Duncan, Andrew. The Reality of Monarchy.

Rev. ed. London: Pan Books, 1973. 381p.

The author, a skilled journalist, interviewer, and script writer, spent most of a year following the Queen and the Royal Family around, beginning with the opening of Parliament in October 1968 and ending with the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales the following July.

There were two state visits overseas, to Brazil and Chile in November and to Austria in May, in aid of British exports, plus several visits to Buckingham Palace or Windsor by foreign heads of state. There were innumerable speeches and tours and opera nights, and there was Ascot and Maundy Thursday, and there were the first adult public appearances by the two eldest of the Queen’s children. Prince Philip could be expected to put his foot in it occasionally, and various senior members of the Royal Household (nearly all of whom are individually profiled for the first time) were constantly on the run. It’s a fascinating and very informative look behind the scenes at the job the modern monarchy does in Great Britain (and at its actual cost to the taxpayer), and Duncan is at pains to document his comments and figures.

But for present-day readers, there’s also an historical aspect. The Britain of a generation ago — before Thatcher and Blair, before Princess Diana — is almost unimaginable to readers under forty. The Queen Elizabeth of 1968 seems closer, almost, to Queen Victoria. Some present-day writer could do today’s Brit a service by undertaking a similar project and comparing his findings to Duncan’s.

Published in: on 14 July 2012 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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