Behind-the-crown story of Lady Pamela Hicks

Posted Sunday, Sep. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Daughter of Empire: My Life as a Mountbatten by Pamela Hicks Simon & Schuster, $26 In stores Tuesday

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Last year saw a royal parade of books about Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. Those who crave more personal history and behind-the-crown stories of aristocrats of yore will be happy to pick up Daughter of Empire: My Life as a Mountbatten by Lady Pamela Hicks.

No, she’s not a princess or duchess herself, but Hicks is a paternal first cousin to the queen’s husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. (And if we want to be royally correct, she’s also a great-niece of the last czarina of Russia and the great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria.)

In this memoir, Hicks, now 84, tells of a childhood full of juicy aristocratic tidbits you might expect (or roll your eyes at): stories of nannies and servants, of moving from one residence in one country to another in another country, of parents who openly had lovers, of being sent to live with the Vanderbilts in New York during World War II.

While living in India with her parents, who served as the country’s last viceroy and vicereine, she counted Gandhi and Nehru among friends.

Fans of the royal family might want to skip ahead to Hicks’ touching stories of being a bridesmaid in then-Princess Elizabeth’s 1947 wedding. As her lady-in-waiting, Hicks accompanied Elizabeth to Kenya on the 1952 trip in which she received word that her father had died, making her the new monarch.

After hearing the news, she writes, the new queen calmly apologized to her entourage, “I am so sorry. This means we all have to go home.”

— Stephanie Allmon

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