Buckingham Babylon by Peter Fearon

71qgt050qzlI found Buckingham Babylon by Peter Fearon at my town library. I was looking for some British history books, and this book was in the same section. I love books/movies about the Royal Family, so I was pleased to have discovered it.

Buckingham Babylon is subtitled “The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor”, and it was published in 1993. There are some major Royal Family life events that have happened since the early 1990s, so in some respects, this book is woefully out of date.

That said, this book is a wonderful resource for the earlier royals. The book begins with the death of Queen Victoria, and covers the lives of the 20th century English royals: Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and Queen Elizabeth. We are also treated to stories about some of the minor royals: Princess Margaret, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, and Princess Andrew.

I already knew about some of the stories, like Edward VIII’s abdication crisis involvement with Wallis Simpson and Edward VII’s love for the ladies, but some of the stories were new to me. I was not aware that when King George V was gravely ill, his death was most likely hastened by euthanasia; he received injections of morphine and cocaine, and passed away ten minutes later.

I especially enjoyed the section about Queen Elizabeth II. There is going to be a Netflix original miniseries about the early years of her life. I recently saw a trailer that featured an angry Philip refusing to kneel before his wife before her coronation. It’s very interesting that this account also appears in the book. I don’t know very much about Queen Elizabeth’s early reign, so this book was very informative.

The book ends with Charles and Diana’s divorce, and the rather ominous suggestion that the new generation of royals (William, Harry, Beatrice, and Eugenie) are doomed to miserable relationships, just as their parents experienced. It’s true that the Royal Family was at a low point when this book was published, and I don’t think any of us could have predicted Diana’s death at the age of 36. Nor could we predict that Prince William would marry for love, and that Catherine would help revitalize interest in the royal family. Harry, Beatrice, and Eugenie have yet to marry, but perhaps they will learn from William’s experience rather than their parents’.

I would recommend Buckingham Babylon. This book might not be the easiest to track down since it’s out of print, so I would recommend trying your local library network. You can also check Amazon- there seem to be a handful of copies floating around. If you are a fan of the Royal Family, this is a very interesting book.

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