cover image Prince Albert: The Man Who Saved the Monarchy

Prince Albert: The Man Who Saved the Monarchy

A.N. Wilson. Harper, $35 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-274955-0

This lively, delicious portrait of Prince Albert (1819–1861) by distinguished biographer Wilson (Victoria) shows how much the United Kingdom owes to Queen Victoria’s adored consort (and cousin). While it took some convincing before the teenage queen fell for her German suitor, who struggled with English, they tied the knot and welcomed their first daughter in 1840, and Victoria’s feelings only grew from there. Drawing on new material released by the current monarch, the book delves liberally into private letters and diaries that reveal Victoria as a “besotted wife” with “passionate and uncontrolled” feelings that contrasted with Albert’s “more dutiful” ones. Well-educated by royal standards, Albert was intent on creating a legacy and making education available to his new countrymen. He spearheaded the Great Exhibition of 1851, a world’s fair that put the Industrial Revolution on display for all to enjoy; served as Chancellor of Cambridge; catalogued the works of Raphael; designed Osborne House; and fathered a brood of nine who were destined to rule Europe into the 20th century. Wilson’s Albert is a man whose “upper lip was seldom stiff,” who fretted about his hairline, and who was, unusually for royal fathers of the time, preoccupied with the details of his children’s upbringing. Anglophiles will relish the inside story of this royal personage. Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander Associates. (Aug.)