31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively and stimulating!
Professor Ridley has written a fascinating book about Bertie-one of the most besmirched kings of England. Contrary to popular belief, which regarded the king as an immature playboy Ridley makes it clear that Bertie, who was much disliked by his mother Queen Victoria, was a much better king than many others and played a very active role after he became king in 1901. True,...
Published 22 months ago by Paul Gelman
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good
The book is very detailed in parts, perhaps inevitably, and so it is a long haul to read. But I would recommend it to anyhone interested in the Victorian era.
Published 18 months ago by Gordon Jones
Most Helpful First | Newest First
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn more about "Bertie" -He wasnt all bad!,
Excellent book about Bertie. Lots of unknown facts regarding him.Good reading for people who have pre=conceived ideas on the King!
5.0 out of 5 stars A biography fit for a King.,
There have been many biographies and memoirs of Edward VII (I now have 15 of them),ranging from the sanitized two-volume work by Sir Sidney Lee (from whom much important information was withheld) through to the admirable book by Sir Philip Magnus and even better publications by Christopher Hibbert and Giles St.Aubyn. "Bertie" by Jane Ridley had a long gestation period but it has been well worth the wait. The style is clear, often witty,and the contents highly informative, contradicting long held beliefs about certain aspects of Bertie's life - the truth about the cause of his cancellation of the Coronation being one, and making clear the background to some of his forays into foreign policy which have been fudged or misunderstood by earlier commentators.
One feels quite sorry for the way his mother misunderstood and under-rated him, and joyous at how he proved her wrong.
I found it irresistible and absorbing: anyone looking for "a-one-book-fits-all" biography of a fascinating man and King need look no further.
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT born on a sink estate?,
This is not my usual read, but I love Victorian/Edwardian architecture and jewellery and fashion so thought I'd give it a punt and I have to admit, I enjoyed it very much. I have to say, the lives of our royal family at this particular time would provide a rich source material for the Jeremy Kyle show. Bertie, a selfish, egotistical philistine, impervious to the sufferings of discarded mistresses (one cuckolded husband shot the ponies gifted by Bertie for (ahem) services rendered by his errant wife in front of her, then had her committed to a lunatic asylum) lurching from one scandal to another, would keep said show in prime time ratings for a very long while. And yet there is something compelling about him too.
Free from racial prejudice (although he would tear a strip off you for wearing the wrong tie or waistcoat to a function - I kid you not) blessed with the common touch and a patriot to boot; he then does something so crass one can understand his mother's concern should he ever inherit the throne and the strong republican feeling generated in popular feeling by the antics both of Victoria and Bertie. True to form, in spite of all his failings, the British love affair with Royalty won through at the end - when he died the common people turned out in droves to pay their respects. Not until Diana was public mourning so visible and sincere. "He belongs to us now" a simple shop girl is quoted as saying bringing a memorial of flowers bought from subsistence wages.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to have their interest piqued in Victorian/Edwardian history, my only criticism is that I'm sure 'Bertie' would have insisted the author use the proper mode to refer to him!
ps I also own Ask Sir James by Michaela Reid. Well worth the read if you can obtain a copy as it rounds out the relationships between Victoria and Albert's other children and life at court. I have also started reading Kate Hubbard's Serving Victoria which is proving to be very readable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting good read,
This is an excellent book which gives a great insight not only into the life of 'Bertie' but also his famed relationship with his Mother and family.Anyone old enough to remember the excellent series 'Edward VII' on tv years ago with Annette Crosby playing Victoria and Timothy West playing 'Bertie' will surely find this rather more researched but excellently written book a 'page turner'
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening,
Interesting book full of colourful detail which is now finally emerging about this rather overlooked King. Well worth reading for anyone interested in modern history, and how the current constitution and Monarchy came into being.
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing,
A well researched and thoroughly enjoyable account of the Monarch who brought the Royal Family into the vaulted position that it so rightly inhabits today.
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read - informative and enjoyable.,
It sheds a new light on the dynamics of the royal family during this period when Britain was at the zenith of its power.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars at least he was interesting,
I have read many books about King Edward and this had several interesting bits
I had not heard before. It is very easy to read, and in the end one wonders how he had time for
his Royal duties as his Private life was so full.
No doubt the very strict childhood was miserable and he rebelled against it. He seems to have been kind
and all Europe knew of his excellent manners in public at least. He did much more than he has been given
credit for, by bringing the Monarchy into the modern World and he believed that the King should be seen
and above all be a King for "All" his people.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Bertie' is , perhaps, a bore.,
The prison of royalty is well described by Jane Ridley; the claustrophobia, the loveless vacuum, the the primitive ceremony of it all. Her research is immaculate and admirable but inevitably her subject is repetitive in behaviour; 'Edward the Caresser' is predictable.
