Women of Windsor: Their Power, Privilege, and Passions

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Overview

Who are the women of Windsor?

Queen Elizabeth: Born to duty, adored by her parents, she swore as a teenager to serve her country above all else . . . and she has lived up to her promise, even when her crown has been a burden.

Elizabeth, the Queen Mother: Hitler was afraid of her, the English people adored her. Her kind, sparkling blue eyes and cheerful manner belied a backbone of steel.

Princess Margaret: ...

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The Women of Windsor

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Overview

Who are the women of Windsor?

Queen Elizabeth: Born to duty, adored by her parents, she swore as a teenager to serve her country above all else . . . and she has lived up to her promise, even when her crown has been a burden.

Elizabeth, the Queen Mother: Hitler was afraid of her, the English people adored her. Her kind, sparkling blue eyes and cheerful manner belied a backbone of steel.

Princess Margaret: Beautiful, talented, vivacious, and complex, the Diana of her day. But the promise of her youth was destroyed when she was betrayed by her sister, now the queen, who needlessly forced her to give up the man she loved.

Princess Anne: Hardworking, hard-headed, and hot-tempered, arguably the most intelligent of the queen's four children and her father's favorite&#8212yet she is forever forced to take second place to her older brother, Charles.

Catherine Whitney takes readers behind the palace doors to give us an intimate glimpse into the private lives of the women of the British royal family&#8212four women who have shaped the world, each in her own way. Now, at last, their stories can be told.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Whitney's treatment of "the women of Windsor" (the queen mother, the queen, Princess Margaret, and Princess Anne) opens, oddly enough, with a prolog not about any of them but instead criticizing the late Princess of Wales ("Drama Queen") and Prince Charles ("the queen's biggest headache"). Whitney (The Calling: A Year in the Life of an Order of Nuns) then goes over familiar ground in this superficial work-the abdication of Edward VIII, the marriage of Elizabeth and Philip, Princess Margaret's affair with Peter Townsend, the attempted kidnapping of Princess Anne, etc., unable to go into any depth owing to the amount of ground she must cover in well under 300 pages. Those who have read even one good biography of either the queen mother or the queen will find nothing new here, and those who have somehow managed to escape all knowledge of the Royal Family and now feel a need to address their ignorance would do better with Ben Pimlott's The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II or Anne Edwards's Royal Sisters: Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. Recommended only for libraries that feel they must own everything about the British Royal Family.-Liz Mellett, P.L. of Brookline, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060765859
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/27/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,401,071
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Whitney is a New York-based writer who has written or cowritten more than forty books on a wide range of topics. She is the author of The Calling: A Year in the Life of an Order of Nuns and the coauthor with nine female U.S. senators of Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate.

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Read an Excerpt

The Women of Windsor

Their Power, Privilege, and Passions
By Catherine Whitney

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 Catherine Whitney
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060765844

Chapter One

Merry Mischief

I pity the man you marry
because you are so determined.

Lady Strathmore
to her daughter Elizabeth

Spring 1921
St. Paul's Walden Bury, Scotland

Elizabeth's blue eyes sparkled playfully as she regarded Bertie. "You spoil me," she teased. "You must know how I love proposals!" They were standing together under the giant oak at the bottom of her mother's garden, the fragrance of early-spring blossoms rising up around them.

Elizabeth's hapless suitor blushed furiously and stared at the ground. Prince Albert -- Bertie -- was slender bordering on frail, impeccable as always in his walking clothes. He was handsome in his own way, with a thin, kind face, and blond hair swept back to reveal a high forehead. He was sick with love for this wonderful girl, and while the warmth in her voice was unmistakable, he steeled himself for rejection.

He raised his eyes to Elizabeth's, and her face softened with regret. "I'm afraid not, Bertie," she said solemnly. "It just wouldn't do."

He couldn't ask -- didn't dare ask -- why it wouldn't do. In his mind it would do very well. In all of his twenty-five years on this earth, Bertie hadnever been conscious of wanting anything as much as he wanted Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon to be his wife.1

The second son of the King of England had been raised on a steady diet of protocol and duty, and his upbringing had never taught him to seek happiness. In his world the threads of obligation and joy were incompatible, with the former woven into his lineage. Yet here was a woman who seemed to embody both strength and cheer.

