This monumental but deliciously readable life of Edward VII reveals that, as Prince of Wales, he was a complete nightmare. "Bertie" was so greedy that one courtier was said to have burned down his house so he didn't have to entertain the prince.
His estimated debts of £300,000 (in 1896 money) might have proved ruinous but for the fabulously wealthy Ernest Cassel picking up the tab. In his treatment of pregnant mistress Susan Vane-Tempest, Bertie's "ruthlessness was chilling".
Yet, against all the odds, as king he was "conscientious, wise, reforming… He was very good at it."