Monday, November 14, 2011

A Fine Romance

British royal wedding have a way of creating a mini-publishing industry with the publication of books about the couple getting married -- and royal weddings in general.

This was the case of the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981 with the publication of dozens of books about royal weddings.

The same can now be said about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding.  There have been at least a dozen books published about the couple's wedding (not including all those special magazines), as well as several books on Royal Weddings.

Australian-British publisher Hardie Grant is the latest to jump on the wagon with A Fine Romance (£20.00), 200-page book that covers 75 years of royal weddings and the most recent British Royal Wedding.

The book opens with the 1930s and the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  The only royal wedding of the 1940s was the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.   Although there were several major royal weddings of the 1950s (Ragnhild of Norway, Josephine Charlotte of Belgium and Jean of Luxembourg, Prince Albert of Belgium and Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria), the publishers concentrate on the wedding of American film star, Grace Kelly, and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

There were more than a dozen of royal weddings in the reigning royal houses in the 1960s.  This volume focuses on the marriages of Princess Margaret, Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophie of Greece, Princess Irene of the Netherlands and Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma, Princess Anne Marie of Denmark and King Constantine II of Greece, and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and Claus von Amsberg.

Princess Anne's wedding leads the chapter for the 1970s, followed by the weddings of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Princess Caroline of Monaco.

It is not a surprise that the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer is the primary focus of the 1980s.  Eight pages of photographs, followed by two pages on the wedding of the Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson.

The two marriages featured for the 1990s are the weddings of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones and the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Belgium.

Four weddings are featured in the section for the 2000s: the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway, the Prince of Orange and Princess Maxima, the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark and the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, but not the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Asturias, which I consider a major gaffe on the part of the publishers. 

The first part of the book ends with the 2010 marriage of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling.

Part Two is about the romance, engagement and wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  Plenty of color photos of the couple at university, their engagement and the wedding.

The photographs are wonderful, and are enhanced by 20 double-page spreads. 

I think the book would have been better if the publishers had chosen to include all of the weddings that are included in the time lines.  They erred grievously by not including the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Asturias.

The timeline is not complete.  The 1950s include the wedding of the present King of the Belgians, but the wedding of his older brother, King Baudouin, does not even get a mention in the 1960 timeline.

The text also should have been more carefully vetted.  It is Archduke, and not Arch-duke.  Piccadilly,  not Picadilly, for example.  

A Fine Romance can be captivating, which is largely due to the photographs.  But I think the book could have been a lot better if the publishers had decided to provide a more comprehensive look at European royal weddings of the 20th century, a book that would have included all of the reigning royal houses. 

It was a grievous error to exclude the Asturias' marriage, which took place only two weeks after the Danish royal wedding.

In spite of the omissions,  A Fine Romance is a very lovely book, thanks to the superb collection of wedding photos.

A Fine Romance was edited by Lisette du Plessis.

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