Tina Brown, the writer making the comment in her new royal potboiler, is not, in that sense, nice ... The worst has always brought out the best in Ms. Brown, whose latest book, The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor—the Truth and the Turmoil finds her eager as ever to rummage in the royal laundry basket ... The result of Ms. Brown’s research is a handsome volume—enriched by footnotes and telling photographs—that spans 25 years of a monarchy afflicted by recurring bouts of silliness and sleaze ... If some of the revelations are inevitably a little stale, all are richly seasoned. Indeed, when it comes to pithy asides, Ms. Brown can be positively Wildean ... Zingers crisscross these pages like tracer fire. And though there’s the occasional reckless phrase...most are strategically deployed to enliven a substantial narrative ... The Palace Papers is studded with...jewels. For, like her sovereign, Ms. Brown has always paid attention to detail and done her homework ... Thus armed with reams of solid information and frothy gossip, all expertly winnowed, she becomes the ideal tour guide: witty, opinionated and adept.
Well-sourced and exhaustively researched ... For this book she interviewed 120 sources, many intimately involved with senior royals, and her transatlantic perspective gives insight into the clash of Californian ambition with a thousand-year-old British institution ... Earlier in the book Brown revisits ground that feels like ancient history, but there are gems in there ... Brown does irreverent well. She’s like Camilla Long’s big sister...with the same knowing bitchiness and precision snobbery. Brown knows that the crumbs that fall from royal bird tables are intrinsically funny ... The writing is, er, colourful ... For the most part it’s an unashamed romp. Brown enjoys being subtly bitchy about Camilla and Kate Middleton, portraying them as endlessly patient, scheming women ... But Brown does serious too. She acknowledges the racism inherent in traditional royal attitudes ... The Palace Papers is clever, well-informed and disgustingly entertaining.
Brown thrashes her way through absolutely everything that has happened to the family since the end of the last book in 1997 — the good, the bad and, in the case of the 2012 Olympics, the downright boring. How fun a chapter is depends on how badly the royals are behaving, which makes anything before 2010 dull. In the absence of any serious meat, you simply have to lie back and let her heady mix of light gossip and turn of phrase wash over you ... Reading some of her more frothy sentences can feel almost alarming. At the first magazine she edited, Tatler, she invented a hyper-breathy kind of glossy writing in which it was essential to talk everything up ... Charles and Camilla are vividly brought to life in a series of well-researched stories and anecdotes ... It’s the details that really help you through the book’s arid patches. Sometimes it feels as if she is summarising every article that has been written about the family since 1997.
Featuring a combination of preexisting press accounts and Brown’s own reporting, it’s high-minded and gossipy, and addictively readable, despite a slow first half spent revisiting the well-trod history of the Diana Years. Much like the royal family itself, it gets more interesting when Meghan comes along ... The Palace Papers is as much a forensic autopsy as it is a history. Brown spares no one ... Brown applies a scalpel to most of the royals but takes a sledgehammer to Meghan ... Even Meghan’s father, who has a thriving side business betraying his daughter in the tabloids, comes off better than she does ... Yet: The Palace Papers is still the most essential book of the Markle interregnum, although it’s admittedly not a distinguished group. Brown’s powers of royal observation remain exquisite.
... will be widely read because it’s very readable. Brown’s prose has the swoosh of an enjoyably OTT ballgown. Yet readers should not expect to be too enlightened. Some of the more interesting morsels, such as the view that the Queen sees Charles as too emotional and too materialistic, or that Ghislaine Maxwell once showed a friend implements with which her father beat her, are drawn from previous books ... But perhaps so much has been written about the monarchy that there is little new to add, particularly about the past three years. The 'palace papers' referenced in the title are figurative, not some batch of leaked documents ... Brown is critical of the British tabloids that hound all those in the royal limelight. However stylishly, she too is adding to the circus.
