Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Young Prince Philip by Philip Eade

Mark your calendars!   Philip Eade's Young Prince Philip will be published by Henry Holt in November.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Queen by Robert Hardman

Daily Mail's Royal Correspondent Robert Hardman is completing work on a new book, Our Queen, which will be published in October. He scored a major coup by securing an interview with the Duke of Cambridge.  The interview took place shortly after the Duke's marriage in April.

The Duke of Cambridge, according to Richard Kay, discussed "his grandmother an the monarchy."  The book is an "eagerly awaited Diamond Jubilee portrait" of Queen Elizabeth II.

You can pre-order the book, which will be published by Hutchinson on October 6.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Young Royals on Tour William & Catherine in Canada

Three cheers for Canadian publisher Dundurn, which has published the first book about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first overseas tour to Canada. 

Young Royals on Tour  is a slick, well-produced soft-cover book that covers the July trip to Canada.   The author is Christina Blizzard, a journalist who has worked  for The Toronto Sun and The Guardian.  She is now the Queen's Park columnist for QMI, a Canadian news agency.

Young Royals on Tour: William & Catherine in Canada

Blizzard provides a detailed day-by-day description of William and Catherine's tour.  Each day - Ottawa, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Northwest Territories, Slave Lake and Calgary.    The text is  complemented by superb photos, the majority of which were taken by QMI photographers.  This is a far better effort than Hello's recent special issue on the Canadian tour.

The book also includes photographs from previous Canadian tours  by Queen Elizabeth II -- and yes, there are also a few photos of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, included the famous edited photograph showing Diana greeting her two young sons on the HMS Britannia.  The Prince of Wales, who was standing right next to Diana, was edited out of the photograph.  (This was done to give the impression that Charles was an uncaring father, which was far from the actual truth, but misconceptions sell more newspapers.)
The book has 64 pages and costs $14.99/£9.99.

Five stars for Young Royals on Tour  William & Catherine in Canada.   Dundurn has made this book available for sale through Amazon, and  The book can also be purchased at bookstores throughout Canada.   It is not available at American bookstores.

Dundurn also published William & Catherine A Royal Wedding Souvenir, which was published simultaneously in the United Kingdom by Pitkins.  Annie Bullen wrote the informative text, focusing  not only on the royal wedding, but also on the royal engagement and biographical information on Prince William and the former Catherine Middleton.  

Informative and well laid-out, which is the norm for Pitkins publications.  The price is $14.99 in Canada and in the United States.   The edition sold in the United Kingdom was published by Pitkins.

This is one of the better produced books on the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

In fact, both books are highly recommended.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

William and Kate a Royal Love Story by James Clench

Fluff yes, but this book turned out to be a delight.  Not scholarly, nor earth-shattering, but a delight nonetheless.  James Clench, The Sun's royal correspondent, has an easy, comfortable style, which makes William & Kate Royal Love Story easy to read, and enjoyable.

This book was published shortly after the engagement was announced,  which meant a rush to get into print, as other publishers were also readying similar books.   

The photos are largely the result of Sun photographers, including the first kiss (in public) in Switzerland in 2006.

William & Kate A Royal Love Story is an enjoyable read, certainly not earth shattering, and no real new information.  A rehashing with style.    The American publisher is Sterling ($19.95.)  The British publisher is Harper Collins (£12.00)

William and Catherine Their Story by Andrew Morton

Oh dear, another Andrew Morton book!  One would think Morton, who wrote Diana: Her True Story, would have given up the royal ghost a long time ago.   Surely, he has mined every source, every nugget of information for his royal books!  

Wait a minute,  no decent source is going to feed Morton a worthwhile piece of information.   The doors are closed, no one is going to talk to Andrew Morton.  Check the acknowledgements in the back of the book.  He references people such as Patrick Jephson,  good for the past, good for one more Diana quote, but the sources are woefully inadequate for a book about William and Catherine, their story and their wedding,

Let's be honest.  Apart from what has been released by the press and uncovered by the media, we know very little about the former Catherine Middleton.  She remains an enigma.  She has barely spoken a word in the public since the engagement was announced.  The Duchess of Cambridge, as the wife of the second in the line to the throne, will remain in the background as she is eased, gently into royal duties.

