The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor

Overview

Before you say it could never happen, read A. N. Wilson's spectacular account of privilege and profligacy, a riches-to-ruin saga as bizarre as any novel. 1992 was the year the roof fell in on the storybook existence of the British royal family, the Windsors, and Queen Elizabeth referred to it as the "annus horribilis." The British press could barely keep up with the succession of separations, divorces, and sex scandals that undermined popular support of the monarchy and may yet redefine its role in the political ...
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Overview

Before you say it could never happen, read A. N. Wilson's spectacular account of privilege and profligacy, a riches-to-ruin saga as bizarre as any novel. 1992 was the year the roof fell in on the storybook existence of the British royal family, the Windsors, and Queen Elizabeth referred to it as the "annus horribilis." The British press could barely keep up with the succession of separations, divorces, and sex scandals that undermined popular support of the monarchy and may yet redefine its role in the political and social life of Great Britain. Readers with an interest in history (and perhaps a taste for the gothic) will be fascinated by Wilson's tracing of the present misery of the Windsors to the quarrels and eccentricities of elder generations, and perhaps to an even more ancient family curse, pronounced by a disappointed heir to the fortune. The author shows us how the constitutional crisis of Charles and Diana's impending divorce - de facto or official - is rooted in the bitter family struggle over the personal life of Edward VIII, who chose to marry a divorced American woman, and was forced to abdicate in 1936. From the glittering history of the Windsors to the tabloid exploits of the Duchess of York, and from Prince Charles's steamy telephone tapes to the ecclesiastical and political fallout of a royal divorce, A. N. Wilson fashions a dramatic narrative out of the strands of this all-too-human catastrophe. Can the Windsor dynasty survive? Or is there a new English revolution in the making?
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wilson presents a savvy and gossipy look at the history of the Windsor family and the future of the British monarchy. (June)
Library Journal
Wilson poses the question ``Can the British monarchy (and the House of Windsor) survive?'' The ensuing discussion is interesting, but wading through the unsubstantiated allegations is tiresome. In particular, Wilson objects to Prince Charles, whom he finds totally unsuitable to be king, based principally on the fact that Charles did not attend Eton and that he made what some consider an ill-judged speech in 1992 while the British government was engaged in delicate trade negotiations. Wilson first defines the monarchy today as having only three functions and then sets out to prove that Charles and the Windsors cannot fulfill them. He contends that Britain needs a wholesome royal family to act as role models and fulfill various ceremonial duties but who are, as individuals, too dull to inspire public interest. Wilson is the author of numerous novels and biographies (e.g., C.S. Lewis , LJ 2/15/90; Eminent Victorians , LJ 6/1/90). Buy this if you must, but there's nothing new in fact, just interpretation.-- Katharine Galloway Garstka, Intergraph Corp., Huntsville, Ala.
Brad Hooper
The recent announcement that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth will soon open the doors of the heretofore very private Buckingham Palace to tourists, whose admission fees will help defray the cost of restoring the portions of Windsor Castle damaged by fire last winter, is just one more indication that the times they are a-changin' with regard to the British monarchy. The Prince and Princess of Wales' marital plight is examined on the pages of every magazine on the newstand these days, as is the queen's decision soon after the Windsor Castle fire to pay income tax (a gesture she had shied away from), but what esteemed British novelist and biographer Wilson offers is much more than the usual journalistic, surface analysis. What the House of Windsor had over most other European dynasties as two world wars decimated the ranks of royal heads was its adaptability. The question Wilson posits and then seeks to answer is whether the House of Windsor is still adaptable and thus can continue to justify its existence on the throne into the twenty-first century. Wilson identifies four aspects of the royal family's performance: its relations with the press, its symbolic role as guardian of family values, its image as an upholder of the tenets of the Church of England, and its constitutional function. He finds the Windsors are in "desperate trouble" with regard to the first three areas but still strong in the last aspect. He studies the parts Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana, Prince Charles, and the queen herself have played in tarnishing the throne recently, and he offers a fair look into royal finances--a sticky issue with the British public these days. Wilson concludes that the Prince of Wales simply won't do as king when his time comes. He suggests that in order for the House of Windsor to endure, the queen should make it clear that none of her children will succeed her, and should designate as her successor her cousin the duke of Gloucester. Wilson's is the most incisive estimation of the royal crisis to emerge thus far.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781856950343
  • Publisher: ISIS Large Print Books

Table of Contents

1 The Curse of the Coburgs 1
2 Margaret Thatcher's Legacy 14
3 Lady Di 30
4 The Prince of Wales 47
5 The Queen 64
6 The House of Windsor and the Press 82
7 The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg 114
8 The House of Windsor and the Church 139
9 Constitutional Monarchy 154
10 Royal Money 172
11 A Modest Proposal 187
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