Behind the Throne is a history of family life.
The families concerned were royal families. But they still had to get up in the morning. They ate and entertained their friends and worried about money. Henry VIII kept tripping over his dogs. George II threw his son out of the house. James I had to cut back on the drink bills.
The great difference is that royal families had more help with their lives than most. Charles I maintained a household of 2,000 people. Victoria's medical establishment alone consisted of thirty doctors, three dentists and a chiropodist. Even in today's more democratic climate, Elizabeth II keeps a full-time staff of 1,200. A royal household was a community, a vast machine. Everyone, from James I's Master of the Horse down to William IV's Assistant Table Decker, was there to smooth the sovereign's path through life while simultaneously confirming his or her status.
Behind the Throne uncovers the reality of five centuries of life at the English court, taking the reader on a remarkable journey from one Queen Elizabeth to another and exploring life as it was lived by clerks and courtiers and clowns and crowned heads: the power struggles and petty rivalries, the tension between duty and desire; the practicalities of cooking dinner for thousands, or ensuring the king always won when he played a game of tennis.
Behind the Throne is nothing less than a domestic history of the royal household, a reconstruction of life behind the throne. Readers go on progress with Elizabeth I as she takes her court and her majesty to her subjects. They dance the conga round the state rooms of Buckingham Palace with George VI.
They find out what it was like to dine with queens, and walk with kings.