She is a star, nonetheless.

Morton has nothing new to say.  He has culled all the appropriate news clips to pad the text -- and inserts Diana's name at every possible moment, which can be rather disconcerting at times.   Andrew Morton goes off the rails when he quotes a Scottish nobleman, "speaking on condition of anonymity."   The alleged Scottish nobleman was quoted as saying that William was expected to marry someone among the aristocracy or European royalty.

Balderdash!  The British royals largely do not mix and mingle with their now distant cousins on the Continent.  William was largely expected to marry an English rose, not a European. The British are not too keen on their royals bringing home a foreigner.
William & Catherine: Their Lives, Their Wedding

Lady Diana  Spencer was the daughter of a wealthy earl.  She grew up with royals as neighbors.  But as it turned out, genealogy and royal neighbors does not necessarily mean a successful royal marriage.  Catherine may not be an earl's daughter, but she has a better education than Diana.  She was raised in a two-parent household, two hard working parents, millionaires who made sure their three children received the best education possible.

Unlike Diana,  Catherine has the confidence to shine as a royal bride.  She and Prince William were friends first.  Affection and love followed.  They have built a strong, loving relationship.  William and Catherine are equals.

William & Catherine Their Story (St. Martin's Press: $29.99/$34.40) is not going to one of the books that future biographers of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be consulting.  Far too much rehashing of other people's information.

Memo to Andrew Morton: time to move on from the royal scene.  You did your thing with Diana: Her True Story.   This newest book is awful.    The photos are nice, though, but  it should be noted that wedding is discussed in the final chapter.

This book was also published in the UK by Michael O'Mara.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

William & Kate Celebrating a Royal Engagement by Robin Nunn

Robin Nunn's career as a royal photographer took off with the ascent of Lady Diana Spencer, the future wife of the Prince of Wales --- and mother of Prince William.   Now Nunn, who runs a photo agency, turns to Prince William and Catherine Middleton with the publication of William & Kate Celebrating a Royal Engagement.

This book was published shortly after the engagement was announced, and  provides a synoptic biography of Prince William of Wales  from his birth through childhood and the death of his mother to the university years and his military career ... and the entrance of Catherine Middleton into William's life.

Nunn's photos shine throughout the book.   Many of these photographs have not been seen before including some rather stylish ones of Kate.

One of the angles that Nunn has latched upon is the commoner-royal marriage.  He includes a chapter on the marriages of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark,  the Prince of the Asturias, the Prince of Orange, the Duke of Brabant and the Crown Princess of Sweden, all of whom married commoners.  The Duke of Brabant's wife, Mathilde, comes from a noble family, but she had no title of her own.  Her father was elevated to the title of Count when Mathilde married Philippe.

But Catherine is not the first commoner to marry into the royal family.  William's mother had a courtesy titlle due to her father being a peer of the realm,  but legally, the late Lady Diana Spencer was a commoner.   The Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex married  commoners.  So did the Duke of Gloucester.   The Duchess of Kent is the daughter of a baronet, but she was a mere Miss when she married. 

Camilla Parker Bowles is also a commoner although she descends from the aristocracy and Charles II.

This is a  nice book to look through, but do not expect a work of scholarship.  When Prince William's engagement was announced,  writers and photographers went into overdrive to produce commemorative books. 

 I have to say that the publisher did a very nice job combing the text (Nunn was partnered by Jonathan Hayden) with very fine photography.

William & Kate:  Celebrating a Royal Engagement (Pavilion: £14.00/$24.95). 144 pages.

