on 14 September 2011
It may be a guilty pleasure but I've enjoyed Kitty Kelly's books in the past. His Way was an almost surgical dissection of Sinatra and Jackie Oh thankfully trashed the Kennedy hype. However as a warts and all saga of a family who still believe they're defending (the) faith a lot of it feels like reheated gossip and conjecture.
But the real problem here is the sources. It's not whether they're lying it's the equal weight given to them. Thus we have endless supporting quotes from worthless trash like Taki and Paul Johnson to which we're meant to nod sagely. The parliamentary outcries of Dennis Skinner and someone called Anthony Benn (surely it's either Tony or Anthony Wedgewood) are supposed to mean that the political establishment is rising up as one to proclaim a republic. And when all else fails a joyless pun pretending to be a Sun headline stands as proof of what the man on the Clapham omnibus is thinking. Plus an endless parade of unnamed 'close friends' and palace insiders provide a lot of amusement but generate more heat than light.
I'm not saying it's a bad read, enjoy it by all means but don't inhale. I gather the powers that be originally banned its publication in the UK. They needn't have bothered: The anti-roylists (and I include myself here) will want to be citizens rather than subjects even if Margaret and Fergie had taken holy orders. And the pros will continue adoring the monarchy regardless of the queen mum's political views or the contents of Diana's handbag.
on 27 December 2015
I love biographies, especially when they are well researched.
This book is wonderful - it gives you a great insight view into the British Royal Family ... and i promise you, you won't be disappointed !!!
Kitty Kelley has done an amazing job with all the details and stories she has brought together to write this book, and i was so impressed that I ordered two more copies to give as presents.....
From the first page to the last you are spellbound and you never stop thinking "WOW" ...as there are so many new details your learn about the British Royal Family ...
I am so pleased with this book that i shall now order my next Kitty Kelley book - as she has found in me a new fan to her style and knowledge as how to put a story together.
on 20 April 2011
I ended up reading far more of this book than I expected to.. there is something undeniably interesting about badmouthing famous people. The main drawbacks of this book are that Kitty Kelly appears to be driven mainly by bile and spleen. Almost every sentence contains a sneer, and after a while it gets wearing. Further, it eventually achieves the opposite of the effect intended, and engenders sympathy in the reader for the royal family which they may or may not deserve. However bad they are, they cannot possibly be worse than the book's writer.
Read the book by all means but don't bother to believe any of the statements in it. They are either public record or completely false, or just completely unverifiable but still presented as facts. I read most of it but ended up wanting to handle the book with gloves on
on 4 August 2013
After reading it I have to ask, why are we supporting this bunch? The book makes it plain they're an expensive and bizarre anachronism. One criticism, the subject of paedophilia, so often associated with the Royals, wasn't touched upon. Was this by accident, did the subject never come up, or was it by deliberate ommission? Whichever, all monarchists should read this factual and entertaining book. I doubt they'll be monarchists for long!
on 21 June 2000
This was rather like a Private Eye gossipy expose of the Royal Family. Parts of it are very funny, but seem more like a Spitting Image version than the real thing. Controversial bit now-I work in mental health- and Diana's longing to be loved keeps reminding me of so many working class East End children that I work with, who also came from broken homes and are emotionally very needy, as she was. If she hadn't been beautiful would anyone have taken her part, or bought this book?
You need mental strength to live in a goldfish bowl and I don't know how many of us would be able to withstand the degree of intrusion into our lives that the Royal Family have to withstand.
This book is about mutual incomprehension: mass society cannot fathom a family built around duty and loyalty and they-in turn-were outplayed in the publicity stakes by someone who did not share their values. On the surface, it is funny, but at a deeper level, it's a tragic document in some ways. It says as much about us as them.
on 11 July 2011
THE ROYALS (1997) by Kitty Kelley is one explosive book. An unusual one at that, because it explodes with the truth - and a little cock-eyed speculation Kelley garnered at the time which in today's light is laughable. I'll get to that in a moment. Also, there is a newer edition (2010) which I haven't read ... I own the original hardcover. So it is easy to forget this book was written before Diana's death, when the future of the British monarchy was being raked over the coals of uncertainty.
Kelley is as ruthless as she is accurate with her facts. This book is about the House of Windsor - which I wish she had put in her title - beginning with a few deft slams at King George V. After that it's full steam ahead, with Kelley slashing at King George VI and the Queen Mother; she concludes her book with incredibly accurate yet mean-spirited swipes-n-snipes at Fergie and Diana.
Perhaps many of these acid-tinged writings are deserved. The world certainly deserves the truth of that comical royal family hidden behind the curtain, which Thomas Paine wrote would make people collapse in laughter if the curtain were to be pulled back.
An example of some of Kelley's weird journalistic instinct is her insistence that the Queen would take some drastic action regarding the heir to the throne. First Kelley suggests the Queen would bypass Charles in favor of his sister - an absurd notion even in 1997 - then later, Kelley suggests that the Queen has an agreement with Parliament. The agreement is that upon the Queen's death, the monarchy would be disestablished and Parliament would then go on to elect its first president.
Aside from these thankfully few odd glimpses into the future, Kelley is spot-on with her observations, facts and quotes. Moving along like a streamlined surface-to-air missile, with sharp, short sentences and well-ordered paragraphs, she peels away the layers of the Windsor Onion. Nothing like this is done these days - with the public slavishly following every stupid little adventure of Prince William and his new wife Kate (Duchess of Cambridge), it's hard to envision a time when a book like Kelley's was accepted.
Kelley really delivers. It is not just juicy gossip, though much of it seems that way; Kelley has fact-checked herself into an unassailable position. While there is clearly no love lost, Kelley awards respect whenever respect is due: she praises Prince Andrew, for example, though he has been viewed by others as a 'deadbeat dad'. I especially liked Kelley's exposure of Diana, Diana's rather hateful and imbalanced personality, and the story of how Diana and Fergie ran to each other's comfort once they had been royally ditched. Excellent reading all around, I say.
Christopher Hitchens, in 1997 a columnist for "Vanity Fair", downplayed Kelley's book and relieved tensions that it might have truly explosive revelations. It does have revelations, and no, not a lot of people know about these facts. Kelley's material is more cogent today than ever, because so much of it has been forgotten. Though she is American writing as a project for "People" magazine, Kelley shines more brightly than any other royal biographer I have ever read.
Yes, I think Kelley wrote with a tiny ounce of bile - was it necessary to seem so nasty toward the Family? In fact, she does it perfectly, with enough bile in accordance with her facts and what those facts warranted.
She writes the truth, and it is just too bad they had already shipped this book to the stores when Diana was killed. In any case, buy it and read it. It is the best biography of the Windsors you'll ever read - because it dispenses with the bull and gets down to brass tacks. How about that - I finally got to use "bull" and "tacks" in the same sentence.