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Monday, March 12, 2018

Wish List 5: The Modern British Monarchy

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Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme.  I know that you all need more on your TBR!!!  With all the hype on all things royal lately (with Will and Kate’s 3rd baby on the way and Harry and Meghan’s engagement and upcoming nuptials) I thought I would features the non-fiction on the modern British monarchy.  I’m categorizing this as post-Queen Victoria.


Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen by Kate Williams

young elizabethWe can hardly imagine a Britain without Elizabeth II on the throne. It seems to be the job she was born for. And yet for much of her early life the young princess did not know the role that her future would hold. She was our accidental Queen.
Elizabeth's determination to share in the struggles of her people marked her out from a young age. Her father initially refused to let her volunteer as a nurse during the Blitz, but relented when she was 18 and allowed her to work as a mechanic and truck driver for the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. It was her forward-thinking approach that ensured that her coronation was televised, against the advice of politicians at the time.

Kate Williams reveals how the 25-year-old young queen carved out a lasting role for herself amid the changes of the 20th century. Her monarchy would be a very different one to that of her parents and grandparents, and its continuing popularity in the 21st century owes much to the intelligence and elusive personality of this remarkable woman.

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

prince philip"Rich in drama and tragedy" (The Guardian), here is a mesmerizing account of the extraordinary formative years of the man married to the most famous woman in the world

Before he met the young girl who became Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip had a tumultuous upbringing in Greece, France, Nazi Germany, and Britain. His mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was born deaf; she was committed to a psychiatric clinic when Philip was eight. His father, Prince Andrew of Greece, already traumatized by his exile from his home country, promptly shut up the family home and went off to live with his mistress, effectively leaving his young son an orphan.

Remarkably, Philip emerged from his difficult childhood a character of singular vitality and dash—self-confident, opinionated, and devastatingly handsome. Girls fell at his feet, and the princess who would become his wife was smitten from the age of thirteen. Yet alongside his considerable charm and intelligence, the young prince was also prone to volcanic outbursts, which would have profound consequences for his family and the future of the monarchy.

In this authoritative and wonderfully compelling book, acclaimed biographer Philip Eade brings to vivid life the storm-tossed early years of one of the most fascinating and mysterious members of the royal family.


That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anna Sebba

that womanOne of Britain's most distinguished biographers turns her focus on one of the most vilified woman of the last century. Historian Anne Sebba has written the first full biography of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, by a woman which attempts to understand this fascinating and enigmatic American divorcee who nearly became Queen of England. 'That woman', as she was referred to by the Queen Mother, became a hate figure for allegedly ensnaring a British king. Born in 1895 in Baltimore, Bessiewallis Warfield endured an impoverished and comparatively obscure childhood which inflamed a burning desire to rise above her circumstances. Neither beautiful nor brilliant, and no longer young, she nevertheless became one of the most talked about women of her generation, and inspired such deep love and adoration in Edward VIII that even giving up a throne and an empire for her was not enough to prove his total devotion. Wallis lived by her wit and her wits, while both her apparent and alleged moral transgressions added to her aura and dazzle. Accused of Fascist sympathies, having Nazi lovers and learning bizarre sexual techniques in China, she was the subject of widespread gossip and fascination that has only increased with the years. In death, the Duchess became a symbol of empowerment and a style icon, a woman whose unequivocal aim was to win in the game of life. Based on new archives and material recently made available, this scrupulously researched biography re evaluates the role of politicians in the 1930s, sheds new light on the character and motivations of this powerful, charismatic and complex woman, and questions was this really the romantic love story of the century?

The King Who Had To Go: Edward Vlll, Mrs Simpson and the Hidden Politics of the Abdication Crisis by Adrian Phillips

the king who had to goIn 1936, a constitutional crisis in the British Empire arose when Edward VIII proposed to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who was divorced from her first husband and was pursuing the divorce of her second. The crisis led to the King's abdication in December of that year. Adrian Phillips reveals the harsh realities of how government responds when a monarch steps out of line, and describes the battles in Westminster and Whitehall that settled the fate of King and Mrs. Simpson.

Unwilling to accept the idea of the twice-married American as future Queen of England, the government was determined to pressure the King into giving up Mrs. Simpson and, when that failed, into giving up his crown. The King's phone lines were tapped by his own government, dubious police reports poisoned Mrs Simpson's reputation, and threats to sabotage her divorce were deployed to edge the King towards abdication.

The hopeless attempts of the King's allies, particularly Winston Churchill, to keep him on the throne were dismissed as sinister conspiracy, whilst the King wrecked his own chances with wildly unrealistic goals and ill-thought-out schemes that served only to frame him as erratic and unreliable as a monarch. As each side was overwhelmed by desperation and distrust, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin fought to steer events to a smooth conclusion.

In this fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the royal abdication crisis of 1936, Adrian Phillips reveals the previously untold story of the hidden political machinations and insidious battles in Westminster and Whitehall that settled the fate of the King and Mrs Simpson.


The Queen Mother: The Official Biography by William Shawcross

the queen motherThe official and definitive biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: consort of King George VI, mother of Queen Elizabeth II, grandmother of Prince Charles—and the most beloved British monarch of the twentieth century.

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon—the ninth of the Earl of Strathmore’s ten children—was born on August 4, 1900, and, certainly, no one could have imagined that her long life (she died in 2002) would come to reflect a changing nation over the ourse of an entire century. Now, William Shawcross—given unrestricted access to the Queen Mother’s personal papers, letters, and diaries—gives us a portrait of unprecedented vividness and detail. Here is the girl who helped convalescing soldiers during the First World War . . . the young Duchess of York helping her reluctant husband assume the throne when his brother abdicated . . . the Queen refusing to take refuge from the bombing of London, risking her own life to instill courage and hope in others who were living through the Blitz . . . the dowager Queen—the last Edwardian, the charming survivor of a long-lost era—representing her nation at home and abroad . . . the matriarch of the Royal Family and “the nation’s best-loved grandmother.”

A revelatory royal biography that is, as well, a singular history of Britain in the twentieth century.



If you are looking to add more books to your list, here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month: (to be updated as they go live)


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