If you are looking to decide on which William and Kate books to keep in your library, please note this one is a keeper. Superb photographs, and the Nunn and Hayden largely avoid purple prose.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some new Royal DVDS - Region 1 NTSC

Here is a selection of new William and Kate (the duke and duchess of Cambridge) DVDS for Region 1 NTSC. US and Canada.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New books on Kate's fashions and style

The new People magazine special issue, Kate's Secret Styles, made me wonder if there are any new books on the Duchess of Cambridge's style and fashions.  Well .... there are a few new books that will appeal to the Kate fashionistas.

Kate: Style Princess: The Fashion and Beauty Secrets of Britain's Most Glamorous Royal was written by Sara Cywinski (John Blake: $29.95).  This book will be published in September.

Kate: Style Princess: The Fashion and Beauty Secrets of Britain's Most Glamorous Royal

Kate - Style Princess: The Fashion and Beauty Secrets of Britain's Most Glamorous Royal  (UK edition)

Another new book is Kate Style: Chic and Classic Look  by Alisande Healy Orme, which was published  by Plexus ($19.95)

There is also a new DVD (PAL) Kate: Portrait of a Princess. This DVD is PAL Region 2 and not compatible with most North American DVD Players.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

People Magazine Special Issue Kate's Style Secrets

People Magazine has published a special issue dedicated to the Duchess of Cambridge and her style.   Kate's Style Secrets is an 80 page glossy volume with plenty of photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge and her clothes, shoes and so on.  The 165 must haves!   Great Fashion,  Hair and Makeup!   How to get Kate's look ... at Target!

The magazine includes chapters on Kate's fashion recycling (also known as wearing the same dress more than once), her sister, Pippa, and her style,  their mom, Carole, and one on the Duke of Cambridge and how he dresses.

I have noticed that there are plenty of people, especially young women, who are interested in what Kate wears --- there are even several websites on Kate's clothes -- and People Magazine has done a fine job to capture the Duchess of Cambridge's special essence.

Kate's Style Secrets! will on sale in the USA and Canada until September 12. The newsstand price is $5.99/$6.99.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Resurrection of the Romanovs By Greg King

I have enjoyed watching (reading) Greg King develop into a truly superb royal writer.  He and his co-author Penny Wilson have hit it out of the park with their latest book, The  Resurrection of the Romanovs (Wiley: $35.00).  

The book is really about a Polish woman, Franziska Schanzkowska, the woman  behind the Anna Anderson persona.  For nearly 70 years,  Franziska largely survived as Anna Anderson, who convinced many that she was Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Nicholas II.

The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World's Greatest Royal Mystery

So many people wanted to believe that Anastasia survived the mass murders, and the evidence in her favor was, at times, overwhelming.   The story came to a crumbling end when DNA testing proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Anastasia died with her parents and siblings on July 16/17, 1918, and the  woman who emerged from a canal in Berlin in 1920 was a mentally ill Polish peasant.

The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World's Greatest Royal Mystery  (UK)

King and Wilson jumped deep into the story, and analyzed mountains of information, from court proceedings to previously unpublished and undiscovered documents. The result is a home run -- real research, real detective work.

So much has been written on Anna Anderson - the pros, the cons, the supporters and those who were equally convinced that Anna was a fraud.   But so many wanted to believe that this story would have a happy ending for Anna.  She  would be vindicated, but, instead of being vindicated, Anna was proven conclusively to be a fraud.  

DNA does not lie.

The Resurrection of the Romanovs is a mammoth achievement, a true historical revelation, and the absolute standard on the enigma that was Anna Anderson.  Greg and Penny's first collaboration was The Fate of the Romanovs.

The Fate of the Romanovs

Alison Weir's new book on Mary Boleyn

This is going to be an exciting fall for new royal books from Philippa Gregory (historical fiction) and Alison Weir.

Weir's latest book is a biography of Mary Boleyn: the Mistress of Kings,  which is due out on October 4.  The publisher is Ballantine Books.  Weir has certainly matured as a writer, and her biographies of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Katherine Swynford are among the best ever written.

