King Edward the VII, affectionately called Bertie, was fifty-nine when he took the throne in 1901, upon the death of his mother Queen Victoria. To everyone’s great surprise, this playboy prince sobered up and became an extremely effective leader and the founder of England’s modern monarchy. For readers of Sally Bedell Smith’s Elizabeth the Queen and Robert K. Massie’s Catherine the Great.
“This is not only the best biography of King Edward VII; it’s also one of the best books about royalty ever published.” So began the London Independent’s review of this wonderfully entertaining biography of Britain’s playboy king-a Prince Charles of the Victorian age, only a lot more fun-who waited for nearly six decades to get his chance to rule. A notorious gambler, glutton and womanizer (he was dubbed “Edward the Caresser”), the world was his oyster as this aging Prince of Wales took advantage of his royal entitlements to travel, hunt, socialize, over-indulge-he smoked a dozen cigars a day-and bed a string of mistresses and married women in addition to his own wife. His mother Queen Victoria despaired: “Bertie, I grieve to say, shows more and more how totally, totally unfit he is for ever becoming king.” And yet by the time he died in 1910, after only nine years on the throne, he had proven to be a hard working, effective king and an ace diplomat, at home and abroad.
A bestseller in the UK, this “exhaustively researched, richly colorful and wittily observed biography” (the London Sunday Times) is a tremendously entertaining read for history buffs and royal watchers.