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January 27, 2023

Books About the Royal Family

by Susan Roberts

Ok, I'll admit it, I enjoy following the ups and downs of the royal family - who is fighting, who are friends, and all of the exploits of both generations.  Here are reviews of a few books written recently about them.

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The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor - the Truth and the Turmoil by Tina Brown

book cover of biography The Palace Papers by Tina Brown
April 2022; Crown; 978-0593138090
audio, ebook, print (592 pages); biography

Tina Brown is a journalist and former editor with ties to the Royal Family.  In 2007 she wrote a bestselling book about Princess Diana who was a personal friend.  Her new book is about the current people who are part of the royal family.  I thought that the first half of the book was all old gossip that had been regurgitated for her new book.  It was about Diana and Charles and Camilla, issues with William and Harry growing up, and the issues they faced after their mother's death.  However, it really gets interesting when she writes about Prince Andrew and his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and the behind-the-scenes issues when American actress  Megan Markle starts dating and marries Harry plus their decision to move to the United States.  

Several reviewers have stated that this book is biased - either towards William and Kate or towards Harry and Megan.  I didn't think it was biased at all.  She had positive and negative things to say about all of the Fab 4  No one comes out of this book without some dirt flung at them. Overall this is an interesting and well-written look at the Royal family and all of its scandals, love affairs, and betrayals.  

Buy The Palace Papers at Amazon

Courtiers: Intrigue, Ambition, and the Power Players Behind the House of Windsor by Valentine Low

book cover of biography CourtiersIntrigue, Ambition, and the Power Players Behind the House of Windsor by Valentine Low
January 2023; St. Martin's; 978-1250282569
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); biography

The gripping account of how the Royal family really operates from the man who has spent years studying them in his role as Royal correspondent for The Times. Valentine Low asks the important questions: who really runs the show and, as Charles III begins his reign, what will happen next?

This book is more than current gossip about the Royal Family even though it's got some pretty interesting gossip.  It's a history lesson about the people who really run the show - the Courtiers.  They are the trusted advisors who work to ensure that the Royal family survives - both publically and privately.  They are hidden from the view of the world but have strong input into how the members of the family will be viewed by the public.  It covers over 70 years of the monarchy from the Wallis Simpson affair to Prince Andrew's relationship with a known pedophile and the recent issues with Harry and Megan and Brexit.  It's up to date so also talks a bit about the death of the queen and King Charles.

Parts of the book are deadly boring and there is a lot of information from 'unnamed sources' but I still found a lot of the book very interesting.  Most of the people behind the scenes appear to be old white guys who want to keep the monarchy like it's been forever.  No wonder Megan had trouble fitting in - she didn't fit their views of what a princess should act like.  

If you are a real follower of the Royal Family, this may be a fun book to skim through but there are no great revelations or juicy gossip.  I did enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of Will and Harry and their wives - to me that was the best part of the book.

Buy Courtiers at Amazon
A free book was provided for an honest review

Spare by Prince Harry

book cover of memoir Spare by Prince Harry
January 2023; Random House; 978-0593593806
audio, ebook, print (416 pages); memoir

Everyone of a certain age has memories of Princess Diana's funeral with her two young sons walking behind the casket looking lost and heartbroken.  The two princes - William and Harry have managed to stay in the headlines over the years with Harry being painted by the media as the odd one out.  After vicious articles about him and his wife, Harry decided to give his side of the story.  

In SPARE, we learn that Harry has always been treated less than his brother William.  William was the future king and Harry was just around in case something happened to William. (Now that William has had three kids, Harry has dropped to 5th in line).  Feeling that you aren't at all important in a family hierarchy can affect your mental health.  To top it off, he was so young when his mother died that much of his self-image stems from that horrific event and the days that followed it.  In this memoir, Harry shares much about his younger life, his relationship with his father and brother, and how the press has mistreated him over the years.  The lies told by the press reached a fever pitch after he married an American actress.  She seems to be providing the love and acceptance that he's lacked all of his life but at the same time,  his new life has widened the chasm between him and his brother and father.  My guess is that some of the stories in this book will increase that estrangement even further.

On one hand, it was interesting to read Harry's opinion of the mistreatments in his life brought on by the media and the palace courtiers.  The book is very well written - by a ghostwriter - and it's very interesting to see things in his past that made Harry decide to leave the Royal Family.  For me, it was difficult to feel sorry for someone who can afford to live in a multi-million dollar home and not have to worry about where his next money is coming from.  I also think (my opinion only) that sometime in the future, Harry will regret writing this tell-all book and exposing many family secrets to the world.  Will there be forgiveness or continued estrangement between Harry and his brother and father -- only time will tell.

Buy Spare at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  


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