This Is a Book for People Who Love the Royals


By Rebecca Stoeker

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From the line of succession to the Queen's corgis, this charming book is a perfect primer on the fascinating world of British royalty.
Full of fun facts and surprising stories to delight longtime enthusiasts and new fans alike, This Is a Book for People Who Love the Royals digs into all of the aspects of everyone's favorite monarchy. Uncover the history of British royalty and answers to common questions — like how royal titles work, who is in the line of succession, and why the guards at Buckingham Palace never smile — as well as deep dives into fashion, jewelry, and other palace perks. Profiles of popular family members, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, Prince William and Kate Middleton, and more, add personality to this irresistible celebration of the crown.


Royal History

Queen Victoria & Prince Albert

The British royal family traces its roots back almost a millennium. This is too small of a book to cover that entire familial history, much as we would love to! But many would argue that Queen Victoria’s reign is the proper place to begin the story of the modern royal family. Queen Victoria is similar to the current sovereign, in that neither of them was ever supposed to rule. Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of King George III, and her father died before she was even a year old. Victoria’s grandfather died before her first birthday as well, and his third son William IV (Victoria’s uncle) ascended the throne. Neither William IV nor his elder brothers produced any surviving, legitimate heirs, so at barely eighteen years of age, after the death of her uncle, Victoria became queen of the United Kingdom.

Luckily, Queen Victoria was fortunate enough to marry for love. She had met her cousin Prince Albert in 1836 at the age of seventeen when he traveled from Germany to visit England. Her uncle, King Leopold I of the Belgians—who also happened to be Prince Albert’s uncle—was very much in favor of the pairing and encouraged it—you can think of him as a bit of a royal matchmaker. Victoria wrote to Leopold on June 7, 1836, to thank him for arranging the meeting, saying, “Allow me, then, my dearest Uncle, to tell you how delighted I am with him, and how much I like him in every way. He possesses every quality, that could be desired to render me perfectly happy… He has besides, the most pleasing and delightful exterior and appearance, you can possibly see.”

It was not until October 15, 1839, however, that the pair became engaged—with Queen Victoria asking Prince Albert to marry her, since she held the higher royal status. Prince Albert was equally smitten with the queen, penning a romantic note in November following their engagement that gushed, “Your image fills my whole soul. Even in my dreams I never imagined that I should find so much love on earth.” The pair married on February 10, 1837, in the Chapel Royal at St. James’ Palace.

The royal couple would go on to have nine children: Princess Victoria (Vicky), Prince Albert (Bertie), Princess Alice, Prince Alfred, Princess Helena, Princess Louise, Prince Arthur, Prince Leopold, and Princess Beatrice. Several married into the various royal families of Europe, with Queen Victoria eventually gaining the charming unofficial title “Grandmother of Europe.” By 1914, her grandchildren were either monarchs or married to monarchs in eight European countries.

Today, monarchs all over Europe trace their ancestry directly back to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, including both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of Great Britain, King Felipe VI of Spain, King Harald V of Norway, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Sadly, the royal love story would end tragically, with Prince Albert dying in 1861 at the relatively young age of forty-two. Victoria would go on living another forty years, but would never recover from his death, grieving him for the rest of her life.

King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra

Prince Albert Edward, known as “Bertie” to the family, was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He married Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863. The royal couple would go on to have six children, with five living to adulthood: Prince Albert Victor, Prince George, Princess Louise, Princess Victoria, and Princess Maud. The marriage was not a very happy one, with Bertie having numerous extramarital affairs, the most enduring of which was with Alice Keppel (interestingly, Keppel would have a great-granddaughter with even more royal connections: Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall). Bertie became King Edward VII upon his mother’s death in 1901. His reign was relatively short. After decades as the Prince of Wales, waiting in the wings to finally ascend the throne, he passed away on May 6, 1910, after ruling only nine years.