The story of Britain’s royal family, in the hands of Tina Brown, is a sort of high-spirited tragedy ... Of course, the monarchy’s survival is in the interests of not just the Windsors and their more loyal subjects but also the media. It’s unsurprising, then, that Brown’s position should seem instinctively conservative ... That’s not to say she pulls her punches ... Nevertheless, there’s no republican fervor animating her prose, no questioning that success for the royal family will come through continuity rather than upheaval ... Brown is sharply, unfairly skeptical of Meghan’s complaints to Oprah about the prison of royal life ... Still, Brown is a deft and wily royal chronicler, marshaling a heavy arsenal of details into a wickedly edible narrative. Her cynical eye and free, indirect style sustain and synthesize a range of viewpoints, and she’s retained the editor’s knack for devastating capsule descriptions ... On balance, though, the snappy title, which riffs on other notorious papers (Pentagon, Panama, Paradise), insinuates an intensity and frisson this chunky volume doesn’t quite earn. Royal watchers won’t be much fazed by the new material, and all the 'I am told's in the world can’t match the thrill of a devastating on-the-record scoop. With its large, ensemble cast, the book lacks the focus that made The Diana Chronicles so satisfying.
The Palace Papers is an apt title for what sometimes seems like a briefcase stuffed to overflowing with such conjecture, plus clippings, transcripts, observations, wry asides, literary references and trivial tidbits ... Not that Brown hasn’t scuffed her own shoe leather. She queries the equerries; she tracks down former nannies and ladies-in-waiting ... As in her earlier royal biography, Brown seems perennially torn between excoriating tabloid reporters for their most egregious trespasses and reveling in their discoveries ... The Palace Papers isn’t juicy, exactly, nor pulpy — there’s just not enough new extracted from the whole royal mess. It’s frothy and forthright, a kind of Keeping Up With the Windsors with sprinkles of Keats, and like its predecessor will probably float right up the charts.
I think the fascination of the monarchy is that no matter how many books are written about them, and no matter how hagiographic they intend to be, there’s always some new information within that proves they’re even more repulsive than you originally thought. This is genuinely impressive – superhuman, even – given that the Windsor’s shenanigans are about as unexamined as the assassination of JFK ... Brown doesn’t want her readers to hate the royals, which is always the problem with books about them. The royals, like celebrities, only matter as much as people believe they matter, and a book just about Andrew’s awfulness and Charles’s pettiness would be true, but would also make the reader question just why they are reading about this absurd, irrelevant family ... [Brown is] pretty much sticking to the script of the palace’s current PR strategy, which has cut the deadwood adrift and focused the spotlight entirely on the Queen and the Cambridges ... For those who haven’t encountered Brown’s writing before, The Palace Papers provides all the greatest hits ... You can’t write as much about the royals as Brown has without taking them seriously, and she absolutely does. Her writing becomes positively orgasmic when describing Kate’s alleged triumph in bagging William ... Brown is also an absolutely dogged researcher. A significant part of The Palace Papers seems to be gleaned from earlier, very well known books.
I must admit that I did not have high hopes of The Palace Papers ... But having ploughed through almost 600 pages of 'truth and turmoil'...all I can say is that if one must read royal gossip, let it be written by Tina ... Her interest is in dust, not diamonds. She has a taste, you soon gather, for minor characters ... Thanks to all this, the bits about the Queen and Philip, and Kate and William, are a bit boring. The pace picks up when she’s analysing the Duchess of Sussex ... But I think she’s at her absolute best when she’s dealing with the likes of Andrew and Fergie and with Camilla in the days before she finally married Charles. In these chapters, simply everything is either comical or ghastly ... Brown is quite inexhaustible. But as for what all this hard labour has been for, exactly, I don’t know.
... revealing ... entertaining and illuminating, but not tawdry, even as [Brown] deals with all kinds of tawdry actions ... Brown's writing is clear and witty ... Brown is measured in dealing with most of the players ... To understand England means understanding the importance of royalty. Brown gets us there beautifully.