Love gave Bertie courage. This was his second proposal; Elizabeth had turned down his first. Still, he was not ready to admit defeat. To do so would be to extinguish the light from his life.

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, who would one day become queen, was the ninth of ten children, and her older siblings often had occasion to complain that she was spoiled. Even her most outrageous antics provoked benevolent smiles rather than frowns of disapproval from their parents. In the age-old assertion of older children, they remarked that they could never have gotten away with such wildness when they were young. But even her competitive siblings had to admit that Elizabeth was a very easy child to spoil. Elizabeth was a natural charmer, with a sunny disposition, wide, antic eyes, and a dimpled smile. It was a quality that would earn her the fond nickname "Merry Mischief," given her by her mother, and win her the devotion of her people for nearly a century. As one family friend gushed, "To every lover of children she had about her that indefinable charm that bears elders into fairyland."2

Even so, the circumstances that led this high-spirited Scottish girl to England's throne could not have been imagined at the time of her birth, on August 4, 1900. With five brothers and three sisters ahead of her to claim her parents' attention, she might easily have had her light dimmed by the defining hierarchy of birth order. But some children are just special, and Elizabeth was one of these. Instantly becoming the household favorite, she was coddled and encouraged. She was affectionately called Princess, and friends who visited the family would curtsy to her as she held out her hand to be kissed.

While Elizabeth wasn't royalty, she wasn't exactly a commoner either -- at least, not in the usual understanding of the term. Her family was one of old, aristocratic Scottish lineage -- not filthy rich but rich enough, especially in land.

When Elizabeth was four, her paternal grandfather died and her father became the fourteenth Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, inheriting Glamis Castle with its thousands of acres in the glens of Angus. Glamis Castle had been the family home of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne since 1372, when Sir John Lyon was granted the thaneage of Glamis by King Robert II, and it was said to be the setting for Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Like any self-respecting medieval castle, Glamis was rife with turrets, spires, secret staircases, hidden passages, and ghosts. Tales abounded of the origins of these ghosts. The most famous was the Lady Glamis, whose sorry fate at the hands of the evil monarch James V was the stuff of legends. Lady Glamis was a woman of great beauty, much beloved by the people, but the king invented a charge of witchcraft and she was imprisoned and ultimately burned at the stake. Her ghost, known as the Gray Lady, was said to wander the castle corridors, never at rest.

The castle held many mysteries. For example, there was said to be a hidden room that no one had ever been able to find but that everyone believed existed deep inside a tower. Servants through the centuries claimed to have heard thuds and cries emanating through the walls, and there were rumors that the cries belonged to the "Glamis monster," a grossly deformed child born in 1700 and secreted away in the tower.

Elizabeth and her younger brother, David, her closest companion, found a magical aura along the shadowy cool passages of Glamis. Inveterate mischief makers, they were known to collaborate on horrific pranks; their favorite was to climb the stairs to the ramparts above the castle's entryway and douse arriving guests with "boiling oil" (actually, water), then race away laughing as the drenched visitors shrieked with alarm.

The Bowes-Lyon family was boisterous and happy, thanks to its matriarch. Cecilia Strathmore, thirty-eight when Elizabeth was born, was ebullient and high-spirited. Unusual in aristocratic circles, she was a doting mother who nursed her own children and encouraged a raucous, creative atmosphere. She loved culture, art, and music and was a brilliant gardener; the Italian Garden, which she designed, still blooms at the castle today. (This love of gardening was shared by her two youngest children throughout their lives; David would go on to study at Kew Gardens.)

Continues...


Excerpted from The Women of Windsor by Catherine Whitney Copyright ©2006 by Catherine Whitney. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     IX
Cast of Characters     X
Introduction: An American at the Palace     XIII
Prologue: Drama Queen     1
Merry Mischief     7
We Four     27
Clash of the Titanesses     39
The Most Dangerous Woman in Europe     55
Heir Presumptive     73
Lilibet's Prince Charming     83
Mrs. Mountbatten Ascends     99
Sister Dearest     109
Royal Family Values     121
Being Anne     133
Always a Rosebud, Never a Rose     147
Crash of Symbols     155
To Di For     163
The Princess of Wails     177
The Queen's Horrible Year     187
Palace Coup     197
Royal Is as Royal Does     209
Epilogue: Kingdom Come     217
The Windsors     222
The Windsor Line of Succession     225
Notes     227
Bibliography     241
Index     245
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