On Royalty

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 December, 2007, 12:00am

On Royalty

by Jeremy Paxman

Penguin, HK$162

Jeremy Paxman, a somewhat garrulous pontificator on, well, just about anything, has cobbled together in On Royalty some telling tales about modern monarchy, with particular attention to the household of Elizabeth Windsor. There is, however, an amusing account of Albania's attempts to recruit a monarch, namely Queen Susan. Paxman and his crew have done their homework - Walt Disney was a direct, 22nd-generation descendant of Edward I - and history is replete with worse behaviour than that served up by the British tabloids. An attack of nerves prevents him talking to Her Majesty, but Paxman has a huffing Duke of Edinburgh on record about bloody journalists: 'It's Murdoch's anti-establishment attitude which has really pulled the plug on an awful lot of things that we considered to be quite reasonable, and sensible, institutions. He's succeeded in undermining them all.' The formerly republican Paxman thinks British royalty is a harmless institution - he ignores the power of the Crown over the parliament - that exists under sufferance, if only to serve 'the collective delirium of its citizens'. As to abolishing the monarchy, 'Why bother?' Those from outside the Commonwealth will find much explained here.