26 September 2023

I Know I Am Rude: Prince Philip’s Life in His Own Words

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Nigel Cawthorne, Gibson Square, $24.99.

I Know I Am Rude tells the extraordinary story of the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip was the longest-serving royal consort in British history, being at the Queen’s side for more than her six decades of reign. They were married for 73 years.

Although Prince Philip had published a number of books, he had never planned to write an autobiography. On his 90th birthday, he had declared: “I don’t spend a lot of time looking back”.

That led Nigel Cawthorne to claim: “Consequently, we must build a portrait of him from what he says about himself. ‘I know I am rude,’ he once said. ‘But it’s fun.’

When asked if this trait was due to his turbulent childhood being passed around family members, he drily replied: ‘Wherever I happened to be it was no great deal. I just lived my life. I haven’t been trying to psychoanalyse myself all the time’.”

In this fond compilation, Cawthorne brings together many known and less well-known stories about the prince, giving an insight into the royal world where he “traipses around” rather than being professionally qualified in “something”. From his constantly forthright speech making, his fearless mocking of official ceremonies to his gentle teasing of Her Majesty, here is a truly impolite (at times) celebration of daily life in royal circles.

From having a turbulent childhood, to marrying Queen Elizabeth II, to his relationships with his children and their families – this is not only an enlightening account, but also a touching narration of a remarkable royal partnership.

Regarded as a ‘true friend of Australia’, Cawthorne pays a fitting tribute to Prince Philip and his priceless gems. It is a suitably majestic self-portrait by a leading royal expert.

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