In the spirit of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, I have been delving into books on royalty. In 60 years on the throne Her Majesty has won the respect of people around the globe for her dignity and sense of duty. Now the spotlight has also been trained on those who will one day follow in her steps.
There is no doubt that the most talked about royal is the latest addition to the family, Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge. She is at the centre of a media frenzy and whatever she wears sells out in hours. The fact that she comes from a well-to-do but by no means grand family adds to the allure. Sean Smith traces Kate’s family origins, her childhood and early life, all of which is rather scandal-free and relatively tame stuff as far as unauthorised biographies go. But it is a must-read for die-hard Kate fans.
Born to be King
Prince William has been the subject of press attention since the moment his mother’s pregnancy was announced. In Born to be King, Penny Junor spends considerable time examining the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Diana because in her view “childhood maketh the man” and his childhood was by all accounts problematic. Prince William gave Junor permission to speak to member of his Household which gives a certain authenticity to the text in some areas although it is by no means an authorised biography. The overall portrait is sympathetic and (unlike Kate) much of the information provided cannot be found merely by using Google.
There have been so many biographies of Her Majesty published or updated to coincide with the Jubilee. Ben Pimlott’s The Queen: Elizabeth II and the Monarchy is a serious and incisive book which does not merely detail the well-worn media scandals but attempts to place them, and the many other aspects of the Queen’s life in the context of her constitutional role and her position as Head of the Commonwealth. Refreshingly unsychophantic it is thoughtful and well-researched. A shorter and lighter read is Queen Elizabeth: Her Life in our Times by Sarah Bradford which nonetheless manages to capture the essential points of the reign. Whether monarchist or republican, it is hard to read these books without a sense of the diplomatic delicacy of the Queen’s position and how she has managed to negotiate the changes of these past 60 years (not to mention her own family difficulties) whilst preserving her own position as a woman much admired.
Take heart, Hard Luxe Living