cover image Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown

Anne Glenconner. Hachette, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-306-84636-6

Glenconner, former lady-in-waiting to England’s Princess Margaret, provides a rare behind-the-scenes look at the British royal family in this heartbreaking and engrossing memoir. Born in 1932, the eldest child of the future Earl of Leicester and “the greatest disappointment on behalf of her sex,” an entrepreneurial Glenconner found herself “in a great many odd circumstances” growing up, including a stint selling pottery traveling from town to town, on her way to adulthood. In 1953, Glenconner served as maid of honor at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, and in 1971, Princess Margaret invited her to be a lady-in-waiting, a position she held until Margaret’s death in 2002. Throughout this time, Glenconner met presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and hobnobbed with celebrities including David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Raquel Welch at Glenconner’s husband’s private Caribbean island. Glenconner’s an entertaining writer, even as she describes being married to the volatile but charming Colin Tennant for 54 years, through his tantrums, absences, and affairs. She becomes wistful when she writes of suffering through one of her children’s drug addiction, another’s death to AIDS, and one’s near-fatal motorcycle accident that left him in a coma for months. This memoir of life amid British royalty is full of understated wit and charm. (Mar.)