Books on Current and Recent British Royals

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British Royal Family

If it's Saturday, it must be Sandringham

What really goes on behind the royals' gilded doors? And how would an arch-republican feel about staying overnight in a palace? Jeremy Paxman, in the first of two extracts from his new book, recalls the shock of finding himself in a world of equerries, valets and hand-pressed underwear.,,1880372,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=10
It is a bit embarassing that such an renowned journalist as mr Paxman can loose himself in futilities which trap himself.

He wrote about Prince Charles' demand that for breakfast there must always be seven eggs, boiled from extremely soft (number one) to rock hard (number 7) and all gradations in between. The Prince then makes a choice between the seven eggs, depending on his taste.

Asked about the source for this information mr Paxman: he heard it 'from friends'. But apparently he had not checked this information at all.

Chris Barber, who for 11 years was Chef of the princely kitchens: 'Prince Charles never ever throws food away. And he also never eats an egg at all for breakfast'.
Skydragon said:
If it's Saturday, it must be Sandringham

What really goes on behind the royals' gilded doors? And how would an arch-republican feel about staying overnight in a palace? Jeremy Paxman, in the first of two extracts from his new book, recalls the shock of finding himself in a world of equerries, valets and hand-pressed underwear.,,1880372,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=10

Skydragon, thank you for posting this link.

I started reading the article but stopped rather early on when I read that" A few years ago, Buckingham Palace advisers decided that the Queen really ought to see a little of the working lives of her subjects." - sorry, but I decided that this reader ought not to read the rest of either articles or the book.

Because I don't buy into a view of the Royal household where "advisors" decide what the queen has to do. It's such a direct - well, not longer just a hint, but a broad one or - clue that the author has no idea of Her Majesty's personality at all. Mind, I don't know Her Majesty apart from reading about her, but the overall picture that is painted of the queen is that she knows exactly what she wants and while she listens to advisors and treasures their efforts, she is the one who is in charge. Full stop.

So, this Paxton guy really seems to be at a complete loss when it comes to royality. But who might be interested in "The world of royality according to Paxton"? - to paraphrase Irving's Garp a bit.

BTW - why doesn't the Prince of Wales use egg coddlers? AFAIK they were invented to prevent exactly the problem as mentioned by Paxton: they are filled according to the master's wishes and cooked à la minute right in the butler's pantry.... I've quite a couple of those by Royal Worcester and my family loves to fill them on a sunday brunch or a High Tea. And I don't think Clarence House knows less than me about British tradtions when it comes to breakfast or High Tea.
British Royal Family

I´m looking pretty "desperately" for the 1977-biography about the late eldest son of Prince Henry and Princess Alice, former Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, "William of Gloucester: Pioneer Prince"
Can someone help?!
Warren said:
You'll find it on this page of

Thanks a lot - I was unlucky enough to have lost it at an ebay auction recently...
Can somebody give som pre-informations about it (about photos and the quality of informations about Prince William in it, etc.)?
"Princess Margaret: A Life Unravelled" by Tim Heald

A new book is being written about Princess Margaret and is available on Amazon for pre-ordering. It will be released July 5. Princess Margaret: A Life Unravelled: Books: Tim Heald

Synopsis from Amazon
The almost universal conception is that the life of Princess Margaret (1930-2002) was a tragic failure, a history of unfulfilment. Tim Heald's vivid and elegant biography portrays a woman who was beautiful and sexually alluring - even more so than Princess Diana years later - and whose reputation for naughtiness co-existed with the glamour. The mythology is that Margaret's life was 'ruined' by her not being allowed to marry the one true love of her life - Group Captain Peter Townsend. Therefore her marriage to Lord Snowdon and her well-attested relationships with Roddy Llewellyn and others were mere consolation prizes. Margaret's often exotic personal life in places like Mustique is a key part of her story. The author has had extraordinary help from those closest to Princess Margaret, including her family (Lord Snowdon and her son, Lord Linley), as well as three of her private secretaries and many of her ladies in waiting. These individuals have not talked to any previous biographer. He has also had the Queen's permission to use the royal archives. Heald asks why one of the most famous and loved little girls in the world, who became a juvenile wartime sweetheart, ended her life a sad wheelchairbound figure, publicly reviled and ignored. This is a story of a life in which the private and the public seemed permanently in conflict. The biography is packed with good stories. Princess Margaret was never ignored; what she said and did has been remembered and recounted to Tim Heald.

The Daily Mail is running excerpts of the novel and the two I read so far are fascinating reads.

