Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Royal Christmas by Jeremy Archer

It's hot, hazy and humid.  Summertime.  So many good books to read ... and to keep cool, sit down in a comfy chair, pour a lemonade, and dive into A Royal Christmas (Elliot & Thompson: £20.00/$32.95), a comprehensive account of British royal Christmases.

Archer is a historian who specializes in Christmas.  He has an appreciation for its traditions and history, and combines it with the British royal family.

The focus of this book is the modern royal family from Queen Victoria to modern day.

Mixing royalty and Christmas provides interesting reading, especially as Archer uses the royals' own words.

Queen Victoria wrote on Christmas Eve, 1841, "arranged Albert's table with Xmas presents, in my former bedroom ... One of the things I value most is an enamel of "Pussy" after Ross, mounted as a brooch...."

It was the Hanoverians who brought many of the Christmas traditions that the royals and their subjects continue to enjoy,  Although Prince Albert is oft-credited with bringing the Christmas tree to Britain, the tradition began earlier, perhaps with Queen Charlotte, consort of George III, who in 1800, placed "in the middle of room stood an immense tub with a yew-tree placed in it, from the branches of which hung bunches of sweetmeats, almonds and raisins..."

The British royal family also made Christmas into a family event, a time for parents and children come together.  Gift giving, simple gifts, became the touchstone for the celebrations. 

Christmas celebrations were also marred by family and political crises, which included the Crimean war, the issue of Schleswig-Holstein, two world wars, the deaths of the Prince Consort (1861) and Princess Alice (1878), and, the abdication of Edward VIII.  (I was surprised Archer did not mention the birth of Princess Alexandra, which occurred on Christmas Day, 1936, a moment of joy after the trauma of abdication.)

In 1854, Queen Victoria wrote:  "Poor Christmas Eve,  that happiest of festivals, comes this year at such at sad troubled time, which is quite distressing."

Archer devotes the final chapters to the Christmas broadcast, which began in 1932.  George V's broadcasts were live, sent out on radio to Britain and the Commonwealth.

The illustrations include photographs of royal Christmas cards.  

A Royal Christmas is meticulously researched and a delightful read, a book I know I will be dipping into from time to time, especially around Christmas.



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Royal Coronations

Lucinda Gosling's Royal Coronations (Shirebooks: £6.99) is a nifty little reference book.  This is a everything you need to know about British coronations in a nutshell. 65 pages.  Plenty of illustrations.  From planning the coronation to the regalia, pageantry and ceremony,  Royal Coronations is the perfect source for information.

This book was published to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation.

This book may be a slim volume, but it is chock full of informative details about royal coronations. 
The US price is $12.99.  It is also available on Kindle.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Robert Jobson's new royal book: The New Royal Family

From the site

A fully updated insider's account of the royal romance from trusted journalist Robert Jobson, NBC's royal correspondent It is the love story which captivated the world. and, after 8 years together, William and Kate married in spectacular style at Westminster Abbey on April 29th, 2011. This is a true insider account of Prince William's amazing love affair with Kate Middleton; from their initial meeting at university in Scotland to married life in North Wales while William pursues his RAF career. He is the confident young Prince who is the future of the Royal family. She is the royal bride and future Queen Consort who is thoroughly modern and confounds all the stereotypes of how a royal partner should be. Since the Palace announced the Duchess's much-anticipated pregnancy in 2012, speculation has gone into overdrive about the pitter-patter of tiny feet. This in-depth book chronicles the next chapter in this modern-day fairytale and is packed with beautiful photographs, fascinating facts, and expert analysis into the most pivotal royal romance of our time. An intriguing insight and unrivaled souvenir, this is an essential read for royalists and romantics alike.

Photos are by Arthur Edwards, MBE

No cover art apparently.  The book will be published on August 5 by British publisher John Blake. The price will be £12.99.

I look forward to reading this book as Jobson actually his subject ... royalty ... which cannot be said about several other British journalists who cover the royal beat.

The New Royal Family