Picks and Pans Review: The Decline and Fall of the House of Windsor
Princess Diana isn't the first rebellious royal, but fallout from her recent TV interview indicates she may be the only one to best Britain's House of Windsor. In the past the royal family has managed to isolate and control its wayward members, as celeb biographer Donald Spoto explains in his entertaining new book.
Take the sorry example of the Duke of Windsor. When, as King Edward VIII, he fell in love with divorcée Wallis Simpson, he assumed she would be given the title Her Royal Highness. Instead, Edward abdicated, the couple went into exile, married in 1937 and were discouraged from ever returning to England. Princess Margaret was another victim. Told she could not marry the dashing (albeit divorced) Group Capt. Peter Townsend without giving up her title, she ended up in an unhappy union with photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones—a marriage that eventually ended in divorce. All this scandal pales, of course, compared to Prince Charles and his estranged wife lobbing water balloons at each other in the media.
But Spoto persuasively argues that the current crisis is a natural souring of decades of careful image-building. If the Windsors hadn't maintained a holier-than-thou fiction for so long, they might find themselves happier, healthier and more popular today. (Simon & Schuster, $27.50)