A very contrary Princess - why did the charming Margaret turn into the most unpopular royal? | the Daily Mail

Princess Margaret - Scarred by a forbidden love | the Daily Mail

From what I've read, this author Tim Heald has a very detached style. He doesn't approve of Margaret's first love Group Captain Peter Townsend but he hems and haws over whether Townsend was the great love of Margaret's life.

He compares Margaret to Diana and emphasizes how polarizing she was. Apparently if you knew her, you either loved or hated her. But he saw a pervasive sadness throughout her life and which seems quite typical, he's unwilling to commit to saying why the sadness was there. Was it her thwarted love affair with the divorced equerry Group Captain Townsend? Was it always playing second fiddle to her older sister? Was it being brought up to matter and growing up in a world where the younger sisters of monarchs no longer mattered? Heald never actually commits.

It looks like an interesting book but there is something about the tone that is a little offputting and I can't put my finger on it. I'll look forward to more installments though.
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Between the interviews with her family and the access to the achives, this is looking like the nearest thing to an official biography we could get.
Yes, he definitely seemed to go to the source.

An interview with Lord Snowdon, the diary from the Queen's personal secretary during the Townsend affair, conversations with Cecil Beaton, Lady Violet Bonham Carter (daughter of Prime Minister Lord Asquith), Prue Penn, another old friend of Margaret, her cousin, Margaret Rhodes. He previously wrote an authorized biography of Prince Phlip.

His rather Puritan disapproval of the 'ungentlemanly conduct of Peter Townsend during his affair with Margaret seemed quite quaint.

I think I was most surprised at Cecil Beaton's venom against a Princess he had photographed so beautifully in her youth, calling her a little pocket monster after meeting her again in the 70s after her marriage was over. Something must have gone wrong in that relationship somewhere.

Overall a fascinating read. I'm looking forward to more installments.
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It sounds like a really interesting book, as Princess Margaret was a very interesting lady. I think that if I had access to it, like at a library or at a used bookstore, I would read it, but if I had to pay a good deal of money for it probably not. It sounds good, but detached. And I don't like that you said that he never exactly says why she's unhappy.

(P.S. I think she was unhappy because a combination of those things, plus more. She had a bit of a sad life.)
Well you can read the Daily Mail installments for free. His inability to commit doesn't bother me as much now; it leaves the reader open to making their own conclusions.

I'm right now reading the part where Margaret is coming of age and is becoming a very beautiful and sexual woman - and how she is handling the reaction of men, polite and deferential from the British, but quite something else from the Italians.

Duff Cooper, Britain's ambassador in Paris, after having lunch with the King and Queen and their daughters, recorded in his diary: "Margaret is a most attractive girl - lovely eyes, lovely mouth, very sure of herself and full of humour. She might get into trouble before she's finished."

What he really captures is how young, attractive, glamourous and quite frankly how sexual Margaret was in her youth. It must have been quite a shock to society and such a stark contrast between her and the rest of the Royal Family.

He also details how attached she was to her father (and also a bit spoiled) and how lost she was when he died.
Considering how shallow some of the previous books about her have been and the reputation of this author, this book is definitely on my list.
i can't wait to read this book. it sounds like it's going to be great.
Well the Daily Mail doesn't advertise its installments of this book too well. I had to hunt and peck to find these. I think they're the last of them.

Blue movies and casual flings - the amazing truth about Princess Margaret's marriage | the Daily Mail

Princess Margaret: How she lost the will to live | the Daily Mail

I just had time to read the first installment about the marriage of Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones. It seemed a much worse disaster than Charles and Diana's marriage ever seemed to be and by the end it seemed Margaret and Tony really hated each other which was odd because unlike Charles and Diana it seemed that Margaret and Tony were truly compatible and had a lot of interests in common-especially artistic interests.

But I think Tony was much more of a rebel and an enfant terrible than Margaret ever thought of being. It was as if Margaret saw Tony and thought "Wouldn't it be fun to be naughty," without really realizing how naughty he was. The party he invited her to where they showed porn flicks would have embarassed me to no end and I am no princess.

Even though she may have wanted to let her hair hang down, I think she wasn't ready for the life he led.
Zara Phillips by Brian Hoey

Zara Phillips: A Revealing Portrait Of A Royal World Champion


"Mr Hoey, official biographer of Zara’s mother Princess Anne, lifts the lid on the 26-year-old’s unique bond with her grandmother"
British royal family - books?

Interesting books:

“Zara Phillips: The Biography: A Revealing Portrait of a Royal World Champion”
by Brian Hoey

“Margaret: The Last Real Princess”
By Noel Botham

“Princess Margaret”
By Theo Aronson

“William & Harry”
By Ingrid Seward

“My Story”
By Sarah Ferguson, Jeff Coplon

Biographic book written by Sarah Ferguson.

