Top critical review
31 people found this helpful
on 3 February 2010
This book was really disappointing. Some of it - the tax information, for example - is fascinating and initially rather appalling, but the huge holes in other parts of the book lead to profound scepticism. It just isn't possible to trust what they say, because even with my limited knowledge I can see massive mistakes, which are then built on to form impossible theses.
Example: it's claimed that the Royal Family were lying when they claimed letters between Queen Victoria and her daughter, the Prussian Empress, were recovered from Friedrichshof castle, the ancestral home of the Hessian royals, after WW2. The writers call it a completely implausible excuse for a secret visit, and state that it only makes sense as a coverup for far more incriminating, treasonable letters being retrieved, because in reality the officially-claimed letters would be held by the Kaiser, or another member of the Prussian royal family, not the Hessian. Problem is, Friedrichshof was built by the Prussian Empress when widowed - it's called after her husband, Friedrich - and as well as being her home it was the place where she collected all her possessions together into a massive private archive, library and museum. Her son, the Kaiser, hated her, and so she left the place to her daughter Margaret... who married into the Hessian royal family. The castle then became the main Hessian royal home. The letters in question would have had a very good chance of being there, in fact better than anywhere else. That is a simple matter of historical record. If you want to disprove an apparently odd statement, you need to investigate it first. It doesn't mean that treasonable letters weren't at issue, but if the logic is: an obvious lie was told, so why did it need to be? it matters.
They make sweeping statements such as this over and over again, and leap to extraordinary conclusions on little to no evidence. The factual errors are endless, and make the hypotheses even more unreliable. Another example: the Duke of Kent was killed in a plane crash in WW2. The flight apparently took a strange route. From this rather sparse information, the authors deduce that Rudolph Hesse was also on the plane, that he also died, and that the man imprisoned in Spandau was therefore a double, a modern-day Man In The Iron Mask. The other Nazis tried at Nuremberg presumably had no problem going along with this deception, and the millions who saw newsreels of the man over decades couldn't spot any problem either. Just... ridiculous. The whole conspiracy theorist breathlessness and self-righteousness that pervades the book is familiar to anyone who's read anti-MMR arguments, or anything by anyone who thinks that 911 was a CIA conspiracy, or that Anna Anderson was Anastasia, or... you get the idea.
There is also a huge amount of very selective quotation - if an exiled Frenchman, hostile to the British and miserable away from his homeland, makes vicious comments about the King, Queen, Prime Minister and entire wartime British population, cherry-picking the comment about the Queen and presenting it in isolation is not honest, even - in fact especially - if it supports your thesis about her. Selective quotation of this nature is rife, and very unfortunate.
There is room for a book on the shady financial dealings of the Windsors, as it's ridiculous that the royal family of a small North Atlantic island are better paid than all the other European monarchies put together, and their taxation dealings have certainly been questionable. But this book is shoddy and inaccurate, not to mention hysterical, and the unscholarly and weakly researched evidence makes it a waste of time. A missed opportunity, and a real shame.