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

I am looking forward to reading Philippa Gregory's The Lady of Rivers, which will be published in October.
She is also the author of the forthcoming book, The Women of the Cousins' War (Touchstone)

The Royal W.E Unique Glimpses of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor by Victoria Martinez

It is a shame that Victoria Martinez's book was published after Hugo Vickers'  superb Behind Closed Doors. 

The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor

Martinez is an excellent writer, but this work, which is based on previously published articles in European History Journal and the Journal for Duke and Duchess of Windsor Society,  is largely an apologia for the Windsors.   This scholarly, yet sympathetic portrait, relies on many contemporary sources, including Greg King's biography, The Duchess of Windsor,  Michael Thornton's Royal Feud and the Michael Bloch books.  The Bloch books were of course commissioned not by the Duchess (who had no idea what was going on around her) but by Maitre Suzanne Blum.  (Blum forged Wallis' signature to obtain her Power of Attorney.)

I think Martinez spent far too much time disputing the theory set forth by Michael Bloch that Wallis was a hermaphrodite.  Vickers provides more details about how Bloch's The Duchess of Windsor came to be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 1996, the centenary of Wallis' birth.     No publishers were interested in another biography, so Bloch and his agent had to come up with a new angle.  Bloch "decided to promote the idea that the Duchess had been a man."  He told James Lees-Milne that Maitre Blum believed this.   Vickers is  not sure that Bloch himself believed it.  He went to Paris to talk to Wallis' doctor, Jean Thin, about his idea.  But the book makes no mention of Bloch's visit to Thin, so one can assume that Thin told him that the idea was crazy.    (Some years later, Thin was interviewed by James Fox for an article about the Windsors in Vanity Fair, and the subject of Wallis' sex was brought up: "That's ridiculous.  She was a woman."

Martinez refers to Lord Mountbatten as Victoria's grandson, when, in fact, he was a great-grandson.  She also would not have known that the jewels meant for Princess Alexandra and the Duchess of Kent were appropriated by Maitre Blum.  This was information revealed by Vickers.

The book's final chapter, A Fool Would Know, covers in extensive detail the 1946 robbery of Wallis's jewels during a visit to Ednam Lodge, the country estate of the Earl of Dudley.  This is the book's best chapter, and well worth reading. 

The fact that the author's bias is very pro-Duke and Duchess of Windsor is not a reason, in my view, to not read this otherwise very fine publication. 

The Royal W.E Unique Glimpses of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor is not available in  bookstores, but it can be ordered from several sources including Amazon (for that Kindle thing.)

The Royal W.E. Unique Glimpses of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor

The price is a steal at  $2.99.  The  book can also be ordered from at £2.14.

for Nook readers:

And for other electronic readers:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Behind Closed Doors by Hugo Vickers

The subtitle of Hugo Vickers's latest book, Behind Closed Doors, is The Tragic Untold Story of the Duchess of Windsor.   Biographers and historians have tussled with all the aspects of Edward VIII's Abdications, his marriage to Wallis Warfield,  and their lives together until his death in 1972.  But we know very little about the Duchess' life after David's death.  Michael Bloch wrote several books, including the editing of David and Wallis's letters.  But Bloch did not do anything without the approval and encouragement of Maitre Suzanne Blum.

I have never been fond of the twice-divorced American-born Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson, but she did Britain a favor by marrying the former Edward VIII.  Wallis did not want the Abdication nor was she in love with the Duke of Windsor. 

Acclaimed biographer Hugo Vickers bursts the myth that the Windsor marriage was "one of the greatest love stories of the twentieth century."  Wallis did not love David, but she married him largely anyway.  The circumstances of their relationship ensured that David would marry Wallis.  He gave up his throne for her. 

