The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince

Jane Ridley, Author
Jane Ridley. Random, $35 (752p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6255-3
Reviewed on: 09/23/2013
Release date: 12/03/2013
Open Ebook - 548 pages - 978-0-8129-9475-9
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-13367-8
Paperback - 726 pages - 978-0-8129-7263-4
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After researching in the royal archives at Windsor Palace for more than five years, Ridley, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and professor of history at Buckingham University, wove together this marvelously rich biography of Edward VII (1841–1910). Called Bertie by his family, Edward’s inner life is teased out by Ridley through the correspondence of those around him. The resulting portrait is remarkably thorough, quite a feat considering the bulk of information that comes from the colossal, dramatic, and one-sided diaries and letters of Bertie’s mother, Queen Victoria (1819–1901). Victoria more often than not disapproved of Bertie and the archives reveal that this neglected child was driven by the need to be worthy of his parents. Continually dismissed, he becomes a closed-off youth, taking great joys where he could find them—far away from Victorian respectability. Ridley shows that for as much as Bertie is portrayed as a slovenly gambler and womanizer, by the time he ascended to the throne in 1901, at age 59, he had matured to play a significant role in reforming Britain’s monarchy. Readers both general and specialized will delight in Ridley’s work; it raises the bar for royal biographies to come. (Dec.)
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