Royal Authors: William Kuhn

Prince Harry BoyAuthor William Kuhn gives us a sneak-peek at his new novel, Prince Harry: Boy to Man. The book focuses on Harry’s raucous adventures and his personal growth while in the military.

The year is 2007, Harry’s twenty-three and he has problems he can’t handle alone. The army considers him a risk. The media thinks he’s a brat. Girls like him because he’s a prince. He just wants to be normal. He hopes his approaching deployment to Afghanistan will help him prove himself. Instead it proves a comic coming of age he definitely didn’t see coming.

Kuhn’s writing is witty with a warmly personal aspect, making the reader feel as though they are there sharing the characters’ experiences and excitement. Below is an excerpt from Prince Harry: Boy to Man. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this book!

Frances de Mornay sat alone in her one-room cottage. Her small roller bag was packed. She wasn’t taking very much. A change of clothes. A fleece for cold weather. A pair of plimsolls. She already had a headscarf tied over her white hair. She sat by the window looking out on the street, waiting for the coach from the church. She wanted a drink. There was a travel-sized bottle of whisky in the top pouch of her bag, but she wasn’t giving into that. No she wasn’t. Not yet. It was five o’clock in the morning. Good Lord save me from that, she said to herself silently. She could have said it aloud if she wanted. She was the only one there. As with the whisky, she’d tried to limit the time she spent talking aloud to herself, even though it made her feel less alone.

It was the whisky that’d got her there in the first place. She’d decided to move to a village on the west coast of Scotland, not too far from the railway at Oban. It was less expensive there. She had enough money at first for a small house with a garden. People left her alone. The Scots were like that, bless them. They didn’t care who you were, or once had been. They gave you your privacy. Then she’d probably had a bit too much privacy. She was just an old lady who’d been unlucky in love. Was that so bad? Who could blame her for taking some comfort from drink? That was the problem, though. Nobody blamed her, because she spoke to no one. The privacy was endless.

She had an accident in her car. No one was hurt, but it was expensive. The court appearance was costly too. The judge’s taking away her driving license was a nuisance. She lost track of her money. There were lottery tickets and occasional visits to the betting shop. She liked the horse races, it had to be said. Then there had been the ludicrous agreement she’d signed with her husband. What did she know? She’d only been eighteen when she married him. When he left her, she barely had enough to cover the rental of a flat in Kings Lynn. And no training. Women of her generation didn’t. They weren’t expected to work. If a friend of her mother’s hadn’t swept her up and arranged for a place in the Wales’s household where would she have been? That was absurd too. She didn’t know how to be a nanny. She was already in her forties when she started. She had no children of her own. Her only experience was to have lived, while still married, in a house that had an Olympic-sized swimming pool. It had attracted every child in the neighborhood. She had been a field marshal of several regiments of under-twelves in their swimming costumes.

Still, she’d rubbed along. She’d managed. She’d made mistakes. And she’d looked after those boys. She’d grown to love them. That was why it had been such a cruel joke when she’d been given the sack. The excuse was the drink. Their mother had made sure to let that out to her friends in the papers, but Frances put it down to jealousy. She’d seen how much the boys loved her. There was no appeal of course. Frances had gone to Scotland afterwards to control expenses, to hide, and perhaps, just a little, to hang her head in shame.

Before she knew it, some people from the local church were picking her up off the floor and helping her sell the house. She’d moved into this tiny accommodation that was all she could afford now. They’d been so kind to her about everything. They’d helped. She was so grateful. They’d even allowed her to get involved at the church, to help in local cases of need, not unlike her own.

That was the first thing in a long time that was more powerful than drink. She felt down near the bottom. Helping someone else who was down there too made her feel good. It was a deep sense of well-being, deeper than the anesthetic of the whisky. It didn’t take much. Delivering a hot meal at lunchtime to a shut-in. Going to wipe up the sick off an old man’s jumper who’d been too drunk to get out of his wheelchair. Cleaning out the loo of a local girl who had five children and all of them down with the flu. That was how she could help. Down on her knees in the loo. Yes, Lord. Down on my knees swilling out the bowl. That’s my prayer and that’s my thanksgiving. She was pretty sure she had helped, and the girl with the sick children had helped her, too.

