Picks and Pans Review: Royal Secrets
by Stephen P. Barry
Barry, who spent 15 years working for the British Royal Family, the last 12 as valet to Prince Charles, has already written about his experiences in a book called Royal Service. Apparently he had some stories left over, though the secrets in this book are so trivial that it's tough to figure out why on earth anyone should care. The Queen and her family "are basically nondrinkers. Her usual tipple is Malvern water. Prince Philip might just have a beer; Princess Anne drinks gallons of Coca-Cola; and Prince Charles and Princess Diana live on lemon refreshers, a homemade lemonade drink." Bobo McDonald, the Queen's 80-year-old nanny, dresser and maid, "disapproves of Prince Philip." If the staff gave out a booby prize, it would go to Princess Margaret "because of the hours she keeps and expects the staff to keep too." The Queen and her husband "call each other 'darling' as do Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and they mean it." Prince Edward "loved to help the Queen choose names for the corgi puppies—and they used the obituary column of The Times to get ideas!" The staff calls the Queen Mother "Mum" behind her back. We are assured that there "isn't the faintest trace of snobbery" about the Queen Mother or Elizabeth or Charles. Had enough? Indeed the Queen herself, Barry says, is constantly fed gossip and loves it. Some of the stories in this book are mildly amusing. But through most of it, Barry is shamelessly adoring, gushy and boring. Her Majesty's Royal Public Relations Firm, if there is such an outfit, ought to give Barry this year's Sycophantic Subject Award. (Villard, $16.95)
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