Courtiers: Intrigue, Ambition, and the Power Players Behind the House of Windsor by Valentine Low 2023

About the Author
Valentine Low is a British journalist. He is the royal correspondent for The Times.

About the Book
The gripping account of how the Royal family really operates, from the journalist who has spent years studying them. Who really runs the show and, as Charles III begins his reign, what will happen next?

Throughout history, the British monarchy has relied on its courtiers – the trusted advisers in the King or Queen’s inner circle – to ensure its survival as a family and a pillar of the country. Today, as ever, a carefully selected team of people hidden from view steers the royal family’s path between public duty and private life. Queen Elizabeth II, after a remarkable 70 years of service, saw the final seasons of her reign without her husband Philip to guide her. Now, a newly ascended Charles seeks to define what his future as King, and that of his court, will be.

The question of who is entrusted to guide the royals has never been more vital. Yet, as the tensions within the family are exposed to global scrutiny like never before, the task these courtiers face has never been more challenging. With a dark cloud hanging over Prince Andrew as well as Harry and Meghan’s controversial departure from royal life, William and Kate – equipped with a very 21st century approach to press and public relations – now hold the responsibility of making an ancient institution relevant for the decades to come. In fascinating and explosive detail, Valentine Low explores the previously unknown relationship between modern courtiers and the royal family.

Courtiers pulls back the veil to reveal an ever-changing system of complex characters, shifting alliances, and a battle of ideas over what the future of the institution should be. This is the inside story of how the monarchy really works, at a pivotal moment in its history.

“[Low] explains exactly what a good courtier does: advise royalty and, when necessary, save them from themselves… Some are masters of intrigue. Others disdain it. All have a high tolerance for foibles of all stripes, be it the loose-cannon antics of Edward VIII or Princess Diana’s crying jags.” ―The New York Times Book Review

“Courtiers is a suave history of the monarchy over the past century, seen through the prism of those who serve it…highly readable…fascinating…Low’s book has glimpses of the future….Courtiers give us a remarkable insight into the unseen operation of the monarchy.” ―The Spectator

“The royal correspondent of The Times delves into the world of the courtier, the advisers who for good or ill guide the House of Windsor through today’s choppy waters.” ―The Times (UK)

“Low’s enjoyable account… chronicles, and explains, the role of those courtiers whose role comes closest to public accountability… [and] there are tantalising unattributed snippets from private interviews… Low’s conclusion is a valuable one.” ―The Telegraph

“This book is riveting. Extraordinarily well written, it canters along, packed with impeccable inside information. Low . . . is one of the exceptional minds writing about the British monarchy today.” ―Thomas Blaikie, Literary Review

Summary of Prologue
It used to be a standard part of a royal tour, the moment when the royals would venture to the back of the plane, where the media were sitting, to say hello and share a few thoughts about how the trip was going.

Harry and Meghan had proved extremely popular in Australia, and their engagements in Fiji and Tonga had also gone well.

Where Meghan smiled, always putting on her best face whenever she was on show, Harry glowered.

On the five-hour flight back from Tonga to Sydney, his press handlers promised that he would come to the back of the plane and thank the media for coming.

If the couple’s casual meet-and-greet moment with the royal correspondents had been meant to repair relations with the media, it had the opposite effect.

Some of the secrets of that tour – the reasons behind Meghan’s meltdown at a market in Fiji, the hidden story of her diamond earrings – would not emerge for more than two years.

Back home, Harry and Meghan’s communications secretary Jason Knauf, who was not on the tour because he had broken his collarbone, was about to compose an email containing explosive allegations of bullying that would destroy what remained of his faltering relationship with the Sussexes, and would later create headlines around the world.

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