They’d let her become a regular part of the church team, seven days a week. It was the one thing that was now hopeful about her life. They’d grown to trust her. She was now sixty-eight, but she still had good bones, good teeth, good hair. Her being in the papers had been forgotten about, or the people who worked at the church pretended not to know. The priest knew, but he hadn’t told anyone. He could see how much good the helping was doing her. He’d asked her to join an interfaith church group that was to travel part way with a Scottish regiment that was going to Afghanistan. Fly to London with them. Take them coffee or Cokes. Give them some small bags with treats they wouldn’t be able to get out there. Listen to the ones that were scared. Squeeze their hands if they wanted that. They were only going as far as Heathrow. Give them all a kiss and a hug and a warm send-off, and then back to Scotland. That was the plan. Church van to Glasgow Airport. Fly to London Airport. Overnight in a church hall somewhere near Staines. Then fly back to Glasgow late the next evening with another Scottish regiment just returning from Kabul. It was only forty-eight hours, but it would keep her busy, keep her occupied.

“Stop it now!” This she did say aloud to herself. She abhorred self-pity. Self-pity was what led her to the bottle. She had to choke it off before it went that far. At that moment she saw a pair of headlights on the dark street. A battered van drew up in front of her door. She went to go and move her roller bag toward the door. There was a double knock. Then a heavy-set woman with white hair like hers, wearing an anorak, and a pair of oily Nikes put her head inside the door.

“All right, Francie?”

Frances hated being called “Francie.” She also hated when people opened her front door before she could open it for them. It went with the territory, she knew. She was regarded as one of the parish’s more hopeless cases. They all expected to find her sprawled drunkenly in the middle of the floor when she didn’t turn up somewhere she was supposed to be. Allowing them the freedom to come through the door when they wanted was one of the prices she’d had to pay for their having looked after her as kindly and patiently as they had. With an effort she swallowed back the resentment that swelled up from her loss of dignity and independence.

“Good morning! Yes, I’m fine thank you.”

“Did you get any sleep last night? I was all keyed up. About London, you know? Didn’t sleep a wink.”

Frances switched off the lights and rolled the bag out on to the doorstep. “I slept like a log.”

“Well, you see. I’ve never been before. To London, I mean.”

The unworldliness of the others who worked in the church’s charity group always surprised her. “Well, the airport is hardly London. And Staines is the suburbs. Pretty grim. It’s not London either.”

“Oh Francie! You’ve been to all parts, haven’t you? Won’t you sit next to me on the coach and tell me about it? How it really is.”

Frances didn’t like the woman, particularly. Sitting next to her for any length of time she regarded as a punishment not far removed from what Our Lord suffered on the cross. She’d had comfort from her conversion, but Frances’s view of religion was not without criticism or irony. She reminded herself to be grateful. “Of course I will. What fun.”

The driver took her bag and stowed it in a compartment in the van’s undercarriage. “Mornin’ Francie!” He winked at her.

“Good morning, Frank!” Now Frances did like him. His wink made her feel as if she were about thirty-five again. She mugged for him. She went up on one toe and held her waist like a showgirl. “You rogue. I want you to keep your eyes on the road the whole way to Glasgow Airport.”

He gave her an exaggerated salute. “Ma’am!”

“That’s it. That’s the right stuff,” she muttered, audible to him, as she climbed the steps into the van. She said hello to the eight or nine others, all of whom she knew. They had all seen her at her worst. There was no pretending with any of them. She said “Good morning, good morning,” to all of them, though it was still dark out and no sign of morning or goodness, but their warmth to one another. Several of the women who’d been kind to her reached out their hands to her. She held their hands briefly, one by one, with a look in the eye to each. She came to an empty pair of seats near the back. She slid in and down on to the velour seat, her sciatica giving her a twinge in the lower back as she did so. She winced.

“All right, darling?” The woman who’d come to her front door slid in next to her. She saw the wince.

“I’m all right. Nothing but a few old lady aches and pains.”

“I’ve got a pill for that.”

“No thank you. I’ll be all right.”

“Tell me about London then.”

The van pulled away from Frances’s cottage. They had at least a couple of hours’ journey to Glasgow Airport, where they’d join forces with aid workers from some other churches. Their first duty was passing out sandwiches to the soldiers whom they’d meet in a staging area adjacent to the airport.

“Oh, it’s a long time since I’ve lived there,” said Frances.

“There are millions of people. In London, I mean. Millions. I wonder what it looks like in the dark. All aglow. In the night sky.”

Frances reflected on the sinister anti-crime lights of dozens and dozens of sulphur-colored street lamps. She thought of the reassuring rattle of taxis with their glowing “For Hire” signs. She thought of the candlelit dining rooms where once upon a time she’d been welcome. “Yes. It can be pretty. Isn’t always.”

“You have family there?” The woman had been worried by Frances’s having no evident family in the village. She was an incomer and no family ever visited her, at least so far as the woman knew, they hadn’t. Frances had an English voice. She sounded like the BBC from during the war, or maybe even before that. Before she fell on hard times, she must have had money too.

“Not exactly.”

The other woman laughed gently. “Families can be like that, now. You had children?”

“No,” Frances said cautiously. She had a low profile. She wanted to keep it that way. On the other hand, there was a certain confessional ease that came from simply telling the truth. Something about the dark, and the woman’s kind, uncritical interest in her made her more willing to speak than usual.

“I looked after two little boys. For a little while. As their minder. That’s the closest I ever came. Don’t see them anymore, though. I fell out with their parents.”

The woman left a tactful pause before she put in, “You must miss them, though.”

“Yes, I did. For a while. No, that’s wrong. I do. I still do.”

Then she reached over to the woman sitting next to her. Frances slipped her hand into the crook of the woman’s arm. No, she wasn’t her favorite woman in the church group, but she had a beating heart. Of that there could be no doubt. “And I’m so pleased you wanted to sit next to me. To keep me company. Thank you.”

William Kuhn is a novelist, biographer, historian, and a self-described scribbler and dabbler. His first novel, Mrs. Queen Takes The Train, became a national bestseller. Kuhn has also written non-fiction on America’s royalty, Jackie Kennedy Onassis in Reading Jackie. His other works include Henry and Mary Ponsonby, and on Benjamin Disraeli in The Politics of Pleasure

Book Review: The King’s Deception

The King’s Deception
By Steve Berry

Cotton Malone just wants to live a quiet life running his bookstore in Denmark, but politics and his past have other ideas.

Doing what he thinks is one last favor for his old boss at the Justice Department, former agent Malone agrees to find and return a young Irish street urchin named Ian Dunne, a potential witness to the murder of an agent in London.

kings decept
After locating Ian, Malone is instructed to return him to England where he is to be picked up by other agents. Malone expects to continue to Copenhagen with his fifteen-year-old son, Gary.

Quiet in Copenhagen will have to wait. Gary and Ian are kidnapped when devious operatives intercept them at Heathrow. Malone, Ian, and Gary fight for their lives amid blackmail, politics, and the turmoil over the legitimacy of the British monarchy.

America and Scotland are banging heads over Scotland’s announcement to release a Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103. How will they bargain with their Atlantic neighbors to stop it? Treacherous CIA operative Blake Antrim knows. He’s after a royal secret that could destroy the United Kingdom’s claim on Northern Ireland. The British government is in a panic – its potential revelation may be the bargaining chip America needs to stop the release of the terrorist. The secret will call the monarchy’s legitimacy into question, unraveling hundreds of years of laws and traditions.

Antrim also holds a secret over the heads of the Malone family in which the innocent Gary is a pawn. Not only must Malone save Gary and Ian from Antrim, but he must stop the royal revelation to keep international relations intact.

With only a small clutch of people in whom they can trust, our heroes uncover the all-too-ugly things that happen behind the scenes in the CIA and world politics. Will the trio survive it all?

Steve Berry does an amazing job of weaving fiction together with historical facts. Berry loves and appreciates history, which is apparent in this book. The excitement rapidly escalates along with puzzles and questions that are sometimes right up front, other times, you work at figuring it out as hard as Malone does.

Berry is actively involved in promoting the study and preservation of historical landmarks through his organization History Matters. The organization “assists communities around the world with historic restoration and preservation“.

His other books include The Jefferson Key, The Devil’s Gold, and The Tudor Plot. For more about Steve Berry and his books, visit SteveBerry.org.

Alastair Bruce: Keepers of The Kingdom

Alastair Bruce is a historian and the author of Keepers of the Kingdom: The Ancient Offices of Britain. He presented the series of the same title, which is seen in all 3 parts below.

Bruce is a good person to ask when it comes to the ancient, traditional roles in the kingdom – he is Fitzalan Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary, a herald to the Queen. Bruce is also a historical consultant for the hit TV series Downton Abbey (Downton Abbey: Complete Seasons 1 & 2 (6 Discs)).

Below, the royal traditions and offices of Britain that date back centuries and still remain in place today. Enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Book Review: The Regal Rules For Girls

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The Regal Rules For Girls

Jerramy Fine grew up in a small American town, but always dreamed about living in London and marrying a charming Englishman – in her case, it was Princess Anne’s son, Peter Phillips. She knew, even as a child, she wanted to cross “the pond” and carve out a life in England.

So she did.

Jerramy went out and made her dream come true, and The Regal Rules for Girls is her fun but practical guide about how to do it. She has accomplished everything in this book herself and is now happily married to a charming Englishman (he’s not royal, but she forgives him).

Jerramy is, without a doubt, the consummate expert on an American girl getting to England and living the dream. She’s rubbed shoulders with royalty and has been to Royal Ascot, the Henley Royal Regatta, and more. Jerramy’s adventures in England are chronicled in her memoir Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess. Jerramy encourages girls to follow their dreams and, if getting to England is on your to-do list, she helps you get there.

What To Do, Where To Go

Jerramy explains how to get a visa, and what it involves. Once you’ve obtained that, she provides the details of how to simply survive once you land on English soil.

As a former student and dorm resident at the London School of Economics, Jerramy knows first-hand how to live with very little in less-than-opulent surroundings. Fear not: that doesn’t mean you have to live without class! Keep your pearls on and your manners correct, and you will find success.

Once out and about in good old London, Jerramy, excellent at providing essential lists, explains in detail where to find quality clothing, good food, inexpensive furniture and household items. She also tells you how to get from point A to point B on the Tube, the bus, or a taxi. Jerramy also warns that you need to be aware of the conversion rate between U.S. dollars and British pounds – this is necessary for shopping or traveling.

Once you’re settled with roommates (or flatmates), have found a decent job, and know the best places to eat and socialize, you can concentrate on the task at hand: how to navigate the waters of the upper-class complexities and find your very own English gentleman.

The people Jerramy encounters sound as though they are straight from the classic British TV series “To The Manor Born”, with plummy aristocratic diction and strict adherence to the nuances of language and protocol (it’s fin-nance, not fi-nance). In other words, to mingle successfully with the upper classes, you have to be prepared to play by the rules, and that includes dressing the part and knowing what to say and how to say it, delivered with perfect manners.

From swanky dinners to simple pub hopping, Jerramy explains the rules of dining, flirting, and post-party texts and emails. She points out, however, that you cannot pretend to be something you’re not. Faking an English accent will only embarrass you, so just be yourself. If you want to impress your English friends, throw your American-themed parties. From Halloween dress-ups to Thanksgiving feasts, the English are curious about American traditions and are excited to partake in new and fascinating rituals.

Through it all, Jerramy makes sure to put things into perspective. Strive to live the life of your dreams, but most importantly, take stock in the good things you already have. Keep on dreaming and reaching for the stars, but enjoy who you are and what you have already accomplished.

Jerramy’s books are always full of fun and are refreshing to read. In an age where girls are pushed to employ tacky behavior to get attention, Ms. Fine proves that it’s the classy, timeless girls who have all the fun – without having to sacrifice their dignity.

The End of an Era?

The End of an Era?
by Victoria “Tori” Martínez

I’m afraid this has been coming for some time now, at least in my opinion. The wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton last month only confirmed my fears.

The era of ubiquitous royal tiaras appears to be nearing its end in Britain.

When Catherine Middleton, now HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, first appeared in the Cartier Halo tiara (also known as the Scroll tiara), which was lent to her by the Queen, the first thoughts that crossed my mind were how lovely it looked on her and what an appropriate choice it was. As a middle-class woman marrying the second-in-line to the throne during a major global economic recession, anything grander would have seemed unsuitable, not to mention tactless.

My second thoughts were about just how much the role of the tiara has changed in Britain since the Victorian Era, particularly in the last 50 years.

Consider this: although royal brides from Queen Victoria to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon generally did not wear tiaras during their weddings, they could at least expect to receive quite a few of them as wedding gifts, and they most certainly wore them at every possible opportunity.

Princess Marina of Greece broke the Victorian tradition of wearing no bridal tiara when she married Prince George, Duke of Kent, in 1934. Instead of the usual flowers, she fixed her veil to her head with a beautiful fringe tiara given to her by the City of London. The move was quite appropriate, as under the reign of King George V and Queen Mary, tiaras were de rigueur for any royal or high social event. It’s well-known that Queen Mary wore a tiara even when she dined alone with the king.

When Queen Elizabeth II was Heiress Presumptive to her father’s throne, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth gave their daughter her first tiara, the Scroll tiara we now know as the Halo tiara. The king had originally given this tiara to the queen in 1936 when they were Duke and Duchess of York, just before the Abdication Crisis that made them king and queen. Although the Duchess of York had worn it before she became queen, the rich bounty of the royal vaults gave her an incredible selection of magnificent tiaras and other jewels, making the Halo seem a bit un-queenly.

For this reason, it was the perfect tiara for the 18-year-old Heiress Presumptive, although it seems she never wore this tiara in public, probably since her collection rapidly grew thanks to birthdays and the beautiful tiaras she received as wedding gifts. Among the wedding gifts were the tiara given to Queen Mary when she was a bride by the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland, which Elizabeth called “Granny’s Tiara,” and a Cartier bandeau tiara of English rose and foliage design from the Nizam of Hyderabad. On her wedding day, Princess Elizabeth borrowed The King George III Fringe tiara from her mother.

After she became Queen, Elizabeth proved to be an excellent model for the many beautiful royal tiaras in her personal and the State collections. Some of the best pictures of the Queen, in my opinion, are those taken of her as a young woman looking every inch a queen in her beautiful 1950s and early 1960s gowns and furs, literally sparkling in jewels and tiaras that were only matched by her radiant smile and glowing skin.

Princess Margaret was also quite stunning in a tiara in those days. The Queen often lent her the Halo tiara, which looked quite elegant on the doll-like princess. For her wedding, however, Margaret went all out with the magnificent Poltimore tiara, bought especially for her at auction. Despite having no royal connections, the tiara was a towering beauty that could be disassembled and worn in a variety of other ways.

As the Queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne, came of age, she was frequently photographed wearing the Halo tiara for portraits and State occasions. Clearly, this tiara had become something of a starter tiara for young royal ladies. When Princess Anne married, she followed in her mother’s footsteps and borrowed the Fringe tiara from her grandmother.

Like the Queen, Princesses Margaret and Anne eventually acquired further tiaras of their own. In addition to the Poltimore tiara, Princess Margaret was given Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Papyrus tiara and the Persian turquoise tiara. Princess Anne was given Princess Andrew of Greece’s Meander tiara by the Queen in 1972, as well as a diamond festoon tiara presented to her in 1973 by the World Wide Shipping Group.

Other royal ladies, including the Duchesses of Kent and Gloucester, Princess Alexandra of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent, also inherited or acquired an array of tiaras, and the fashion for wearing and receiving tiaras seemed firmly set in royal style well into the 80s. Princess Michael of Kent, in particular, seemed born to wear beautiful tiaras.

When Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, the new Princess of Wales received the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara as a wedding gift from the Queen and frequently borrowed the Spencer tiara she had worn as a bride. This may seem a paltry collection for a Princess of Wales, but considering that she could have expected to inherit much of the Queen’s personal tiaras one day, never mind wear the Crown jewels, it is not all that surprising.

Sarah Ferguson, on the other hand, could not expect such a large inheritance as Duchess of York. Had she remained married to the Duke of York, she might have eventually inherited a few more from the Queen after her eventual death, but the bulk would have gone to Diana if she herself had become queen. Nevertheless, her bridal tiara (not a family heirloom, but a purchase from Garrard) was a wedding gift from the Queen and Prince Philip. To my knowledge, it remains her only one.

No doubt the divorces of Diana and Charles and Fergie and Andrew caused the Queen to become even more circumspect in her sharing and gifting of tiaras. Now, the royal vaults are more tightly sealed than ever, and new royal brides and royal ladies are considered lucky to receive a tiara as a gift, or even as a loaner, from the Queen.

When Sophie Rhys-Jones married Prince Edward and became Countess of Wessex, her bridal tiara was a wedding gift from the Queen that was possibly made from a necklace that formerly belonged to Queen Victoria. Since her marriage, the Countess has borrowed several smaller tiaras from the Queen for State occasions, but they usually pale in comparison to the tiaras worn by Continental royal women.

Autumn Kelly, the bride of the Queen’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips (and the first of her grandchildren to marry), had to make due with a loaner at her wedding: the diamond festoon tiara given to her new mother-in-law, Princess Anne, by the World Wide Shipping Group. In any case, the down-to-earth Autumn doesn’t seem like much of a tiara-wearer.

It seems likely that if a tiara had appeared on the head of Camilla Parker-Bowles when she married Prince Charles there would have been uproar from certain quarters. Still, Camilla has managed to borrow at least two of the late Queen Mother’s tiaras, including the Boucheron and Delhi Durbar tiaras (the latter was originally owned by Queen Mary, who probably rolled over in her grave the first time Camilla wore it).

In my opinion, the Duchess of Cornwall does little justice to these large and magnificent tiaras, which doesn’t bode well for her future career in tiara-wearing. Not that any of the tiaras she may one day wear as queen (or, if you like, “princess consort”) will weigh anything but heavy on her head given the past. This, naturally, is only my personal opinion; but what is perhaps more based in fact is that the Prince of Wales has expressed somewhat less of an interest in the outward displays of pomp and pageantry than his predecessors. When (if?) he eventually becomes king, it’s possible that he will follow the more modern mood of informality, including using fewer of the more magnificent pieces of royal jewels to decorate his wife.

The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge seem even less inclined to cover themselves in ermine and diamonds, much in keeping with their own generation’s style. Instead of tiaras and furs, the Sloane Ranger set seems much more interested in expensive – and frequently bizarre – hats and the latest modern haute couture. If they continue in this way, their eventual royal court will probably be about as low-key as their wedding was. Not poor, to be sure, but not dripping in passé heirloom diamond tiaras.

As an ardent admirer of fine jewels – especially tiaras – this future is a bit sad for me. I, like many others, revel in seeing magnificent old tiaras elegantly worn on beautifully-coiffed heads. The idea of seeing these images only in books one day makes me a bit wistful. On the other hand, it also means progress to a more modern monarchy that lives somewhat less grandly and has less need for parading around in fine tiaras or keeping them locked away in vaults out of the public eye.

It also means that more of these historic tiaras may be making their way out of the vaults and into museums to be seen up close and personal after years of gathering dust or giving their wearers right royal headaches. In fact, if the generous act of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in asking for charitable donations rather than gifts as wedding presents (at least from those outside close friends and family) is any indicator, perhaps one day many of the magnificent royal tiaras – including those that haven’t been seen for many years – may be put on display to raise money for charity.

In this way, the end of one era could become the beginning of another.

Victoria “Tori” Martínez
Author of “An Unusual Journey Through Royal History,” available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

An Unusual Journey Through Royal History

The following is an excerpt from a new book, “An Unusual Journey Through Royal History,” by Victoria Martínez, which features 18 essays on a variety of royal history-related subjects spanning a thousand years. This is the first part of the chapter entitled: An “Illustrated” Royal History.

The last Anglo-Saxon king of England lay dead on a battlefield near Hastings, an arrow through his eye. William the Bastard of Normandy was now William the Conqueror of England.

William’s next, most immediate problem was to positively confirm that the corpse before him did indeed belong to his vanquished rival, Harold II – a task made difficult by the dead man’s disfigured face. The solution came in the shape of Edith Swan Neck, King Harold’s longtime mistress, who identified her dead lover by the words “Edith and England” tattooed on his chest, just one of several such illustrations on his body.

While not all stories of royal tattoos are quite so dramatic, just the concept of “royal tattoos” can seem incongruous to our modern perceptions of royalty. After all, it was only in the late 1990s that Zara Philips, daughter of Britain’s Princess Anne, caused a media sensation simply for having her tongue pierced. Relatively speaking, it should probably come as a far greater surprise that the supposedly prim and proper Victorian era was high season for tattooing among royalty and the aristocracy.

King Edward VII helped pioneer the fashion in Britain when, as Prince of Wales, he had a Jerusalem Cross tattooed on his arm during a visit to Jerusalem in 1862. Twenty years later, his sons – Prince Eddy, the ill-fated heir to the throne, and Prince George, the future George V – both had dragons tattooed on their arms during a visit to Japan. Before returning home, they stopped in Jerusalem to be further illustrated by the same artist who had tattooed their father.

Queen Victoria may or may not have been amused upon learning about her grandsons’ new body art, but their mother, Alexandra, Princess of Wales, reportedly was most certainly not amused when she was told incorrectly that the tattoos were on their faces, not their arms. Despite her undoubted horror at imagining the tattooed faces of her sons, Alexandra probably had nothing against more discreet tattoos, even among the women of her set.

