Kitty Kelley’s book “The Royals” ends with the famous quote from historian Walter Bagehot about royalty: “In its mystery is its life. We must not let daylight in upon magic.”
But this book is pretty much 500 pages of letting in way more daylight than even royalty fans like me would like.
I read one review of this book that called it “the world’s longest US Weekly article,” and that’s pretty accurate. There are tons of anecdotes about the royal family, going back to Queen Elizabeth’s parents. Many outrageous things are posited, often with a gossipy tone and comments such as “there’s absolutely no evidence for this, but it was always assumed …” Kitty Kelley has written similar “tell alls” about Jackie O, Elizabeth Taylor, Nancy Reagan, and more, so this is her modus operandi.
The book talks about an affair that Prince Philip allegedly had, then in the next paragraph denies it — why include this, then? It also says that Princess Diana had a miscarriage. I’d never heard that, and looking a bit online, can’t find anything confirming it either. So, more speculation I suppose.
When Sarah “Fergie” was in the midst of a mess with her marriage to Prince Andrew, the book quotes Prince Philip as saying to her, “Look, you may like to know that there but for the grace of God go I.” I found myself wondering how the author had heard this exact quote (she even claims it was said “softly”).
So I’d take pretty much everything here with a grain of salt, but in 500 pages you’re bound to come across some witty bits. For instance, the Queen is described as “an obsessive-compulsive child, once described by her governess as too methodical and tidy — too dutiful for her own good.”
Or how about this vivid description of Prince Charles, allegedly from a classmate: “He walks into a room like a dark cloud in a double-breasted suit.”
The Year Diana Died
The book was published in 1997, the year Diana died, but prior to her death. This makes some parts of it rather poignant. For instance, the book discusses several parallels between Diana and Grace Kelly, and mentions them meeting. Of course, now there are more parallels: both died young, and in car crashes.
Also, the book discusses Andrew Morton working with Diana’s friends on the blockbuster book “Diana: Her True Story.” Of course, we now know that Diana herself was the source for that, and not just her friends. So it’s interesting when the book quotes Charles as reading an excerpt from the book and complaining, “I can just hear her saying those things. Those are her words, exactly.”
So, take it all with plenty of advisement. I did enjoy the book overall, as I’m a royal junkie. But I can’t totally recommend this, or vouch for its accuracy.