Review: The Great Survivors: How Monarchy Made It Into the Twenty-First Century. Peter Conradi

The Great Survivors: How Monarchy Made It Into the Twenty-First Century. Peter Conradi

The Great Survivors: How Monarchy Made it into the Twenty-First Century
was recommended to me from a friend as we talked about the future of the monarchies. It gives a good, and easy, overview of the various monarchies in Europe, and the history behind them.

The organization in the book can be a bit confusing as we go along. But in the end I feel that this way of doing it, makes the comparison between the monarchies easier. Conradi could have written one chapter per country, which could have worked, but the comparison between the countries is one of the reasons for why I think the book worked well for me.

There are errors here and there (why would a Dutch prince need to ask the Norwegian parliament for permission to marry, for example?), but despite that, I am left with a feeling that I have read a thorough book about the European monarchies. It is well-written and easy to follow along. At the same time, Conradi is diligent (though this varies from chapter to chapter) at providing sources for his information.

Interestingly, he is going with both the sugar-filled sources and the more critical ones. In some cases, like when he is quoting the Villemann book about the Danish royals, it feels like he is on very unstable ground for parts of it.

There are also errors in the book, or places where Conradi has decided to go with either speculation or uncertain sources. Some I noted are below, but there are others.

When bringing up the Danish financial situations, Conradi either does not know or has neglected to mention, that Count Ingolf also receives funding from the state along similar lines as Countess Alexandra.

He refers to Diana, Princess of Wales as “Princess Diana, the estranged wife of Prince Charles.”

The parenthesis that states that “Margriet’s sons, Pieter-Christiaan and Floris, who both made what were deemed unsuitable marriages in 2005,” is erroneous, or the very least, I wish there would be a source to the statement. Neither of the two applied for parliamentary permission for their marriages, but by the time they married, they were so far down the line of the succession anyway that it seemed very unlikely that they would ever need to step up to the throne.

But these are minor errors in an otherwise very interesting book.

Overall, flaws and everything, I do think it is a book worth reading. If only because it does give a nice overview, (scandals, skeletons and everything nice,) of the monarchies of Europe. The truly unfortunate thing is that the book was written to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee – but the major events for the future of several of the other European monarchies happened the year after, in 2013, when both Beatrix and Albert abdicated.


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