The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II
"An exemplary book." —Martin Amis, The New Yorker
"In Monarch, Robert Lacey makes you feel like you're right there—in the palace, in the castle...I was absolutely riveted." —Dominick Dunne
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor—who became Elizabeth II, Queen of England on February 6, 1952—has been loved and loathed, revered and feared, applauded and criticized by her people. Still she remained a captivating figure in the British monarchy for over seventy years.
In Monarch, a meticulously detailed portrait of Elizabeth II as both a human being and an institution, bestselling author Robert Lacey brings the queen to life as never before: as baby "Lilibet" learning to wave to a crowd in the Royal Mews; as a child "ardently praying for a brother" so as to avoid her fate; as a young woman falling in love with and marrying her cousin Philip; and as the mother-in-law of the most complicated royal of all, Princess Diana.
Featuring dozens of photographs, a family tree of the Hanoverian-Windsor-Mountbatten families, and a map that charts the location of royal castles—Monarch is an engaging, critical, and celebratory account of Elizabeth's reign that no reader of popular history should be without.
As a child, Princess Elizabeth longed "to live in the country with lots of horses and dogs." That dream came to a crashing end when her uncle, King Edward VII, followed his heart instead of his head, giving up the throne for an American divorcee. The princess's fate was sealed: not only was she destined to become Queen of England, but as Lacey shows in this skillfully constructed biography, nearly every upheaval of her otherwise quiet and dutiful 50-year reign would be the direct consequence of impetuous relatives putting personal needs above royal responsibility. It's all here: the romantic debacles of Di, Fergie, Margaret, Ann, Charles and Andrew, as well as Prince Philip's unfailing ability to insert his foot in his mouth ("How nice to be in a country that is not ruled by its people," he said to Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner in 1969). Through it all, there have been two constants: the Queen is pragmatic and restrained, and the media is all over every mucky story. Lacey, veteran royal historian and biographer (The Queen Mother's Century, etc.), writes with the cooperation of the Palace, and his portrait is sympathetic, but he also offers an incisive analysis of the development of royal media coverage (which started with Queen Victoria and the invention of the camera) and the relationship between the two powerful entities, setting this apart from and far above the average by-the-numbers royal bio.