Source and activity 4

'The Royals', by Kitty Kelley

'The Royals' book cover
© Warner Books, 1997
[NLS shelfmark: H3.99.3524]

'The Royals' provoked intense media interest when it was published in 1997. This was partly because, by coincidence, it was only a month after the Princess of Wales's death.

Kitty Kelley, whose speciality is unauthorised biographies, kept many of her sources anonymous in her book which states it is 'the explosive account of Britain's Royal Family.' According to the book's dust jacket it is also 'an uncensored history' that 'unveils the behind-the-scenes accounts of the royal marriages … and more about the world's most beloved aristocracy.'

The book was not banned in the UK, but its American publishers decided against a British imprint in fear of England's libel laws, source of the infamous 'super-injunctions'.

Kitty Kelley

Kelley has been a freelance author for over 30 years. She has received numerous awards including the Outstanding Author Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors for her 'courageous writing on popular culture'. She was selected by 'Vanity Fair' magazine for its Hall of Fame as part of the 'Media Decade'.

Kitty Kelley's website states she is 'America's bestselling investigative biographer'.

'Questionable inferences'

'Time' magazine reported in 1991 that most journalists believe Kelley 'too frequently fails to bring perspective or analysis to the fruits of her reporting and at times lards her work with dollops of questionable inferences and innuendos'.

The 'New York Times' claimed that Kelley 'just aims for the jugular', while former President Ronald Reagan described Kelley's work as containing 'flagrant and absurd falsehoods' that 'exceed the bounds of decency'.

Suggested discussion questions

How reliable do you think books such as these are in providing an insight into famous people's lives?

Do you think the Royal family should be exempt from public exposure or scrutiny?

Do you think 'tell all' books serve the public interest? Why or why not?

Source and activity 5



Themes in focus: Censorship


Censorship related material at NLS

Browse a selection of NLS material relating to all aspects of censorship by typing the term 'censorship' in the search box above.


Visit the 'Banned books' web pages that accompanied our blockbuster 2011 exhibition.

Censorship on the web

Index on Censorship is Britain's leading organisation promoting freedom of expression.


'The Guardian' website has a dedicated section on global press and media censorship.


Scottish PEN is part of a global organisation committed to campaigning for writers under threat.

NLS learning for you

If there's a topic you'd like more information about or if you have any suggestions for learning, email us.

Speak me