There’s something so delicious about royal novels. You get to peek behind closed doors and witness scandals, drama and betrayals against the backdrop of rich historical settings and details.
We’ve rounded up nine of our favorite books centering on the mayhem of monarchy.
Check cloudLibrary for royal reads you can enjoy on your mobile device.
This is a dramatic and engrossing novel about Marion “Crawfie” Crawford, who spent more than sixteen years serving the royal family as Queen Elizabeth II’s governess. She was one of the only people in Elizabeth’s life to wholeheartedly support her intent to marry Prince Philip of Greece – and that support costs more than she could have realized. This book is pleasantly well-researched, and all the historical details serve the book instead of burdening it.
Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel
A complex, character-driven twist on an epic! In the traditional Ramayana, Kaikeyi banished beloved Rama to ensure the crown would go to her own son – and this novel reimagines that story. Kaikeyi uses her palace’s scrolls to learn to magically manipulate and intuit the actions of people around her. She keeps her kingdom from disaster more than once, but the gods have more warlike plans for her. If you enjoyed Circe by Madeline Miller, you’ll love this compelling story about a powerful woman trying to balance rebellion and tradition.
Katharine Parr, the Sixth Wife by Alison Weir
This high-drama novel centers on Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, Katharine Parr, who manages to survive him. The plot moves smoothly through the political and religious turmoil of England in the early 1500s, handling Katharine’s relationships with realistic nuance and intrigue. Whether you’ve read the rest of Alison Weir’s Six Queens series or you’re brand new to fiction about the Tudors, this is an enjoyable read.
The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker
A Viking novel! After his stepfather fails to have him killed during a voyage, Ragnvald Eysteinsson is out for revenge – and to regain his hereditary lands. As the young warrior aligns with Harald of Vestfold, who wants to unite Norway under his rule, his sister must make a difficult decision about the arranged marriage she faces. This book is intricately plotted with a rich, detailed world and well-written action scenes.
The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman
This book by an accomplished historian places a fictional character – a healer named Lady Frances Gorges – in the real court of King James I. She attempts to navigate palace politics but is viewed with suspicion by many. After all, witch hunts are a very real danger for women with medical knowledge. The story culminates in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. With lots of rich and well-researched details, this book expertly conveys the tension between Protestantism and Catholicism and the prevailing attitudes toward witchcraft.
The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
A novel that is both lyrical and atmospheric, The Lost Queen is based on recent research showing the Arthurian legends may have had Scottish origins. The story centers on strong-willed Languoreth, daughter of King Morken of Goddeu, who doesn’t want his daughter to become a Wisdom Keeper like her twin brother. As Languoreth ages, she’s threatened from all sides: the invading Anglo-Saxons, the growing influence of Christianity, and the tyrannical High King’s son. If you enjoyed Mists of Avalon, The Lost Queen may be an appealing read.
A Most English Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria’s Daughter by Clare McHugh
This sweeping novel focuses on the life of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s daughter, Victoria, the Princess Royal of England. At age seventeen, she married the heir of the Prussian throne at a tumultuous period in German history. United in their efforts to create a liberal, unified Germany, Victoria attempts to navigate the treacherous waters of 19th century German politics. Although Victoria’s story ultimately ends in tragedy, the author’s portrayal of “Vicky” is appealing, and this is one royal story that should be more widely known.
The Queen’s Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire by Allison Pataki
Before Josephine there was Desiree Clary: Napoleon’s first love. This novel is a blend of history and romance and shows the rise of Napoleon as seen through the eyes of his first fiancée. As Napoleon becomes increasingly occupied by his military ambitions, Desiree finds herself usurped by Josephine. Desiree’s story is engrossing and her portrayal is intelligent and sympathetic.
Set against the backdrop of British and American royalty in the 20s, this novel shares the true story of American Thelma Morgan, who had an affair with Prince Edward long before he gave up his crown for Wallis Simpson. If you like The Crown on Netflix, this well-researched story of a high society woman embroiled in scandal is for you.