Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain

Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain

Michael Farquhar

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0812979044

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Spanning 500 years of British history, a revealing look at the secret lives of some great (and not-so-great) Britons, courtesy of one of the world’s most engaging royal historians
Beleaguered by scandal, betrayed by faithless spouses, bedeviled by ambitious children, the kings and queens of Great Britain have been many things, but they have never been dull. Some sacrificed everything for love, while others met a cruel fate at the edge of an axman’s blade. From the truth behind the supposed madness of King George to Queen Victoria’s surprisingly daring taste in sculpture, Behind the Palace Doors ventures beyond the rumors to tell the unvarnished history of Britain’s monarchs, highlighting the unique mix of tragedy, comedy, romance, heroism, and incompetence that has made the British throne a seat of such unparalleled fascination.
• stories covering every monarch, from randy Henry VIII to reserved Elizabeth II
• historical myths debunked and surprising “Did you know . . . ?” anecdotes
• four family trees spanning every royal house, from the Tudors to the Windsors

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Edward to marry her. “I thank God it fell out better than I and my dearest and best trusted could have devised or imagined though we have beat our brains out these three years,” she wrote. While this “revelation” may have been merely a weak attempt by Arbella to extricate herself from the Seymour marriage debacle, another pronouncement really did make it seem as if she had gone mad. Most people in their right mind would have been bathed in relief had the queen’s government essentially winked at

hacked to pieces and buried beneath the floorboards of his palace. His treatment of Sophia Dorothea was arguably even crueler. She was shut up in a castle prison, deprived of her children, for the rest of her life. Such was the situation when Queen Anne, Britain’s final Stuart monarch, breathed her last and George, as her nearest Protestant relative, was proclaimed king. Almost immediately upon his arrival, he became the object of ridicule. There was just something vaguely absurd about the dull,

II, and George I before him. As a matter of fact, all three generations availed themselves at various times of the same mistress, Madame d’Elitz, who was rather ancient by the time she deflowered Frederick when he was sixteen. (When someone once observed that there was nothing new under the sun when it came to Madame d’Elitz’s promiscuity, the English politician and wit George Selwyn is said to have retorted, “Or under the grandson.”) Frederick was abandoned in Hanover as a little boy of seven

apartments “in great alarm, in her shift, or with very little clothes.” The men turned their backs to save the queen the embarrassment of being seen in such a state, but she came right up to them and told one to go immediately and fetch a doctor in Richmond. King George III was in a terrible state, suffering through the early stages of what would soon become a nightmare of madness. The fifty-year-old monarch was seized by violent stomach pains that left him hunched over in agony. These were

always be blue and unclouded,” he confided to his brother Ernest. Nevertheless, he was prepared to do his duty and to love Victoria the best way he could. “How is it,” he wrote to her, “that I have deserved so much love, so much affection? … I believe that Heaven has sent me an angel whose brightness shall illume my life.” The young cousins, both twenty years old, spent many hours together after their engagement, kissing tenderly, reveling in each other’s company, and planning their future. But

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