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Edward Windsor, Royal Enigma

Leigh, Wendy

12 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0671028251 / ISBN 13: 9780671028251
Published by Pocket Books, 1999
Condition: As New Hardcover
From Carol's Cache (Atlanta, GA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

The true story of the seventh in line to the British throne. First Pocket Books hardcover printing June 1999. Jacket protected in acid free clear plastic cover. 232 pages plus index. Bookseller Inventory # 003220

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Edward Windsor, Royal Enigma

Publisher: Pocket Books

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: First Edition - First Printing

About this title


The biography of one of the most elusive of the British royal family, the Queen's youngest child, Prince Edward.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One: Child Of The Modern Monarchy

On June 21, 1969, exactly thirty years, less two days, before the wedding of Edward Windsor and Sophie Rhys-Jones, Richard Cawston's documentary, Royal Family, was broadcast to forty million British viewers. The 105-minute film afforded a rapt audience their first ever glimpse of the Windsors' private lives. The resultant shock waves that shot through the British public can only be compared to those experienced by Americans when first lady Jacqueline Kennedy opened the White House to television cameras. Until the release of the film, the only television coverage of herself and her family that the Queen had permitted her adoring public was the broadcast of a select few ceremonial events, such as the State Opening of Parliament. Even then, the Queen sternly decreed that any close-ups of her were categorically forbidden.

The British monarchy dated back a thousand years and their private lives had always been shrouded in mystery. Rarely had the Queen been filmed without her crown or a formal hat, and never in relaxed, intimate circumstances. Nor had she ever been heard to speak, except when uttering scripted lines or elegantly crafted speeches. As far as the great British public were concerned, since time immemorial, the royal family were forever fixed in their imagination as smiling constantly, waving delicately, doing good works, and sailing through life with grace and fortitude, ever the perfect upper-class English family.

Two brilliantly gifted Australians were destined to shatter that image. In 1787, the British commenced the unjust practice of transporting convicts to Australia. There, they colonized the country, in the process founding a new nation. Kowtowing to the British royal family was not the birthright of Australians. In the second half of the twentieth century, Australians (unlike the British) were unaccustomed to worshipping the royal family uncritically. Moreover, many of them felt that the royal family needed to be brought down to earth and humanized. Thus it was that two Australians finally had the last laugh on the British establishment that had exiled many of their countrymen's forebears. Their names were Rupert Murdoch and William Heseltine. Murdoch, whose own story would play itself out in the years following the release of Royal Family, owned newspapers whose blunt reporting would ultimately cause the royal family's image to crack irrevocably.

But it was William Heseltine who, albeit unconscious of the long-term ramifications of his plan, unleashed the process of shattering, then re-forming the image of the Windsors. Heseltine, who in 1969 was appointed by the Queen as press secretary, had been privileged to see her privately in a more relaxed mode. He was charmed and resolved that the British public be afforded a similar view of the monarch -- one that might reassure them that the royals were not gods, but more like the average family. At the time, he said of the Queen and her family, "No one knew them as people; we needed to make them more rounded and human for the general public." His solution was Royal Family, which was also conceived to coincide with Prince Charles's investiture as Prince of Wales.

Between June 8, 1968, and May 18, 1969, a film crew would spend seventy-five days filming the royal family. Forty-three hours of film of the family in almost two hundred locations would be edited down to one hour and fifty minutes.

However, before Richard Cawston, head of BBC documentaries, embarked on the project, he enthusiastically informed David Attenborough, the controller of BBC 2, of his coup. Attenborough, a highly respected documentary maker, cautioned, "You're killing the monarchy, you know, with this film you're making. The whole institution depends on mystique and the tribal chief in his hut. If any member of the tribe ever sees inside the hut, then the whole system of tribal chiefdom is damaged and the tribe eventually disintegrates."

Thirty years later, Attenborough elaborated, "If you show that royalty is the same as we are, the consequence is that we no longer understand why we should invest royalty with all with which we do invest them. If you want to have symbols and images and you use a human being for that, you must cast that human being in a different role and remove him from everyday life."

As a child, the Queen studied The English Constitution, a classic work by Walter Bagehot, the respected Victorian economist and man of letters. Bagehot had written, "A family on the throne is an interesting idea also. It brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life. The influence of the Crown is not confined merely to political affairs. England is a domestic country. Here the home is revered and the hearth sacred. The nation is represented by a family -- the Royal Family -- and if that family is educated with a sense of responsibility and a sentiment of public duty, it is difficult to exaggerate the salutary influence they may exercise over a nation."

The Queen followed Bagehot's precepts in allowing her family to be perceived as an integral component of the monarchy. She since had, however, ignored one of Bagehot's most famous conclusions: "We must not let in the daylight upon magic." It was a mistake, he believed, to dilute the royal family's mystique. In making Royal Family, the Queen and her family had submitted themselves to the spotlight in a hitherto unprecedented fashion.

Following the advice of William Heseltine, the Queen and her entire family participated of their own volition in affording the general public the first-ever peek into their private lives. The Queen colluded in the shredding of the seven veils that had once cloaked her mystique, and the cataclysmic consequences would echo down the years.

For Edward Windsor, specifically, those consequences would be multifaceted. "The documentary gave the public a glimpse of the royals' private lives," said Guardian newpaper media commentator Roy Greenslade. "The public cast off their postwar deference and decided they had to know more about the royal family." The palace had opened Pandora's box. The tabloids and the paparazzi would become insatiable in their hunger for royal scoops. Edward's life, and that of his siblings, would henceforth be dogged by a pitiless and relentless media.

At the time of the documentary, the palace, heartened by what it initially perceived as the success of Royal Family, started fancying itself to be grand masters of public relations. With Royal Family, Buckingham Palace began its love affair with the press. Until then, public relations executives were not considered acceptable by the British aristocracy. In the years that followed Royal Family, public relations gradually grew to become a respected profession. This shift in perception ultimately made it possible for Edward Windsor to select a public relations executive, Sophie Rhys-Jones, as his bride, without her profession being seen as a drawback or igniting society's scorn.

Royal Family was the genesis of everything Edward Windsor, embryonic actor turned television producer-presenter, would become. The documentary shows the strands that would one day weave Edward's nature and influence his destiny.

He was four years old in July 1968, when filming began, was winsome and cuddlesome, with long eyelashes more befitting a princess than a prince. Although in the future many would cast aspersions on his masculinity, in Royal Family, Edward is "all boy."

The documentary first depicts Edward with his mother in a shop in the village of Ballater, seven miles away from the royal castle, Balmoral, in Craithie, Scotland. The shop, George Strachan Ltd., bears the legend, "General Merchants by Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen." The Queen, dressed in a Scottish

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