Royal Reads

Well, today’s the day! The royal wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton. For those of you who have been up since 3am, I admire your dedication. Along with the other lazy people, I’ll be watching it later this evening. In doing so, I hope to postpone the inevitable let down that comes after such a large event.

But really, is it that inevitable? Maybe we can keep the mood going by reading, listening, and watching stories about other royal loves. The following list is sure to give us even more to think about after we see the happy couple on their big day.

The queen’s lover, by Vanora Bennett, tells the story of Catherine de Valois, daughter of the French king Charles VI. Before she is out of her teens, Catherine is married off to England’s Henry V. Within two years she is widowed, and mother to the future King of England and France—even though her brother has laid claim to the French crown for himself. Caught between warring factions of her own family and under threat by the powerful lords of the English court, she must find a way to keep her infant son safe. In Owain Tudor, a childhood friend for whom Catherine has long had affection and who now controls the Royal household, Catherine finds both strength and kinship. As their friendship turns to love, however, she risks not only her life and that of her son but the uneasy balance of power in England and France.

Suzannah Dunn’s The confession of Katherine Howard chronicles the life and personality of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard (1524-42). Told from the perspective of Cat Tilney, who was a ward of the Duchess of Norfolk like Katherine, the novel follows the allied ladies as they progress from childhood to womanhood. Want to see more about Henry VIII’s many loves? Look no further than The Tudors, the Irish/Canadian produced historical fiction that appeared on CBC, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

The golden prince, by Rebecca Dean, is an historical romance that sees Edward VIII ready to give up the throne for love before he met Wallis Simpson. Raised by the harsh disciplinarian King George V and his unfeeling Queen Mary, the prince longed for the warmth that had been deprived of him. The high society Houghton girls’ lives however, were full of fun, both at their magnificent family seat Snowberry, and at the whirlwind of glamorous parties which punctuated their lives. When a moment of serendipity brings Edward and Lily Houghton together, the pressures of a stuffy court are replaced with the lightness that Edward has dreamt of. But a future monarch could not choose his own Queen, and even an enduring love might falter under the furious gaze of a King. Could the devotion of Edward and Lily triumph against him and the impending doom of World War I? Or would they bow to the inevitable and set in train events that could bring down the Crown, and change the course of history forever?

The CBC dug through their digital archives and have put together a wonderful web site entitled Modern-day Fairy Tales. There you’ll find radio and television clips looking back at British royal weddings since 1947. Want to know more about Queen Elizabeth’s wedding? Borrow our copy of The 1947 royal wedding. This recording documents the wedding ceremony of Princess Elizabeth and The Duke Of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. It includes the complete service and liturgy, remarks by the archbishops of Canterbury and York, and music by the choirs of Abbey and The Royal Chapel.

For those of you wanting a shorter read, try Robert Pagani’s novella, The princess, the king, and the anarchist. Inspired by a true historic event, anarchist Mateu Morral’s assassination attempt of Spanish King Alfonso XIII and his new wife, Victoria Eugenia  on their wedding day, May 31, 1906. The story is set in the space of a few hours on that day, beginning with the wedding procession and building up to the assassination attempt.

– Barbara

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