Interesting, detailed biography of the Queen and her dysfunctional family.
Particularly interesting was the chapter on Phillip the Consort. I never had...moreInteresting, detailed biography of the Queen and her dysfunctional family.
Particularly interesting was the chapter on Phillip the Consort. I never had much respect for him, and this book did little to improve my opinion. Basically, an immature man who was never able to accept the fact that he wasn't number one in authority, since he married the Queen. He should have given this problem some thought before his marriage; so should she. But given the fact that he was literally a penniless relative nobody, and that she loved him, how could he not marry her? He had nowhere to go but up. On the other hand, according to the author, the Queen cut him off in the bedroom soon after Anne was born (until she decided to have another child, many years later) so he can't be completely blamed for his wandering eye and philandering ways.
Some of the book is a little dated now, particularly the bits about Camilla and Charles; it was obviously written before their marriage. Particularly humorous is the contention that one of the good things about Camilla was that she never had a desire to be Queen. We'll see.
All in all, Elizabeth, for all her money and position, has had a fairly crappy life. No choice in career, over-dedication to duty to the expense of her children and marriage, no freedom of movement, seriously dull life of opening and closing bridges and supermarkets, etc. And apparently not much joy. On the other hand, no job or money worries.
It would be interesting to know if, in retrospect, she would make different choices, esp. regarding her family. But being the classy, close mouthed lady that she is, we'll never know.
Edward VIII, by Frances Donaldson, is an excruciatingly detailed biography of Edward VIII, more commonly known as the Duke of Windsor.
Much emphasis i...moreEdward VIII, by Frances Donaldson, is an excruciatingly detailed biography of Edward VIII, more commonly known as the Duke of Windsor.
Much emphasis is placed upon his upbringing (not one one would envy, despite the wealth and title). The royal parents were actually quite crappy parents when you get down to it, and much of the later behaviour of the Duke can be laid at their feet.
However, in the end, the portrait painted of the Duke is one of a man, not too bright to put it mildly, badly educated, and surrounded without sycophants who told him what he wanted to hear, but with a great deal of physical charm and a practical sense of how to relate to the "common man."
The tragedy is of course that all this talent was completely wasted because he chose, early on, to marry another man's wife and spent the rest of his life a) making that happen and b) paying the consequences.
The concurrent description of Wallis Simpson was very interesting as well. She was described by many (in other books as well) as not loving him quite as much as he loved her. If she had truly wanted to prevent the "tragedy" of the life of the Duke, she would not have permitted his attentions, and would have absented herself from his presence permanently. She didn't, and much if not most of the blame for his aimless and sad later life is to be placed at her feet.
At the end of the book, and the end of his life, it's impossible not to make comparisons between the Duke and the current Prince of Wales. Consider: the Duke gave up the throne and lived a life, mainly pointless, with no real job or point to his life because he broke up a marriage and then married the divorcee. He spent the rest of his life hopelessly trying to get the Royal Family to recognize Wallis, and grant her the title of Her Royal Highness (they didn't).
The current Prince broke up a marriage, married the woman in question, lives a life without a real job or aim to his life, is surrounded by sycophants who tell him what he wants to hear, but lost nothing at all in status, money, title, etc. His wife will by all accounts become Queen of England one day. It is amazing what the passage of 80 years changed in the way of acceptance of what is identical behaviour.
What would the Royal Family be like now if Edward had not found it necessary to abdicate? He would have remained King. The Queen would have remained a Princess, Charles would not be the heir apparent. The entire Diana tragedy would not have occurred. Camilla would not be Queen in waiting.
This is an good book to look at if you are interested in the beautiful clothing that Diana wore. There are many good color pictures, along with inform...moreThis is an good book to look at if you are interested in the beautiful clothing that Diana wore. There are many good color pictures, along with information about where/when they were worn, who designed, etc.
The narrative, which follows the contention that one could see in later days how Diana dressed with intention to play for sympathy, or show her independence, etc., is a little much for me. I have a problem with the idea that dressing in pastels, etc., shows her play for sympathy as a wronged woman. I will go along with the dresses in her later life, esp. the little black "up yours" dress she wore on the night of Charles' famous TV interview and the shorter tighter and more flattering and adult dresses she wore after the divorce.