The Duke never truly realized how much damage he caused by choosing Wallis over the United Kingdom.  He and his wife were largely pariahs.  David was never able repair the divisions within the royal family.   It was said that the Queen Mother hated Wallis for what happened.  But a good friend of the Queen Mother said that she did not know Wallis well enough to hate her.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were never able to find a niche, a true self worth.  Wallis dressed well, owned fabulous jewels, and gave great parties.  But she was always on the sidelines when it came to the royal family.  The British government - and the royal family - kept the Duke and Duchess of Windsor marginalized.  David tossed away his life, his duty to the Crown, to the country, to the empire and to his family, for which he was never forgiven.  His wife was never accepted as a member of the Royal Family,  nor David's family.

In May 18, 1972,  Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh paid a state visit to France.  After visiting the races at Longchamps, the Queen, her husband and their eldest son, the Prince of Wales, visited the Duke, who was dying of throat cancer, at his Paris home.   The Queen had been informed of the Duke's illness.   They were welcomed by the Duchess of Windsor.

Ten days after after seeing his niece, his sovereign, for the last time,  the duke of Windsor died on May 28.  He was buried at Frogmore.  The Duchess stayed at Buckingham Palace before returning to Paris.  She made one final trip to England a year later to visit her husband's grave.

The Duchess's health soon deteriorated.  She was hospitalized for various ailments, and she also suffered from a debilitating form of arthritis.  Waiting in the wings, ready to pounce and to exploit was Maleficent , the person of a French lawyer, Maitre Suzanne Blum.   Blum was a nasty, evil cretin who used a vulnerable old woman for her own purposes.  She was a shark, par excellence!

It is suffice to say that Blum lined her own pockets with items from the Windsor home.  She arranged for jewels to be sold, and then took a percentage. She filched jewels and other items and presented the purloined valuables to friends.  She forced out loyal employees, including Johanna Schultz, the Windsors' secretary.  She also forged documents, including one allegedly initialed by Wallis, allowing for the publication of the letters.  Hugo Vickers believes this letter was a fraud.   Even if the document was signed and approved by the Duchess, it would not have been legal because it was initialed -- W.W.

In the darkening twilight of her own life, Wallis had no idea what was going on outside her bedroom.  But what was happening was not pretty.  Vickers provides the tantalizing and overwhelming evidence of how Maleficent and her minions got their greedy claws into things that did not belong to them.
Vickers' interest in the Windsor story goes back many years, when he was writing biographical sketches for Burke's Royal Families of the World.   After Mohammed al-Fayed bought the Windsor home in Paris (much to Blum's disgust),  Hugo wrote The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor,  which provided new insight into the Windsors' life and lifestyle.

Behind Closed Doors is an apt title for this book because everything Blum did was behind closed doors, without the Duchess' knowledge.  Blum was convinced that the Duchess would die within a few years of the Duke, but she lived, in a twilight world, until 1986.  Blum held the key to the duchess' prisoner, and kept Wallis' friends at bay.  She controlled the purse strings and the final years of Wallis' life.  She disregarded the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's wills and wishes regarding their belongings.  She made the arrangements for the Wallis' jewels to be sold at auction at Sotheby's in April 1987.  She claimed that it was Wallis' bequest to have the sale's proceeds donated to the Institut Louis Pasteur for AIDS research.     Hugo Vickers, in his detailed research, points out that Wallis would not even have known about AIDS.    It was Maitre Blum's decision.

Hugo makes it clear that Wallis a victim.  He is correct.  The Duchess of Windsor did not deserve the treatment she received from an evil and unscrupulous lawyer. 

In the weeks after the Duke of Windsor's death, Lord Mountbatten traveled to Paris to try and make arrangements for the return of the Duke's papers to the Royal Archives.  Lord Mountbatten made several visits to France, none of which were entirely altruistic.  But he wanted to ensure that the couple's papers were brought to England.   But Blum was able to countermand this.  She took control of what she found,  and with the assistance of Michael Bloch, several books were published.

Blum also tried to stop a television series on the life of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.   Charles Murphy who was the Duke's ghostwriter for his memoirs, turned against the duke and duchess with an unflattering portrait in The Windsor Story, Royal Feud, and Philip Ziegler's authorized biography.

