisa served the first royal Gan-gan, Queen Victoria, and then served her daughter-in-law Queen Alexandra–who was mother-in-law to Queen Mary. This is a fascinating book with pages of photos, scrapbook memories and other images.  Louisa, lady in waiting : the personal diaries and albums of Louisa, Lady in Waiting to Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra.

While his mother, Queen Mary, was one of the most interesting royals, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was one of the most boring. He did collect sporting prints and antique sporrans, but that’s about as exciting as it gets. The treasure is finding out that the used copy of his equally dull authorized biography I bought online was signed by his widow. The now later Dowager Duchess of Gloucester is the only wife officially allowed to call herself Princess. In widowhood she was known as Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. Prince Henry by Nobel Frankland.

Alice lived so long she produced two memoirs. Both are enjoyable, but the Ninety Years volume has a scrapbook feel and features her watercolors and photographs–one of which won a major award back in the day. Her brother was a big shot in Colonial Kenya–of the Happy Valley set and she, like her future royal husband, spent a lot of time in that beautiful country (or colony as it was then). She and her “Harry,” were both keen horse people–they hunted (fox hunting) throughout the season. They sadly lost their eldest son, Prince William, in an air crash–he was a daredevil and raced planes.  Memories of Princess Alices, Duchess of Gloucester.

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl--here’s a link to the rules. Why not join in the fun next week?

 

 

Shared Royal Birthdays and More Interesting Royal Dates, Part II, Archie Harrison M-W Birthday Edition!

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Newly born Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, aka “Baby Sussex,” at his first photo op at Gan-Gan’s place, aka Windsor Castle.

A Note on That Name

Many American’s are aghast at the choice of “Archie” for it instantly brings to mind t.v.’s most celebrated bigot, Archie Bunker. Across the pond, however, Archie is one of the most popular boy’s names right now, hitting the same demographic of parents that would choose “Liam” or “Noah” here in the U.S.A. Something tells me Archie will soon break into the Social Security Administration’s Top 1000 names–even top 100 names, for boys in 2018/19.

First, a bit of royal trivia:

“Gan-gan” is not a name little Prince George thought up. The Queen referred to her Grandmother, Queen Mary– that is her children’s Great-Grandmother, as such in her televised Christmas speech one year with Andrew and Edward as they looked at old photo albums. It is the royal family’s name for their Great-Grandmother. Harry also used it to refer to the Queen Mother in a fairly recent documentary that included home movies.

You can read my previous Royal Shared Days post HERE if you’d like.

The Birthdays

Archie shares his May 6th birthday with a few higher-ranking royals of the past.

Tzar Nicholas II

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Under the old Russian calendar, the last Tzar of All the Russians, the murdered Nicholas II, was born on May 6, 1868. Under the modern calendar the date was May 18. Nicholas, left, is shown here with his look-a-like first cousin [the future] George V. George V was Gan-gan’s Grandpapa England. Baby Sussex has Grandpapa Wales (i.e., Prince Charles).

Crown Prince Wilhelm

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It’s easy today to forget how inter-related royal families used to be. Prince Philip and the Queen are BOTH descendants of Queen Victoria and of Christian IX of Denmark! Elizabeth’s uncle, Prince George, Duke of Kent, married Philip’s first cousin, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark! All but two of Queen Victoria’s nine children married other royals. Her eldest daughter, also named Victoria (aka Vicky) became Empress of Germany and was the mother of World War I’s Kaiser Wilhelm. Baby Sussex shares his birthday with the last-born heir to the German throne, Crown Prince Wilhem (aka Willie), who was born May 6, 1882.

The Death

Edward VII

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Edward VII, Gan-gan’s (Queen Elizabeth II) Great-Grandfather, died on May 6, 1910.

The Wedding

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon

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Late, great-great Aunt Margot, aka Princess Margaret, Gan-gan’s sister, married Anthony Armstong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowden on May 6, 1960. He would be the last royal spouse (to date) given a peerage.  Baby’s Great-Aunt Anne (the Princess Royal) is the eldest bridesmaid, standing in front of best man (he was a last-minute replacement).

 

Hollywood “Royalty”

There has been speculation that George and Amal Clooney, who attended Harry and Meghan’s wedding, might be chosen as Godparents. That speculation was ended today by Clooney himself–you can read about it here. Even so, what were the odds of baby Archie arriving on George Clooney’s own birthday?

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George Clooney was born May 6, 1961 in the lovey university and horse racing city of Lexington, Kentucky and is the nephew of singer Rosemary Clooney.

