Royal Confinements by Jack Dewhurst Book Review

Royal Confinements was first released in 1980 and has recently been re-released with an additional chapter focussing on a few cases post-Queen Victoria. It tracks the obstetric history of the British Royals from Catherine of Braganza to – originally – Queen Victoria. It is not limited to Queens.

Some had very tragic stories, such as Queen Anne and Princess Charlotte. Some are success stories. Royal Confinements is very interesting indeed and is one of the rare books that focusses on what was perhaps the most important part of royal life for women – the need to produce an heir.

Overall, the book is well-researched and quite easy to read. I did notice quite a few errors. Queen Victoria’s mother is referred to as Mary, and although one of her names is certainly Marie, I have never seen her referred to as anything other than Victoire/Victoria. Her elder daughter from her first marriage is called Theodora while she was actually Feodora. The child born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 1819 is referred to as the heir apparent to Great Britain and Hanover, even though he was still behind several uncles who could technically still produce children (sons in the case of Hanover, which had Salic law). Even if he was the only grandson in his generation, he would still be the heir presumptive until his father became King. It seems strange that while the publisher took the time to note that Queen Victoria was no longer the longest-reigning British, it did not notice some of these errors.

The additional chapter picks up with King Edward VII and briefly scoots through the main players of the 20th century into the early 21st century. Tragically, this book also falls foul with their use of “Princess Diana” and calling out the Duchess of Cambridge for “breaking the rule” for wanting to have her children in hospital. I thought we were past the time when women had no say in giving birth. The Duchess of Sussex is also referred to as “Meghan Markle” even after she is married and in the final paragraphs, their son’s name is discussed – not sure how that was relevant.

I am not sure how the original book was served with this reprint. The book left an overall bad taste in my mouth despite its original author’s (probable) best intentions.

Royal Confinements by Jack Dewhurst is available now in the UK and the US.

About Moniek Bloks 2749 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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