Having written two books about royal relationships-the extramarital (Royal Affairs: A Lusty Romp Through the Extramarital Adventures That Rocked the British Monarchy) and the marital (Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire)—I decided it would be fun to shake things up a bit and move in a different direction for the third book.
There’s never any shortage of royals behaving badly, and sibling rivalry, particularly in royal families, is also both evergreen and omnipresent. So I decided to play with those themes. And I interpreted the phrase “royal pain” broadly enough to allow some leeway to include a number of colorful characters. Sprinkled among a crop of genuine baddies, serial psychopaths with troubled childhoods such as Vlad III (also known as Vlad the Impaler and Vlad Dracula), Ivan the Terrible, and the Hungarian countess Erzsébet Báthory (Was there something in the water in central and Eastern Europe and Russia?), are the royals who were pains in the butt to their relations and sovereigns, such as Lettice Knollys and Pauline Bonaparte, and the royals whose actions (or reputations, whether appropriately earned or completely invented by the press) utterly embarrassed their families as well as the monarchy (I’m looking at you, Archduke Rudolf, Prince Albert Victor, and Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon).
I didn’t list them all here, and there are many more Pains who didn’t make the table of contents, leaving the door open for Pains Redux. Human nature + noblesse oblige= invariably bad behavior, whether it’s media-anointed American royalty like Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Michael Vick, or those people with yummy accents who live far away and wear crowns and ermine on special occasions and have thrones and coats of arms that they inherited, rather than purchased on e-bay. I’m always amazed that the rest of us continue to eat it up (the bad behavior), even as we tut-tut and shake our heads and claim to refuse to excuse it. That in itself fascinated me enough to write Royal Pains.