“Anne: The Private Princess Revealed”
By Brian Hoey
"Snowdon: the biography" by Anne de Courcy

The late Princess Margaret's ex-husband, Anthony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowden, has apparently given approval for a new bio on his marriage to Margaret.

Anne de Courcy is writing the book and "reportedly had his full cooperation, was allowed access to his letters and papers and was given permission to interview family and friends."

I can't decide if this would be an interesting read or not. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since he and Margaret split in 1976. Times have changed, as the saying goes.
I think any biography that's authorised by at least some of the subjects, and for which original documentation is made available, is likely to be interesting - if only to see how much of the unauthorised biograhies was made up!
I am reading Princess Margaret's biography by Tim Heald which is quite interesting. Unfortunately I find the writing a little stuffy and formal, though.
It does dispel many of the myths surrounding her - that she was just interested in a good time, for example, and that she insisted on being treated as a princess at all times. She was apparently quite religious.

Sometimes he refers to a man as the new 'walker'. I think that he means boyfriend as in 'walking out' but that's a very old-fashioned expression. Can anyone help please?

Lisa-Anne Sanderson Writer and Editor - Writing and editing by experienced freelancer
Princess Mary/Queen Mary Gift Books

I had the great good fortune to pick up two books over the weekend, the Princess Mary Gift Book (dated during WWI) and the Queen Mary Gift Book. I'm paging through them cautiously and admiring the plates more than anything; the illustrations are remarkable.

Each has a series of stories in them that are fairly tame but entertaining as well.

When I get some time, I'll try my hand at scanning and uploading - a first for me!

As a bonus, I picked up a book that is overflowing with pictures of the Prince of Wales' journey to Canada and the US, as well as several other nations, from the post WWI-years. The book is not specifically dated, but one picture shows the Prince visiting the grave of the late President Teddy Roosevelt, who died in January 1919 (partly of grief over the death of his own son Quentin in combat, in 1918.) There is a hand-written overleaf by the Prince which approves the book and its purpose in supporting those blinded in WWI.

I won't tell the price of the books, but I feel a bit like a thief. :)

Best to all...
ISometimes he refers to a man as the new 'walker'. I think that he means boyfriend as in 'walking out' but that's a very old-fashioned expression. Can anyone help please?
The term "walker" is an expression for an escort to an event who is considered to be "safe", and quite often gay. In other words, there would be no gossip about a romance.
Thank you

Thank you, Warren. I was still wondering about that expression. I really think that the author should have made that clear.

Queen Mary's Photographs

Years ago one of the royality mags had a book titled 'Queen Mary's Photographs'. I have been trying to locate this book but have been
unsuccessful. Does Anyone have any info to share?
I have read this book, it is quite good but most of the photographs have now been printed in more recent biographies.
A review of this book appeared in today's Sydney Morning Herald, sourced from the Telegraph, London.
Excerpts from the review:

"At the outset, Anne de Courcy declares that the twin motors of Tony Snowdon's life were "work and sex".
His world was one in which both long relationships and casual encounters co-existed.
The marriage with Princess Margaret was an impossibility but a brilliant one, and a passionate love affair too.
Though this is the authorised biography, and he [Snowdon] has granted free access to much, he sticks to his vow of silence on the central relationship. But everyone else is given the green light and it's painful reading.
The honeymoon period lasted two years, the break-up 16 more, with drugs and alcohol throughout. Everyone from Peter Sellers to the Aga Khan passes through.
Most people, including the royal family, took his side. De Courcy puts the record straight and Margaret comes out of it well.
Snowdon...doesn't read books. Margaret did read and he secretly slipped lists into the pages for her to suddenly find, of "things I hate about you".
He said to a friend "I wish to hell she'd take a lover and leave me in peace." and when she did, he was furious. The lover, Robin Douglas-Home, is shown the door and later kills himself, while Snowdon continues his own multiple bonkings. When mild Roddy Llewellyn eventually came along, Snowdon played the outraged husband and this prompted the divorce.
He had the gift of intimacy and, furthermore, there was his shyness which masked the ruthless vanity. He was terrified, for example, of public speaking.
This book is an onslaught of revelation, a dizzying switchback-ride of mixed emotions, pomp and sleaze, and finally it's impossible to pass judgement on anyone."
That sounds like an interesting read. He authorised this? From the review that seems strange, but as it said he doesn´t read books, perhaps he won´t read this. I must read it as perhaps it is nothing like the excerpt from the review promises.
I am very interested in reading this. Unfortunately there are almost 30 holds on it at the library so I may have a long wait!
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