the books that cast an unexpected light on Elizabeth II

the books that cast an unexpected light on Elizabeth II

the books that cast an unexpected light on Elizabeth II

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Thousands of books have been written about the queen. Many were mundane, some syrupy, some obnoxious, and most simply wrong. But there are also gems: biographies and stories but also novels that throw sharp and unexpected lights on this singular – and silent – woman.

Ben Pimlott – The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II
Academic historian and Labor intellectual, Pimlott was not the right person to take on the task of writing the Queen’s life. We should be grateful that he did. With access to many new parts of the royal archive and interviews with everyone from Princess Margaret to Hardy Amies, Pimlott offers a crisp analysis of not just the woman but the whole phenomenon of modern monarchy. He is particularly good at the queen’s dealings with her prime ministers. He of course he could detect nonsense at 50 paces.

Angela Kelly – The other side of the coin: the queen, the dresser and the wardrobe
Royal servants shouldn’t get too close to the royal family and certainly shouldn’t write books about them. But Kelly, who has worked as the queen’s dresser for nearly 30 years, is the exception. Kelly has become a very trusted personal assistant to the queen, not only coordinating all those hats and coats in primary colors, but also designing dresses from scratch. Her success was to ensure that her employer was simply the most instantly recognizable person in the world.

Marion Crawford – The Little Princesses: The childhood story of her nanny’s queen
In 1950, Crawford experienced the full thrill that comes from being cast out of favor with royalty in total darkness. He has published an account of his life as the housekeeper of the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret without the full permission of the royal family. Crawfie’s book may seem a little shy to us today, but it contains gossip about George VI and the Duchess of Windsor that horrified the Queen Mother, who warned her that royal servants must be “absolutely oyster”. Crawfie was taken out of the way of her grace and favor and never spoke to any member of the royal family again.

Robert Hardman – Queen of the world
The queen has spent more time traveling the world than any other monarch, constantly negotiating political minefields with the lightest of steps. Hardman tells the story of this untold diplomatic career, combining examples of how HM deployed “soft power” with lots of chat gossip. She met some rascals along the way, like Ceausescu and Amin, as well as Mandela and JFK. And she enchanted them all without giving anything away. Hardman is especially good with the quirky gifts he has received, from a pair of Brazilian jaguars to a baby crocodile in a cookie tin.

Jane Stevenson – The Empress of the Last Days
What if the rightful heir to the British throne was actually a young black scientist living in Barbados? This is the premise of Jane Stevenson’s exquisite novel, partly historical fiction, partly insightful contemporary analysis of the spin. Stevenson uses her prodigious historical knowledge to explore how colonial legacies still impacted the royal family in the early 21st century, and she no doubt will continue to do so.

Furry friends ... Elizabeth II and a corgi named Candy.

Furry friends … Elizabeth II and a corgi named Candy. Photograph: Steve Parsons / AFP / Getty Images

Penny Junor – Everyone the Queen’s Corgis
After all the guests had returned home and the servants had retired for the night, the queen had her corgis. In truth these Welsh sheepdogs are not the easiest companions and Junor has the scoop here on all their bad behavior, from biting lackeys to biting ambassadors. And then there is sex. A corgi mated with Princess Margaret’s daschund and the result was a brood of “dorgis”. However, the queen loved them all, feeding them, walking and even traveling with them. And they, in turn, have reciprocated without having the slightest idea of ​​her daily work.

Jacqueline Wilson – Queenie
It’s 1953 and Elsie Kettle is thrilled at the thought of going to London to see the coronation. But disaster strikes and Elsie ends up in a children’s ward with tuberculosis. Her best friend is the hospital cat named Queenie, who has some wonderful axes in her paw to keep the hours going. Wilson uses the thrill and charm of coronation as a counterpoint to the portrait of a children’s hospital in the early years of the National Health Service. It’s a poignant reminder of how the world has changed since Elizabeth took the throne.

Andrew Marr – Elizabethans: How modern Britain was forged
Marr retraces the people who made the second Elizabethan age what it was. These are the activists, artists, sports heroes, scientists and artists who shaped modern Britain as it emerged from the postwar black and white world of the Queen’s father, George VI. This is not a neat or smooth story, but it is full of energy and a kind of wonder at what has been achieved under the rule of a woman who, just like the first Queen Elizabeth, should never have become queen.

Craig Brown – Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret
You might not think that the satirist Brown’s brilliant and compelling biography of Princess Margaret has much to tell us about her sister. But Elizabeth is on every page, the reasonable one that contrasts with the naughty, sexy and monumentally selfish Margaret. This should make the queen look boring, but in reality what emerges is an image of her of her extraordinary restraint and sense of duty. Also touching is the fact that the princess, despite her many dislikes, remained a devoted sister and faithful servant of the queen, whom she clearly adored.

Victoria Murphy – City and Country: The Queen: A Life in Pictures
Much of Queen’s life and career involved graphics. This delightful table book is packed with photographs after photographs of Elizabeth of her in her multiple roles: carefree princess, solemn heir to the throne, bride, incredibly young monarch and until her last days as a grandmother to the world. Reporter Murphy provides helpful contextual notes, but the images are the stars. They tell us everything we need to know exactly about what we have lost.

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