While I do not care much for the current royals and their continuing saga of woes, I am, however very much interested in the history of the British monarchy. As such, several days ago I ventured into a book that was recommended to me by a woman who reads this blog ‘on the other side of the pond’.
I have taken Edith’s advice before when she properly instructed me to get Alaska by James Michener. After thoroughly loving that book, I am now well into Chesapeake with equal fondness for the storytelling ability of this famed author, with Centennial and The Source already bought and on the shelves. I am ready when the mood strikes! So when I was alerted that given my interest in past royal families I was sure to be delighted with The Heir Apparent by Jane Ridley, I quickly moved on the suggestion.
What struck me at once was the way Ridley used facts on the one hand regarding the high-strung nature of Queen Victoria, mother to Edward VII, and on the other hand, removed the royal trappings and subjected her to the same examination that anyone on the historic stage requires. She is not a loving mother and doting parent, but rather quite plain in her thinking and actions when it comes to the next King of the nation.
Victoria considers her son a lazy halfwit, and woefully and temperamentally unfit to succeed her.
I think most readers are aware, at least in a vague way, that Edward was happier with many women, and not well suited for a marriage relationship. But without pretending to a psychoanalyst, Ridley does allow readers to better understand why his behavior was so shabby. He was so unloved as a child that he seems to have created his own path on how to secure the emotional bonds he needed.
The death of his father, Albert, and the only way he even knew the tragedy was playing out is due to a sister sending him a note, as both Victoria and Albert would have been fine had he not arrived at Windsor at all during this period. That chapter is perhaps the most poignant when trying to grasp the emotional wreckage that is Victoria (in good times and bad) along with the Victorian model on how to raise children. Or deal with adult children.
History makes for the best writing, and from this side of the pages, the best reading. It is even more so when the author, as Ridley clearly proves, given she is a professor of history at Buckingham University in England, where she teaches a course on biography, takes up the task. If you have a craving for a figure from the past that will crackle and spark conversation, with solid research and engaging storytelling this book is clearly the one you should consider.
And so it goes.