April 1, 2011

Kindly avert your eyes if you are already weary of the fervent media coverage of the upcoming nuptials between Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton. But if simply glimpsing the word “prince” above made your pulse quicken, chances are you either hold a keen respect for the storied institution of the monarchy (and that includes the gushing fans already clutching official memorabilia from the Royal Collection) or have an inexplicable, slightly derisive fascination for what is certain to be an event of epic proportions. Whichever description best suits you, here are several new titles sure to be of interest:

1. William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls(Weinstein, $24.95). By Katie Nicholl. The author, a veteran royal correspondent for the British paper the Mail on Sunday, promises heretofore unknown details about the lives of the princely siblings, often given the unceremonious moniker “the heir and the spare.” The Wales brothers, though they differ in temperament and expectation — one is to be the future king of England, after all — have much in common. Both have a passion for the military, are zealously involved in charitable work (their joint office coordinates their philanthropic efforts) and share the sorrow and pain of the tragic death of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Nicholl delves into all of that and the more tawdry, scandalous bits too, offering insight into the brothers’ checkered relationships with Kate Middleton and Chelsy Davy. Perhaps not coincidentally, this book was published exactly a week prior to the palace’s official wedding announcement on November 16, 2010.

2. William and Kate: A Royal Love Story (Gallery, $26). By Christopher Andersen. This timely book provides an examination of William and Kate’s decade-long romance, including two breakups and reconciliations, from a writer well-known for his celebrity biographies of the Kennedys, the Clintons, the George W. Bushes as well as the House of Windsor in general and Diana in particular. William and Kate were initially able to keep their relationship somewhat discreet, thanks to Fleet Street’s agreement with the royal family to curb the prying eyes of reporters and cameras while William was at university. But since then, and especially now, all is fair in love and juicy tidbits, and Andersen nets several that shed new light on the couple whose fairytale beginning is expected to usher the British monarchy into the future.

Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton. (ANDREW MILLIGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

3. Behind Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain (Random House; paperback, $15). By Michael Farquhar. While the life of Prince William and Kate Middleton after their sumptuous wedding later this month has yet to be written, those looking for choice examples of royal ignominy can open the pages of Farquhar’s new compendium. He provides biographical and historical sketches of William’s many famous ancestors, whose often unseemly behavior make the sizzling tabloid stories of today resemble nursery school tales. Farquhar, a former Washington Post writer, has rounded up 500 years of salacious details from Henry VIII to Elizabeth II that include invaluable family trees and a sound refutation of some of history’s more wild concoctions about what really took place in those royal residences.

Christopher Schoppa

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