Famous People

The Royal Wedding (C&D) 81
HRH Prince Charles 81
HRH Princess of Wales 82
The Queen Mum 82
Pope John Paul 82
The Queen 83
The Royal Princes 85
The Royal Wedding (A&S) 86
Indira Ghandi 86
Diana 97

Ladybird must have thought that the Royals would be a perfect subject for a series; high profile, international following, plenty of photographs lying around, sprogs impending & plenty of relatives worth a volume. They couldn't have predicted the soap opera that was to follow! They produced the first two volumes as standalone books, but they subsumed them under the "Famous People" series.

Having dedicated 3 books to the "happy" couple, they expanded to cover the Queen Mum (Gawd bless her) and Wills & Henry. It's a bit eerie seeing the now adult Wills on the cover as a toddler - not only does he look just like his Mother, but seems to have changed little since then. Needless to say, the Royal Princes were showered with gifts, amongst the most impressive being a "tiny piano" from Barry Manilow. When you see the close photographic attention paid to his every burp, fart & smile, it's quite amazing that he seems to have grown up with anything resembling normality.

The books included a brief family tree on the inside back pages, where you can learn with fascination that the Queen Mums' Great grandmonther was called Charlotte Grimstead, but her Grandmother bore the far more imrpessive name of Nina Cecelia Cavendish-Bentick! The abdication of Edward is quickly passed over, as is the stress under which Prince Albert (King George to his servants) stoically performed the duties expected of him.

When the Royal Weddings of the 80's were announced, how little we suspected of the painful humiliations & exciting revelations that were to come! Their forefathers had generally worked their way around marriage difficulties and kept brave faces for the public, but not for Diana, the darling of the media. Royal goings-on were exposed in an unprecedented manner and flashed around the world.

As we all know, the culmination of this was the death of Diana, caused in no small part by the press. Ladybird managed to overcome their better instincts and jumped onto the Di bandwagon with a tasteful tribute to "Our Princess", offering some of the profits from the book to the Memorial fund. The book managed to completely ignore the failed marriage, the infidelities and manner of her death. It's easy to look back with hindsight & see the signs, but it remains a compelling saga, even to confirmed non-royalists.

We might have anticipated Andrew's marriage problems a little more easily, since Fergie was not only a "commoner", (how the Duke of Edinburgh allowed the "match" is a mystery) but had no discernable talents (Budgie the Helicopter was even ignored by Ladybird!) or taste. She was also in the unenviable position of being compared the fashion-guru Diana, which can't heve helped her confidence. A follow-up volume "The Royal Divorces" would have been a best-seller, but never hit the streets.

The two other volumes of "Famous People" were Indira Ghandi and Pope John Paul. The former is quite hard to track down - if you see a copy, buy it!