Hugo Vickers has made use of his many contacts, through which he gained more contacts and gleaned information, subtle details, about the Duchess' final years.  Blum's denouement came with the Duchess's death on April 24, 1986.   The long-held plans for Operation Haze went into effect.   The Lord Chamberlain's office took over, and the Duchess of Windsor's body was brought to England for a funeral at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, and internment next to the man who loved her more than a country.

Lady Donaldson described the relationship as one of domination.   David had an "intense desire to be dominated and hers to dominate."    In the end, however, it was Maitre Blum who dominated Wallis' life, although Wallis never knew this.   She was kept locked away, like an animal, as Blum's greed grew stronger.     The Duchess of Windsor did not deserve this.  She did not deserve to be treated in such a manner.   Hugo Vickers was right.  Wallis was the victim. 

Behind Closed Doors is a riveting read.  The anger swells as each page is turned, as one learns more and more of Blum's deception.   Princess Aurora's  Maleficent had nothing on Maitre Suzanne Blum.
It is suffice to say that this is the most important book to be published on the Windsors in many years. 

This book was published by Hutchinson earlier this year.  The price is £25.00.  

Is this book a must read:  in a word  --- YES!   Hugo Vickers proves once again that he is one of the best royal biographers writing today.   Behind Closed Doors is a classic read, and will become one of the standard books used for research in matters dealing with the Duke and Duchess of Windsors.   The books has not been published in the USA, but it is available from  Copies are also available through

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hello! Royal Special Prince William and Kate

Hello Canada! is the publisher of Prince William and Kate A Celebration of Their First Royal Tour.   This is the 2011 U.S. Commemorative Edition,  which means this particular Hello! Royal Special is not available for sale in the United Kingdom or Canada, although I expect there is a similar Canadian edition.

The 130 page soft cover book is not (yet) on Hello! Canada's site with order information or an image to add to this review.  The cover photo shows William and Catherine arriving for the BAFTA gala in Los Angeles.

You  would think that this volume would be all about the the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's official visit to Canada, which was followed by a three-day trip to California.   Look at the title: "A Celebration of Their First Royal Tour."  Surely, this would indicate lots of photographs and coverage of the tour.

Not exactly.  The tour gets about 30 pages..  The rest of the publication is padded with features and photos of William and Kate, a timeline of their lives, the engagement, the wedding, the palaces, Pippa and Harry,  Kate's fashions, and a few photos of Diana, too.

The final article in the publication is by Christopher Wilson and titled "Facing the Future."  Wilson believes the monarchy is safe and secure, thanks to William and Catherine.

I would have preferred if Hello! had produced a publication that fit the title - with a lot a more photos and coverage of North American trip. 

Far too much fluff!

The price of this special volume is $9.99.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kate & Diana William's two loves

The Daily Mirror has published a new magazine, Diana & Kate William's two loves.  This is a 82 page glossy publication filled with photographs of the late Diana, Princess of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.   These photos are complimented with articles that were originally published in the Daily Mirror.

The soft covered publication is divided into eleven chapters:  Young Bride in Love, Shy Di & Confident Kate,  Joined by a Ring, Stepping out as a Royal,  Two Days that Captivated a Nation,  The First Woman in William's life, The Nation's Darling, A Troubled Woman, Going Solo, a Nation in Mourning, and The Future (what Kate can learn from Diana "as she establishes her own role as part of the royal family."

This is certainly a sugar-filled publication, enhanced with photographs from the Mirror's extensive photograph archives

The magazine is on sale at newsstands in the United Kingdom (£4.99), and perhaps bookstores, as well.   Here in the USA, the magazine can be found in bookstores (in the magazine section), including Barnes & Noble.   The U.S. price is $11.99.

The magazine is also available for sale through the Mirror's own site.

Kate enthusiasts will appreciate this new magazine.  Dianamaniacs will love it!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Books About Zara Phillips

There are two books about Zara Phillips, eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II.