Gilded Youth: A History of Growing Up in the Royal Family, from the Tudors to the Cambridges

Pegasus. Dec. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781639365135. $28.95. BIOG
British author Quinn (Kensington Palace: An Intimate Memoir, from Queen Mary to Meghan Markle) argues that dysfunctional royal parenting traditions produced children who grew up to raise their own kids in a similar emotionally distant manner. Thus, he says, Queen Victoria, who lived in isolation with nannies as a child and was controlled by her widowed mother and Sir John Conroy, became a controlling mother of her own offspring. Quinn offers thorough research and “below-stairs” interviews with former royal staff and nannies, but one flaw in this book is its inclination towards conjecture, such as statements that Prince Charles was “probably born genetically predisposed to shyness and oversensitivity.” Quinn devotes ample pages to Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle and speculation about how their children will turn out, especially Archie and Lilibet, growing up in California as monied children who can’t follow their parents into music, film, or modeling, as other Hollywood offspring do.
VERDICT Scholarly in tone, yet gossipy at times. A solid but lackluster history of childrearing in the royal family over the centuries.
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