THE QUEEN AND HER COURT by Jerrold M. Packard


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A curiosity-seeker's guide to British royality and all its regalia--saved from total tackiness by Packard's knack for sometimes hitting the nail on the head and an occasional glint of un-nasty, self-mocking humor. Shoddiest is the treatment of royal personages past and present: George VI's youngest brother the Duke of Kent, we learn, ""was a narcotics addict in the early thirties""; Princess Margaret is pronounced ""a matronly middle-aged woman with a face that leaves no doubt of having been around the block""; Princess Anne and her husband Mark Phillips are scored for an ill-advised financial deal (if he didn't realize its impropriety, ""his wife should have""). But as for the Queen: ""She simply doesn't mess up."" Packard next peers into the royal residences, one by one, and then explains and explains and explains: who's who at court (e.g., how ""Ladies of the Bedchamber"" and ""Women of the Bedchamber"" differ); the fine points of titles and succession; the noble pecking order (what means a duke, a marquess, a viscount, a baron); etcetera, etcetera. And after describing the royal ornaments and royal occasions, he winds up with a detailed accounting of the royal finances--""the only issue of real consequence surrounding Britain's royal family today."" Not only for royalty-watchers (whose ranks will be swelled by the upcoming wedding) but also, grudgingly, for reference: there are indeed answers here to lots of trivial but perennial questions.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1981
Publisher: Scribners