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Libris Horribilis--A User's Guide

August 08, 1993|Margo Kaufman | Kaufman is a pug owner, inveterate Royal-watcher and the author of "1-800-AM-I-NUTS" (Random House)

Attention Anglophiles! This summer brings five new palace exposes totaling 1,368 pages of gossip, toadyism, self-promotion, and intellectual muscle-flexing, which collectively make what the Bolsheviks did to the Windsors' Romanov cousins almost seems humane by comparison. I admit that a topless Fergie having her toes sucked by her balding "financial advisor" is a pretty easy target--still it's depressing to see the Queen reduced to the tax-dodging matriarch of the world's most publicly dysfunctional family.

Unlike last year's crop of imperial tattlers, these aren't particularly amusing or surprising. Perhaps it's because the suspense is gone. The instant Charles and Diana announced their separation they became like two actors in a canceled sitcom: yesterday's news. Instead of greeting each lurid revelation with, "Oh no. Really?," I found myself thinking, "Who cares?".

It didn't help that all the authors seemed to be working from the same outline. A reader can look forward to another retelling of the Abdication Crisis (surprise, Edward VIII still gives up the throne), a titillating peek at the Queen's sex life (the inside dirt on the failed unions of her sister and three kids, and incessant over-analysis on what went wrong in 1992, the Queen's "annus horribilis."

In the spirit of last year's dueling Amy fisher television sagas, there's a spin for everyone. Tough perhaps the moral of the story is in royalty as in automobiles--pass on the British and buy Japanese.

In the meantime, here's your guide to the top scandal sheets. Book: Behind Palace Doors: Marriage and Divorce in the House of Windsor. Nigel Dempster and Peter Evans Putnam: 22.95 Overall Tone: Pure Trash Author's Credential: Dempster (known on Fleet Street as Dumpster) is a gossip columnist for Daily Mail. Evans is a journalist who lives in London. Hero/Heroine: None; universal misanthropy Probable Source: Keyhole? M15? Imagination? Scapegoat: Camilla, Charles' horsey-looking inamorata Salacious Detail: At a reception following Earl Spencer's funeral, Charles took his wife's brother--the new Earl--aside and said, "I wish I'd inherited when I was Young." Pithiest Quote: "I just felt really sad and empty and I thought, "Bloody hell after all I've done for this (expletive) family." --Diana on "Squidgy" tape. Nastiest Description: On Prince Charles: "Prince Tampacchino they now called him in Italy--Little Prince Tampax," a reference to the Camillagate tape, where Charles expresses a wish to be reincarnated as a feminine hygiene product. Projected Future of Monarchy: Charles buy Camilla a house near Highgrove. Diana remarries and lives the life of a Sloane Ranger.

Book: The Royal Marriages. Lady Colin Campbell. St. Martin's Press: $19.95 Overall Tone: Truly vicious backbiting by a blueblood with a grudge Author's Credential: Ex-wife of a son of a Duke Hero/Heroine: Charles/Fergie Probable Source: Charles/Fergie Scapegoat: Diana Salacious Detail: Several minutes of explicit phone sex between Diana and James Gilbey were cut from the Squidgy" tape. The Queen saw a shrink. Pithiest Quote: "If you are staying with friends who had a member of the royal family and that royal was overheard making noisy and passionate love with someone to whom he or she is not married, your are obviously going to get a blow by blow description of all the oohs, aahs, squeaks and creaks." Nastiest Description: A tie. George VI is a "stuttering, spluttering, drooling prince," and the Queen Mother dresses in "frou-frou country-come-to-town costumes." Projected Future of Monarchy: Diana will eventually become the "Zsa Zsa Gabor" of royalty. Charles will become King and marry the author.

Book: Royal Blood Feud: Diana vs. Charles. James Whitaker Dutton: $22 Overall Tone: Shameless self-promotion. Author's Credential: Royal gossip columnist Hero/Heroine: The author Probable Source: Lady Colin Campbell Scapegoat: Andrew Morton, author of definitive trash-bio, "Diana: Her True Story" Salacious Detail: Charles slept with Camilla Parker Bowles the night before his wedding. M15 routinely taped Charles and Diana. Pithiest Quote: "Perhaps the Squidgy tapes might never have been published had it not been for me." Nastiest Description: Referring to Camilla: "She's frankly not the most pristine of women--you're not sure whether they're today's knickers she's got on." Projected Future of Monarchy: New dynasty. House of Whitaker.

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