`A royal Christmas' contains; "extracts from journals, diaries letters" to "reveal the many ways in which the Royal Family has celebrated through the ages."
Mr. Archer has provided historical background for the letters, which are interspersed with the them. The book is published in the UK. It is very nicely produced: The font is easy to read, on crème colored pages. There are 2 sections of photographs.
This is no dry history. The "Royals" were subject to the same comedy, disappointment and adversity as their subjects.
Here are 2 excerpts from the book:
"On 19 December 1644, during the English Civil war, Parliament proclaimed:
Whereas some doubts have been raised whether the next fast shall be celebrated, because it falleth on the day which, heretofore, was usually called the Feast of the Nativity of our Savior; the Lords and Commons do order and ordain that public notice be given, that the Fast appointed to be kept on the last Wednesday in every month, ought to be observed until it be otherwise ordered by both houses; and this day particularly is to be kept with the more solemn humiliation because it may call to remembrance our sins and the sins of our forefathers, who have turned this Feast, pretending the memory of Christ, into an extreme forgetfulness of him, by giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights; being contrary to the life which Christ himself led her upon the earth..."
Crown Prince William, the eldest of five sons of Emperor William II . . . took command of the 5th German army in August 1914. In his war memoirs he wrote"
" I shall never forget the first Christmas of the war. For us Germans, Holy Christmastime is, after all, the most glorious time of the year, when even the hardest of men softens at the thought of his own childhood, his home and his family. Thus I felt particularly drawn to my field-grey boys on this occasion, and I steered my car in the direction of the Argonne. . . . thick snow lay on the hilltops above this Forest of the Dead. The shells howled their monotonous and hideous melody, and from time to time, the sacred silence was rent by the burst of a machine-gun's fire . . . Nevertheless. The spirits of the men were everywhere very cheerful. Every dugout had its Christmas tree, and from all directions came the sound of rough men's voices singing our exquisite old Christmas songs.
[Walter] Kirchhoff, the concert singer, who was attached to our Headquarters Staff for a while as orderly officer, sang his Christmas songs on that same sacred evening in the frontline trenches of the 130th Regiment. And on the following day he told me that, some French soldiers who had climbed up their parapet had continued to applaud, until at last he gave them an encore. Thus amid the bitter realities of trench warfare, with all its squalor, a Christmas song had worked a miracle and thrown up a bridge from man to man."
There are many letters from the Young and Old, Queen Victoria and excerpts from her diaries in and around Christmas. We see her young and tender, visiting and extending kindness to Gypsies during Christmas. Her grief at the death of Prince Albert and her remembrance of his love for Christmas. Lots of interesting history here, for anyone, but especially for those who love Christmas.