If you want to savour the brutality of European history when Bismarck ruled and Queen Victoria reigned, this is your book. There is not an ounce of cosiness in it. Unlike Daphne Bennett in her Vicky, Andrew Sinclair always refers to his tragic heroine formally by her title of the moment: Princess Royal, Crown Princess, Empress Frederick. The style frogmarches us – noun, verb, noun, verb – to where the author wishes us to go. Which is into a nineteenth century Spyland, where Queen Victoria’s ‘Intelligence system’ wrestles with Bismarck’s for the mastery of Europe. The basis of her system was royal marriages; of his, Prussian palace officials.
Sinclair’s whole thesis depends on ‘the other Victoria’s’ role being a double one. Vicky could be used as the centre of her mother’s alleged ‘Intelligence system’ only if she remained at least half an English princess. In Sinclair’s final words he says that she did:
Though she tried to