Weintraub (Disraeli, 1993, etc.) continues his documentation of this era with a meticulous volume about the longest-serving Prince of Wales.
Poor Edward was hobbled from the start: his father, Prince Albert, dismissed him as a fool, while his mother, Queen Victoria, refused absolutely (for over 50 years) to allow him to assume any state duties. For all that, however, Edward was the public face of the monarchy from the time of his father’s death until his own, since Victoria was virtually a recluse for most of her reign. The face he showed was kindly but dissolute. He ran with a fast crowd that became known as the Marlborough Set, and he filled in his time with “incognito” travels through the expanding Empire—to India, Canada, and Egypt—as well as through Europe’s best palaces, bedrooms, and brothels. While Victoria made a specialty of bereavement, Edward shot at virtually anything with feathers or hide, and he kept an impressive stable of mistresses (including Sarah Bernhardt, Lilly Langtree, and the famous Mrs. Keppel—forebear of Camilla Parker-Bowles) through whom he sired innumerable children on the wrong side of the blanket. Fortunately for the Windsors, he managed to have several sons by his lawful wife, Princess Alix of Denmark, one of whom succeeded him to rule as George V and keep the dynasty alive.
A spicy subject, handled with scrupulous, academic attention to the facts—but with little inclination toward bringing a lively man to life. This will sit on library shelves to become an excellent reference for the next biographer who comes along.