Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal Household

Written by Adrian Tinniswood (author)
Review by Douglas Kemp

This is an entertaining and well-researched account of the wide range of activities that need to be performed and provided to allow the full panoply of the majestic monarchy to function. Starting with the court that surrounded Elizabeth I, it covers in chronological order the various sovereigns with their especial oddities and demands, to the present day.

The account is footnoted, employing a combination of primary and secondary sources. It contains a wealth of interesting information, but it is not an academic or comprehensive analysis. Mostly the narrative is told via a series of vignettes, many very familiar, such as the relationship between Queen Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough, King George III’s madness, and Queen Victoria’s permanent and complicated grief, which are used to summarise elements of royal life throughout the ages. It certainly will be of utility for anyone wishing to write a novel that covers the monarchy as a domestic entity, as it contains much fascinating detail and associated material.