Gossip fiends will love The Palace Papers by Tina Brown

Author Tina Brown has exceptionally strong credentials so the information about the royal family contained in her new book The Palace Papers: Inside The House of Windsor, The Truth and The Turmoil must be true. Right? As a former magazine editor as well as a friend and confidante of dozens, even hundreds of famous people, Brown is well-qualified to dish the dirt on the Royal Family. Her previous books include the New York Times bestseller The Diana Chronicles, and The Vanity Fair Diaries.

After reading The Palace Papers, I’m glad my teenage fantasy of marrying Prince Charles never came true, or, particularly, my later crush on the young and handsome Prince Andrew. I’d be in a right pickle now. There are so many political, domestic, and social constraints on the royal family that even the opportunity and thrill of wearing all those gorgeous gowns and jewels hardly compensates for the stress and aggravation.

Brown divides her book into easy-to-digest segments about the most controversial family members over the past twenty years. Her research is impeccable and extensive. She provides plenty of historical and political background to give each story context and meaning. Rumours are distinguished from fact and first-hand observations are credited and verified.

In Chapter 2 titled Sex and Sensibility, we are given the full background and up-to-date details about Camilla Parker-Bowles. Brown is objective in her telling of the story and after reading a detailed chronological unfolding of the love affair between Camilla and Prince Charles, we come away with a much better understanding of why their love endured and the strengths Camilla brings to their partnership.

We all know there are two sides to every story and while Princess Diana captured the hearts of the people, she was also an expert dramatist and manipulator. For all her excellent qualities, which are well-known and documented, she was a troubled young woman from a troubled family that offered little in the way of mentoring a solid family life to strengthen her foundation.

Both Princes William and Harry were royally screwed up not only by the early death of their mother but by the volatile relationship between their parents before she died and the ensuing struggles afterward. While William gained stability and love through his marriage to Catherine, Harry gained a kind of family in army life, where he thrived. But, as the ‘spare’, Harry inevitably suffered many of the same challenges experienced by Princess Margaret two generations earlier.

Brown is unsparing in her assessment of the Duke of Hazard, Prince Andrew.

This brings us to the other second-in-line, for a while. Browne calls her chapter about Prince Andrew, Duke of Hazard. She has scarcely a complimentary thing to say about Andrew and his behaviour throughout his life justifies her position. From his early Koo Stark days to his mid-life romps with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Andrew has done little to add honour to his position. Brown paints him as intellectually lacking, boorish, thoughtless, and self-centred. Not a nice picture.

The Palace Papers describes in great detail the evolution of the courtship and marriage of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. We have a disillusioned, ambitious American actress and a damaged, somewhat naive royal prince. The combination is unpredictable and at times, volatile. Brown presents their struggles in an objective way and we are left with a better understanding of why things are turning out the way they are. Were they too impulsive and short-sighted? That remains to be seen.

Tina Brown and her equally famous late husband, Sir Harold Evans.

Brown was born in Berkshire, U.K. and her literary credits include being former editor-in-chief of Tatler, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker. She was also founder of The Daily Beast and married her late husband, Sir Harold Evans at Grey Gardens, home of Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and his wife Sally Quinn. Sir Harold Evans’s own career in journalism is impressive. In addition to managing many high-profile publications, he was editor for many years of The Sunday Times in the U.K. Grey Gardens is also the well-known former home of the Beale family, when it was occupied by Jackie Onassis’s aunt Big Edie and her daughter, Little Edie. So, you see, Brown is well-connected.

No detail is spared in Brown’s telling of stories about the shenanigans of the royal family over the last twenty years or so. In fact, her research is so extensive and thorough, she is able to quote close first-hand personal contacts as sources of reference. Her acknowledgements and resources total hundreds of pages at the end of the book.

Four and a half years ago I read Tina Brown’s memoir The Vanity Fair Diaries and enjoyed every page. You can click here for my review. I devoured The Palace Papers. It is a rather lengthy book and I read it with a sense of morbid fascination that I’m not proud of. We thought we knew all there was to know about these high-profile members of the royal family, but Brown exposes even more in The Palace Papers. I’m rethinking some of my opinions. It’s a juicy read and a lovely way to escape the depressing news of the world saturating our media sources these days. Pour yourself a nice cup of tea, sit back and be thankful we didn’t marry into the royal family. We dodged a bullet.

If you are unable to obtain a copy of The Palace Papers by Tina Brown or The Vanity Fair Diaries from your local bookstore or library, click on the image of the book to order at an economical price delivered right to your door directly from Amazon. 

(Disclosure: I may receive a teeny, tiny commission. Thank you.)

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6 months ago

My kind of book 😉

6 months ago

Looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the critique.