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a fresh look at Prince Eddy
on 12 March 2006
Andrew Cook sets out to have a fresh look on HRH Prince Albert Victor of Wales or popular known as Prince Eddy.
The prince was the eldest son of Edward VII. and Queen Alexandra and the elder brother of King George V. He already died in 1892. So he never became Prince of Wales (1901) or King (1910) as it had meant to be.
The prince seems to be largely forgotten (except for some history buffs) and his meager historical reputation is a bad one - stupid, involved in a homosexual scandal and suspected to be Jack the Ripper.
Andrew Cook has a different view of the Prince: popular and charismatic like the late Diana Princess of Wales, not guilty of any crimes history seems to believe he committed, a key role figure who would have made a fine king and would have changed the face of the British monarchy.
Quite opposing views: did Andrew Cook prove his point with his biography?
The book offers indeed a very interesting fresh look on the Prince. It is the first proper full fleshed biography; the life to this prince is not just a footnote in the biographies of his parents or this brother and his wife, Queen Mary, who had been Prince Eddy's fiancée. I feel that this is very positive.
Tat Prince Eddy was indeed not Jack the Ripper had been proved. His involvement in the homosexual Cleveland Street Scandal is open to debate. Andrew Cook writes in-depth about it and one wonders why if the Prince was not involved. Not very convincing!
For the argument that the Prince was not the brightest of persons the authors seems to believe that the education he received was inadequate (that is to say it was not Eddy's fault) or that the reputation was not deserved: Page 109 states "he who so notoriously reacted with indolence and inattention could spend long evenings concentrating on the complexities of whist, furiously energetic afternoons playing hockey or lacrosse, because these things mattered to him.
In my view not at all a great or convincing argument.
That he was charismatic and popular as Princess Diana is not proved at all. The author seems to be taken the usual dues to royalty as a real prove of being popular and loved by the population. On the other hand he states that "other than the Queen and the Princes and Princess of Wales ....the faces of the royal family were not well known (pages 132). So does he want to say that a basically unknown prince was as popular as the late Princess Diana? Does that make sense? My answer is simply no. For the aspect of charisma I could not find any prove of that.
The author states that Prince Eddy had made no mark on history as he done nothing remarkable or even reprehensible (page 278). Yes, this is indeed true (quite different from Princess Diana I may add). Mr. Cook continues this statement by adding that the Prince was "spotless" and because goodness is dull, he was easily forgotten. I feel this carries the notion too far. I rather feel as there was indeed not much about this Prince he was forgotten. The whole book did not give one single aspect why this Prince should be remembered as somebody remarkable who would have made a great king.
However, I would grant Mr. Cook to have been proving that the historic reputation could have been better. Eddy was liked by his family and circle. He was properly a charming, but rather uninteresting person. Nice company but not much more.
That he had the stuff for a great king, I cannot see this.
It was interesting to read this book and see if Andrew Cook can prove his basic points. I believe he did not do this as he seems to be "obsessed" by the idea of Prince Eddy being something more and better than historic reputation had it. Nevertheless I enjoyed reading the book.