Biography: royalty

Traitor King

Traitor King

Author: Andrew Lownie Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Always compulsive, often jaw-dropping, and written in crisply readable style, Andrew Lownie’s Traitor King begins where most Edward and Wallis Simpson biographies end, for it explores the couple’s controversial lives from the Duke’s Abdication in December 1936. The author has no truck with any notion of the couple’s relationship being a “great love story”. Rather, with clarity and much evidence, the book reveals their controversies and flaws - extra-marital affairs, talk of illegitimate children, foolhardy tours of Germany, meetings with Hitler, manipulation of a murder investigation in the Bahamas. The list goes on. They’re both evidently, incorrigibly obnoxious and self-centred, with the Duke revealed as an arrogant, perilously bumbling figure who never grows up. Crucially, the author convincingly argues that in their relations with Germany, “the Windsors were not foolish and naïve, but actively engaged with the German intrigue”. Throughout readers are presented with astounding details about the couple’s decadent, self-absorbed daily lives - the arrogance of never paying bills, never tipping, and never thanking staff. Their lavish food and decor, the bespoke livery of their servants, their staged social gatherings - “with little else to occupy them, the devil was in the detail.” While the couple desired a permanent return to Britain, the Duke is horrified at the thought of ever having to pay tax, and interferes in politics, making an astonishingly ill-timed broadcast to America, and exchanging telegrams with Hitler as the world teeters on the brink of war. Though given a war-time liaison role, the Duke was considered a “serious security leak”, with Churchill believing his free movement on the continent to be a “real danger”.  As a result, the Duke was offered as job as Governor of the Bahamas, which was “regarded as a hardship posting” and “so low in the pecking order that the appointment did not even carry a knighthood”. Their arrogance persists on arrival, as does their interference in the war. They insist renovations be made to the newly-renovated Government House in Nassau. They fly in hairdressers, send clothes to be dry-cleaned in New York. Wallis does, however, engage in public life as President of the Red Cross, and roll up her sleeves to serve bacon and eggs in a canteen for airmen. Such details abound in every paragraph. Controversy continues to engulf the couple throughout their lives, as this relentlessly gripping biography reveals with incisive gusto. Traitor King is an un-put-down-able must-read for anyone interested in the British monarchy and social history.

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe

Author: Angela Kelly Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

When Angela Kelly and The Queen are together, laughter echoes through the corridors of Buckingham Palace. Angela has worked with The Queen and walked the corridors of the Royal Household for twenty-eight years, initially as Her Majesty’s Senior Dresser and then latterly as Her Majesty’s Personal Advisor, Curator, Wardrobe and In-house Designer. As the first person in history to hold this title, she shares a uniquely close working relationship with The Queen. Her Majesty has personally given Angela her blessing to share their extraordinary bond with the world. Whether it’s preparing for a formal occasion or brightening Her Majesty’s day with a playful joke, Angela’s priority is to serve and support. Sharing never-before-seen photographs – many from Angela’s own private collection – and charming anecdotes of their time spent together, this revealing book provides memorable insights into what it’s like to work closely with The Queen, to curate her wardrobe and to discover a true and lasting connection along the way. This special edition of The Other Side of the Coin has been revised and updated to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, containing previously unseen chapters covering the Royal Household’s isolation during the pandemic, Angela’s own devotion to service to keep the monarch safe, and the light and laughter that was shared behind closed doors, even in the darkest moments.

Queen Elizabeth II: An Oral History

Queen Elizabeth II: An Oral History

Author: Deborah Hart Strober, Gerald Strober Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/05/2022

Freshly updated from its original 2002 edition, Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald Strober’s Queen Elizabeth II: An Oral History presents uniquely fascinating insights into a unique figure across a lifetime of experiences. Being a compendium of intimate, eyewitness accounts told by those who were there, the book has a compelling personal quality, with a smoothly readable style coming courtesy of it being an oral history.  With a global outlook and broad range of perspectives (the book gives voice to staff, family, friends and famous public figures), we enter the House of Windsor at the point of the sudden death of Princess Elizabeth’s father. Newly married, we read detailed accounts of the new Queen’s coronation and her consort, with “was the Duke of Edinburgh frustrated in his new role?” among the questions asked and answered by a range of sources. Later chapters cover broader personal and social questions – who is the Queen? What does the monarchy mean? The Queen and the institution of the Monarchy – with sections also devoted to the Queen’s relationships with Prime Ministers, her role as Defender of the Faith, life at court, the Commonwealth, and the lives and marriages of her children. Unquestionably a must-read for those who follow the royal family, Queen Elizabeth II: An Oral History is also a fascinating read for anyone interested in British social history.

