Review: Prince Charles_HRH's guide to Great Britishness by @Charles_HRH (4/5)

Thursday 30 October 2014
A hilarious guide to being British from the hugely popular and award-winning Twitter parody of Prince Charles

There are plenty of guidebooks on Great Britain, but none have been given the all-important Royal Seal of Approval. Who better to teach the world than the heir to the throne?

His Royal Highness will cover everything from History ('Might have to sell France to pay for Richard III's car park fine') to British cities ('If you're wondering why the British are so good at cycling and rowing, take a look at the cost of public transport') and The Arts ('The Madness of King George III - fantastic film. Americans didn't go to the cinema because they hadn't seen the first two. Awkward)'.

Tackling the all-important issues such as why we Brits can form a perfectly ordinary queue with just two people, or why we love a Full English Breakfast despite the fact it contains 465,873 calories, Prince @Charles_HRH's Guide to Great Britishness is a hilarious romp around our sceptered Isle.

I was intrigued by this book when I first heard about it. Some of these 'fake' accounts are followed by hundreds of thousands of people so it's no surprise a book was commissioned, even the Queen has one. More often than not they are just a gimmick, but other times they absolutely work, and this is one of those times. It's the perfect stocking filler this Christmas as it's a book that can entertain the whole family. As someone who grew up receiving the Guinness World Records book every year (and still do), I used to read the records out to my family, I could see this book working in a similar way though some sections are a bit more adult focused than the GWR.

I knew I was onto a winner when @Charles_HRH thanked his Royal Subjects for buying* a book written by a real member of the British Royal Family and not Pippa Middleton. Brilliant. Described as a guidebook with the Royal Seal of Approval from the man who just can't wait to be King (amazing), you could hand this book to tourists and some of them would easily fall for it. I had to Google bits myself just to check whether my leg was being pulled all the time, or just some of it. It's written in a way that certain things come across as factual rather than as a joke. Some parts you do need a knowledge of the subject or person to 'get' the joke but for the most part it's understandable. The French might want to steer clear of the book though as there's a reference/joke/insult to them on almost every other page!

The book covers a wide range of topics starting with The History of England 'for some, history is that thing you hastily delete whilst logging off the Internet'; The Royal Family - with some brilliantly cutting and accurate observations about members of the Royal Family '(on Royals who have stepped down from the throne: 'it's wonderful what some parents do for their children'), and The Government - again, with some brilliant comments about our politicians past and present and the various parties. 'Mrs Thatcher died in April 2013. Considering the damage she did the British steel industry, one is surprised she managed to find a bucket to kick'.

Without the jokes one could almost have been back in school so I was happy when the book moved on to Culture, where @Charles_HRH discusses everything from The X Factor 'Essentially The X Factor is an ingenious four-month advertising campaign disguised as a TV talent competition' to Jamie Oliver 'Jamie Oliver single-handedly cooks every school dinner in England every day', and Haggis 'no known place of origin; most likely because nobody ever wanted to admit it was their idea' to Alcopops 'Anyone who drinks the so-called alcopops such as Smirnoff Ice should be ignored. '

Daily Life takes in the various stores in Britain from Argos 'customers check product availability using a special computerised system, which is almost guaranteed to tell you the item is out of stock' to the more upmarket Harrods 'A Harrods carrier bag suggests its owner might be worth mugging' before discussing the merits of McDonald's 'quite frankly one has seen more meat on a butcher's pencil' and Costa Coffee 'the official competitor of Starbucks - same crap, different place'. Also discussed is the London Underground, public transport and the British class system. As a self-confessed Tube nerd I did love the comments about the London Underground!

Capital Cities and The Best of British close out the book before a Mission Statement, One's Coronation Speech. There really is something for everybody and it's a lot of fun to read. It's hard to review really and it would be all too easy to fill a page with quotes from the book, but here's some of my favourites (though there are just so many, and some need to be discovered by the reader themselves).

For many being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, then getting an Indian takeaway or a Turkish kebab on the way home, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American sitcoms on a Japanese TV, finished off with a moan about how the 'bloody foreigners ruined this great country'.

The plague was responsible for the death of approximately 100,000 Londoners, all of whom contracted it on the Northern line, still coloured black on the Underground map as a warning from our history.

On David Cameron: if one had a pound for every time Cameron said he would sort out the country's problems, one would be rich enough to live under a Tory government.

One could say seeing London is easy on the London Eye, originating from a failed, insane Boris Johnson project to build the world's biggest bicycle.

On the Underground: high-priced paper tickets can be bought at stations, but have been made more or less obsolete by a cheaper electronic service known as Oyster, probably named because the price of travel makes you gag when swallowed whole.

Fish and chips are a classic double act - and yet they started life as solo performers. One doesn't know who came up with the idea of putting fish and chips together, but they certainly look good on paper. One doesn't take anything seriously in the newspaper, except for fish and chips. And even that one takes with a pinch of salt. 

The book could easily be read in one sitting, it's very easy reading however it also works as a book you just dip into, or even read out of sequence. Released at just the right time I imagine a few people might find this book in their stocking this Christmas and I certainly wouldn't be disappointed with it. Highly recommended by me it's a fun, easy read and very, very funny.

*Thanks to Headline via bookbridgr for the review copy which arrived in very fancy packaging!

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