Wilson (Jesus, 1992, etc.) turns his attention and considerable wit to the crisis of Britain's Royal Family--elevating the tabloid debate about Diana and Charles and the rest of the clan so that we see them as players in the possible collapse of the monarchy itself. When the queen was in her teens, Wilson says, ``it was decided that she should be instructed in the mysteries of the British constitution, and she was sent off to Sir Henry Marten, the Vice- Provost of Eton....'' Marten munched sugar cubes and taught Elizabeth II the ideas of the Victorian editor Walter Bagehot--who, Wilson explains, believed that ``the function of a constitutional monarch was to warn, to encourage, and to advise.'' It was Bagehot who also created the idea that the monarch was to exemplify Christian family life. Wilson contends that Elizabeth personifies this Victorian ideal: It's Prince Charles who's the problem. Not only is he--judging from his marital lapses--no moral pillar, but he is, claims Wilson, a pompous ninny (``He knows little and retains little of what he is told. Like many second-rate minds, he is fond of posturing and attitudinizing''), so blind to his responsibilities that--in a speech, in an apparent effort to seem original--he nearly scotched the crucial General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations of 1992 by disagreeing with his government's position. Wilson concludes that all of Elizabeth's heirs are hopeless; but, finding value in the monarchy itself, he proposes that the Windsors step aside in favor of a new line of monarchs to be headed by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the quietly intelligent heir of King George V--an event that, Wilson admits, is unlikely to occur. A thinking person's irreverent, entertaining, and knowledgeable guide to the monarchy.