The Royal Nanny

Written by Karen Harper
Review by Arleigh Johnson

Charlotte Bill begins her journey as an undernurse to the Duke and Duchess of York’s growing brood in the spring of 1897. Installed in York Cottage at Sandringham House, the young, but capable Charlotte finds problems within the household’s current staff and sets about putting things to rights, and in the process earns her nickname from the children who dearly loved her: Mrs. Lala.

Along with the joys and sorrows of everyday life with the royals, Charlotte forms a troubled relationship with the groundskeeper, Chad Reaver, who wants more from her than she’s willing to give. As their story unfolds, the Yorks’ six children grow up, and events leading up to World War I become the forefront of the story. Readers witness three monarchs on the British throne, and eventually look back over the decades beyond the Great War. Especially interesting are the relationships between the progeny of Queen Victoria, including Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and King George V of England, and their roles on the world stage. The eldest boy in Charlotte’s care, the future King Edward VIII, plays a significant part in the story, with a look at his troubled childhood, unhappy adolescence and the burgeoning duty-shirker he would become.

This is a beautifully told novel of a woman who was surrounded by all the glitz and glamour of royalty but remained unaffected, a steady foundation for all of the children she raised – especially the youngest, who is known as the Lost Prince. Readers will greatly admire the protagonist while learning about the quirks of the royal family and the events that shook the world in the early 20th century.