Royals Besieged: Tears - and just a tinge of regret

She's written a book full of deceit, greed, sexual dalliance and general dysfunction. But Kitty Kelley is feeling a touch of remorse as her biography of the Windsor dynasty hits bookshops in America tomorrow. Review copy in hand, David Usborne understands her embarrassment.
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The Independent Online
The American biographer who spent four years trawling London for sleazy morsels on the myriad tribulations of the Windsors is voicing regret. Sort of.

Kitty Kelley, whose tome, The Royals, will not be published in Britain, tearfully told a television interviewer last night that she had asked for a delay in publication, out of respect for Diana, the Princess of Wales. The book, which amounts to a 500-page chronology of the serial crises, most of them already well-known, to have afflicted the Royal Family over 80 years since the First World War, is being released one week early by its publisher, Warner Books, because of the heightened public interest in the Royals..

"I feel awkward about coming out with the book right now," Ms Kelley told the NBC news magazine, Dateline. "I'm absolutely wrought by the Princess's death. And I wish I weren't coming out with the book now".

According to a transcript obtained before the interview's broadcast, Ms Kelley continued: "It just seemed a powerful book. It can wait. The publishers argument was people need to know this. They're hungry for information."

So laden is the book with tales of deceit, greed, sexual dalliance and general dysfunction that passages concerned with Diana seem almost tame. More certain of public attention - and of distress inside the Palace - are sections offering stories less well known about the Windsors themselves.

Almost at the book's opening comes the much anticipated revelation that the Queen and Princess Margaret were brought into the world with the assistance of artificial insemination. King George VI, according to Ms Kelley, had trouble in the stud department.

Sex, unsurprisingly, is the ingredient that runs through the book and which guarantees it its shock value. Well-rehearsed in these pages, are the departures from fidelity of Prince Charles (Camilla), Diana (Hewitt) and Sarah Ferguson (Bryan).

There is hardly a member of the Royal Family, of any generation, whose fidelity is not questioned by Kelley and the marriage of Prince Philip and the Queen is stripped bare.

The Queen herself is unlikely, meanwhile, to appreciate Ms Kelley's portrayal of her as a cold and distant mother. The author quotes the Queen Mother telling someone at a dinner party that the perception that Prince Philip had been the beastly parent to Charles was wrong. "If they only knew the truth," she allegedly said. "It was always Lilibet who was too strict and Philip who tried to moderate her."

The book, particularly its conclusion, is inevitably coloured by the Diana tragedy that came after its dispatch to the printers.

Especially poignant is the claim that the Queen has found it too painful seriously to contemplate plans, codenamed Operation Lion, for dealing with the death of the Queen Mother.

But she apparently had made it clear that any funeral should be special indeed, culminating in a service and eulogies in Westminster Abbey.

That funeral, of course, has now happened. But it was not the Queen Mother's.