13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bertie deserves much Better,
I read Dr Ridley's new biography "Bertie" back to back with James Pope-Hennesey's 1959 biography "Queen Mary", which covers much of the same ground. Both books are written in an unusual style for a biographer: Dr Ridley's is informal and somewhat irreverend, whist Pope-Hennesey's is conversational and, at times, positively chatty. Both books do their best to add "colour" to the known facts and their styles make for easy reading. However, whilst Pope-Hennesey's book is almost pedantic in the accuracy of its facts, utterly assured in its grasp of matters Royal and fascinating in its revelations, Dr Ridley's is not. This is despite the fact that she has spent five years researching her subject in the Royal Archives. The numerous footnotes with which the text is littered support this.
Sadly, her text is also littered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies, misunderstandings and omissions. For example, on p 292 Dr Ridley states that HRH the Duchess of Teck was Princess Alexandra's cousin. She was not. She was The Prince of Wales's cousin and as for being on the "fringes of royalty" (p 293) she was the grandaughter of King George III. You don't get much more Royal than that. And whilst on the subject of Royal relations, in a footnote on p 297, Dr Ridley states that the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was Princess May's great aunt. She wasn't. She was the Duchess of Teck's sister and, therefore, Princess May's aunt. As for the footnoted chapter title on the same page, in which Dr Ridley states that she will refer from that point on to Daisy Brooke as Daisy Warwick, why does she then refer to her as Daisy Brooke on the following page? To make one such mistake might be be considered a misfortune, but...
Whilst some of these faults can be ascribed to sloppy editing, the overall impact of them is to undermine one's confidence both in the facts and in Dr Ridley's analysis of the facts. For example, referring to the "Wittlesbach depression" on p 259, Dr Ridley baldly states: "...the mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria, shot himself in 1886." The only subjective evidence of King Ludwig's "madness" - as opposed to eccentricity - was established by a Bavarian Government-appointed commission determined to legitimise his eviction from the Throne, not one of whose members actually examined the King. To make matters worse, the autopsy carried out on the King's body did not reveal any bullet wounds, although there has since been a wealth of anecdotal but unsubstantiated evidence to show that King Ludwig was murdered, possibly by gunfire. There is none to show that he committed suicide.
I suspect, too, that on at least some of the topics she covers, particularly anything to do with matters military or ceremonial (both of which were major obsessions for The Prince of Wales), Dr Ridley has an incomplete understanding of her subject. For example,on page 210 The Prince of Wales is described as "colonel-in-chief" (sic)of the 10th Hussars. That was The Queen: he was their "Colonel". Similarly, on page 229, he is described as being appointed "colonel-in-chief of the household cavalry" (sic). There is no such appointment. The Prince of Wales was in fact Colonel of the 1st Life Guards; on his accession he became Colonel-in-Chief of each of the three regiments of the Household Cavalry. Dr Ridley description of King Edward VII (see pp 348 & 379) wearing a "plumed helmet" must have the old boy, who was a stickler for dress,spinning in his grave. As all the photographs show he was, quite correctly, wearing a Field Marshal's cocked hat adorned with swans feathers. The piece de resistance, however, occurs on p 159 in Dr Ridley's description of the carriage procession that preceded the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral to mark The Prince of Wales's recovery from typhoid. Dr Ridley writes: "The Queen's landau was preceded by a sovereign's escort (sic) of seven open carriages..." Even the most ignorant Fleet Street hack knows that a Sovereign's Escort is a mounted miltary guard found by one or more of the regiments of the Household Cavalry - not a procession of carriages. Finally, Dr Ridley states quite incorrectly on p 347 that, following the death of Queen Victoria and prior to the Accession Council "Bertie" was still Prince of Wales. She clearly does not understand the concept at the heart of the British Constitution that the Throne is never vacant: "The Queen is Dead, Long Live the King". That is why the Royal Standard is NEVER flown at half mast.
On politics, too, Dr Ridley is distinctly free and easy in her commentary. How, for example, on p 245 can she describe Lord Randolf Churchill as "...the equally disreputable..." then a paragraph later describe him as a "rising star". As for "the Bismarcks (sic)" who appear on pp 253 and 261, who can she mean? As far as I know there was only one Chancellor Bismarck.
All of these errors are a pity for, what should have been an enjoyable read is, virtually from page 1, a constant source of irritation to anyone with a knowledge of the facts.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Bertie: A Life of Edward VII by Jane Ridley (Paperback - 3 Oct 2013)