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Edward the Caresser: The Playboy Prince Who Became Edward VII Hardcover – April 23, 2001

3.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Edward VII was king of Great Britain from 1901 to 1910, after whom the flowery Edwardian era was named. Weintraub previously wrote a well-received life of Edward VII's mother, Victoria (1987), and now follows that with an equally trenchant biography of her son. The author is concerned here only with Edward's time as prince of Wales--heir to the throne, in other words--which actually constituted the greater portion of his life. (He was already 59 when finally he succeeded Queen Victoria.) As prince of Wales, Edward was given no official duties by his selfish mother and consequently found the time to build quite a reputation as a womanizer. Weintraub looks beyond the reputation, offering a sympathetic interpretation not only of Edward's character but also of his upbringing as the eldest son of parents--Queen Victoria and Prince Albert--who set too-high expectations for him and always let him see their disappointment. An important addition to the British royalty shelf. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Kingsbridge Gazette Having written acclaimed biographies of Victoria and Albert, Weintraub turns to their son's long years as heir. This candid, scrupulously researched life goes into absorbing detail on his difficult childhood and often scandalous behavior...For any connoisseur of royal chronicles or books on the Victorian age this is an indispensable read.

The Oxford Times Riveting...A king in waiting for 60 years (this biography stops with his accession to the throne), he can perhaps be forgiven for burying boredom in the pursuit of pleasure -- sexual especially -- where so little opportunity was given him (cf. Elizabeth II and Charles) to make himself useful on the national stage. The poor chap -- too thick even to read a novel -- would ever, of course, be measured by his mother against that intellectual paragon Prince Albert, and found wanting.

Independent on Sunday Weintraub excellently conveys the sly tactics employed by the Prince to get away with as much as he could -- he did what he felt like, and when caught, made apologies that were both charming and disarming.

New Statesman Edward VII still haunts the British monarchy today. His 60 unsatisfactory years as the Prince of Wales bind all those rogue royal males together, the ones whose restlessness has proved so damaging to the crown over the past two centuries.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (April 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684853183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684853185
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,583,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Edward the Caresser is a fine biography of the Prince of Wales who became King Edward VII. The title is slightly misleading since he was only called "Edward the Caresser" after he became King in 1901, and while he was Prince of Wales he was known to the public as "Prince Albert Edward". But such quibbling should be put aside. This is a wonderfully entertaining story of a boy and man who had many fine qualities which were not appreciated by his parents Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who set impossibly high standards for him and were constantly and openly disappointed when he failed to meet them. Bertie (as he was known in the family) also had to deal with being compared to his older sister and younger brother, who were their parents' favorites. After being made to bear the burden of being (in his mother's eyes) the chief contributor to his father's death, Bertie spent the rest of Victoria's reign looking for something to do. Since the Queen refused to allow him constructive work, having fun in various dissipations was his main occupation. Given such a background, the fact that Bertie turned out to be a kind, good natured man with a wide circle of friends and a loving wife and family is surprising.
Stanley Weintraub always produces a fine biography, and I hope he will follow up on "Edward the Caresser" with another volume on Edward VII's reign. It will be interesting to see how the playboy prince from an emotionall disadvantaged background turned into one of the most successful and well beloved British monarchs of the twentieth centuries
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Format: Hardcover
An old saying goes something like, 'The child is the father of the man.' Coming off successful biographies of Queen Victoria, the Prince Consort, and other eminent Victorians, Stanley Weintraub has given us a fine biography of the Victorian era's most elderly 'child' of all, Albert Edward (aka 'Bertie'), the Prince of Wales.
Heir to the throne must be a difficult position in the best of circumstances and despite his luxuriant lifestyle, Bertie's circumstances were not the best. His mother decided early on that her eldest son was uneducable (Weintraub argues he was dyslexic), unreliable, untrustworthy, and at least partially at fault for the early death of the Prince Consort, the husband she worshipped. As the decades passed, she refused to modify this harsh judgment, viewing him as a wayward and unruly child even after the Prince was himself a grandfather. In fact, if never an intellectual like his father (Weintraub seems to doubt the Prince ever in his life read a book cover to cover), Bertie proved himself clever, sympathetic, popular with the people, and a fairly skilled, if unofficial, diplomat. Nevertheless, the Queen would not allow him access to state papers, or hand off to him any but the most minor of ceremonial duties.
Barred by custom from involvement in politics, and by his mother from any meaningful preparation for his inheritance, Bertie devoted himself to the one area he could influence the most, society. Weintraub's biography shines in its illustration of how the Prince's active social life, essentially frivolous in so many ways, nevertheless helped him discover talents and develop skills that served him in good stead as sovereign.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you look in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of King Edward VII illustrating the word "cad." In fact, you will also find him next to rogue, rake and bon vivant. Well, not really--but he would be a perfect match! In Edward the Caresser, Stanley Weintraub explores the life of Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales, who later becomes King Edward VII. "Bertie" is perhaps one of the most colorful royals of the last 200 years. The oldest son of Queen Victoria, Bertie is a disappointment from the time he is small, and it just continues throughout his adult life. Because of her lack of confidence in Bertie, Victoria gives him very few royal responsibilities and he will come to the throne at age 59 with very little training. The Prince of Wales uses all his free time to over-indulge in eating, drinking, smoking, gambling, hunting, traveling and most of all, women. He associates with many upper-crust gentlemen of questionable character. And he tends to go from one controversy to the next. His name is dragged through the courts for a variety of offenses from gambling to divorce proceedings. He is blackmailed on more than one occasion over indiscreet letters he has written to various women. He has a number of illegitimate children and often stands as their godfather when they are christened. He also gets himself into tremendous debt financing this opulent lifestyle. But the people of England love the prince--mainly because he is personable and also, because he shows himself to his mothers' subjects: something the Queen stopped doing after the death of her consort. Bertie is definitely a charmer, and as he opens hospitals and plants trees, the British come to forgive him his indiscretions.Read more ›
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