Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Prince Philip by Philip Eade

I looked forward to reading Philip Eade's Prince Philip (Henry Holt: $28.00) largely because I hoped it would be a good book.   There are so very few good books on the life of Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, the consort of Queen Elizabeth II.   In fact, I can think of only two biographies that are worth having in your royal library: Tim Heald's  Philip: A Portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh (1991) and Philip: An Informal Biography by Basil Boothroyd (1971). 

Heald's biography is largely considered an official biography as Prince Philip made sources available to the author.  Boothroyd's biography is based on conversations with the Prince Philip.

Now add Eade's book to to the must have, must read.   This book fills an important niche as the book deals specifically with Philip's early life, ending with the Coronation.  Although this book was not authorized or official, Prince Philip's office made it possible for Eade to get the help he needed.  This help included access to archives and to conversations with close relatives and friends, including Lady Pamela Mountbatten and Lady Butter, the former Myra Wernher, the sister of Philip's friend, Alex Werhner.

So much has been written about Philip and his relationship with Uncle Dickie, with the idea that Uncle Dickie raised him.  But sometimes the truth is very different, and Eade, a respected broadsheet journalist, gets it right on all accounts.   The early years of Philip's life was peripatetic.  He was born on a dining room table at the family home at Corfu.  Exile soon followed, and the young Philip found himself living in Paris with a mother, descending into mental illness, and a father who was unable to face all the changes in his family's life.   Between 1930-1931, all four of Philip's older sisters were married to German princes.   His mother, Princess Alice, was placed in a mental hospital, and his father, Prince Andrew, preferred the more sunny climes of Monte Carlo.

Prince Andrew agreed that Philip's maternal relatives should care for him.  This included Philip's maternal grandmother, Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven, and her eldest son, George, Marquess of Milford and his wife, Nada, whose sister, Lady Zia, whose daughters, Georgina and Myra, were childhood friends of Queen Elizabeth.

This connection has been largely ignored by British journalists and biographers as most tend to focus on Uncle Dickie.  But Lord Mountbatten had very influence on the young Philip, who was shuttled among several relatives and schools in Germany and Scotland.

Philip soon was brought into the Wernher circle as Lady Zia's sister, Nada, was married to George, the 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, who was Philip's primary guardian until his premature death from cancer in 1938.   Lady Zia was far more stable than Aunt Nada, and Philip became good friends with Zia's only son, Alex, who was killed in the second world war. 

Philip's friendship with his first cousin, David Milford Haven, lasted until the wedding, where David blotted his copybook with his back stage behavior.

Eade portrays in detail how remarkable Prince Philip really is, and how well he has turned out in spite of his capricious upbringing: a Greek prince raised outside Greece,  baptised in the Greek Orthodox church, but always considered himself to be Anglican because his mother's family was largely Church of England.

Prince Philip's childhood was not easy.  He was, in essence, a latch-key child, with no real roots nor a real home base although he had several places to rest his head.  His education and his family life played roles in his determined, resilient personality.    It is unlikely that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth would have originally considered Philip as their elder daughter's consort.  They assumed that Elizabeth would have chosen one of the eligible heirs to dukedoms who moved in her social circle.   In hindsight, however, Lord Dalkeith and the others were all the wrong choices.  It would have been far more difficult for a duke in his own right, to walk behind the Queen, and to maintain his own castles.  Moreover, there also would have been the issue of the ducal succession, as his peerage would largely disappear into the crown after his death.

As it turned out, Philip was the perfect choice.  Elizabeth fell in love with him because he was not like the other men.  He had an independent life, which largely ended with marriage, and especially after Elizabeth succeeded. He was devoted to the Royal Navy, and he had to give up his career in order to be his queen's helpmate.  This has allowed Philip to define a new career as a successful career as a consort.  He has his job, and the Queen has hers.
Prince Harry recently spoke about his grandparents:  "Regardless of whether my grandfather seems to be doing his own thing: the fact that he's there - personally, I don't think that she could do it without him."

The young Prince Philip's life was certainly turbulent, but that turbulence was largely buffered by support of an extended family, and the love of one very special woman, Queen Elizabeth II.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dearest Missy for residents of North, Central & South America

I can offer copies of Dearest Missy for sale to residents of Canada, Mexico and Central and South America. 

The cost of the book is $55.00.  This is set by the publisher.   The postage for Canada and Mexico is $12.95 (flat rate envelope) and for Central and South America ($16.95.)  The USPS does not offer book rate for books sent outside the 50 states.  

If you live in Canada, Mexico or Central or South America, and you want to order a copy, you can contact me through the email address for this blog:

royalmusings   at  cox  dot  net    (This is not my paypal address.)

