"paints the story of Edward VII and his long, hectic life as Prince of Wales in vivid colours: no scandal is left unturned, and yet the depth and authenticity of the research make it clear that this is a serious, even magesterial work" (Antonia Fraser Sunday Telegraph (Books of the Year))
"the best biography was Jane Ridley's Bertie ... Surprisingly, a vast amount of new information, some of it truly eye-opening, surfaced in this beautifully prepared and serious book" (Philip Hensher Daily Telegraph (Books of the Year))
"A model of how royal biographies should be written... impeccably researched, with much new material, balanced, sensible, disrespectful without being offensive, funny, and a vivid portrait of one of Britain's most underrated and understudied monarchs" (Philip Ziegler Spectator (Books of the Year))
"Is all about changing perceptions of the rakish heir to the throne who, his biographer insists, was less of a womaniser that commonly thought and came into his own as king" ( Sunday Times (Books of the Year))
"Hugely entertaining from first page to last... It is also scholarly and revealing" (Miriam Gross Evening Standard (Books of the Year))
Edward VII, who gave his name to the Edwardian Age but was always known as Bertie, was fifty-nine when he finally came to power in 1901. He was king for the last nine years of his life.
The eldest son of Victoria and Albert, Bertie was bullied by both his parents. Victoria blamed his scandalous womanising for Albert's early demise, and this richly entertaining biography reveals his power struggle with Queen Victoria as one of the stormiest mother-son relationships in history.
Denied any proper responsibilities, the heir to the throne spent his time eating ('Tum Tum'), pursuing women ('Edward the Caresser'), gambling, going to house parties and race meetings, and shooting pheasants. His arranged marriage to the stunning Danish princess Alexandra gave him access to the European dynastic network; but his name was linked with many beauties, including Lillie Langtry and Winston Churchill's mother. The most romantic - and the most dangerous - of his mistresses was Daisy Brooke ('Babbling Brooke') and the most political and manipulative was Alice Keppel.
But contrary to popular belief, the playboy prince was also an instinctive diplomat: when he eventually became king he did a good job, especially in foreign policy. He further confounded his critics by reinventing the monarchy and giving it a new role for the twentieth century. This magnificent and exhaustively researched book - which draws on numerous new discoveries and primary sources - gives Bertie due credit while painting a vivid portrait of the age in all its excess and eccentricity.
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