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Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown by Valentina Low reveals that the Duchess of Sussex (pictured with Prince Harry) reduced her courtiers to tearful wrecks

COURTIERS: THE HIDDEN POWER BEHIND THE CROWN by Valentine Low (Headline £20, 384pp)

by Valentine Low (Headline £20, 384pp) 

‘The men in grey suits’, Princess Diana called the royal courtiers.

Sarah Ferguson called them ‘the constipated, self-appointed keepers of the gate’. 

The Duchess of Sussex reduced her courtiers to tearful wrecks. 

Reading Valentine Low’s fascinating book on the courtiers will make those even with the strongest constitution think twice about applying for a job as one. It’s a life of ‘dignified slavery’, as one courtier wrote. Their job is to shape, steer, administer and advise. 

But be under no illusion, said Patrick Jephson, Princess Diana’s former private secretary: ‘You are not their friend.’ 

They can fire you at any moment, and they do. Prince Charles went through five private secretaries in seven years from 1985 to 1992. 

At their best, they’re indispensable. If the wise and firm Christopher Geidt, the Queen’s private secretary for ten years, had still been in charge, Low feels sure Prince Andrew would never have been let loose in front of a microphone on Newsnight. 

THE QUEEN: 70 CHAPTERS OF THE LIFE OF ELIZABETH II by Ian Lloyd (The History Press £15.99, 320pp)


by Ian Lloyd (The History Press £15.99, 320pp) 

Waiting outside the church in Windsor Great Park for a vicar who’d forgotten to turn up, the Queen, growing impatient, remarked, ‘Well, I am the head of the Church of England. Perhaps I should take the service.’ 

Requested to hold the same rigid pose for over an hour by the artist who was painting her portrait, she said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m used to it. I’ve had to sit through the Royal Variety Performance nearly every year.’ 

Asked by a group of American tourists who came across her in her headscarf and tweed coat in the grounds of Balmoral whether she’d ever met the Queen, she replied, ‘No — but he has,’ pointing to her protection officer. 

These are just some of the glimpses of her late Majesty collected by royal biographer Ian Lloyd in his charming collection of anecdotes about her life, in 70 short chapters. They remind us what a quick wit she had, along with the steeliness required for the 70-year role, during which she was never once spotted yawning or looking at her watch. 

QUEEN OF OUR TIMES: THE LIFE OF ELIZABETH II by Robert Hardman (Macmillan £20, 720pp)


by Robert Hardman (Macmillan £20, 720pp) 

For an authoritative and superbly researched biography of the Queen, you need look no further than this one by Robert Hardman. He combines a magisterial overview of her life and reign with lively and illuminating new takes on some of its key moments, such as the days after Princess Diana’s death. 

Both Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell in their memoirs portray the Queen as ‘a remote, blinkered monarch being gently prodded into doing the right thing by the New Labour politicians with their fingers on the national pulse.’ 

Actually, Hardman writes, before Blair even picked up the phone, the Queen was already deciding what to do next: a royal return from Balmoral to London the next day, and a broadcast to the nation. Hardman was the first to be allowed to look at George VI’s private wartime diaries. These reveal how traumatised he was by the Blitz, beneath his calm exterior, and how terrified he was about the safety of his daughters, as well as of the nation. ‘He had become a bundle of nerves,’ Hardman writes. One dreads to think how bad his stammer was.

Ysenda Maxton-Graham picks out a selection of books about the royals, including William at 40. The Prince and Princess of Wales pictured 

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by Tina Brown (Century £20, 592pp) 

Tina Brown is a mouth-wateringly acerbic writer; a guilty pleasure to read. In her enthralling account of the Royal Family, from Charles’s bachelorhood to the present, for which she has sleuthed, conducting hundreds of interviews, Brown nails the lot of them. 

A single Brown detail can sum up a whole character and lifestyle. The Queen Mother’s extravagance is encapsulated in the detail that the cherubs on her four-poster bed had to have their angels’ clothes washed and starched every month by her staff. 

Andrew Parker-Bowles: ‘a walking pink gin’. Prince Andrew, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell: ‘The Three Musketeers of Lust.’ Prince William: ‘Until he lost his hair, he was probably the biggest heart-throb to be heir to the throne since the preobese Henry VIII.’ Meghan: ‘Number six on the call sheet.’ (Which she was, in Suits, longing to be number one.) 

Harry and Meghan’s statement that they were only going to have two children, to help save the planet: ‘it went over in the media like a flatulent blast of methane, given that the Duke had just taken a private jet to the Google camp’. Marvellous stuff. 

WILLIAM AT 40: THE MAKING OF A MODERN MONARCH by Robert Jobson (Ad Lib £20, 249pp)


by Robert Jobson (Ad Lib £20, 249pp) 

Thank goodness for Prince William. Not easy to be the brother who doesn’t hog all the limelight or suck up all the oxygen. In the 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview Harry said, ‘My father and my brother... are trapped... My brother can’t leave the system, but I have’, William, according to Robert Jobson in this warm-hearted portrait of William at 40, ‘was staggered at his brother’s discourtesy and presumptuousness in thinking he was able to speak publicly on his behalf about his beliefs.’ 

William ‘let it be known that, far from feeling trapped, he fully embraced and understood the path laid out before him’. 

All too easy to come across as a bit dull, if you subscribe to a life of duty. But Jobson celebrates this vital quality in William, who does have strong influence, in his self-effacing way. ‘In my view,’ Jobson writes, ‘it’s his role as a champion of the natural world and his determination to use his fame and influence to be a bridge between the passionate young and the sceptical old that appears to drive him and may, in time, define his future reign.’ 

