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Non Fiction

The Beautiful, the Brats and the Privileged

‘Hey, Wassup? This is Liz. Sorry I’m away from the throne. For a hotline to Philip press one, for Charles press two, for the corgis press three.’

that, was at one time the standard voicemail greeting of the Queen of England. It is recorded by Prince Harry, followed by snorts of mirth and guffawing in the background of Prince William. From the boozing night out at Bijou and the fall into the gutter while berating the paparazzi, to wearing Nazi uniform to a costume party etc. were the kind of antics that Prince Harry would put himself in trouble time and again.

I’d never followed Princess Diana’s life back in the 80’s but I, like everyone else, reads about their scandals or major happenings on the news headline. I had never read any of Princess Diana’s memoir or watched any of her revealing public interviews. Since Princess Diana died, all was calm at the Monarchy front, except the news of the marriage of Princes Charles and Duchess of Cornwall.

The recent royal wedding between Prince William and Katherine Middleton (or Duchess of Cambridge now, isn’t it fascinating how they pick the titles and confer to married couples in the royal family?) was surprisingly beautiful and fairy-tale like, by coincidence I came across this book at the “What’s new” bookshelf at the library at the royal wedding weekend and I borrowed it.

Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales was born on Monday 21 June 1982 in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary’s hospital which I walked past every day to go to work. 2 years and 3 months later, Prince Henry Charles Albert David – better known as Harry was born on the 15 September 1984 on the same wing, in the same hospital.

The book then follows Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s tumultuous marriage and the impact that it has on their eldest son. All serves as a good prelude to what’s coming and how the events have shaped the young princes’ lives. Being the oldest, Prince William understood a lot more about the break-up of his parents’ marriage. What is surprising for me is to know that Diana secretly collaborated on the explosive biography to pour all the skeleton from the royal family’s closet. I can’t help but to feel a tinge of sadness for the boys who had suffered through their parents’ divorce, public humiliation of constantly hearing scandals about their mother on the front page of gossip magazines and finally lost their mother to a car crash. Tragic….

Growing up, both the princes enjoy privileges, opportunities and achievements that seems to elude plebeian like us.

Both brothers are great horsemen, polo players, swimmer, surfers, shooter and hunter, rugby and football captain, and because of their mother, William is also a yoga practitioner. Flattery abundance on the multi-talent of the young princes and endless exotic holidays the princes seems to take in their short lifetime can be found within the pages. The country’s top government advisors are called in to plan the princes’ gap years. As athletic prowess as they are, academically they are not. As William made a few switches in courses while at St. Andrew’s finding the history of modern art hard to take in and with the advice of his future wife, settled for geography. Harry in his drink-fuelled haze got a B for Art and a D for Geography in his A-level. Yet his father insisted ‘I am very proud of Harry. He has worked hard for this examination and I am very pleased with today’s result.’ (page 118). When the doors of internships for graduate hopefuls are closed on the country’s most qualified young people, Prince William spent 2 weeks working in Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s 35,000 Peak District Estate, 3 weeks with HSBC and Bank of England and 2 weeks with RAF Valley Mountain Rescue team.

While the princes went gallavanting, what does the princess and princess to-be do? Waiting. After breaking up twice with William, “Katie do nothing” but waits until Prince William decides to come back. After many boozing night-outs with girls, as level headed as Chelsy Davy (Harry’s long time Zimbabwean born girlfriend) could be, she is still with Harry after all these years. I guess no one rejects a prince and the two brothers know it and they flaunt it.

Still, I wonder if any of the privileges of their lives will ever compensate for the loss of their mother at such a very young age?

I actually had fun listing out the names of could-be Princess of Cambridge and to see how they look like:

Rose Farhuqar, Olivia Hunt, Jecca Craig, Isabella Austruthar Carlthorpe

L to R: Carley Massy Birch, Arabella Musgrave and Anna Sloan.

On the other hand, the princes are not all spoilt and rotten. They are passionate about continuing the good work that their mother had done and left behind. They are down-to-earth and humble. They are serving the country at the front line as soldier and rescue worker. The brothers’ relationship are close knitted and they think the world of each other, never a word of unkind. Katherine Middleton from Buckleberry, Berkshire is just as sweet, level headed and down-to-earth. Overall I thought the recent royal wedding was a good match.


When you drag your eyes through the seemingly endless streams of words, that seems to blur in front of your eyes…. and you have to backtrack, you seem to be reading but your mind drifted off to a semi-slumber…. when you take one week to finish a 300 pages book, you carry the big tome of 2666 and you can’t bring yourself to read another sentence which leads to nowhere… you know you are in a reading slump. That’s me. A bad reading slump so bad that I feel no joy in reading.

and then this book came along… and wham! bam! Alakazam! something magical happened and the words just flew by and I finished the book within a day.

Despite the many facts that I have disclosed, there are plenty more to saviour in the book. The book is jam-packed with interesting anecdotes, written like a novel and reads like a thriller. No doubt it may have peppered with a little drama and spice it up with gossips, the book is well researched, fluid and a delightful read. Katie Nicholls did a wonderful job on writing a compelling biography.

The only gripe I have about the book is that it was published originally as “Will and Harry” and repackaged as “The Making of Royal Romance” for the recent royal wedding, when it really is about Will and Harry. Minor complaint but a little misleading.

