Royal Reading for the Royal Wedding

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Your fascination with William, Kate, Harry and Meghan is not superficial. Here’s how to take it even deeper.

By Tina Jordan and Susan Ellingwood

Admit it, you are an Anglophile. You watch “The Crown” and “Victoria,” and obviously, you‘ve seen every episode of “Downton Abbey.” We understand. Indeed, we’d argue royal watching is a legitimate intellectual pursuit.

Bet let’s suppose that while you’re looking forward to May 19, with all its pomp and circumstance, your fascination goes beyond the cut of Meghan Markle’s wedding gown. If you’re like us, while everyone is talking about who will be there and when to watch the nuptials on TV, you want to hunker down with these 11 worthy books about the royal family.

[Read more on the royal wedding: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers]

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‘William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls,’ by Katie Nicholl

“An entertaining, richly photographed book that reads like a longer, more thorough narration of scoops the princes’ admirers devoured in Us Weekly or in the British celebrity magazine Hello!”

Read our review.

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‘Kate: Kate Middleton, Princess in Waiting,’ by Claudia Joseph

“With a historian’s eye for detail, and without a speck of intended bile, Ms. Joseph reaches back five generations, tracing every branch of Ms. Middleton’s family tree, exposing her ‘penniless,’ ‘insanitary,’ ‘scruffy’ and occasionally ‘unsalubrious’ roots, and tracing the rise of her family through the British class system.”

Read our review.

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‘The Diana Chronicles,” by Tina Brown

“It takes Ms. Brown’s blend of arch journalistic savvy and social sang-froid to capture the kind of patrician women whose ‘aggressive beaky look comes from years of catering to oblivious men,’ or to say of Prince Charles that ‘it’s the grooming that gives him liftoff.’”

Read our review.

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‘Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch,’ by Sally Bedell Smith

“Smith taps a host of public sources and tracks down friends and former courtiers of the queen who are willing to share more intimate tidbits (all too often about horses and corgis).”

Read our review.

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‘Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life,’ by Sally Bedell Smith

“Prince Charles is that rare portrait — pro-Charles and anti-Diana. ‘I found,’ Smith writes in her preface, ‘that much about Prince Charles was poorly understood, not least the extent of his originality.’ She reveals that ‘Poor Charles’ was ‘a constant refrain’ as she conducted her interviews, ‘spoken in despair by those who loved him, with sarcasm by those who resented him.’”

Read our review.

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‘Elizabeth and Philip: Portrait of a Marriage,’ by Gyles Brandreth

“Biographers sometimes borrow the attitudes of their subjects. Perhaps that is why Gyles Brandreth would like you to know this about the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, duke of Edinburgh: What goes on between them, Dear Reader, is really none of your affair.”

Read our review.

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‘Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth,’ by Philip Eade

“A remarkable new biography of the prince … the book does for the royal consort what Helen Mirren did for his wife in the 2006 movie ‘The Queen,’ breathing life into a figure who had seemed stiff and remote.”

Read our review.

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‘The Queen Mother,’ by William Shawcross

“The authorized biography of a woman who was born as the 20th century was beginning and died about a year after it ended, it is a linear, you-are-there chronicle of the events of her life. Mostly this means ­lunches, balls, charity events, shooting parties. She cut cakes, she cut ribbons, she cut the rug.”

Read our review.

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‘The Reluctant King: The Life and Reign of George VI,’ by Sarah Bradford

“Palace gossip and nanny stories serve to lay out the sad tale of a decent, quiet, pleasant man of poor education, modest intellect and little imagination, who is forced to pursue a series of careers he either dislikes or is unsuited for.”

Read our review.

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‘The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince,’ by Jane Ridley

“In her welcome new biography of Edward VII, who succeeded Queen Victoria on the British throne, Jane Ridley explains how this firstborn son managed to spend time in court — and not the kind of court royalty is supposed to frequent.”

Read our review.

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‘Victoria the Queen,’ by Julia Baird

“Baird’s exquisitely wrought and meticulously researched biography brushes the dusty myth off this extraordinary monarch. Right out of the gate, the book thrums with authority as Baird builds her portrayal of Victoria. Overturning stereotypes, she rips this queen down to the studs and creates her anew.”

Read our review.

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The Royal Wedding: Frequently Asked Questions

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Do we know who any of the guests will be?

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Members of the British royal family stand without smiling on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a fly-past of aircrafts to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016. Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

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Members of the British royal family stand without smiling on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a fly-past of aircrafts to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016.

While the guest list is a secret, there are a number of predictable attendees: Harry’s grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip; his father and stepmother, Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; various cousins, like Zara and Peter Phillips and Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice; and of course his brother and sister-in-law, William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg greets Queen Sonia of Norway upon her arrival at a celebration prior to the wedding of Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Then, of course, there are members of royal families from countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Greece. (Greece is no longer a monarchy, but it has a royal family in exile anyway.) They’re all on a big royal-family-wedding circuit, traveling around to one other’s ceremonies. And, since this is as much public celebration as private service, guests will include representatives from British charities, churches and armed forces; government officials, past and present; and dignitaries from other countries.

As for nonroyals, Harry has a posse of boisterous friends — Guy Pelly, Tom Inskip and Thomas van Straubenzee, among others — who are likely to be there. Meanwhile, Meghan has her own family — her parents, who are divorced but are both expected to attend — and a number of famous friends, including Serena Williams; Priyanka Chopra; Sarah Rafferty, who starred with her in “Suits”; and Millie Mackintosh, a former cast member from the British reality TV show “Made in Chelsea.”

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