“Poor darlings, they have never had any fun yet,” King George VI wrote on V-E Day in 1945. He actually knew better. He had instigated plenty of fun for the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret, during their war years at Windsor Castle. But the notion of their adolescent lives as a kind of purdah hardened over time into conventional wisdom.
Now comes a parade of delicious details to persuade us otherwise in The Windsor Diaries. Alathea Fitzalan Howard was kin to the 16th Duke of Norfolk, one of the grandest aristocrats in England. Ditched by her separated parents, she spent the Second World War with her octogenarian grandfather, Lord Fitzalan of Derwent. His home was Cumberland Lodge, located beyond the famous Copper Horse statue, some three miles from Windsor Castle. The strictly religious Lord Fitzalan had been living rent-free in the vast red-brick turreted house since 1924, courtesy of his close friend the late King George V.