 

The Disguised Royal Pregnancy

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H.R.H. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and his new Duchess, the former Katarine Worsley, leave York Minster on their wedding day.

Do the hashtags #Moonbump or #fakepregnancy mean anything to you? Social media is alive with rumors and photos claiming to show that current member of the British Royal family is faking a pregnancy–likely due to using a surrogate. The web claims that royal once admitted in a very long ago interview that I have not read, that she had surgery so cannot have a baby.  I’ve read it all, seen all the photos and admit I have concerns. Whatever! This post is not going to sort THAT all out! Instead today I’m looking at two very sad royal pregnancies endure by the same lovely royal lady, one of which was somewhat #faked–well, “disguised” or “camoflagued” and both of which ended in tragedy.

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Like Princess Eugenie and Jack, the Kents had to wait on Princess Margaret’s marriage to finally tie the knot. Here they are just before their wedding at a horse races.

The Queen’s first cousin, H.R.H. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, married the very lovely Katharine Worsley. She is perhaps best known as the lovely blonde who gave the trophies at Wimbledon and hugged Martina in center court to comfort her. Like Diana, she was a people person–she hugged, visited sick children in hospital and when life wasn’t going her way she quietyly took a job teaching music in a state [i.e. public] school in the very disadvantaged city of Hull. And, she never tweeted or Instagramed about it, not even once. Nor did she alert the media about anything she did.

This royal wife endured much of what other women who married into the House of Windsor have endured. The men in suits didn’t care much for her. Her own VERY royal mother-in-law, the one who called the Queen Mother and the late Duchess of Gloucester “those common Scottish girls” truly did NOT like her or welcome her. (That was Princess Marina, Prince Philip’s cousin who married Queen Elizabeth’s cousin.) The palace could have learned a LOT from this marriage that would have helped Charles and Diana in time.

Back in 1977, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Silver Jubilee–25 years on the throne. There were three royal ladies pregnant that year–Princess Anne, who deservedly had pride of place, was expecting the Queen and Prince Philip’s first grandchild. The Duchess of Gloucester was expecting her second child and the Duchess of Kent was expecting her fouth. Even at 14 I thought it odd that this gracious and lovely lady, who wasn’t due until later in the fall was going about in bulky maternity clothes already. But my grandmother said that could happen in later pregnancies so I gave it no more thought. (It would be up to Anne, who called pregnancy “a hazard of being a wife,” to introduce husband’s army sweaters and the like to royal off-duty maternity wear.)56521548_10162590847860643_3648589840531849216_n

Katharine, surrounded by husband Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and their surviviving children, Lord Nicholas and Lady Helen Windsor and the Earl of St. Andrews at the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Service 1977. Photo is by Serge Lemoine in his book Silver Jublilee Year: A Complete Pictoral Record. [See the end of the post for complete information].

Fast-forward many years when I read the very well done biography of “Kate Kent” as she was sometimes called in the press. The Kents, chose to cover up how far along the pregnancy was–and called the still birth of their third son a “miscarriage.” To make it all even sadder, it occurred the week of the Duke’s birthday. I cannot imagine how they felt as they endured all of this. [For the record, my mother carried my deceased twin until labor started naturally about 6 weeks before the due date].

Katharine Kent’s horrors aren’t confined to this tragedy though. Earlier in the 1970s, she would undergo what was termed a “medically necessary” abortion due to exposure to German measles.  [How different are two countries, I ask you? Imagine someone in public life SURVIVING after the world “abortion” was appended to them?] In an age when it was generally reviled and rarely legal, she had to make that decision. Poor lady.

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Katharine accompanies her youngest child, Lord Nicholas Windsor, to the rehearsal for Charles and Diana’s wedding at St. Paul’s. Nicky is a Godson of Prince Charles and was a pageboy in the wedding along with the son of the family who moved in to Amner Hall–Edward Van Cutsem.

Well, sadly, poor Katharine could not cope with the loss of two babies. Who could? She had a complete breakdown. Her marriage was all but dead by then, but both Kents are truly devoted to their children and grandchildren. Eddie is a “devout” member of the Royal Family and, so, for good or bad, they did not divorce. Katharine found comfort in faith and became a Roman Catholic, as did her sons and some of her grandchildren later on. [Her younger son, Lord Nicholas, is an anti-abortion crusader today]. Her husband retained his distant place in the succession to the throne becasue she was not a Catholic at the time of their marriage. (This is no longer an impediment to royal marriage).

