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OpinionReviews

Royal Central’s editorial team share their favourite royal nonfiction picks


Our editorial team has put together their favourite nonfiction books on the royals as suggestions for our readers. Find out their picks below!

Kristin Contino, Chief Reporter

The Other Side of the Coin by Angela Kelly: The Queen’s dresser was given unprecedented permission to write this book, full of gorgeous, behind-the-scenes photos of The Queen’s wardrobe. I really enjoyed hearing about Kelly’s life working for Her Majesty and the ins-and-outs of her daily tasks. If you’re at all interested in royal fashion, or what it’s like to work for the Royal Family, this is a must-read.

The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford: On the flip side, The Queen’s nanny, Marion “Crawfie” Crawford, was not given the type of permission Kelly had been granted. In fact, she was shunned from the Royal Family for the rest of her life after this book was published. Given the innocuous and glowingly positive content, the banning of Crawfie seems outrageous these days. But it’s well worth a read to hear the details about taking care of a young Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret; the time they spent at Windsor Castle during WWII is especially interesting.

Brittani Barger, Deputy Editor

Days at Drottningholm by Princess Christina: I lucked out and got this book from Moniek. She had found it in a Dutch book shop and sent it to me. It’s written by Princess Christina, Mrs Magnuson – the youngest of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden’s older sisters. This book has more photos than text, but it provides some good insight from a royal on Drottningholm Palace and her ancestors who inspired it. Princess Christina also shares family memories which are lovely to read; she also shares some personal family photographs that those who follow the Swedish Royal Family would enjoy!

Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor: I read this a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. Queen Noor of Jordan wrote her autobiography and opened up about her life and becoming royal. She’s an American queen, and as an American, it was a book I had been looking forward to reading. There aren’t a lot of books out there in English on the modern royals in the Middle East, so this was a nice change of pace from reading about the British Royal Family and European royal families.

Moniek Bloks, Assistant Editor

Hermine: An Empress in Exile by Moniek Bloks: Though it is perhaps a little bit vain to mention myself in this list, writing about Hermine has been an eyeopener for me. She is often ignored in the history book as she was only the second wife of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, who was by then in exile in the Netherlands. However, she is quite an interesting figure in her own right, working behind the scenes and with the Nazis to regain power in Germany. (To be released in December 2020)

The Forbidden Wife by Julia Abel Smith: My most recent read is about Lady Augusta Murray, who married Prince Augustus Frederick, later Duke of Sussex, the sixth son of King George III. However, as the marriage was in contravention to the Royal Marriages Act 1772, she was not recognised as his wife. They went on to have two children together, though they would eventually separate. After a long and fruitless fight to be recognised as Duchess of Sussex, she and her children received a last name and a pension.

Lydia Starbuck, News Editor

Matriarch: Queen Mary and the House of Windsor by Anne Edwards: This is one of my go-to royal reads and I’ve spent many happy hours engrossed in its pages. It’s a well researched, detailed biography of the woman who helped found the House of Windsor and it brings its subject to life, highlighting Mary’s energy, ambition and determination and presenting a stark contrast to the rather two dimensional modern image of her as a dour stentorian. It’s also an interesting spotlight on the many social changes that took place in her long life. Mary is a truly fascinating woman and this is a truly fascinating read.

Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr by Linda Porter: This riveting book on a brilliant consort highlights the very real ambition of Katherine Parr and her largely self-propelled rise from life as a minor noblewoman to Queen of England. Linda Porter’s research is outstanding and makes good use of Katherine’s own writings to demonstrate her formidable character and achievements. If you think queen number six was just a dowdy nursemaid with a thing for tending ulcerated legs, this book will reveal the real woman behind the tag of survivor as it analyses Katherine’s role as writer, religious reformer and politician in her own right.

Jess Ilse, Editorial Assistant

The Diana I Knew: Loving Memories of the Friendship Between an American Mother and Her Son’s Nanny Who Became the Princess of Wales by Mary Robertson: There are countless books about the late, great Diana, Princess of Wales, and they all boast varying levels of accuracy and access to their main subject. What separates Mary Robertson’s memoirs is that her singular focus is on the young nanny she hired to watch her son after the family moved to London in 1980 for a job opportunity. Little did Mary know that her nanny was Lady Diana Spencer, and soon to be the Princess of Wales! This delightful memoir charts their friendship throughout the years and includes wonderful anecdotes about the royal wedding, how they visited each other in spare moments of royal visits, and the sad day of Diana’s funeral. It’s a tender look at a loving friendship, and one I highly recommend.

Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier by J. Randy Taraborrelli: Grace Kelly is one of my favourite actresses, and her trajectory from Oscar-winning actress to Princess of Monaco has always fascinated me. In Once Upon a Time, Taraborrelli weaves together the stories of Grace and Rainier, separate and together, for better and for worse, and spanning decades as they become one of the most prominent royal couples of mid-century Europe.

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.