Royal Marriage Secrets

Written by John Ashdown-Hill
Review by Amy Watkin

John Ashdown-Hill takes on all controversial British royal marriages in this work, well organized chronologically with particular focus on key figures and exceptional circumstances surrounding the marriage, or lack thereof. Early chapters provide background information on the evolution of marriage in general as well as royal marriage practices. Did you know that in the Medieval Age it was more common to marry at the west door of a church, rather than inside at the altar? Were you aware that the wearing of a bridal veil depended on the noble rank of the groom and whether the ceremony was held inside or outside? The information is at times repetitive, but overall the book offers a new way of thinking about people and institutions you may have thought you already understood. Highlights include chapters focused on particular figures such as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Appendices are rich with detail and quite helpful for those of us who struggle to remember names and titles.