During this past year, I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing dozens of royal history books for this site. Here are my top ten favorites from 2013.
1) Counting One’s Blessing: The Selected Letters Of Elizabeth The Queen Mother edited by William Shawcross. The life of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother encompassed the entire twentieth century. Her lively correspondence is filled with fascinating details about royal life including overseas tours, royal engagements during the London Blitz and her close relationship with her grandson, the Prince of Wales. Click here to read the full review.
2) The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen by Susan Bordo. King Henry VIII’s controversial second wife Anne Boleyn has inspired historians, novelists, artists, playwrights and screenwriters for centuries. This fascinating book combines history and popular culture to reveal how the Queen came to be seen as a villain, vixen or victim and how much remains unknown about the real Anne Boleyn. Click here to read the full review.
3) Kate: The Future Queen by Katie Nicholl. The Duchess of Cambridge has been the focus of royal news throughout 2013 as the world waited for the birth of her first child, Prince George of Cambridge, in July. Nicholl reveals new details about the history of the Middleton family, how William and Catherine first met, and just how much Catherine’s life changed when she began a relationship with the future King. Click here to read the full review
4) Prince Edward, Duke of Kent: Father of the Canadian Crown by Nathan Tidridge. Queen Victoria’s father, the Duke of Kent resided in Canada for most of the 1790s and yet his achievements during this period usually receive little attention. Tidridge restores the Duke of Kent to his rightful place in Canadian history. Click here to read the full review.
5) Daughter of Empire: Life as a Mountbatten by Pamela Hicks. Pamela (Mountbatten) Hicks, Prince Philip’s cousin and one of the Queen’s bridesmaids and ladies-in-waiting knew most of the royal personages of the twentieth century. As the daughter of Lord Mounbatten, she was also present for key historical events including the partition of India. Her entertaining memoirs capture the essence of her life and times. Click here to read the full review.
6) The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the World by Greg King and Sue Woolmans. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie are best known for their deaths, which served as the catalyst for the outbreak of the First World War. King and Woolmans illuminate their lives including their controversial romance, the Archduke’s vision for the future of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the tragic lives of their children. Click here to read the full review.
7) Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang. The Dowager Empress Cixi has been stereotyped as one of Chinese history’s great villains but she reigned at the same time as Queen Victoria and initiated reforms that continue to shape China today. Chang takes her reader into both the secluded world of the Forbidden City and the rapidly changing China beyond the palace walls. Click here for the full review,
8) The Crown and Canadian Federalism by D. Michael Jackson. In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in the monarchy in Canada. Jackson discusses the role of the crown in Canada’s provinces in a book that speaks to both scholars of Canadian history and politics, and general readers interested in learning more about the role of Canada’s monarchy. Click here to read the full review
9) The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution edited by Helen Azar. The diary of Czar Nicholas II’s eldest daughter, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaievna and other primary sources related to her life reveal her coming of age during the First World War and Russian Revolution. Click here to read the full review
10) Bertie: A Life of Edward VII by Jane Ridley. The best biography of Edward VII as Prince of Wales and King to date. Ridley has uncovered new sources about the Prince’s turbulent relationship with his parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the influence of the various women in his life. Click here to read the full review.