Although I did not know it at
the time, I began working on this book when I was eleven years
old. Already a confirmed anglophile, I had heard that the
official biography of King George VI had been published in
the United States, and I badgered my British-American mother
for a month until she relented and drove me thirty minutes
north of our home in Melrose, Massachusetts, to a biography
bookstore, where I purchased the book. As a boy, I also had
what I thought was a completely separate interest in U.S.
presidential history and in presidential families. In 1971,
when Joseph Lash published his landmark biography of Eleanor
and Franklin, I became enthralled with their forty-year relationship.
As I completed my doctorate in clinical psychology and began
a practice specializing in couple's therapy, I became intrigued
with how a husband and wife managed the rhythms of closeness
and separateness within a marriage, the effect of political
and public life on a marriage, and how couples kept a marriage
together for higher purposes. I began to see the Roosevelts
and the Kennedys (and later the Adamses and the Bushes) as
America 's democratic versions of the British royal dynasty.
The inspiration for this book came
in 2001 when Majesty magazine asked me to write
an article detailing the relationship between British monarchs
and American presidents. My article, "Resolute Relations,"
spanned more than a hundred and fifty years, from Queen
Victoria and James Buchanan through Franklin Roosevelt and
George VI, to Elizabeth II and eleven U.S. presidents. I
became fascinated with the significance of the alliance
between the Roosevelts and the British royal family, as
evidenced in two decades of correspondence between the two
families - most vividly in their wartime letters - and was
surprised by the extent and the calculation of the British
government's carefully orchestrated campaign to win the
United States to England's side in the 1930s and 1940s,
when democracy was threatened by totalitarianism.
I began researching this book in
the archives of Franklin Roosevelt library at Hyde Park.
Impressed with the wealth of letters and material about
the King and Queen's 1939 state visit to Washington and
Hyde Park, I continued my research at the Royal Archives
in Windsor Castle, where I found further confirmation of
the breadth of the connection between the British royal
family and the Roosevelts. Several of the Roosevelt grandchildren,
most particularly Christopher Roosevelt and Nina Gibson,
generously helped me understand Eleanor and Franklin's royal
As an outgrowth of my research,
I represented the Roosevelt family in negotiations with
the Queen Mother's private secretary to obtain a statement
from the Queen Mother for placement on a plaque in Top Cottage,
the site of the famous picnic, at the Hyde Park historical
site. When I met with Sir Alastair Aird, at Clarence House
on March 27, 2002, he said that "it is a very dark
day"- the Queen Mother had grown quite ill. Right
after our meeting, he paid his last visit to her. Three
days later the Queen Mother died in her one hundred and
The more I studied Eleanor and Franklin
Roosevelt, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the more
I admired them- even as I discovered all of their foibles
and weaknesses. Spending several years intimately researching
the lives of these four noble leaders changed me. Now I
spend much more time in public service and use my historic
home (built by Martin Van Buren's best friend and visited
by FDR) for charity fundraisers and community events.
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