Queen of Our Times

Queen of Our Times

Author: Robert Hardman Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/03/2022

The definitive biography of Her Majesty The Queen by one of Britain’s leading royal authorities. With original insights from those who know her best, new interviews with world leaders and access to unseen papers, bestselling author Robert Hardman explores the full, astonishing life of our longest reigning monarch in this compellingly authoritative yet intimate biography. Elizabeth II was not born to be queen. Yet from her accession as a young mother of two in 1952 to the age of Covid-19, she has proved an astute and quietly determined figure, leading her family and her people through more than seventy years of unprecedented social change. She has faced constitutional crises, confronted threats against her life, rescued the Commonwealth, seen her prime ministers come and go, charmed world leaders, been criticised as well as feted by the media, and steered her family through a lifetime in the public eye. Queen of Our Times is a must-read study of dynastic survival and renewal, spanning abdication, war, romance, danger and tragedy. It is a compelling portrait of a leader who remains as intriguing today as the day she came to the throne aged twenty-five.

The Dark Queens

The Dark Queens

Author: Shelley Puhak Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Reading Dark Queens by Shelley Puhak, I found myself astounded that the two women at the centre of the book ­– Brunhild and Fredegund – are not known far and wide. This isn’t the kind of feminist retelling of well-known stories we rightly lap up today. It’s simply a telling; proof of their existence at all – and I soaked up every detail. Puhak takes us to Merovingian France during the 6th Century. In this most bloody of bloody Middle Ages, the Romans have left a power vacuum, and the Franks are fighting among themselves for the spoils. This is not a world we would assume is for women, who are normally depicted sewing and sitting dutifully beside their husbands. Brunhild and Fredegund are out to stake their claim to power, with brutal consequences. It’s fascinating how these female characters seem as though they were fashioned in our modern-day image – women who wielded real power and shaped the people and land they presided over for decades. It’s thanks to Puhak’s wonderfully detailed storytelling that we are so engaged. I loved the countless other characters, too, whose lives could fill a dozen sequels. Required reading, for lovers of medieval fiction and non-fiction alike.

A Three Dog Problem

A Three Dog Problem

Author: SJ Bennett Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/11/2021

OK let’s be clear, Her Majesty, the Queen, does not investigate. At least, not as far as we know. Bennett is very clear about this. She explains on her website and elsewhere, that this book, together with The Windsor Knot, the first in what is now a wonderful series, are works of fiction. They are made up for our reading pleasure. But. What if Her Majesty did? As Bennett has written, “If the Queen wanted to, she would make a great detective, with access to any expert she wants and a deep understanding of her world of politics and palaces,” where, of course, all the real crimes take place. The monarch Marple is of course an utterly wonderful idea, and Bennett is such a talented writer and storyteller that the suspension of disbelief is effortless as she draws you into a world that soon moves from seeming all too possible to become delightfully credible.  A Three Dog Problem is centred on the mysterious appearance of a painting of the Royal Yacht Britannia in a Royal Naval exhibition and a body floating in a palace swimming pool, but really it doesn’t matter what the story is about. The true pleasure in this is that Bennett has really thought through how Her Majesty might actually conduct an investigation, then packed it with authentic details and more twists and turns than a palace intrigue, and created the unforgettable character of Rozie, Her Majesty’s trusted and ingenious Private Secretary, the Watson or Mma Makutsi to the Queen’s Holmes or Mma Ramotswe. Not since another authorial Bennett wrote The Uncommon Reader has our reigning monarch been so charmingly and affectionately portrayed in print and S.J. Bennett has surely put herself in the running for an MBE for “services to Royal literary inventiveness.” It is an honest-to-goodness, laugh out loud, wonder of a book filled with regal delight.

Star Books
Queens of the Crusades

Queens of the Crusades

Author: Alison Weir Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/10/2021

Crusading queens, queens in rebellion against their king, queen seductresses, learned queens, queens in battle - the Plantagenet queens broke through medieval constraints to exercise power and influence, for good and sometimes for ill. Beginning with the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine whose marriage to Henry II sows the seeds for some of the most destructive family conflicts in history and ending with Eleanor of Castile, the grasping but beloved wife of Edward I, Alison Weir's ground-breaking history of the queens of medieval England provides an enthralling new perspective on a dramatic period of high romance and sometimes low politics, with determined women at its heart.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family

Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family

Author: DK Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/06/2021

A magnificent tribute to the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II, and a celebration of the British royal family. A stunning pictorial biography of Queen Elizabeth II, recounting her childhood, succession to the throne, and her dutiful service as the reigning monarch of Britain. This biography of the Queen also includes the history of the Royal family and the house of Windsor. Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family 3rd Edition features accounts of most of the royal household including the Queen and Prince Philip's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren! Inside the pages of this biography you'll find: - The complete history of the kings and queens of England and Scotland, explaining the story of succession to the throne over more than 1,000 years - Special features profile royal residences, including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle - Dazzling photographic galleries showcasing royal regalia, artefacts as well as rare, restricted and exclusive photographs - Visual timelines at the start of each chapter highlight the key milestones in the history of the monarchy For almost 70 years the Queen has been beloved and admired by the British public, the commonwealth, heads of states and many others. Following her ascent to the throne at the age of 27, she's spent her entire life in service of the public and state. This biography celebrates her life through photographs and profiles and provides the reader with insight into the world's most famous royal family members. Teaming with dazzling galleries of royal artefacts, photographic tours, royal residences, and the Royals up close makes this the perfect book for fans of the royal family or anyone interested in the history of the British monarchy.

Town & Country: The Queen

Town & Country: The Queen

Author: Victoria Murphy Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/04/2021

Since she succeeded to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has become respected, celebrated, and beloved around the world. This stunning collection of powerful images illustrates her storied reign in all its glory. More than 300 extraordinary photographs, along with insightful commentary by the royal journalist Victoria Murphy, showcase the significant, historic, and intimate moments throughout the Queen’s life, first as a young princess and then as the longest-reigning British monarch. The book covers her war years in service; her marriage to Prince Philip; her coronation—the first to be televised; ?her extensive official travels around the world; the glittering diplomatic occasions and encounters with ?world leaders, dignitaries, and celebrities; the pomp and pageantry of ceremonial events; her role as a fashion icon; her relationships with her parents, King George VI and ?the Queen Mother, and her sister, Princess Margaret; the birth of her son and heir to the throne Prince Charles; family life with her four children and eight grandchildren, as well as her beloved dogs and horses; and the growing role of Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, as they support the Queen in her public duties. Shown here too are the Crown Jewels as well as the Queen’s personal jewelry collection; a look at the royal palaces and residences; and portraits from the stunning royal weddings that have so enchanted the world. Throughout her reign, with a combination of star power and a profound sense of duty, Queen Elizabeth II has steered the British monarchy into the modern era with supreme style and grace. She is truly a queen for all ages.

The White Ship

The White Ship

Author: Charles Spencer Format: Audiobook Release Date: 17/09/2020

PICKED AS A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020 BY THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, THE GUARDIAN, THE DAILY MAIL AND THE DAILY EXPRESS. The sinking of the White Ship in 1120 is one of the greatest disasters England has ever suffered. In one catastrophic night, the king’s heir and the flower of Anglo-Norman society were drowned and the future of the crown was thrown violently off course. In a riveting narrative, Charles Spencer follows the story from the Norman Conquest through to the decades that would become known as the Anarchy: a civil war of untold violence that saw families turn in on each other with English and Norman barons, rebellious Welsh princes and the Scottish king all playing a part in a desperate game of thrones. All because of the loss of one vessel – the White Ship – the medieval Titanic.

Audiobooks of the Month
Queen of the World

Queen of the World

Author: Robert Hardman Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/06/2019

On today's world stage, one leader stands apart. Queen Elizabeth II has seen more of the planet and its people than any other head of state, and has engaged with them like no other monarch in British history. Since her coronation, she has visited over 130 countries across the ever-changing globe, acting as diplomat, stateswoman, pioneer and peace-broker, while also managing the responsibilities of a mother and grandmother, and her sixty-four-year marriage to the late Prince Philip. She has transformed her father's old empire into the Commonwealth, her 'family of nations', and has come to know its leaders better than anyone. In 2018, they would gather in her own home to endorse her eldest son, the Prince of Wales, as her successor. With extensive access to the Queen's family and staff, Hardman tells a true story full of drama, intrigue, exotic and even dangerous situations, heroes, rogues, pomp and glamour - and, at the centre of it all, the woman who has genuinely won the hearts of the world.

Our Rainbow Queen

Our Rainbow Queen

Author: Sali Hughes Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/05/2019

THE PERFECT COLOURFUL COMPANION GUIDE TO QUEEN ELIZABETH II'S JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS This riotously colourful book takes a photographic journey through Queen Elizabeth II's ten decades of colour-blocked style. The photographs, which span the colours of the rainbow and a century of style, are gloriously accessorised with captions and commentary by journalist and broadcaster Sali Hughes. From the dusky pinks the Queen wore in girlhood all the way through to #NeonAt90, by way of that hat she wore on the announcement of Brexit, and not forgetting her trusty Launer handbag ever at her side, this must-have collection celebrates the iconic fashion statements of our longest reigning and most vibrant monarch.