Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: God bless the Queen; long may her reign drag on!

Review of: Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne
Author: Christopher Andersen
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Dallas Public Library
Grade A

What would we Americans do without the British royal family? Nearly 250 years after we fought a war to be rid of them, 20 years after the tragic and violent death of their most charismatic member, we still find royals indispensable.
With a President of our own who appears to have worn the same suit and tie for the past year and a half, a First Lady virtually in hiding, and a covey of more or less creepy First Children, Americans can at least take comfort in a queen who wears delightfully absurd hats even when visiting victims of a terrorist attack, her impeccably-dressed old roué of a husband, and children whose transgressions are guaranteed to titillate tabloid readers.

Bless you, House of Windsor! If you didn’t exist, we should be forced to invent you.

Which I hope explains why I gratefully gulped down Christopher Andersen’s deliciously gossipy Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne.

(For the benefit of members of my book club who may read this, its five-star rating doesn’t mean I consider it classic literature. Only that it’s very good of its kind – an easy, breezy, incredibly detailed gossip fest I couldn’t put down. And then regretted there wasn’t more.)

From dissing Elizabeth II’s dogs (neighbors who find my dogs annoying can at least rejoice that they don’t bite the – nonexistent – servants), to questioning the paternity of Elizabeth’s putative grandson Prince Harry (whose red hair proclaims him more likely to be the love child of Princess Diana’s riding instructor than of her husband), to a queen whose first concern when confronted with the death of her former daughter-in-law was to ask what had happened to the royal jewels Princess Diana may have been wearing when she died, to the horror of seeing Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton in a scarlet gown at a royal anniversary for which the required dress was white, Game of Crowns overflows with gems alternately heartbreaking and hilarious.

Andersen even includes a what-if (or when) scenario of the events that might follow Elizabeth II’s death, and the accession to the throne of her son, as King Charles III, and his wife, Camilla. Would the prospect of a Queen Camilla, who enjoyed a long and adulterous relationship with Charles during his first marriage (shades of an earlier merry King Charles!) drive the British public finally to disown the royal family?

(Since Game of Crowns was published in 2016, an additional concern would be how the possible secession of Scotland from Great Britain would affect the royal family’s holdings in Scotland, including the holiday getaway of Balmoral Castle, where Kate Middleton forsook her opposition to the cruelty of hunting to impress the Windsors with her talents for fishing and shooting, all in the interests of snagging Prince William, the queen’s grandson, and second in line to the throne.)

Understandably, a good part of the book is devoted to the most egregious recent scandal of the Windsors, the long-standing affair between the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, and his once-mistress, now wife, Camilla. If Elizabeth ever regrets forcing a marriage between her son Charles and the younger, emotionally-fragile Diana Spencer, she conceals it well from the public.

And if Elizabeth ever reproaches her husband, Viking-handsome Prince Philip, with his own discretions; if she ever considers abdicating the throne as she enters her ninth decade; if she ever considers pressuring Charles to abdicate in favor of her grandson, the immensely more popular Prince William, she conceals those worries also.

As she has concealed any worries and fears she may have had since the day when as a newly-married princess on a honeymoon in Africa she learned that her own beloved father’s too-early death had left her a very young queen. God save the Queen!

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