‘The really crucial thing about kingship is that a king or a queen must be initiated through a ritual to transform him or her from their ordinary status into something extraordinary.’ explained Quigley, who has a written a book called ‘ The Character of Kingship’. ‘ All of these would-be modernisers of the royal family have got it completely wrong. The more like one of us the king becomes, the less there is any reason for having a king. a king is a symbol, not a person.’ – page 146

Despite the princes’ desire or attempts to live like one of us and to do things that normal people like us enjoy doing, they can’t. Their biggest regret is not being able to be at the front line to fight like “one of the boys”. Pretending that they can is just farcical. They will be the shape of the Monarchy to come, for better for worse.

It is both fascinating and infuriating (The UK Taxpayers pay £50 million a year to protect 22 members of the Royal family, including the B-List) to read about the lives of Royal family, for me it’s more of the former and I am aware there are many who may find it latter.

I am reluctant to rate this one. Based on the writing, I’ll give it a 4.5 (as per my ratings definition). This book is an entertaining read. Even if you are not a Royal family aficionado! 😉

About the writer:

Katie Nicholl is Diary Editor and Royal Correspondent for The Daily Mail on Sunday where she started her career as a showbusiness editor. She is 32, married and lives in North London. She graduated from the University of East Anglia in English and American Literature with a 2-1 in 1998. In conjunction with her successful print career Katie is also a freelance broadcaster and regularly reports on the Royal Family for CBS News in America and and RTL and ARD in Germany . She regularly appears as a guest on Sky News, ITV’s This Morning, and the BBC.

I seem to be reading a lot for non-fiction reading challenge!

Paperback. Publisher: Arrow Books 2011; Length: 360 pages (16 of which are indexes) ; Setting:  1980’s Great Britain to present.  Source: Reading Library Loot. Finished reading at: 16 May 2011.


About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


8 thoughts on “The Beautiful, the Brats and the Privileged

  1. I don’t follow the Royals in the tabloids and so a lot of the things I heard during the wedding coverage were news to me. I feel like I should read something like this just so I’m better informed about what they get up to. I think I might like a bit of this sort of gossip for once.

    Posted by Jackie (Farm Lane Books) | May 26, 2011, 12:16 pm
    • Jackie,
      You have to look out for the book in your local library! Katie is a very good “Royal Correspondent” and she tells you facts on top of illustrating the life of the two princes in a very engaging way.
      I have a strong feeling you will like it. it’s a good read just to catch up on all those years of missed tabloid headlines on the Royal family. 🙂 (like Prince William drove an expensive aircraft to a weekend Stag-do on the North of England!)
      Thanks for dropping by!

      Posted by JoV | May 28, 2011, 10:16 am
  2. I don’t follow the royal family much but what girl in her right mind could ignore the wedding? I know I couldn’t. I didn’t wake up to view it but I watched the entire thing on my DVD before hitting work so I’d be “in the know.”

    While watching the ceremony, it was obvious that we were looking at a very modern couple, having to deal with the pomp and circumstance that is part of being a royal family. It was very sweet.

    Posted by Ti | May 26, 2011, 2:12 pm
    • Ti,
      You just said it. It was the wedding that piqued my interest about them. It’s great to be in the know… you know, get us out from the dark ages.. 🙂 I do think the wedding was sweet. I’ll be interested to see what future holds for them. 🙂

      Posted by JoV | May 28, 2011, 10:16 am
  3. I’m happy the royals craze is over now, I’m not very interested in them and mostly feel sorry for them. I mean what a life, no privacy and basically you’re never off-duty.

    Posted by Bina | May 28, 2011, 9:11 am
    • Bina,
      this book may change your mind about thinking their lives is always on duty. Prince Charles perhaps, but not the two princes.. they are partying hard! how’s that for royal duty? 😉

      Posted by JoV | May 28, 2011, 10:17 am
  4. Interesting review of an interesting book, Jo! This book seems to give a fascinating peek into the royal princes’ life. On the newly married royal couple, I think Prince William looks normal, while Kate Middleton is really beautiful! That seems to be the case with the Royal family for a while – Prince Charles looks average while Diana was one of the greatest beauties of her era, Queen Elizabeth is graceful while Prince Philip, what can one say about Prince Philip other than the fact that he is probably the Royal Comedian? 🙂

    Being from a republican country I feel that a monarchy is an anachronism today and I find it difficult to understand all the fuss about the royal family – they seem to take up significant resources (from the numbers you have given it is more than 2 million pounds per person per year), the Queen is only the nominal head of state and doesn’t really have any constitutional powers (as King George VI says in the movie ‘The King’s Speech – “If I’m King, where’s my power? Can I form a government? Can I levy a tax, declare a war? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority. Why?”) and the members of the Royal family don’t really excel in any field and they just make appearances in public events (as King George V says the movie ‘The King’s Speech’ – “In the past all a King had to do was look respectable in uniform and not fall off his horse. Now we must invade people’s homes and ingratiate ourselves with them. This family is reduced to those lowest, basest of all creatures, we’ve become actors!”).

    However, news from the Royal family is always interesting – Prince Philip’s comic utterances and shenanigans, Queen Elizabeth’s grace, Prince Charles’ controversies, and now Prince William’s wedding. Prince Harry promises to be an interesting character from your description. It will be interesting to follow his life and career.

    Posted by Vishy | May 29, 2011, 4:20 pm
    • Vishy, thanks for sharing your view. I don’t know a lot about Prince Philips but the change of the role of monarchy is inevitable I think. I don’t think I will be following every single news of them, but I can’t ignore headlines I suppose. 🙂

      Posted by JoV | May 30, 2011, 10:09 am

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

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The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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