by Denis Judd ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 1, 1981
Prince Philip's parents, royal Greek exiles, were not really so badly off when he was a child. After their separation, he was not in fact brought up by his uncle, Lord Mountbatten--first came Mountbatten's uncle, the Marquess of Milford Haven. And Philip's choice of the navy was not solely due to the Mountbatten connection: papa was a mariner too. But quite possibly Mountbatten did mastermind Philip's marriage to Elizabeth, as a way of (as alleged) ""moving in on the monarchy."" . . . Even in Britain, it is hard to imagine an avid audience for these tepid non-revelations--most of them lifted, with credit, from earlier books on Philip & family--though at least somebody there may be interested in knowing that (""To put the record straight"") Philip's father, Prince Andrew, ""was one of eight brothers and sisters."" Genealogy, indeed, appears to be Judd's forte (he is the author of The Eclipse of Kings, among others); family history occupies most of the first 50 pages, before Philip is born (for unknown reasons) on a dining-room table. Then come his early, unsettled years (mother deaf, pious, devoted to good works; father a dandy; sisters soon wed to German princes), his schooling at Cheam and, notoriously, Gordonstoun (""moral exercise,"" he insists, as well as ""physical training""), his creditable service--and innocent fun--in the navy, and every known version of his romance with Elizabeth (was she smitten at their first meeting? was their betrothal arranged before his August 1946 visit to Balmoral? did Margaret's crush, Peter Townsend, encourage the King's hesitancy? etc., etc.). With the two married, and Elizabeth soon Queen, Philip has to forgo his career and contrive a role for himself--at which point the book ceases to be a life-story and slips into topical chapters on aspects of that role. But even the potentially juiciest--about ""the Margaret problem""--is thin and stale (only pertinent info: Philip and P. Townsend didn't get along). Otherwise, we learn that, despite Philip's frequent tactlessness, his press relations are better than they were; he sees no inconsistency between hunting and championing wildlife-preservation; and so on. (One French woman-friend surfaces--barely.) Anyone with a real interest in life behind the velvet curtains should see instead Richard Hough's Mountbatten (p. 59).
Pub Date: April 1, 1981
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1981
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