The romantic story of William proposing to Kate beside Lake Alice in Kenya is vividly described. It took him long enough, but was worth the wait.



by Tina Gaudoin (Constable £25, 336pp) 

Moulded by her mother, Dame Barbara Cartland, in the image of one of her storybook heroines, Raine McCorquodale would veer a long way from the path of domestic saintliness. 

In this gripping biography, Tina Gaudoin recounts Raine’s roller-coaster of a life, and how it came to be that she was once, twice, three times a countess. 

Quite an achievement to go from Countess of Dartmouth to Countess Spencer to — briefly — the Comtesse de Chambrun, looking all the while a bit like Margaret Thatcher. 

Reviled for her taste in interior decoration — ‘candyfloss pink and flock-wallpaper like a Balti house’, as Charles Spencer described her redecoration of Althorp — she was at first detested by her Spencer stepchildren. 

Diana once pushed her down the stairs, causing extensive bruising. But when Diana found herself cast out into the cold after her separation from Prince Charles, she befriended her former stepmother, and they became very close. Raine’s warm heart shines out of this book. 



by Sam McAlister (Oneworld £16.99, 288pp) 

The story of how BBC’s Newsnight persuaded Prince Andrew to agree to an interview by Emily Maitlis with no ‘red lines’ is rivetingly recounted at firsthand in this excellent book by Sam McAlister, the producer who made the interview happen. 

That television triumph (for Newsnight) and debacle (for the Prince) is covered in the final two chapters of this chronicle of Sam’s life as a Newsnight producer. 

Sam approached the Prince’s equerry Amanda Thirsk, who at first insisted that no discussion of the Prince’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein would be permitted. So Sam turned down the interview. But after Epstein’s arrest and death in custody in 2019, she approached Thirsk again, and this time they edged towards an agreement: the interview would go ahead, so the Prince could clear his name. 

It’s excruciating to relive that now infamous interview. Sam sat behind the Prince, hardly able to believe what she was hearing, as he dug his own grave, with those ill-prepared, tin-eared and remorse-free replies, bringing a host of new catchphrases such as ‘straightforward shooting weekend’ and ‘I don’t sweat’ into the English language. 

Read more:
  • Courtiers - The Mail Bookshop
  • The Queen - The Mail Bookshop
  • Queen of Our Times - The Mail Bookshop
  • The Palace Papers - The Mail Bookshop
  • William at 40 - The Mail Bookshop
  • Three Times a Countess - The Mail Bookshop
  • Scoops - The Mail Bookshop

News Source: dailymail.co.uk

Tags: topics index the bbc’s most most shocking princess diana’s the bbc’s the prince’s bbc’s most the duchess of sussex the duchess of sussex the history press private secretary jeffrey epstein prince william princess diana prince charles hardman writes prince andrew which she the interview chapters

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Mets ink veteran pitcher Jose Quintana to two-year deal, land lefty Brooks Raley in trade

SAN DIEGO — The Mets promised to remain active in the starting pitching market and they made good on their promise Wednesday morning, agreeing with veteran left-hander Jose Quintana on a two-year, $26 million contract, pending a physical.

They also added left-hander reliever Brooks Raley in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, bringing in a more established reliever to go with a group of young, optionable bullpen arms. Keyshawn Askew, a left-hander drafted by the Mets in the 10th round of the 2021 draft, went to Tampa Bay in the deal.

These moves came two days after the Mets came to terms with veteran ace Justin Verlander. The club may not be done and could also end up signing Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga. General manager Billy Eppler talked earlier in the week about the need for starting pitching depth over a full season and the Mets now have seven starters to use throughout the season, though it’s possible three of the back-end starters end up in the bullpen.

Quintana is a 33-year-old veteran who spent last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. He went 6-7 with a 2.93 ERA and a 2.99 FIP. Over 11 seasons the Colombian is 89-87 with a 3.75 ERA and a 3.62 FIP.

Quintana spent much of his career in Chicago with the White Sox and the Cubs and was named an All-Star in 2016 with the White Sox. He’s also pitched for the Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants.

He joins Verlander, Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco and a back-end group of Tylor Megill, David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi. However, only Megill, Peterson and Lucchesi are under contract past the 2024 season.

The Mets are not yet satisfied with this rotation, but working out a contract with Senga remains complicated because of the potential length of the deal. A three-year contract might be the desired length for a pitcher who has not yet shown he can handle an MLB workload, but it’s believed that Senga and his agent, Joel Wolfe, are seeking a five-year deal.

Raley is coming off of a career year with the Rays and has excellent numbers against left-handers. Last season, Raley went 1-2 with six saves and a 2.68 ERA. He walked 15 batters and struck out 61 in 60 appearances. The 34-year-old Texas A&M product held left-handed hitters to a .155 average last season and a .482 OPS. Lefties have hit .171 against him for his career.

Raley checks all of the the boxes for the Mets in terms of what they desired in a relief pitcher.

“People that have experience and leverage, we’re going to try and gravitate towards that if we can,” Eppler said Tuesday. “But at the end of the day, we want to see the tools there too, so that’s going to be a better proxy because that’s going to be a better proxy for that pitcher’s ability to get out a good hitter.”

The club did not have a true left-handed specialist in the bullpen last season, instead using right-hander Seth Lugo against lefties. Lugo departed as a free agent with the desire to land a starting role. The three-batter minimum rule lessens the need for a traditional left-handed specialist and the Mets were open to using another righty in that role, but wanted someone who had good splits against both right and left-handed hitters.

Raley has better numbers against lefties in his career but was solid against hitters from both sides of the plate last season.

“A lot of times what we see is some of the opposing lineups, they’re putting some space in between the left-hander,” Eppler said. “So if you’re going to get a lefty, you want to feel pretty good about their ability to get a right-hander out, or at least limit damage against a right-hander.”


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