THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE HOUSE OF WINDSOR by Donald Spoto

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE HOUSE OF WINDSOR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From Victoria and Albert through Chuck and DJ, a panorama of British monarchy that, despite its resonant title, is just intelligently slung rehash. For anyone who's missed the past 150 years of Royal Family news and gossip, celebrity biographer Spoto (Liz, Marilyn, Marlene, etc.) has put the whole history in a user-friendly if unexciting genealogical package. Though he sets out ambitiously to ""examine the hazards of sovereignty in our time,"" he succeeds in writing a gracefully fleshed-out timeline of the Windsor family history, packed with just as much information about famous royal nannies as about who was sleeping with whom. Calmly and without sensationalism, he puts their affairs, both sexual and otherwise, in chronological order, giving royal scandals, including the affair between George V's homosexual son Prince George and No‰l Coward, no more importance than child care. And judging from the descriptions of cold parents and isolated education, the poor young Windsors have repeatedly been crippled by their own aristocratic privileges. The family, which George VI dubbed the ""firm,"" descended from Germans whose first dynastic sovereign, Victoria, bore Albert's last name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. They did not become the Windsors until WW I, when George V and his advisors decided to secure the British monarchy by giving it a British moniker. (In reply, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Victoria's grandson, announced that he was going out to see a production of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). Spoto describes how British royalty stayed alive as crowned heads rolled all over Europe: by redefining itself, by going on exhausting PR tours of the Commonwealth, and by exploiting the media, which continues to exploit right back. A survey course in Windsors, with no new ground covered--and the old ground has just about had it.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster