I will be discussing the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy, the Prince of Wales’s expanding role within the royal family, Prince Harry’s recent trip to the United States and other current royal events on May 29, 2013 at 2pm as part of a canada.com online Live Chat. Readers are welcome to join the discussion and submit questions.
In most biographies of Queen Victoria, the ladies and gentlemen of the royal household are sources of information about the Queen and her court rather than individuals. Prominent courtiers including the royal children’s governess, Lady Sarah Lyttleton or the Queen’s closest confidante after the death of Prince Albert, Lady Augusta Bruce may be mentioned dozens of times in a study of the Queen without any sense of their personalities or private circumstances. In Serving Victoria: Life In The Royal Household, Kate Hubbard, author of Bess of Hardwick: A Story of Ambition and Excess in Elizabethan England and the historical novel, Rubies in the Snow: Diary of Russia’s Last Grand Duchess, 1911-1918, brings Queen Victoria’s household alive through the letters and diaries of the people who spent decades with the Queen.
Although Victoria was only eighteen when she became queen, she intended to change the nature of the royal household beyond recognition. During the reigns of Victoria’s uncles, George IV and William IV, there was little supervision. Ladies and gentlemen in waiting followed the royal example and pursued extramarital affairs. Courtiers invited their friends to dine at the King’s expense and enjoyed stipends and pensions out of proportion with their duties.
Victoria was determined to create a respectable household that reflected her own values and those of her middle class subjects. When Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1839, her new husband tackled the waste and inefficiency of the household, insisting that the Queen’s servants reuse the candles, wash the windows on both sides and stop providing free meals for their friends. The improvements made Albert unpopular with courtiers accustomed to the Hanoverian regime but saved the privy purse and civil list £25,000 per year.
For the ladies and gentlemen of Queen Victoria’s household, a respectable, efficient court was often a boring one. Contrary to popular belief, the young Queen was easily amused, content to spend her evenings doing needlework, playing parlour games or listening to piano recitals and gossip. Prince Albert attempted to raise the tone of conversation at court but Victoria did not feel comfortable engaging with artists and authors because of her own circumscribed education. For the household, evenings at court were long and uneventful.
After Albert died in 1861, the court became even more dull as the Queen went into deep mourning and outings to London and the theatre ended. Windsor Castle appeared to become a mausoleum to Albert’s memory and the entire household dreaded long visits to Balmoral, which Hubbard memorably compares to second rate boarding school with terrible food, cold rooms and unpopular compulsory activities.
In addition to revealing the daily lives of the ladies and gentlemen in waiting, Hubbard brings to life a side of Queen Victoria’s character that is rarely explored in conventional biographies: the Queen as an employer. Although Victoria suspended her public duties as a widow, she maintained a close watch on her household, taking a keen interest in her servants and attendants. While the Queen might send a reprimand to a lady-in-waiting who walked unchaperoned outside Windsor Castle or a gentleman who discussed a broken engagement in front of Princess Beatrice, whom she intended to keep unmarried, drunkenness and petty theft were largely tolerated. Some of the most interesting chapters of Hubbard’s book concern Queen Victoria’s intervention when a servant was found in a drunken stupor or accused of stealing one of her brooches. The Queen emerges as a complex mistress of her household who could be both severe and unusually forgiving depending on the circumstances.
Serving Victoria: Life In The Royal Household provides a vivid portrait of Queen Victoria’s court through the observations of the most prominent members of the royal household. The narrow focus on life in the Queen’s service reflects the insularity of the court, particularly in the decades following the death of Prince Albert. I hope that Hubbard will continue her research regarding royal service and write a second volume about how Victoria’s example shaped the courts of her daughters and granddaughters. Events in the outside world rarely altered the closed world of the Victorian court but the precedents set by the Queen influenced how future generations of royalty throughout Europe governed their households.
My column in today’s Ottawa Citizen discusses the history of Victoria Day in Canada. There is no holiday in the English speaking world like Victoria Day, which honours Queen Victoria as a Mother of Canadian Confederation.
I will be discussing the history of Victoria Day in Canada with Matt Holmes on AM 900 CHML talk radio Hamilton today (May 17, 2013) at 8pm EST. Click here listen live online
Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, arrived in Vancouver yesterday for four days of engagements in the province of British Columbia, Canada. In February, the Duke of York attended the opening of the new British Columbia Trade and Investment office overlooking Hyde Park in London. At the reception, the Duke announced that he intended to visit British Columbia in May.
The Duke of York’s visit consists of two days in Vancouver on May 16 and 17 and two days in the provincial capital, Victoria on May 18 and 19. In Vancouver, the Duke opened the new dock at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, speaking with Canadian Olympic windsurfer Nikolas Girke. The Duke also visited the Vancouver Rowing Club, where he was greeted by an “honour guard” of rowers standing with their paddles upright.
In Victoria, the Duke of York will be chief of the 150th Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival, presenting some of the awards for the Highland Dance competition. The Games attracted 20,000 attendees in 2012 and organizers hope that the presence of royalty will increase these numbers regardless of the weather. While in Victoria, the Duke of York will also dine with Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon and present Duke of Edinburgh awards at Government House to British Columbia youth. Like his father, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of York is interested in promoting youth athletics and his itinerary in British Columbia reflects this theme.
The Duke’s presence in British Columbia for the Victoria Day long weekend, which is the Queen’s official birthday in Canada and a popular time for royal visits, also reflects his longstanding relationship with Canada and the Canadian people. In 1979, Prince Andrew attended the Lakefield College School in Peterborough, Ontario as an exchange student from Gordonstoun in Scotland.
At the time of his term abroad, the Prince had already visited Canada during three consecutive summers, cheering his sister, Princess Anne, when she competed in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, accompanying his brother, the Prince of Wales to the 1977 Calgary Stampede and attending the 1978 Commonwealth Games with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The Prince enjoyed his time at the Lakefield College School and returned on a personal visit in 1983 to join a student trip to the Northwest Territories.
The wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1986 attracted widespread popular attention in Canada. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sent the couple a pair of parkas as a wedding gift and established the Prince and Princess Andrew prize for photography in their honour, stating “These gifts will express the sincere best wishes of the people of Canada and bear witness to the affection Canadians have for the Royal Family.” Although the parkas reflected the royal couple’s interests, which included skiing and other outdoor activities, the gift sparked controversy in the press as it appeared to reinforce stereotypes about Canadian culture.
At the time of Prince Andrew’s wedding, there were rumours that the newly created Duke of York might be appointed Governor General of Canada and reside with the Duchess in Ottawa for a five year term. Other members of the royal family previously held this appointment including Queen Victoria’s son-in-law, Lord Lorne, King George V’s uncle, the Duke of Connaught and King George VI’s uncle, the Earl of Athlone.
During the reign of Elizabeth II, however, all Canadian Governors General were born in Canada and the Duke of York ultimately did not receive the appointment. In a 2009 interview, the Duchess of York speculated that their marriage might not have ended in divorce in 1996 if they had lived in Canada, telling the CBC, “We could have been Governor of Canada living in Ottawa in the Government House. It would have kept us together and we would probably be together now.”
The Duke and Duchess of York made well received official visits to Canada in 1987 and 1989, attending a diverse range of events including the Queen’s Plate horse race in Toronto, the 150th anniversary of the town of Cobourg and Jamboree 1989 at the Fort Amherst Provincial Park. The royal couple also undertook a fifteen day canoe expedition on the Hanbury-Thelon River in the Northwest Territories in 1987.
Since the Jean Chretien administration of 1993-2003, junior members of the royal family are no longer invited to Canada by the government for official visits. Nevertheless, the Duke of York continues to make frequent working and personal visits to Canada in support of the Lakefield College School, and his other Canadian charitable patronages and military appointments. The Duke of York is Honourary Colonel-in-Chief of three Canadian regiments, The Queen’s York Rangers, the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada and the Princess Louise Fusiliers.
The Duke of York’s 2013 visit to Vancouver and Victoria reflects his decades long personal relationship with Canada, his interest in promoting trade relationships between the various Canadian provinces and the United Kingdom, and his patronage of organisations that support youth athletics.
As the newly appointed Governor of the Bahamas in 1940, the Duke of Windsor found himself in a challenging role with conflicting public expectations. While the wealthy merchants of Bay Street, Nassau expected the the Duke to act as a figurehead who would attract tourism to the island, the impoverished inhabitants of the outer islands hoped that a royal Governor would have the authority to alleviate their living conditions. The Duke of Windsor was not pleased to be posted to the Bahamas for the duration of the Second World War but he was determined to fulfill the duties of the post and govern the islands independently rather than simply represent the interests of the Nassau merchants.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s first concern was the state of their own residence, Government House, in Nassau. The house contained shabby furnishings dating from the Victorian era and was infested with termites. The Duke wrote to a previous Governor, Bede Clifford, “We found Government House quite inhabitable, and fled from the place after a week’s picnic and sand-flies to make room for Frederick van Zeylen [the Director of Public Works] and Mr. Sinclair the painter.”
The question of where the royal couple would live during the renovations created controversy. The Duke favoured an extended visit to his ranch in Alberta but the British government did not favour this solution. Departure for Canada would create the appearance that the royal couple were abandoning the Bahamas within weeks of accepting the post. The Duke and Duchess ultimately accepted the hospitality of Canadian expatriate industrialist Harry Oakes, who hosted the royal couple at his mansion, Westbourne, in Nassau.
The Duchess of Windsor devoted her energies to the renovation of Government House. She wrote to her Aunt, Bessie Merryman in September, 1940, “[T]ogether we are going to dish this shack up so that at least one isn’t ashamed of asking the local horrors here.” Improvements included modern decor with regency accents, wallpapers imported from New York and a fresh coat of paint, including a room painted the colour of the Duchess’s favourite face powder. The Bahamanian House of Assembly authorized £2000 for the work on Government House but costs far exceeded this amount and the royal couple personally funded many of the renovations.
The Duke of Windsor found that it was easier to renovate his Bahamanian residence than address the longstanding social inequality on the islands. In a letter to his legal advisor Walter Monckton, the Duke explained “I have personally rarely seen such slums and squalor as exist in most of the native settlements and many of the Out Islands have no doctor at all. . .At the same time, I am afraid it will always be a struggle to get Bay Street to devote money to any project that does not directly benefit themselves, and the colour problem is particularly acute and bitter.” The Duke set up an economic advisory committee to address these issues but his ability to improve conditions on the Out Islands was limited by the influence of the Bay Street merchants and his own paternalistic attitude toward Bahamanians of African descent.
Nevertheless, at the time of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s departure from the Bahamas in 1945, one of the Duke’s fiercest critics in Nassau, Daily Tribune editor Etienne Dupuch wrote that he had become convinced that the Governor was “genuinely trying to do his best for the islands and the people – and especially for sections of the Colony that had long been neglected by selfish political interests centred in Nassau.” The Duke of Windsor’s Out Island development plan received £400,000 from the House of Assembly over the course of eight years for improvements to these impoverished regions.
While the Duke of Windsor had good intentions toward the inhabitants of the Out Islands, he displayed poor judgement during the investigation of the murder of Harry Oakes. On July 8, 1943, Oakes was found beaten to death at Westbourne. The Duke of Windsor suspected Oakes’s son-in-law, Alfred de Marigny, and called in two detectives from Miami to take over the investigation from the Bahamanian authorities. Despite the absence of clear evidence linking de Marigny to the murder of his father-in-law, the Duke of Windsor was convinced of his guilt, describing him as “an unscrupulous adventurer [with] an evil reputation for immoral conduct with young girls.”
Marigny was ultimately acquitted but deported from the Bahamas as “an undesirable alien” and fled to Canada, where he served in the Canadian forces in 1945. No other suspects were charged and Oakes’s murder remains unsolved. The Duke of Windsor’s interference in the case fuelled a number of unfounded rumours about the royal couple’s relationship with Oakes including speculation that Oakes and the Duke were involved in a German money laundering scheme or that Oakes was having an affair with the Duchess at the time of his murder.
At the time of Marigny’s trial, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were in the United States, one of many visits made by the royal couple over the course of their tenure in the Bahamas. The Duke viewed fostering economic links between the United States and the Bahamas as part of his role as Governor but the British government was alarmed by his frank expression of what appeared to be defeatist sentiments during his American visits.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was dismayed when the Duke of Windsor appeared to question Great Britain’s ability to achieve victory over Hitler’s Germany in a frank interview with Liberty magazine in 1941. The Duke of Windsor met with President Franklin Roosevelt to discuss American investment in the Bahamas on a number of occasions but the royal couple’s visits to the United States during wartime received criticism because of their perceived defeatism and extravagant travel expenses.
The Duchess of Windsor believed that her husband’s term as Governor of the Bahamas had little chance of success from the outset. She wrote to Walter Monckton in 1940, “The place is too small for the Duke. I do not mean that in any other way but that a man who has been Prince of Wales and King of England cannot be governor of a tiny place. It’s not fair to the people here or to him. The spotlight is on an island that cannot itself take it and the appointment is doomed to fail for both concerned.”
The Duke of Windsor actually enjoyed some successes as Governor including securing funding for the development of the Out Islands and developing a closer relationship between the Bahamas and the United States. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s positive impact on the Bahamas, however, was overshadowed by the Harry Oakes murder mystery, which remains unsolved to the present day and their perceived defeatist sentiments during the Second World War.
Philip Ziegler, King Edward VIII: A Biography, Phoenix Mill: Sutton Publishing, 2001.
Anne Sebba, That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, London: Phoenix, 2011.
Owen Platt, The Royal Governor…..and the Duchess: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the Bahamas 1940-1945, Lincoln: iUniverse, 2003.
Paris in the eighteenth century bore little resemblance to the romantic City of Light that attracts visitors from all over the world today. In 1749, the enlightenment author Voltaire turned a critical eye to his beloved city and wrote the essay “On The Beautification of Paris.” Voltaire observed, “We need public markets, fountains that actually give water, regular intersections, performance halls; we need to widen the narrow and filthy streets, uncover monuments that we cannot see and build new ones to be seen.” The crowded medieval neighbourhoods and shortage of clean drinking water threatened public health.
Readers of Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Les Miserables, and fans of the musical based on the novel will remember that narrow streets were also ideal places for revolutionaries to build barricades and oppose the government. In Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City, former architect and consultant Stephane Kirkland reveals how an Emperor and his appointed Prefect of the Seine created a new Paris that responded to the growth of industrialization and the birth of mass tourism.
The story of Baron Haussman’s radical changes to the Paris streetscape has been told in numerous other English language histories of the city such as Paris: The Biography of a City by Colin Jones and Seven Ages Of Paris by Alistair Horne. Paris Reborn stands out from all these previous works because Kirkland places Napoleon III (President 1848-1852, Emperor 1852-1870) rather than Hausmann at the centre of the book. Hausmann found creative ways to finance the building of grand avenues through the city and new buildings and public health initiatives but the the overarching idea for a new Paris was that of Napoleon III. The failings of the modern Paris, such as the destruction of historic neighborhoods and inadequacy of working class housing also reflected the Emperor’s limitations in the realm of urban design.
The displacement of 20% of the Parisian population during the Second Empire, the controversial destruction of medieval quarters and showcasing of a new Paris required the Emperor’s authority. Those who decried the loss of the old Paris blamed Haussman but the prefect was doing everything his power to create the city envisioned by Napoleon III.
The political career of Napoleon III is central to Paris Reborn but Kirkland fills his engaging account of the building of a new Paris with telling details about the various historical figures who lived in the Emperor’s capital or visited and left their impressions. Queen Victoria, visited Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie with Prince Albert and their two eldest children in the summer of 1855. While the Queen’s green parasol and enormous handbag embroidered with a poodle design could not compete with the fashions of the Empress Eugenie, her presence in Paris was an opportunity to showcase the new city and the legitimacy of the Second Empire.
European Royalty also descended on Paris for the 1867 Universal Exposition, marvelling at grand boulevards, high culture and technological innovations of Napoleon III’s Paris. The Viceroy of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, was so impressed by the performance of the opera bouffe by Jacques Offenbach, The Great Duchess of Gerolstein, that he attended the theatre every night during his stay in Paris. Victor Hugo acknowledged the need for Paris to introduce modern innovations but he decried the loss of so much of the medieval city. (Hugo’s famous 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame celebrated Paris’s Gothic architecture). American author Mark Twain sardonically noted that the grand boulevards were perfect for firing a cannonball straight through a revolutionary barricade and the medical discoveries of Louis Pasteur inspired the rebuilding of the historic Hotel Dieu.
Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City is a well researched and beautifully written account of the building of Napoleon III’s Paris. Kirkland places the Emperor and his vision at the centre of the narrative and includes the perspectives of a diverse array of historical figures who all had their own expectations of the historic city and the rebuilding that occured in their lifetimes. I recommend Paris Reborn to anyone interested in nineteenth century royalty and/or birth of the modern Paris.
Buckingham Palace announced this week that the Prince of Wales will represent his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this fall in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Queen is committed to her role as Head of the Commonwealth and has attended every one of these biennial meetings since 1971. The decision to send the Prince of Wales to Sri Lanka as the Queen’s representative in 2013 demonstrates that the 87 year old monarch is gradually reducing her overseas travel. In 2012, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh toured the United Kingdom in honour of the Diamond Jubilee while their children and grandchildren visited all the commonwealth realms to mark the occasion. The Prince of Wales’s representation of the Queen at the 2013 CHOGM is part of the broader pattern. Click here for my interview with Janet Davison of CBC about the significance of the Prince of Wales attending CHOGM on the Queen’s behalf.
The Prince of Wales’s visit to Sri Lanka is also an example of the Queen carefully preparing her heir, and public opinion in both the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms, for a seamless transition between this reign and the next one. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother lived to age of 101 and there is no reason to believe that the current Queen will not continue to reign for years to come but there is evidence that the Prince of Wales’s public role will continue to expand in the coming years in anticipation of his eventual ascension to the throne.
Prince Charles has participated in a number of high profile public engagements and commonwealth tours in 2012 and 2013. The role of Head of the Commonwealth is not hereditary. The Prince’s successful Diamond Jubilee tours of Canada, Australia and New Zealand in 2012 and attendance at CHOGM in 2013 affirm his commitment to eventually assuming this role and increase the likelihood that the Commonwealth Heads of Government will choose him as Elizabeth II’s successor as Head of the Commonwealth
Today, May 8, the Prince of Wales accompanied the Queen to the State Opening of Parliament at Westminster with the Duchess of Cornwall, the first time he has attended this event in 17 years. While the attendance of the Prince and Princess of Wales at State Openings of Parliament in the 1980s received public attention because of Diana’s fashions, the 2013 event showcases Charles in his role as future King.
Although Prince Charles’s reputation has improved considerably in recent years with greater public interest in his philanthropic and environment initiatives, successive opinion polls demonstrate that his mother, the Queen, and his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry remain more popular with the general public in both the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. The Prince of Wales’s second marriage to the former Camilla Parker-Bowles, his willingness to express his political opinions publicly and his increasing age have all prompted concerns about his suitability to become King. Prince Charles’s presence at high profile events such as the 2013 CHOGM and the State Opening of Parliament are all opportunities to demonstrate to the public that he has the experience and stature to serve as Head of State for sixteen nations in the twenty-first century.
As a young Princess, the current Queen experienced a similar “apprenticeship” from her father, King George VI that showcased her ability to effectively reign as a constitutional monarch through public engagements, wartime service and commonwealth tours. As Prince William explained to Robert Hardman in the 2011 book, Our Queen, “Back then there was a different attitude toward women. Being a young lady at twenty-five – and stepping into a job which many men thought they could probably do better – it must have been very daunting. And I think there was extra pressure for her to perform.”
George VI ensured that his elder daughter had the necessary training to overcome any skepticism about her ability to fulfill her constitutional role. Beginning in 1939, the thirteen year old Princess studied the history and structure of the British political system with Henry Marten, the Vice Provost of Eton College. During the final year of the Second World War, Elizabeth served at the Mechanical Transport Training Centre run by the Auxiliary Transport Service.
Princess Elizabeth completed her first commonwealth tour with the King and Queen in South Africa in 1947 then represented her father in Canada in 1951 and Kenya in 1952. If King George VI had not died in 1952 at the comparatively young age of fifty-six, this period of apprenticeship would have continued for decades in the manner of the current Prince of Wales’s preparation for his eventual ascension.
The Prince of Wales’s attendance at the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting as the Queen’s representative is part of a broader program of public events that present him to the public in his role as future King. Charles’s recent Diamond Jubilee Commonwealth Tours and presence at the 2013 State Opening of Parliament all demonstrate that he has been carefully prepared for the role of future monarch and that the Queen is planning for a seamless transition between her reign and that of her eldest son.
As the Duchess of Cambridge’s due date nears, there is intense popular interest in what names William and Kate will give the future King or Queen. Click here to read my interview with Janet Davision at CBC.ca about the history of royal baby names and the choices the royal couple may make for the first child’s name.
At the age of only twenty-eight, Prince Henry “Harry” of Wales, the younger son of the Prince of Wales and the late Diana, Princess of Wales has experienced a remarkable series of transformations in the popular imagination. At the age of twelve, he was the focus of public sympathy along his elder brother William as the two Princes walked behind their mother’s coffin to her funeral at Westminster Abbey. By the time he reached his gap year between Eton and Sandhurst, however, Harry was chastised in the press for his poor judgement compared to his seemingly more responsible brother. From his experimentation with marijuana to his inappropriate choice of Hallowe’en costume, Harry seemed to be a “party prince” alone without understanding of his responsibilities as a member of the royal family.
Harry’s reputation changed once more in recent years when he completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan and represented the queen on a highly successful trip to Belize, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Brazil. The Prince also served as an Olympic ambassador, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh by promoting youth athletics. As Harry undertook royal duties, charitable work and active military service, even his “party prince” moments, such as his notorious game of strip billiards in Las Vegas, were treated indulgently by the public. In Harry: The People’s Prince, Chris Hutchins, author of Diana’s Nightmare – The Family and Fergie Confidential explains how the military was making of Harry, transforming him from Party Prince to People’s Prince.
The sections of Harry: The People’s Prince concerning Harry’s military service are the strongest chapters of the book. Hutchins combines the Prince’s extensive and occasionally controversial interviews about Afghanistan with quotes from his fellow soldiers and royal observers, giving a sense of Harry’s commitment to his military duties and daily life during his tours of duty. Hutchins also discusses Harry’s relationship with Chelsy Davy in more detail than previous works, revealing the full extent of her influence over key years in Harry’s life. Chelsy even edited Harry’s best man speech at Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011, removing jokes that might offend the Queen.
Unfortunately, these informative, interesting chapters do not appear until the second half of the book. In the same manner as Penny Junor in her recent biography of Prince William, Hutchins devotes far too much space to the breakdown of the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales. These marital difficulties have been analyzed extensively in other works and Hutchins contributes little to the reader’s understanding of his subject by reexamining them in minute detail in Harry: The People’s Prince.
Hutchins also omits vital historical context that is essential to understanding Harry’s military service and place in the royal family. The author focuses on the Prince’s admiration for military figures that he encountered during his childhood, such as Diana’s lover, James Hewitt (who was certainly not Harry’s father), with only passing mentions of Harry’s interest in “Granny’s soldiers.” The centuries old tradition of military service in the royal family would have as much if not more influence on Harry’s decision to attend Sandhurst than his childhood role models.
British monarchs led troops into battle until the mid eighteenth century and military service has long been accepted avenue for channeling the energies of a “party prince.” Readers of Harry: The People’s Prince should also read a work about royalty at war, such as Charles Carlton’s Royal Warriors: A Military History of the British Monarchy, to get a better sense of Harry’s place in the long tradition of royalty in the military.
The conclusion to Harry: The People’s Prince also displays an absence of historical context. Hutchins argues that the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first child in July, 2013 will allow Harry the freedom to move to Africa, devote his energies to his Lesotho charity, Sentebale, and possibly rekindle his relationship with Chelsy Davy. The arrival of a niece or nephew certainly reduces the chances that Harry will one day become King, in the manner of other famous royal second sons such as Henry VIII, Charles I, George V or George VI.
The experiences of other younger royal children in recent decades, however, demonstrates that a lower place in line of succession does not result in freedom from royal duty. Princess Margaret faced pressure to end her relationship with the divorced Peter Townsend even after the births of her nephew and niece, Prince Charles and Princess Anne. All four of Queen Elizabeth II’s children perform extensive royal engagements both within the United Kingdom and throughout the commonwealth.
Harry’s very popularity may preclude a life of comparative obscurity abroad. Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales and Prince William will need “The People’s Prince” to continue his rapport with the public throughout all sixteen commonwealth realms. Harry: The People’s Prince is an interesting biography of a popular prince that would be improved by greater historical context for his military exploits and future, and less attention to the well known story of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ divorce.