Bertie: A Life of Edward VII

Written by Jane Ridley
Review by Sarah Cuthbertson

This isn’t yet another biography of the irresponsible, hedonistic heir to the throne who became king far too late in life and achieved little in his nine-year reign. Jane Ridley has made excellent use of private papers unseen by previous biographers to paint a rather different picture of Edward VII. In an entertaining yet thoughtful style she sets before us a young man frustrated by a difficult relationship with his mother, Queen Victoria, who thought he would make an unsuitable king. He found refuge in gambling, gourmandising, and conducting scandalous love-affairs. But he married dutifully a woman who, though tolerant and loving, never quite grew up, and when he did become king at 59, proved himself to be a fine diplomat who made the monarchy more human and accessible.