BORN ROYAL: The Lives and Loves of the Young Windsors by Richard Hough

BORN ROYAL: The Lives and Loves of the Young Windsors

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No, not Charles and Diana and Andrew and Fergie. This time it's David, Mary, Bertie, Harry, George, and John, the children of England's George V and Queen Mary. Hough (Louis and Victoria: the First Mountbattens, Mountbatten: Hero of Our Time, Edwina: Countess Mountbatten of Burma) has reportedly used the royal diaries and personal letters to put together this account of life among the Windsors. If so, the papers are either astonishingly vapid or Hough is being scrupulously discreet: there's little here that would offend even the most dedicated royalist. True, as parents George V comes across as a martinet and Mary as almost totally lacking in maternal warmth. It's little wonder, then, that their children--particularly the eldest sons, David and Bertie--were given to an astonishing array of tics and tantrums, to crippling shyness and vacillation. David, later Edward VIII and then, after his abdication, the Duke of Windsor, was apparently in search of a ""mother figure"" when he established liaisons with such married women as Mrs. Dudley Ward, Thelma Furness, and Wallis Warfield Simpson, and was reacting to this early familial coldness. That ""Berrie,"" despite an almost pathologically retiring nature and a nerve-wracking stutter, was able, as George VI, to become the revered leader of the English people during WW II speaks eloquently of the support he received from his wife. Some of Hough's most interesting pages relate the opposition that the ""Windsors,"" whose family name was then ""Saxe-Coburg-Gotha,"" faced when anti-German feelings ran high during WW I. It was then that the name was Anglicized and ""Battenburg"" became ""Mountbatten."" When the author turns his attention to the Wallis Simpson/Prince of Wales affair, his discretion does not desert him. Not for Hough are the Highamesque revelations of Wallis' sexual training in Oriental houses of pleasure or scenes of David being wheeled about in prams. The tone here is unremittingly respectful . . .and dull. A good standard overview, but probably too bloodless to captivate most readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Bantam