Paypal only.  $67.95 for Canada and Mexico  and $71.95 for Central and South America.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Several new Royal DVDS

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother's letters

In the fall of 2012,  British publisher Macmillan will publish a selection of the Queen Mother's letters.  The late Queen Elizabeth's official biographer, William Shawcross, is the editor of the letters.

The book will be published simultaneously in the US (Farar, Straus & Giroux) and Canada (HarperCollins).


Dearest Missy -- back in stock

I have more copies of Dearest Missy up for sale on Amazon ... USA only.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vild med Mary

Mary Donaldson was an ordinary Australian girl, a college graduate, who move from the family home on Tasmania to an apartment in the big city, Sydney, and a new job.   

In the late summer of 2000,  Mary Donaldson and a few girlfriends visited a local bar, where they met several young men, who were in town to take in the Summer Games.

But these young men were no ordinary tourists.  Two were heirs to the throne,  the Prince of Asturias, and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.   There appeared to be a mutual attraction between Frederik and Mary Donaldson.

This mutual attraction led to love and marriage and four kids in the baby carriage.   On May 14, 2004,  Mary Donaldson, escorted down the aisle by her Scots-born father, John Donaldson, married her prince.  

The Tassie Lassie had become a princess, a Crown Princess, the wife of the heir to the throne do Denmark.

It was not an easy transition from Australian commoner to a royal princess.  A new life, a new country, a new culture, and a very different new language to learn.    The last Crown Princess was her mother-in-law, Queen Margrethe II's mother, Ingrid, a princess of Sweden by birth.  

Ingrid was very much a royal princess, the daughter of the King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden and his first wife, the British Princess Margaret of Connaught.   Ingrid was raised to marry well, and she married the future King Frederik IX of Denmark in 1935.

It is not a surprise that Frederik found his bride outside Denmark.  His father was born in France (and found the transition as the consort of a formidable woman to be rather difficult.)

The transition has also not been easy for Mary.  But as Denmark's future Queen Consort, Mary has largely stepped up to the plate, and had become a positive symbol for Denmark.  She has produced the required heir and spare (and a set of twins as back up).  She accompanies Frederik on many occasions, but has now become a a star in her own right. Her Danish improves with each year.  Mary may never become an international star in the same heaven as the younger Duchess of Cambridge or Crown Princess Victoria, the heiress apparent to the Swedish throne. 

In Denmark, however, Crown Princess Mary's star in the ascent, and Vild med Mary showcases Mary's transformation from the ordinary Australian to a Danish princess.

Celebrating this achievement is a new book, Vild med Mary (Politikens Forlag) that examines all the facets of Mary's life.   The authors are two respected journalists, Jim Lyngvild, and Karen Seneca. Lyngvild is known for his fashion reporting,

Do not be dissuaded by the Danish text because the photographs are awesome.  What a delight to turn the pages (235 or so) of this attractive book.  The authors offer a brief comparison between Mary and Ingrid in  photographs, cuddling pets, wearing hats, that sort of thing.

The two authors provide coverage of the career princess, the cover girl princess (the Australian magazines love putting Mary on the cover of local magazines -- although the Duchess of Cambridge may be giving Mary a run for her money.)  

Crown Princess Mary will one day be the Queen Consort of Denmark.  The Duchess of Cambridge will become the Queen Consort of Australia.  In Australia,  Mary is the local girl who became a princess.

Mary -- and Frederik - have their respective charities and foundations.  In recent months, Mary has traveled to Africa to under charitable duties.

The authors have included chapters on jewels and fashions, on the wedding, the children, Christian, Isabella, and the twins Vincent and Josephine. 

Vild med Mary is a stunningly gorgeous book that largely documents the life and career of Crown Princess Mary.  The title translates to Wild About Mary.  The price is 300 DK.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Books on Friedrich III, German Emperor

Harvard University Press recently published Our Fritz: Emperor Frederick II and the Political Culture of Imperial Germany by Frank Lorenz Miller ($45.00).

This is not the first biography of the son of Wilhelm I and father of Wilhelm II.  Friedrich III, married to Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, Vicky, suffered from throat cancer, and reigned for only eighty-eight days.

I am aware of two other biographies published in English.  The scholarly Frederick III Germany's Liberal Emperor (Greenwood Press: 1995) and John van der Kiste's easy-reading Frederick III German Emperor 1888 (Sutton: 1981)

John van der Kiste has also written a two-act drama based on the Emperor's illness, which is available in a Kindle edition.

John van der Kiste also wrote Dearest Vicky, Darling Fritz (Sutton: