The Military and the Monarchy Q&A

By , November 29, 2011 5:09 pm

*       Besides the lack of published information on The Duke of Cambridge, what inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired by a lifelong love of the British army and the British monarchy.  I have always been especially interested in the Victorian era and the book served as a convenient intersection of all of my areas of interest.

*       In the book, why do you focus mainly on the Duke of Cambridge and Queen Victoria, why are they so important?

Both individuals viewed the army from a personal and even emotional perspective.  In addition to their royal blood, the army was an exceptionally powerful bond between them and both were tirelessly committed to preserving and protecting it.

*       What did you find most difficult about writing this book, and what did you find the most interesting?

Apart from the physical difficulty of having to travel and spend extended periods of time in England — and therefore time away from other responsibilities and family — the most difficult aspect was understanding and internalizing the perspectives and attitudes of the key players.  In many ways the mindset and underlying assumptions of the age are hard to grasp for a person living in the 21st century.  Although this is a challenge any historian faces, attempting to comprehend the rationale of the queen and her cousin proved daunting in the beginning (over time it became quite understandable).  The most interesting part of the book was finally understanding the details and complexities of military and royal life in the mid-to-late Victorian era.  An added benefit was spending so much time within Windsor Castle — the experience of a lifetime.

*       Why should people read your book?

My book is surprisingly contemporary in the themes it explores.  How should a military function in a democracy?  How should military reform be carried out during periods of continued conflict?  It also provides great insight into the final steps of the transformation of the British monarchy into a constitutional monarchy.

*       What is the connection between the military and the monarchy?

In Britain, the two are inextricably linked.  A detailed answer is provided by the book! ; )

*       Does the age of a military authority have anything to do with the success of the British Army?

Not as much as the effectiveness and discipline of the subordinate leaders.  At higher levels of command, age generally was not a factor.

*       How does Queen Victoria compare to the Duke of Cambridge?

The two are very similar in outlook and age.  Over time Victoria was probably more of  a realist, but both were indeed conservative and traditional.

*       How did the Duke of Cambridge influence his people?

He did this more through symbolism and appearance than any actual outreach.  He did appear before crowds and take part in national tours.  He also spoke in the House of Lords.  Overall, however, his main role was within the army and not the nation.

*       Do you plan on writing any more books on the Duke?

I do not plan on a focused work on the Duke, but I am about to begin a work on the British army.

*       Do you plan on writing any more books in general?

My current book in progress is Outsourcing the Military:  A History of Unintended Consequences.  Princeton University Press will publish it next year.


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