>> Thursday, October 09, 2014
Those are some of the descriptive words used by media outlets and royal correspondent colleagues to describe On Duty with the Queen prior to its release. Having just finished reading it, I can tell you that none of those words apply.
When books written by royal insiders come out, we tend to expect shocking revelations and salacious details. On Duty with the Queen is not that type of book. Dickie's memoir recounts his life before, during and after becoming a royal press secretary. We learn that he is a man of many talents: ice-skater, actor, art historian in training, journalist and broadcaster. Although I found his royal career interesting, I would have preferred to read more about his background. In particular, more about his mother who sounds like she is quite the character!
During his 12 year career as press secretary, Dickie had a front row seat as 'annus horribilis' unfolded, yet he diplomatically steers clear of speculation and passing judgment. Instead he focuses on business, clearing up misconceptions about royal protocol and providing a fascinating behind the scenes look into the press offices, royal tour planning, as well as the role he played in organizing Diana's funeral.
The few royal anecdotes he does provide only allow us a respectful glimpse. He does have his criticisms about members of the royal family, particularly in the aftermath of Diana's death. But he doesn't come across as an apologist for either side, as books by royal insiders tend to do. One of the most moving moments is when he recounts visiting Diana's casket in the Chapel Royal. Relations between Diana and the royal family were not nearly as black and white as the media would have us believe.
If you're looking for a book that includes intrusive details from former courtiers, there are more controversial books to choose from. Instead On Duty With The Queen provides an enjoyable insight into his life and role as a press secretary for the royal family.
© Marilyn Braun 2014
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