THE SELLING OF THE ROYAL FAMILY: The Mystique of the British Monarchy by John Pearson

THE SELLING OF THE ROYAL FAMILY: The Mystique of the British Monarchy

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The demystification of the British monarchy was enforced for 200 years, through the reign of Victoria until the marriage of George, Prince of Wales, to Mary, Princess of Teck. Upon George's accession, Queen Mary brought all of her Germanic reverence for the myth of monarchy to bear upon the throne and thus was born the sacred mystique of modern British monarcy. Today, says Pearson, Princess Diana owns the most well-known female face on earth, with worldwide surveys showing her ""to be more famous, more admired and envied than any other woman in the world."" The greatest scandal that had to be covered up was the abdication of Edward VII (the most charming and intelligent of the Windsor brood) because of his unswerving desire to marry a twice-divorced American from Baltimore. With the self-demoted and exiled Duke of Windsor replaced by his stammering, not bright younger brother Bertie, it became absolutely necessary to sweep Edward under the carpet, where his brilliance would not outshine the new king's lacklusterness. This was done by a staggeringly splendid coronation, then a complete lockout of Edward. The accession of Elizabeth II renewed the public's focus on the monarchy, with the queen already known for her youth, glamor, energy and health, and ""her sudden arrival on the throne brought the greatest surge of hope and popular excitement since the war had ended."" TV--with her crowning witnessed by 300 million worldwide--brought about a spectacular rising tide of feeling for the monarchy. This was followed by Princess Margaret's scandalous (if bedless) affair with married Peter Townsend, doused by royal decree and then diverted into marriage with social-climbing court photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones. Soon the foreign press was floating spicy tidbits about the royal marriage itself being on the rocks, a scandal centering on Prince Philip's bachelor apartment in Berkley Square, weekly dinner parties and five-month absence from the queen's bed. Today the once-rousing Prince Charles is likely to enter a bland middle age, overshadowed by his mother, wife, even sister-in-law to-be. Press relations as royal operetta. Quite polished.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1986
Publisher: Simon & Schuster