Philip: The Final Portrait by Gyles Brandreth #NetGalley #ARCReview

From Goodreads: “This is the story of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – the longest-serving consort to the longest-reigning sovereign in British history. It is an extraordinary story, told with unique insight and authority by an author who knew the prince for more than forty years.

Philip – elusive, complex, controversial, challenging, often humorous, sometimes irascible – is the man Elizabeth II once described as her ‘constant strength and guide’. Who was he? What was he really like? What is the truth about those ‘gaffes’ and the rumours of affairs? This is the final portrait of an unexpected and often much-misunderstood figure. It is also the portrait of a remarkable marriage that endured for more than seventy years.

Philip and Elizabeth were both royal by birth, both great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria, but, in temperament and upbringing, they were two very different people. The Queen’s childhood was loving and secure, the Duke’s was turbulent; his grandfather assassinated, his father arrested, his family exiled, his parents separated when he was only ten. Elizabeth and Philip met as cousins in the 1930s. They married in 1947, aged twenty-one and twenty-six.

Philip: The Final Portrait tells the story of two contrasting lives, assesses the Duke of Edinburgh’s character and achievement, and explores the nature of his relationships with his wife, his children and their families – and with the press and public and those at court who were suspicious of him in the early days. This is a powerful, revealing and, ultimately, moving account of a long life and a remarkable royal partnership.”

Having followed the royals for years and reading and watching documentaries about them, I wondered if there was anything about the Duke of Edinburgh that I didn’t already know? But NetGalley and the publisher offered me an ARC in exchange for an honest review, so how could I refuse?

Philip: The Final Portrait (Amazon) is about as authorized a biography as you can get with the royal family. The author knew the Duke of Edinburgh for decades and worked with him on one of his charities, and even interviewed him from time to time to clarify facts and refute rumors.

Much of the first part of the book is the history of Philip’s family as well as that of Queen Elizabeth and how their families intertwined through the years. Indeed, it was about 40% in to the book that Philip and Elizabeth were married, so yes, we’re talking deep background. It was all very interesting, and even though I knew most of the information, it was presented in a way that helped explain Philip the man instead just the figurehead.

The history is interspersed with conversations with Prince Philip, where he corrects facts or just plain tells the author he is wrong. Knowing this was going to be a book, the Duke of Edinburgh does not offer any revelations or say anything unexpected. He’s simply there to make sure the author gets it right.

Much time is spent, rightfully so, on the many charities the Duke supported in his decades of work. There’s a long list at the back of the book that lists them, and it’s simply amazing how busy he was, for more than fifty years. I highly recommend this book if you want to know more about the Duke. Even if you think you’ve read it all, you haven’t. There are some nuggets in here that I won’t spoil for you.

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