“These wretched babies don’t come until they are ready” : Queen Elizabeth II shortly before the birth of Princess Beatrice.
When this book was suggested as a good read I was very doubtful. I mean just how interesting could Royal Babies be? Surely they are more appealing when they grow up or become King or Queen, and just how much more could I learn that I don’t already know? How wrong could I be!
Amy Licence’s Royal Babies 1066-2013 not only gives the reader an enormous insight into the births and the lives of the babies, some of whom became the most famous Monarchs of our country, she also gives such vast information on the lives of the babies’ parents, a majority of whom also were Kings and Queens of our country.
The timeline begins with the daughter of King Henry I, the future Empress Matilda and ends in the present day with a brief overview of the future of the new born Prince George of Cambridge, whose own children will one day add to the record of Royal Babies.
Any reader expecting a boring history lesson listing fact after fact that we already know is in for a nice surprise. Yes, we do get an insight into the lives of all the people involved but we also learn of things that we didn’t know before; the difficulties faced by pregnant women hundreds of years ago; the role of the fathers during the pregnancies; the unusual medicinal remedies and painkillers that were used during each era of history and finally the people who were involved with the birth in some way - from the doctors to the midwives and family – all of whom had some sort of influence over the birth of the child.
There is far too much fascinating information in this book to discuss every royal birth mentioned. There is one however that I would like to mention as it stood out for me - the birth of another Prince George, this time in 1817. He was the son of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold. Charlotte’s final hours of pregnancy were very stressful and it took over 50 hours for her to give birth. Unfortunately she delivered a stillborn baby boy and a few hours later complications arose and Princess Charlotte died. What made this birth stand out for me, was that had Princess Charlotte and her son survived, then this would have changed the shape of the British Monarchy forever. Not only would we have had no Victorian period it is unlikely that Victoria herself would ever have been born.
In all I must say this book was a very enjoyable and informative read and if anyone is looking to find out more about a selection of Royal Babies throughout history, then I highly recommend this book. Maybe in another hundred years, somebody else will be blogging about a book written about the Royal Babies of the next century. Who knows, hopefully that person will be blogging for Royal Central.