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.
I bought this book on a whim at a library sale, and, sadly, it wasn't worth the $2 I paid for it. It's now back in the "donate to the library sale" pi...moreI bought this book on a whim at a library sale, and, sadly, it wasn't worth the $2 I paid for it. It's now back in the "donate to the library sale" pile--that's recycling for you.
This book was really just a collection of reminiscences from Ms. Baldwin, naturally enough, mostly about Jackie Kennedy. But there was nothing even remotely new, instructive, or entertaining about any of it. There were occasional touches of bitchy, but not even enough of that to make this worth the time it takes to read.
Two stars is a little too high, but without half stars, that's as close as I can get.(less)