King George V & Queen Mary

The heir to the throne should have been Prince Albert Victor, known as Prince Eddy, but the young prince had died at the age of twenty-eight, on January 14, 1892, after contracting influenza and pneumonia. Prince Eddy had become engaged to his cousin, Princess May of Teck, about a month before on December 3, 1891 (both were great-grandchildren of King George III). Queen Victoria had been very much in favor of the match and delighted with the prospect of Princess May as a granddaughter-in-law. When Prince Eddy asked Princess May to marry him, it was the first time the pair had ever been alone together. While Princess May was shocked and distressed by the prince’s death, it is difficult to gauge how much she could have truly loved him, since the two had spent so little time together.

The burden of being third in line to the throne—and thus the successor to the ultimately short-reigned King Edward VII—suddenly shifted from Prince Eddy to Prince George. With his elder brother’s death, his marriage suddenly took on tantamount importance. It was vital that he wed and produce an heir to continue the royal line. The public was very fond of Princess May, and both the British people and the royal family were in favor of her becoming engaged to Prince George. It was understandably a rather awkward situation for the two at first. But over the course of many months, as they shared their grief over Eddy’s death and exchanged many friendly letters, the relationship blossomed into a romance. Prince George asked Princess May to marry him sixteen months after Eddy’s death. The couple joined in matrimony on July 6, 1893—another successful love match for Victoria’s line.

The two went on to have six children: Prince Edward (known as “David” in the family), Prince Albert (known as “Bertie”), Princess Mary, Prince Henry, Prince George, and Prince John. The elder Prince George ascended the throne upon his father’s death in 1910, and the couple became King George V and Queen Mary. The pair helped guide the nation through the sorrows and hardships of World War I and were also responsible for a stylistic evolution for the monarchy—changing the name of the royal family from the German-sounding House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the more English, patriotic-sounding House of Windsor.

King Edward VIII

Prince Edward, the eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary, became King Edward VIII upon his father’s death in 1936, but would reign for less than a year—never even having a coronation. Why, you might wonder? Edward had never wanted to be king; in fact, the very idea terrified him. In 1931, he had met an American divorcee, Wallis Warfield Simpson, who was married to her second husband, Ernest Simpson, at the time. The pair would eventually go on to have a passionate affair, and by 1936, Edward was determined to marry Wallis. However, as king he would also become the head of the Church of England and would therefore never be allowed to marry a divorced woman.

A few months after Edward became king, his controversial relationship with Wallis became public. While he had been popular as the Prince of Wales and subsequently as King Edward VIII, the public did not support the match with Mrs. Simpson—to put it lightly. Public and political pressure mounted for him to either give up his relationship with her or abdicate. But Edward was besotted with Wallis and insisted on marrying her. He made history on December 11, 1936, when he announced his abdication, declaring in a radio address to the public, “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.” The couple went on to marry in France six months later, becoming known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

King George VI & Queen Elizabeth

No one would be more affected by King Edward VIII’s abdication than his younger brother Prince Albert (Bertie) and his young family. Bertie was married with two young daughters when Edward abdicated. He had grown up as a shy, quiet boy with a persistent stammer. The idea of being king was in many ways as frightening and repugnant to him as it was to his elder brother, but growing up, the chances of Bertie ever becoming king had seemed exceedingly slim.

In 1916, Bertie met his future wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, though neither would recall that instance. They met again at a ball at the Ritz Hotel in June 1918, and many more times over the next few years. The prince was drawn to Elizabeth’s close, informal, and fun-loving family—which, as you might imagine, stood in stark contrast to the usual tradition and rigidity of the royal family. The pair began writing to each other late in 1920. By early 1921, it was clear that Bertie was besotted with Elizabeth. His parents very much enjoyed Elizabeth’s company and were both in favor of the match. Elizabeth, on the other hand, needed a bit more convincing! It would take three proposals to persuade her to accept the prince’s hand. The pair finally became engaged in January 1923 and were married at Westminster Abbey on April 26 of that year.

The couple became known as the Duke and Duchess of York. Their eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, was born on April 21, 1926. She was adored by her parents and both sets of grandparents, but none of them would have dreamed she would one day become the monarchy’s longest-reigning queen! Her sister, Princess Margaret Rose, was born on August 21, 1930. The family of four enjoyed a pleasant domestic life at 145 Piccadilly in London. They were very close and truly loved spending time together. However, this idyllic life was brought to an abrupt end with Edward’s abdication in December 1936.

