The Heir Apparent is a highly readable and authoritative biography of Edward VII, the son of Queen Victoria. During his lifetime, he was known by the title ‘black sheep of Buckingham Palace’. Nonetheless, he matured into an effective monarch.
Edward VII who was born in 1841. What makes this biography irresistible is that the biographer Jane Ridley had unrestricted access to Edward’s papers in the Royal Archives. Actually, this was a privilege that had not been granted to anybody in 50 years. The author spent nearly ten years writing this biography of the king. In this, Edward’s mother Queen Victoria comes across as a highly sexed, hysterical woman who was a terrible mother. She was as politically assertive as her grandfather.
She imposed a brutal educational regimen on all of her nine children. Unlike his siblings, Edward was not a bright student. He did achieve some independence during his frustrating adulthood; however, he could never escape the influence of his mother. Edward was nearly 60 when she died and until then she persistently criticized him for his idle, irresponsible life. Interestingly, Queen Victoria never assigned any politically significant duty to him. In her eyes Edward was irresponsible and idle. He earned his playboy image during his youth. But his treatment of women changed drastically as he matured.
In this biography Ridley emphasizes the fact that Edward did become a wise and reforming king. However, his achievements have generally been underestimated.
While plenty of biographies of Edward VII are available, nothing will beat this thick and lively history.