William & Catherine: Their Story, by Andrew Morton
This book qualifies as one of the sorts of books that have a great deal of popular appeal in Great Britain and among any place where the royal family of Great Britain is popular. In many ways, the author presents himself as someone who is fond of the monarchy in general, but also someone who has a great deal of love for gossip. As someone who wrote a well-known biography of Princess Diane, he is certainly interested in the more tabloid side of the royals and this book certainly is of that mold. As I note from time to time, I am a pretty openly admitted Anglophile  and therefore I have at least some intellectual interest in what goes on here despite the fact that as a patriotic American the internal politics of Great Britain are not necessarily of the greatest relevance to my own personal life. Be that as it may, this is a book that is well-calculated to take advantage of the favorable feelings about Britain’s Prince William and his commoner princess Catherine nee Middleton, who share one ancestor in one of the aristocratic generals of the English Civil War.
This particular book is written in an even-handed way and it demonstrates that the author is able to draw a great deal of reportage from those close to the royal family. He avoids naming names in certain aspects, like his sources as well as the names of those members of the royal establishment that had been unkind to Catherine, likely to avoid the problems of a British libel trial. Even so, this book of about 200 pages has a lot of photographs and goes back and forth between the perspective of William and that of Catherine that demonstrates both their fitness to each other as well as the struggles that made their relationship such a challenge. We see a William born as part of the Windsor line of succession and knowing how to get his own way and a Catherine that combines a strong sense of dignity with a steely determination that will likely help her husband’s future reign. The author captures the domesticity of their lives as a live-in couple before marriage, the struggle over the prince’s paranoia about the intrusiveness of the press that made it a difficult challenge for Catherine to build trust, and that English hostility towards social climbing that led Catherine and her sister to be withering called the Wisteria sisters.
Overall, this is a very good book and a quick read that captures the ambivalent feelings that many people have over the British royals, a feeling of pride in their accomplishments, a desire to know more about them that conflicts with their own understandable desire for at least some privacy, and an ambivalent feeling about the blend between appreciating the common touch of the more effective members of the royal family and a sense of hostility towards those who are seen as social climbing. The result is a compelling book that looks at the difficulty of forming enduring relationships and building families that also provides some hope that William and Catherine will be able to enjoy an enduring union that provides a great many royals with a common touch as well as the strength of character to endure being the face of the British monarchy in the 21st century. For those who are avoid royal watchers in the United States, this is a book written by a knowledgeable insider about the goings on of the House of Windsor that looks at one of the more important relationships in that family. Those who like this sort of book will likely like this book.
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