The approximately 1,500 articles are arranged alphabetically and include entries not only for kings and queens but also for historical events, ceremonies, titles, residences, royal traditions, legends, and myths. The reader can find information here on Zadoc the Priest, the coronation anthem; the Bayou Tapestry depicting the Norman Conquest; Xit, the court dwarf of Edward VI; and Looty, Queen Victoria's pet Pekingese. There are entries for the earliest rulers, beginning with the mythical Brutus, the Trojan, up to the royals of the present day. The longest entries are for monarchs: Henry VIII's entry occupies more than three pages, and Queen Victoria's is almost as long. Information on major figures can be found in many other sources, but Williamson also provides tidbits on numerous less well known people. One would search in vain in the recently published Columbia Companion to British History [RBB Mr 15 97] for information on Louis, Louisa, Queen Victoria's dresser; or Louisa, Princess, Queen of Denmark, the fifth daughter of George II; or Louisa Maria Theresa Stuart, Princess, the eighth daughter of James II.
There is an extensive system of cross-references, including see references from variants of a name to the form used for the main entry. The use of small capitals within entries indicates those terms and names with entries of their own. The cross-references are useful, for it may be difficult for American readers, unfamiliar with proper forms of address, to understand why, for example, Princess Diana can be found under Diana, but Fergie is entered under Ferguson. The entries are written in a lively style, full of anecdotes and colorful details. The dictionary concludes with numerous genealogical charts, as well as lists of coronations.
Though not an essential purchase, this eminently browsable item would be a good secondary choice for larger public library collections. Mary Ellen Quinn