Without a doubt, this has to be the best book that I have read in a long while. In the 1950s, James Pope-Hennessy was charged with the task of writing a biography of Queen Mary. This was in the days when there was still a certain mystique surrounding the Royal family and before the realisation that the monarchy had to evolve in order to survive. Much of what Pope-Hennessy discovered in his research had to remain a secret. Thus it was that for fifty years some of his transcribed interviews had to remain hidden away. That was until Hugo Vickers managed to access the files and edit the previously unseen and censored material.
I love the writing of Hugo Vickers. His prose is intelligent and yet so easy to read. He has chosen to select some of the more gripping observations of royalty for all to read here. There are some incredibly candid studies of the somewhat eccentric Prince Henry Duke of Gloucester, the less-known brother of George VI, as well as wonderful observations of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who come across surprisingly genial and well-intentioned. One of the images depicted in the book that will always stay with me, is that of Queen Mary over-zealously chopping away at every tree and ivy plant she encountered in other people’s homes. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to any lover of royal history.