Review: Raising Royalty by Carolyn Harris

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Published: 8 April 2017

Publisher: Dundurn

Category: History/Nonfiction/Biography

How royal parents raised their children over the past thousand years, from keeping the Vikings at bay to fending off paparazzi.

William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are setting trends for millions of parents around the world. The upbringing of their two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, is the focus of intense popular scrutiny. Royalty have always raised their children in the public eye and attracted praise or criticism according to parenting standards of their day.

Royal parents have always faced unique privileges and challenges. In medieval times, raising an heir often meant raising a rival, and monarchs sometimes faced their grown children on the battlefield. Kings and queens who lost their thrones through wars or popular revolutions found solace in time spent with their children. In modern times, royal duties and overseas tours have often separated young princes and princesses from their parents, a circumstance that is slowly changing with the current generation of British royalty.

Rating: 4 Stars

Raising Royalty offers a fascinating look into the parenting methods in an accessible way to those of us that will, in all likelihood, never have to experience the same events as the subjects of this work.

I picked up this work primarily because I was interested in reading about William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, because their parenting methods have been the source of much media speculation ever since the two of them got together. With such contrasting backgrounds, it was no wonder that there was speculation as to how they would merge their upbringings into one unit for their children, currently Prince George and Princess Charlotte. This book goes even further back and examines not only William and Catherine, as well as William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana, but centuries of royal couples whose various methods were the results, not of class, but of cultures clashing.

The first story, that of Edgar the Peaceable and Elfrida of Northampton, was the one that intrigued me the most. It was a bit confusing at first, my not being a practiced historian giving me a bit of trouble keeping track of several names that sounded similar and corresponding dates, but overall gave insight into the contributions these two rulers made that still affect the royal class today. They introduced a distinct and public royal family, rather than the somewhat hidden ones of the past, and established the expectation of royal mothers doing all that was necessary for their children, which in Elfrida’s case was potentially a bit sinister and gave her the mantle of wicked stepmother.

Once I began to take in more than the first story, things got a little confusing because there were some generations skipped (i.e. we went from grandfather to grandson or grandnephew, etc.). Something that might have been helpful would have been a miniature family tree at the beginning of each chapter, linking the current personages back to their royal parents and their siblings, as those were often mentioned, particularly in the early formation of the royalty when siblings fought each other and their fathers for the right to rule.

Carolyn Harris certainly put a lot of effort into this book. You could feel the amount of passion she had for the subject through all of the research she did, the sheer amount of reading and organizing she must have done to bring this work together. While I feel that there might have been some extraneous information concerning military battles, overall the inner working of how the families worked, from the marriages to the raising of the product of those marriages, was a fascinating look at what was expected of these parents and their children. Not only was it vastly different from what was expected of a commoner, but it also differed quite a bit from what’s expected of the current royal family as they progress in the modern world.

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of expectations the royal family has, from their earliest days to the current day, I’d encourage you to take a look at this book. It has a wealth of information that will be, I believe, invaluable as a historical text.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.
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