Edward the Caresser: The Playboy Prince who Became Edward VII
In each of the past three centuries, a Prince of Wales has waited most of his life to become King, from George IV to Edward VII to Prince Charles. Each one disappointed his reigning parent. Each had an unhappy marriage and famous affairs. But only one single-handedly gave his name to an age: the future Edward VII, Albert Edward, eldest son of Queen Victoria.
How did such a roguish Prince become such a beloved King? The story of "Bertie" is the story of one of the first superstars in the dawning culture of celebrity. Drawing on previously unavailable, little-used or unknown diaries, letters, memoirs, and reportage from both sides of the Atlantic, acclaimed biographer Stanley Weintraub paints an unforgettable picture of the Prince and his worlds: his difficult and frustrating childhood, his introductions to gentlemanly sins at Oxford and Cambridge, his chilly arranged marriage to the pretty but dull Prin-cess Alexandra, and his constant escapes to balls, races, spas, and country houses, where he gambled, gourmandized, caroused, and whored. Husbands who hoped to advance among the gentry worked to arrange affairs between the Prince and their wives, maneuvering to situate bedrooms near his chambers. His string of "god-children" included some almost certainly his own.
Yet despite, or because of, Bertie's flaws, he was loved wherever he went. He was a natural diplomat, able to charm strangers and dance all night. When he toured the United States in 1860, he was a media sensation, and there was even talk of a marriage with President Buchanan's niece. When Victoria finally died in 1901 after decades of withdrawal from public life amid continual mourning for Albert, England relaxedand celebrated for the first time in years. "Edward the Caresser" presents an extraordinary picture of tragedy and farce, qualities that fit Edward perfectly for the role of modern monarch.
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