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Royal Ambassadors

Here, in all their pomp and colour and excitement, are described the visits of various members of the British royal family to Southern Africa between the years 1860 and 1947.

These royal visitors were: Queen Victoria's second son, the fifteen-year-old Prince Alfred, in 1860; twenty years later, two of his nephews, Prince Albert Victor and Prince George, the midshipman sons of the Prince and Princess of Wales; in 1901, during the Anglo-Boer War, Prince George again — the future King George V — accompanied by his wife Princess May, the future Queen Mary; four years later, Queen Victoria's third daughter Princess Christian, visiting the grave of her son Prince Christian Victor, who had died in the Anglo-Boer War; in 1925 that most charming, controversial and unconventional heir to the throne, the thirty-year-old Prince of Wales; and finally, in 1947, as a climax to all these visits, came the Sovereign himself — King George VI, with his radiant Queen and their two daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

The book is considerably more, however, than a mere day-to-day account of these brilliant royal visits. Rather it is a series of incisive biographical studies of each of the visitors and, more important, an attempt to evaluate the mood and the political worth of these occasions. The various royalties are presented, not simply as visitors, but as ambassadors for the monarchy: through these visits Theo Aronson explores the always delicate relationship between South Africa and the British Crown. It is in fact a superb blend of history, politics and royal biography.

Well known for his bestselling historical biographies of the royal houses of Europe, Theo Aronson turns his attention, for the first time, to his own country. The result is as rich, as acute, as colourful, as well researched and as entertaining as anything he has written.

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