Lady Randolph Spencer Churchill (née Jennie Jerome), the American heiress, society beauty, and mother of Winston Churchill, circulated quite freely among the Wales’ social circle sporting a tattoo of a snake around her left wrist. A well-placed bracelet hid the tattoo when it didn’t tickle her fancy. Her son Winston followed suit and had an anchor tattooed on his forearm, à la Popeye. Even Alexandra’s sister-in-law, Queen Olga of Greece (1851-1926) – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s paternal grandmother – reportedly had a tattoo.

Still more royals outside Britain were getting “inked” around the same time. Another of Queen Victoria’s grandsons, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, had a tattoo, as did George V’s cousin, Czar Nicholas II of Russia. Actually, royal tattoos were common in Russia long before Britain caught on – it seems Peter the Great (1689-1725) and Catherine the Great (1729-1796) both had tattoos.

To read the rest of An “Illustrated” Royal History, download a copy of “An Unusual Journey Through Royal History” by Victoria Martínez, available for Kindle, Nook and other eReaders at the links below (you don’t even need an e-reader since both Kindle and Nook can be downloaded on most devices for free).

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004X7LYPQ
Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/An-Unusual-Journey-through-Royal-History/Victoria-Martinez/e/2940012509307
Who Dares Wins Publishing: http://www.whodareswinspublishing.com/UnusualHistory.html

An Interview With Michael Farquhar, Part 2: Royal Bloggers

Questions From Royal Bloggers:

Who do you think is the most scandalous modern British royal? – Cinderella of royalty.nu

MF: Well, since Fergie’s no longer officially royal, that’s hard to say. Actually, none of the modern royals can (please pardon the pun) hold a scandal to their forbears. Murder, madness, illicit sex, and vicious scheming have been replaced by silly missteps and the occasional tempests in a teapot. Perhaps this has something to do with the power wielded by the royals. When it was nearly unlimited, their scandals reflected that. These days, with very limited power, royal misdeeds are relatively petty.

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What is your favorite royal scandal and why? – Marilyn Braun of Marilyn’s Royal Blog

MF: There are oh so many to chose from, Marilyn, it’s really hard to say. I guess I got the greatest kick out of the truly wretched marriage of the future King George IV and his cousin Caroline of Brunswick. He was an indolent fop who drank way too much and amassed staggering debts. She was a foul-smelling exhibitionist who lacked all decorum and self control. George despised Caroline from the moment he met her. He passed out in a fireplace on their wedding night, but managed to consummate the relationship the next morning. It wasn’t easy. “It required no small [effort] to conquer my aversion and overcome the disgust of her person,” he wrote. After Caroline produced the heir to the throne, Princess Charlotte, George left her bed for good. Caroline eventually went away to Europe, where she made quite a spectacle of herself–as a stripper, essentially. At a ball in Naples, for example, she appeared, as one reported, “in the most indelicate manner, her breast and her arms being entirely naked.”

She also carried on a flagrant affair with her chamberlain, Bartolomeo Pergami. Caroline had no intention of returning to England, but then her father-in-law George III died and her estranged husband became King George IV. The wayward Princess of Wales now intended to claim her rights as queen. It was a mortifying prospect for the new king, especially because the people were firmly behind his despised wife–more out of hatred for him than any real affection for her. A bill was introduced in Parliament to deprive Caroline of her rights as queen and as George’s wife, but it went nowhere. Nevertheless, George IV was still determined to exclude Queen Caroline. When she arrived at Westminster Abbey for his coronation, the doors were slammed in her face. Several weeks later she was dead, perhaps of stomach cancer, though some have suggested poison. The inscription on her coffin, which she wrote herself, read: DEPOSITED, CAROLINE OF BRUNSWICK, THE INJURED QUEEN OF ENGLAND.
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Have you heard any of the hints that Prince Albert took Queen Victoria away from England, on various visits to Scotland and other places for a time—because she had had a nervous breakdown? – Susan Flanders of Writer of Queens

MF: No, Susan, I have not heard that. I write extensively in the new book about Victoria and Albert’s earliest retreat, Osborne, on the Isle of Wight. They sought this refuge not only to get away from the stifling court life of London and Windsor, but, really as a place of their very own–where Albert could be the master. He created and controlled virtually every aspect of this “dear and lovely little domaine,” as the queen called it. She was content just to watch him work: “Never do I enjoy myself more or more peacefully than when I can be so much with my beloved Albert–follow him everywhere.”

