10 'The Royal Diaries' Books We Read Over & Over

by Catherine Kovach

I don’t know about you, but nostalgia is my cure for loneliness. I get nostalgic over everything from the '90s: songs, movies, heck, even jokes about the old school internet make me feel nostalgic. But out of everything, books are the things that make me long for the past the most. There were so many authors that I cared about deeply in the '90s. And then there were also the series of books. From American Girl to Dear America, I loved and read them all, but there was another series that was closer to my heart than all the others: the Royal Diaries series.

There was so much about history that I didn’t know, and these book taught me so many new things. It took the elevated idea of the princess and moved it into a realm I could understand better, it helped me learn that even if a person was royalty, there was still a person under that tiara. Of course the book design was amazing as well, that incredible paper over board design featuring a portrait of said royal diary writer? Amazing. We just don’t make books like that anymore, which means that I’m simply forced to re-read the Royal Diaries over again! I’ve put together a list of 10 books from the Royal Diaries series that you should totally reread. Take a look, and remember a simpler time

1. Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor, England 1544 by Kathryn Lasky

This book introduced me not only to Queen Elizabeth I, the coolest virgin queen around, but also to the story of her mother, Anne Boleyn. This book spans one of of my favorite eras of English history, and but seeing it through the eyes of a very young girl was pretty chilling. Plus, who remembers cringing when Elizabeth complains about having "already taken a bath a year ago." Yikes.

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2. Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile -Egypt 57 B.C . by Christiana Gregory

The real Cleopatra was a pretty fascinating woman. It's interesting to see her re-interpreted as a 12-year-old girl and used as a pawn in what is essentially a real life Game of Thrones. Remember that time when Cleopatra's sister, the next in line to rule, ordered Cleopatra to drink a cup of poisoned wine while she was luxuriating in a bathtub? That is pure Cersei Lannister stuff.

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3. Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, Russia, 1914 by Carolyn Meyer

I developed my obsession with the Romanov family after watching the incredible not-Disney animated musical Anastasia. We know that the Romanov family, Anastasia included, all met tragic ends, but that doesn't stop this book from being a fascinating look at the lives of their lives... and how quickly their fates all changed.

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4. Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles, Austria-France 1769 by Kathyrn Lasky

Another member of royalty who ended up meeting a tragic end, this diary takes place long before that happens. It begins in the year before Marie Antoinette is to meet her future husband, Dauphin Louis Auguste. When I first read this, the only thing I knew about Marie Antoinette was her "let them eat cake" quote — which she probably never even said. This book turned Marie Antoinette into a relatable figure long before Sofia Coppola's movie ever did.

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5. Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, Angola, Africa 1595 by Patricia C. McKissack

I loved reading about Nzingha, who was not only a princess, but also a warrior. Growing up in the shadow of her lazy older brother, Nzingha begins to prepare to rule her people when a seer predicts she is the future leader. As her father stands up to protect his people from the Portuguese, Nzingha who steps in to broker peace. Jeez, what did I do as a teenager?

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6. Sondok: Princess of the Moon and Stars, Korea, A.D. 595 by Sheri Holman

Reading Sondok laid the foundation of my future love of Korean soap operas, but it's more than that. Set during a time when Korea was divided into three kingdoms, the 14-year-old Sondok writes her diary in the form of a series of letters written to the jar containing her grandmother's ashes (and her spirit). As the only child of the Emperor, Sondok will have rule if a male heir isn't born, and throughout the entire novel, she struggles between being the person she wants to be and being the person others expect her to be. I was a similar age to Sondok when I first read this book, and the message resonated with me pretty deeply.

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7. Weetamoo: Heart of the Pocassets, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, 1653 by Patricia Clark Smith

One of the heavier books in the series (which is saying something given the tragic endings for many princesses on this list), Weetamoo follows the daughter of the chief of the Pocassets, a tribe that she will eventually come to rule. Weetamoo ends up growing up and fighting against the English to protect her land. Reading this book inspired me to research her more, and though her story isn't pleasant, it's well-worth knowing and understanding.

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8. Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven, Japan, 1858 by Kathyrn Lasky

It's the year 1858, and Princess Kazunomya, half-sister to the Emperor of Japan, lives a life of luxury but is trapped behind the walls of her palace. She's used to this life, but everything is turned upside down when she learns that her betrothal to a prince that she has known and cared for her entire life might be broken so that she can marry a future Japanese Shogun. I was actually a little too old for this book when it came out, but it didn't stop me from reading it for the romance, court intrigue, and spying!

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9. Elisabeth: The Princess Bride Austria-Hungary, 1853 by Barry Denenberg

This book is a favorite, simply because it introduced me to a fascinating figure from history that I didn't know about before. Although Elisabeth was royalty, she was completely unprepared for the proposal of Franz Joseph I and the strict rules of the Austrian Hapsburg court. Also her son ended up dying in a scandalous murder-suicide... which didn't make the book, but makes for crazy true crime reading.

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10. Victoria: May Blossom of Britannia, England 1829 by Anna Kirwan

Queen Victoria is so well known that her reign marks a specific period of time in British history. She was also one half of one of the sweetest royal couples in history.... but this book takes place before all that. This diary centers on nine-year-old Victoria as she lives out her days as a very cheeky and clever princess.

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Image: Thomas Kelley/Unsplash