THERE ARE STILL KINGS: The Ten Royal Families of Europe by Laure & Francoise Jaudel Boulay

THERE ARE STILL KINGS: The Ten Royal Families of Europe

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An agreeable blend of sugar and spice, political drama, domestic detail, and international gossip--for royalty-fanciers of various ilks. Paris-Match alumnae Boulay and Jaudel have a flair for popular storytelling that gives a shine even to timeworn tales of Britain's royal family--young Elizabeth's 1940, ""all will be well"" address to the Empire, her first rapturous meeting with Philip, her composure at word in Kenya of her father's death. (""With her characteristic foresight. . . she had carried with her a black mourning outfit."") They are not hard on Princess Margaret--whom they credit with modernizing and democratizing British society--and rather fancy Lady Di's ""vivacity and imagination."" Less charitably treated are Monaco's Rainier and Grace: he's an autocrat who made Monaco a ""mass-market tourist attraction,"" she's a sexless, expressionless actress who got what she wanted. (As for their daughters. . . .) Much more interesting, only partly because they're less in the limelight, are Scandinavia's unostentatious royals: Denmark's athletic, highly educated Queen Margrethe and her elegant, artistic French-commoner husband, Prince Henrik; Sweden's ""bourgeois"" King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia--the reformed playboy of modest gifts and the stunning, multilingual Olympics hostess (for whom becoming queen was doing the same job ""in a different setting""); and Norway's comfortable, middle-class royalty--with their love-will-out attachment to forbidden commoners. The story of Spain's Juan Carlos, on the other hand, is one of politics and intrigue: from his selection by France as heir-presumptive, through his cloistered schooling, to his refusal to assume power until the dying France was all-but-pronounced dead. It's the one story with serious historical implications, and the authors don't trivialize it. Spit-and-polish, egalitarian Holland, in turn, harbors Europe's most outrageous royals--what with Wilhelmina's contempt for her German husband, dowdy mystic Juliana's multiple deceptions by hers, Beatrix's bravado in marrying hers, an ex-Nazi, amid smoke bombs and catcalls in Amsterdam. There's an accolade for Belgium's ""discreet and effective"" Baudouin, as well as look-ins at Luxembourg and Lichtenstein. All told: Europe's royals are very much alive in these pages, and doing pretty well with their people for the present.

Pub Date: Jan. 25th, 1984
Publisher: Potter--dist. by Crown