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TRH The Duke and Duchess of Kent at the wedding of Prince Harry.

In time, Katharine regained her equilibrium and returned occasionally to royal life.  The Kents gave up Amner Hall–the house that is today William and the other Catherine’s country home. When Charles and Diana divorced, the couple relinquished York House for Prince Charles to use. (He moved to Clarence House after the death of his grandmother several years later.) Today she is mostly seen at Royal Family events like weddings and occasionally still at Wimbledon. Sadly, these days she often looks very confused and people around her in photos are often showing real concern toward her.

I think it is important to recall the real tragedies THIS royal duchess endured with grace. Hopefully, those claiming Sussexes are not being truthful know about The Duchess of Kent’s tragedies and care about the suffering Katharine endured.

 

 

Sources

Photo of Katharine and family at the Queen’s Silver Jubilee is from this book:

 

The information on Katharine’s pregnancies comes from this book:

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Copyright 1999.

Review: Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II by Jane Dismore

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My Interest

If you haven’t figured out by now that I’m a big fan of the Queen and Prince Philip, you haven’t read much on this blog! I’m picky though—I expect accuracy and cited sources. For far, far, too long biographers have relied on the highjacked prose of the Queen’s former governess, Marion Crawford, as the be-all, end-all on her childhood. In the last 10 years old friends, Prince Philip’s cousins and others have given good interviews in documentaries and magazines, that put the nails into the Crawfie-Little-Princesses-book’s coffin once and for all. First Hugo Vickers exposed the sham the book became in the hands of its American editors. What governess, who knew them intimately, would still be calling them “little girls” when Elizabeth was busy making out with Philip? Right?! So, it is with this in mind that my interest was peaked when I opened a copy and instantly saw a new name being quoted–a name who WOULD know how things were.

What I Liked

That person, Myra Wernher Butter, is sort-of related to Prince Philip (it would take too long to explain). And, she grew up knowing both of the Queen and Philip. It is Philip’s presence throughout the story that I love. Because he WAS there. Oh, not necessarily in the same room with Elizabeth and Margaret. He was, however, a descendant of both Queen Victoria and Christian IX [“The Father-in-law of Europe and father of Queen Alexandra]. His mother was born at Windsor Castle and, for most of his widohood, his Grandmother lived at Kennsington Palace. After her marriage in 1934, his first cousin, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark [the Denmark part always gets left off–hence “Phil the Greek”] was Duchess of Kent–wife of Elizabeth’s paternal uncle.

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Philip and Elizabeth with George VI and Lord Mountbatten (among others) 1939

Philip was around the royals from time-to-time both at royal residences and at the home of Wernhers and of Myra’s sister, Gina [who married Edwina Mountbatten’s former long-term lover, but that remains for another day’s discussion]. He spent nearly all of his life after age 8 at school in Britain (except one brief year in Germany at school on his sister’s estate) and was looked after by his mother’s brothers, the former Princes of Battenberg aka George, Marquess of Milford Haven and [as he was titled then] Lord Louis Mountbatten. George’s son, David, was Philip’s best man.

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Princess Elizabeth with paternal first cousin George Lascelles, the future Earl of Harewood

I also liked that it put paid to Crawfie’s stupid assertion that boys were a rarity in Elizabeth’s world. Hogwash! Crawfie didn’t necessarily go with the family on visits to friends with stately homes–that was Nanny “Alah’s” job. Not only were her two nearest-in-age Royal cousins both boys (Princess Mary’s sons), but many of her parents’ friends sons figured in her life as she visited their homes, attended dancing class, visited with Eton boys who were sent up the hill for the annual tea and more.

This is a much more balanced view of Elizabeth’s childhood. It is fun reading this today to realize she is a contemporary of Downton Abbey’s Sybbie, George and Marigold. Imagine!

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The christening of FDR’s royal godson in 1942

One Head-Smackingly Awful Error

I point this out because it is in the “You had ONE job” category.

The author mentions that one royal is a godson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. You choose which one, ok?

  1. Prince Edward George Nicholas Paul Patrick of Kent [now the Duke of Kent] born October 9, 1935.
  2. Prince Michael George Charles Franklin of Kent born July 4, 1942.

Pretty obvious, yes? No, not to the author! She said it was Eddy! Duh. Yes, I e-mailed the publisher.

Happily, Eddie and brother Michael have no barring on the quality of the book!

Rating

3.5

Well worth reading–espeically if you are new to all things royal.