The Duke and Duchess of Windsor have been showing up all over the media recently, in the Academy Award-winning movie The King’s Speech and Madonna’s upcoming movie W.E., in auctions of jewellery and letters, and in a couple of new biographies of the Duchess. One of the most unusual contributions to the Windsor story is the biography Behind Closed Doors by Hugo Vickers, author of several books on royalty including a highly acclaimed biography of the Duchess of Windsor’s nemesis, the Queen Mother.
In “She Wolves,” Helen Castor, author of “Blood and Roses,” has successfully attempted something rather ambitious: a thoroughly researched and factual yet highly accessible account of the evolution of female rule in medieval England, culminating in the acceptance of Mary I and Elizabeth I as Queens Regnant, a book that’s aimed at the general reader but is also a very rewarding experience for readers already familiar with the subject matter. From our perspective of living during the reign of Elizabeth II, and with the examples of the reigns of Victoria and Elizabeth I, it can be hard to appreciate the degree of resistance in the past to women in positions of authority, yet that resistance was so fierce that on more than one occasion it led to civil war.
The new movie The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper, an account of how Prince Albert Duke of York (later George VI and father of Elizabeth II) finally overcame a crippling speech defect with the help of the Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue and the unflagging support of his Duchess, is a fascinating look back at a period of 20th century royal history that’s usually remembered for the affairs and abdication of Edward VIII rather than the much less glamorous life of his younger brother.