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Christopher Hitchens. Biography and memoirs , Biography , Monarchy , , , , , , , Europe , Western Europe , UK. The first is the intrinsic inanity of a royal family; the second is the ridiculous blend of deference and denial that goes into the making of public support for it. This is, still, the bleat of the drawing-room and the drone of the saloon bar. The same principle of pointless duties joylessly undertaken underlay his very conception. Between the betrothal and the match itself, the futile Albert Victor expired, out of some combination of influenza and inanition, but it was decided to marry the same woman to the next in line. The fruit of this union might have been expected to be dull, bovine and pious.
This is quite certainly the best and now the definitive biography of the beleaguered Duke of Windsor. Ziegler is sympathetic, but does not mince words in reporting misdeeds. There have been so many Windsor books that librarians will look for reasons not to purchase another. This is not the one to reject. However, don't discard your biographies of the Duchess--she is, surprisingly, a secondary figure in this masterful study of the King and ex-King who gave up a throne for the woman he loved.
By Philip Ziegler. New York: Alfred A. What does an official biographer do with a soap opera subject? If he is Philip Ziegler, he turns the story of Edward, Prince of Wales, then King and finally Duke of Windsor, into a book of such compelling interest and frankness that it is difficult to put down. Even the reader who feels that one more version of "A King's Story" will turn any good American into an Anglophobe will find this generous portrait revealing about the complex nature of the modern royal role. The startling contrast between myth and reality so graphically depicted in "King Edward VIII" speaks to the problems of modernizing a central institution in a society that has long outgrown the fairy tales of childhood. It was ludicrous that the year-old Prince of Wales should have been rigged out in white satin breeches and purple velvet surcoat for a ceremony of investiture revived after years to gratify the wishes of a handful of ambitious Welsh politicians, including Lloyd George.