Prince Albert, though terrified of being king and extremely distressed by his brother’s decision, understood the importance of duty. He became King George VI immediately following his elder brother’s stepping down. Not only had his life changed drastically, but his wife who had originally questioned whether she could handle the pressure of marrying into the royal family at all now found herself as queen consort. Their daughter Princess Elizabeth was only ten years old when she suddenly became heiress presumptive to the throne. The young family that had lived a relatively private and cozy life together was thrust into the spotlight and forced to move to Buckingham Palace.

The new king did not have a lot of time to adapt to his new role before an even bigger crisis hit the country. The rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism in Germany began to threaten Europe in the mid to late 1930s, and as time passed, it became clear that Hitler would need to be stopped by force. Germany invaded Poland in early September of 1939, and on September 3, Britain declared war on Germany, just twenty-one years after the end of World War I.

The king and queen were now faced with the daunting prospect of leading a nation at war. Throughout the war, the royal couple worked hard to boost morale whenever and wherever they could. Their two young daughters were moved to Windsor Castle for their safety, as London endured constant air raids. Even Buckingham Palace did not escape the devastation and was bombed on September 13, 1940, while the king and queen were in residence. While a horrifying experience, the queen admitted that it allowed her to relate more easily to countless other Londoners who had seen their homes and businesses destroyed by the Luftwaffe.

The war in Europe finally ended with Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945. It had been years longer than most had predicted and was the deadliest war in human history. The bravery, resolve, and kindness of the royal pair throughout the war years had won the hearts of the British people. While the king and queen were anxious to return to a more “normal” life, the war had taken a heavy toll on the king’s health, and their happiness would be cut painfully short. On February 6, 1952, King George VI passed away unexpectedly in his sleep at Sandringham House in Norfolk. His daughter, Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, were on a royal tour in Kenya when she received the news. Shocked and devastated, she was immediately flown back to Britain and became Queen Elizabeth II—at only twenty-five.

Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Philip

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was the first granddaughter of King George V and Queen Mary. She was doted on as a child and in some ways seemed destined for the crown no one predicted she would ever wear. She was a serious and dutiful child, unlike her younger sister Princess Margaret, who was fun-loving and spoiled.

Princess Elizabeth first met Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark on a visit to Dartmouth Naval College in July 1939, when she was thirteen and he was a handsome eighteen-year-old naval cadet. Princess Elizabeth was immediately smitten with the dashing Philip, and the pair began to exchange letters. Their correspondence continued throughout the war years. Her parents were concerned about her young age and the fact that she had not dated anyone else. They also wondered how the public would feel about Philip’s lineage, including the fact that he was not a British subject. But Elizabeth was determined to marry the man she loved, and in August 1946, she accepted Philip’s proposal.

After they became engaged, Prince Philip wrote to Elizabeth’s mother, Queen Elizabeth, and said, “I am sure I do not deserve all the good things which have happened to me.… To have fallen in love completely and unreservedly makes all one’s personal and even the world’s troubles seem small and petty.” It truly was a love match on both sides.

Elizabeth’s parents insisted, however, that the couple wait to formally announce their engagement until Elizabeth had turned twenty-one. In the meantime, she accompanied her parents and sister on a tour of South Africa. During their separation, Prince Philip became a naturalized British citizen and was no longer styled as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark but instead Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. He also joined the Church of England. The young couple continued their correspondence throughout the tour, falling more in love in spite of the separation—for these young royals, absence truly did make the heart grow fonder.

Their engagement was officially revealed on July 9, 1947. The announcement from Buckingham Palace read: “It is with the greatest pleasure that the King and Queen announce the betrothal of their dearly beloved daughter the Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN son of the late Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Andrew [Princess Alice of Battenberg] to which union the King has gladly given his consent.” The pair was married on November 20, 1947, at Westminster Abbey.


On Sale
Oct 13, 2020
Page Count
184 pages
Running Press

Rebecca Stoeker

About the Author

Rebecca Stoeker is an educator, historian, and royal enthusiast. Her research interests include classic Hollywood, the British royal family, and the US home front during World War II. After receiving a Masters in the United Kingdom, she returned to her native United States to teach high school history. Rebecca lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

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