On Royalty

On Royalty

3.44 (435 ratings by Goodreads)
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What does it mean to be royal? At a time when the monarch no longer rules by divine right and governing powers fall to our elected leaders, the concept of royalty grows ever more elusive. The intellectual argument for the abolition of the monarchy is strong, and yet public interest in the royals continues to grow. Jeremy Paxman seeks to find out how the role of our head of state has changed over the years and what the implications have been. With characteristic intelligence and humour, he looks at every aspect of the monarchy and how it has related to politics, religion, the military and the law. With a mixture of popular history, direct reportage and hilarious anecdote, the master of investigative journalism seeks to find out just how important the Royal Family is to our national identity.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 384 pages
  • 158 x 234 x 38mm | 698.54g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0670916625
  • 9780670916627
  • 813,195

Review Text

Popular BBC broadcaster Paxman (The English, 2000, etc.) examines the monarchy's relevance to contemporary British society.Best known for his confrontational interviews on current-affairs program Newsnight, Paxman keeps his scabrous side firmly in check, taking a relaxed, even humorous approach here. The author quickly establishes his affinity for the oft-troubled fortunes of Britain's royals with amusing anecdotes about a visit to Sandringham (quizzed about the purpose of the monarchy, Prince Charles quipped, "we're a soap opera"), the BBC's archaic preparations for the Queen Mother's death and a bizarre encounter with Princess Diana. The author casts his net wide as he sets about his task, demonstrating a vast knowledge of all things royal as he darts back and forth in time, linking various events from the past to those of the present. The bookish, chain-smoking Queen of Denmark (Victoria's great-great-granddaughter) and the sometimes controversial Prince Philip are two of the people interviewed, and the author draws insightful and occasionally humorous jabs from both. Philip rails against the tabloids and even seems agitated that his wife (whom he refers to as "the queen") reads "every bloody paper she can lay her hands on." Paxman keeps a generous distance from his subjects for most of the book, reserving his personal opinions for the concluding chapter, which conveys his belief that the royal family will be around for quite some time. Using the surge of interest in Diana's funeral as a springboard, he points out the inexorable grip the monarchy maintains on our collective imaginations, notes the impracticality of any attempt to break up the royal family and adds interesting notes on their historical and mythological value.A witty, edifying treatise. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Jeremy Paxman

Jeremy Paxman is a journalist, best known for his work presenting Newsnight and University Challenge. His books include Friends in High Places, The English and The Political Animal. He lives in Oxfordshire.show more

Rating details

435 ratings
3.44 out of 5 stars
5 13% (56)
4 35% (153)
3 38% (164)
2 12% (51)
1 3% (11)
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