Friday, April 8, 2016

At Home with the Queen - Brian Hoey

At Home with the Queen
Title: At Home with the Queen
Author: Brian Hoey
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 281
Genre: Royals / Nonfiction
Date Completed: 2/27/16

Summary: It takes a myriad of staff to create the royal lifestyle. Hoey dives into this world with its rules, expectations, details, and dramas.

What I Thought: For someone as interested in royal life as you know I am, this book was really interesting. Rather than focusing on the royals themselves, Hoey explores the daily lives and activities of their staff. It takes hundreds to manage and expedite the details of court life. It's easy to think of that in relation to the times of the Tudors, but we rarely realize or recognize all that goes on behind the scenes today, nor the people it takes to accomplish such a feat. 

With the addition of some introductory material, Hoey focuses each chapter on a different department of staff members or area concerning them all. He looks into the inner workings of the Royal Mews (a.k.a. where the horses, carriages, and cars are cared for); he looks into royal wages and why, despite coming in below industry standard, they prove enough to foster loyalty among staff and masses of resumes from those hoping to become staff; he expounds upon all the details and personnel required to put on a state dinner. The level of detail is astounding. Hoey has clearly done extensive research. 

At no point does Hoey dip to tabloid scandal, but neither does he fawn over the royals and portray them as flawless. Some he names outright in specific anecdotes. Others remain nameless along with most of the staff. The book focuses specifically on the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh and their staff, though it does offer some comparisons to how the households of the Prince of Wales or other minor royals are run. Mostly, however, Elizabeth and Philip sit in the spotlight. 

The book was written in 2002 - five years after the death of Princess Diana and nearly a decade before the Duchess of Cambridge would officially join the family. Hoey barely mentions William and Harry, and even then only as children. I would be fascinated to read an update about how staffing has landed for their office and the Cambridge household. Of course, much of it is in the media, but the stark difference between what they seem to experience and the rigamarole of Buckingham Palace would be fascinating to explore. Hoey states "the golden days of Diana have gone for ever," yet he wrote those words long before the excitement of the royal wedding or the retail phenomenons of "repli-Kates" or the global adoration of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. His opinion on recent royal happenings and their behind-the-scenes implications would be something I'd absolutely be interested in reading. 

It's a good reader for royal watchers and those interested in how their world comes to be every day. I actually learned a lot. I had no idea just how many people worked behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace and the like. The royals have Downton Abbey beat by a long shot. The book did have a very interesting upstairs-downstairs element to it which will likely interest those who aren't even interested in the royals specifically, just just how the master and staff relationship has evolved and carried over into the twenty-first century. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely

A Reduced Review: Lots of details and research into the royal staff make this an extensive, interesting view into their world.

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