Sex with the Queen : 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics

Written by Eleanor Herman
Review by Colleen Quinn


It’s not easy to be queen! Royal marriages are arranged for political advantage, not for the happiness of the bride or groom. The royal brides were often teenagers, isolated from everyone they had ever known; who can blame them if they sought happiness and companionship elsewhere? Eleanor Herman dishes a broad and entertaining selection of famous queens, from the rumored nymphomaniac, Empress Catherine of Russia, to Henry VIII’s series of unfortunate wives, to flirty Marie Antoinette. It seems a queen could get away with adultery if all the personalities involved aligned in her favor. In addition to the kings and lovers, we also get colorful pictures of manipulative mistresses and truly terrible in-laws, any of whom could make things very difficult for the queen who strayed.

The book ends with an account of our most recent tragic royal figure, Diana, Princess of Wales, who fit this classically unhappy mold perfectly. Chosen for her youth and unimpressive education, intended to be an easily managed brood mare, wed to a reluctant prince who had been perfectly happy with his lover, her royal experiences show us how little has changed in over 900 years.