Friday, December 09, 2011

A new royal book!! Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life...Can you say royal rehash?

Nothing makes me much happier than a new Royal book! So I was very excited to find this new biography of Prince Philip--probably the most interesting royal ever. Slam! Was I disappointed! The is nothing new here! From the hype in the British press I expected much more. Sadly, this is just a collection of strung-together quotes from better books.

It IS understandable that he's done this in the case of the letters from Prince Philip to the Queen Mother written at the time of Philip and Elizabeth's engagement since only William Shawcross, official biographer of the Queen Mother, was ever given access to them. This is also true for some of the Mountbatten family letters. What it really shows though is laziness. Nowhere is there an acknowledgement to H.M. the Queen for allowing access to papers in the Royal Archives. This is either incredibly bad manners or else laziness. I'm guess the later--that his source notes listing "Buckingham Palace Archives" and a few others sources are really only covering what he found in other books.

He does seem to have interviewed a few people, but not too extensively. Gyles Brandreth conducted extensive interviews for his book on Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Many of the interviews in this book seem to be from those--or are merely rehashes by the same people. Certainly Countess Mountbatten and her sister Lady Pamela Hicks have been everywhere in the last 10-20 years discussing their cousin Philip and his family. They say the same things in every interview.

Eade also fails to learn from some of his sources--for example he actually quotes from Marion Crawford's "The Little Princesses" which has been widely discredited for years and finally put to rest in Vicker's book on the Queen Mother.

What's truly annoying here, beyond the simple repackaging of other author's work, is the inane political correctness in the form of prurient, unsubstantiated claims of who might have been a homosexual. This is simply put in because nearly every biography today tries to include a discussion of sexuality of someone even when it is in no way relevant to the story. In this case it rises to almost ludicrous levels.

So, forget this one and move on to some royal biographies that matter! For example:

Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece by Hugo Vickers (He, too, has a small problem in his books--he inserts quotes from his previous works to the point that I want to scream, but his books are very readable and are very ably researched.)

Mountbatten by Philip Zeigler (official biography, but very frank)

Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Royal Marriage by Gyles Brandreth (But don't both with his book on Charles and Camila--all the interesting stuff is in the book on the Queen & Philip).

Royals and The Reich: The Princess von Hessen in Nazi Germany by Jonathan Petropoulous. This tells the story of Philip's in laws in Germany and their involvement in the 3rd Reich and Nazi party.

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