An Interview With Michael Farquhar

After reading Michael Farquhar’s new book, Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain, I had the privilege of a great interview. Please enjoy this interview, and see Part 2 when he answers the questions of some royal bloggers.

Mandy’s British Royalty: What inspired you to be a writer and historian?

Michael Farquhar: Well, I’m not a historian, per se; I’m a reporter of history. There’s a big difference: The historians are the true experts. I merely synthesize their discoveries in a (hopefully ) entertaining, readable way. I’ve always loved history, especially the juicy side, and started writing about it for The Washington Post about twenty years ago. Since then, I’ve made a career of history writing and feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be able to make a living doing what I love.

MBR: What inspired you to research rotten royals?

MF: I wouldn’t call them rotten…just extremely human, in a larger than ordinary life sort of way. People with their kind of power tended to misbehave…royally…and that makes for very entertaining reading. Although my first book, A Treasury of Royal Scandals, focused entirely on bad behavior, my new one, Behind the Palace Walls, incorporates other facets of British royal history: triumphs, tragedies, adventure, romance–as well as all the treachery, folly, and deep family dysfunction.

MBR: What is your opinion on royal behavior today? Is there enough naughtiness for a book?

MF: Misbehavior by the royals today barely registers as scandalous, especially when compared to the actions of some of their forbears. So, no book…at least by me. However, I have included several stories of the modern royal family in the new book, including the heroism of King George VI, the present queen’s father, who is featured in “The King’s Speech.” (I wrote about King George and his wartime partnership with Churchill before the film was released, and only touch briefly on his efforts to contol his stammer.)


MBR: You’ve also written about “Foolishly Forgotten Americans”, “Great American Scandals”, and produced “A Treasury of Deception”. What is it about scandals and bad behavior that intrigues you?

MF: I’m intrigued by what happens when ordinary human behavior–jealousy, greed, ambition, etc.–gets magnified by the people who make history. It’s a never ending education!

MBR: Who is your favorite royal in history?

MF: The marital adventures of Henry VIII first got me interested in history as a kid. And though so much has been written about King Henry’s life and times, he never ceases to fascinate me. I

MBR: Who is your favorite character – in general – in history?

MF: There are too many, Mandy!!

[See Part 2 of the interview]

See Michael discuss his other books at the C-SPAN Video Library.

Book Review: Behind The Palace Doors

The King was now overgrown with corpulency  and fatness. – Edward Hall

Ah, King Henry VIII! The monarch had once been an attractive, strapping young man. As he got older, he got crankier, fatter, and more dangerous. Just ask his wives.

Washington Post editor and history buff Michael Farquhar returns with another witty and meticulously researched book about the dirty linen of powerful people – namely, royalty. In his previous book, “A Treasury of Royal Scandals”, Farquhar includes the crowned heads of Europe but now devotes his new work entirely to the most colorful – and often reprehensible – characters within the British monarchy itself.

“Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain” is a veritable circus of debauchery and bad luck, striking pale the antics of today’s royals by comparison.

Husband and wife monarchs William III and Mary II ruled together after James II (Mary’s father) was ousted from England. Angry at his expulsion, he plotted to regain the throne by killing his own daughter and son-in-law.

“I was told of dreadful designs against me [by James’ supporters, known as Jacobites]”, she wrote, “and had reason to believe if their success answered their expectations, my life was certainly at an end.”

It makes Fergie’s antics look a bit weak in comparison, doesn’t it?

Farquhar is known for his previous works on the tomfoolery of historic hedonists. They are filled with his trademark wit and shrewd observations, and his new “Behind Palace Doors” carries on this exquisite tradition. Farquhar’s deft and sophisticated pen makes otherwise heinous royal folly fascinating and fun.

We move from Henry VIII to his offspring, then down through the ages into the Hanoverian reign. We conclude with the Houses of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Windsor. Farquhar brings it all to a close on a good note with Elizabeth II, but not before comparing her dutiful father, King George VI, to his listless and selfish elder brother, the Duke of Windsor.

One thing surprised me, however: while Farquhar notes that the King stammered and had to overcome painful shyness, there is no mention of Lionel Logue within the chapter. It did teach me something new, and that is the credit due to BBC engineer Robert Wood for helping the king train to become a better broadcaster with the latest equipment.

Three cheers to a fabulous book, and an all-around excellent history series. Go forth and purchase all of them today!

Other books by Michael Farquhar:

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