2018 has been a storming year for the royals to date – with the excitement of a new little prince and the grandeur of a state wedding, it’s been a busy time for the establishment. Whilst we can rejoice from afar and raise a toast, most of us will never get the chance to make the acquaintance of this stately bunch – even if we stand with the masses outside the palace, chances are we’ll only get a glimpse of a gloved hand giving that famous royal wave. We might never get up close and personal with the Windsors but we can certainly find out more about them and their noble relatives. Let’s explore a few of the books that provide an insight into royals past and present.
The Reluctant King: The Life and Reign of George Vi, 1895-1952 by Sarah Bradford
When Wallis Simpson waltzed into the life of his brother (the then king – Edward VIII), George didn’t realise that he would soon be taking the throne himself. Following King Edward VIII’s abdication to marry the love of his life, a shy and reticent George was swiftly crowned King. King George VI had little time to overcome his bashfulness, soon after being thrust into the limelight he had to face the harsh realities of war and forge a robust alliance with the great Winston Churchill. The duo helped to guide the country through difficult times, with King George finding the pluck to address the nation (despite struggling with a speech impediment). Story ring a few bells? That’s no surprise, hit movie The King’s Speech and Netflix’s The Crown both featured King George IV.
Many of us feel as though we knew Diana, with so much press coverage both before and after her untimely death, it would have been hard not to see or hear something connected with this national heroine. Diana was keen to collaborate with Morton on this book (hence the “in her own words” title). Maybe that’s why this tome has such an appeal – it comes directly from the great women herself and allows you to better understand Diana as a person, not just as a troubled royal figurehead with a penchant for pretty dresses.
Initially published in 1992, Morton’s book has since been updated. There’s now additional information regarding Diana’s divorce from Prince Chares and the tragic accident that claimed her life in 1997.
Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne by Christopher Anderson
There are plenty of strong women in the world, and you will find a plethora within the royal family. From the formidable Queen Elizabeth to the eloquent queen-in-waiting Kate, we have our fair share of forceful females. Let us not forget Camilla Parker Bowles, who not only had to convince the royal family she would make a suitable wife for Charles, but also had to face the disapproval of an entire nation. Game of Crowns offers us enlightenment with a bit of spice thrown in, definitely worth a look.
Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird
Baird offers us an enriching view into the life of one of our best-known royals, Queen Victoria. Taking the throne at the tender age of 18, Victoria became a national icon, she had impeccable standards, and she became synonymous with integrity and decency. Queen Victoria’s reign was one full of high points and challenging times, and through it all she maintained her dignity and stuck to her principles, never one to relent or betray her own beliefs and views.
Prince William: The Man Who Will Be King by Penny Junor
Junor penned this book back in 2001, prior to William settling down with Kate. So you won’t find juicy titbits about the couple, their wedding, or subsequent babies, but it does give you a fascinating insight into William himself. Put yourself in his shoes, your destiny mapped out for you, your life played out for the world to see and, in the midst of all, you have to cope with the very public separation of your parents followed by the heartrending death of your mother. How did this upstanding boy manage to make it through his testing childhood to emerge as the strong and resilient individual that will one day be king? Find out in Junor’s absorbing tale.