The official and definitive biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the most beloved British monarch of the twentieth century. Consort of King George VI, mother of Queen Elizabeth II, and grandmother of Prince Charles, Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon—the ninth of the Earl of Strathmore’s ten children—was born on August 4, 1900, and, certainly, no one could have imagined that her long life (she died in 2002) would come to reflect a changing nation over the course of an entire century. Vividly detailed, written with unrestricted access to her personal papers, letters, and diaries, this candid royal biography by William Shawcross is also a singular history of Britain in the twentieth century.
With unrestricted access to the queen mother's personal papers, letters and diaries, this respectful, mostly uncritical biography by veteran journalist Shawcross (Sideshow) focuses on the courtship of Elizabeth (1900 2002), the daughter of a Scottish earl, by the future King George VI; the shocking abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson; and WWII, when Elizabeth's narrow escape from a bomb that hit Buckingham Palace helped her commiserate with her subjects during the blitz. Throughout, the queen mother is depicted as vivacious, charming, devout and dutiful, a dedicated protector of the arts if not an intellectual, and socially conservative. Shawcross repeatedly pulls his punches when it comes to revealing the workings of Elizabeth's heart, particularly her anguish over her nemesis, Wallis Simpson, and over her role in aborting her daughter Princess Margaret's romance with the married courtier Peter Townsend. The dearth of information on the queen mother's relationship with the late Princess Diana is particularly egregious. Although readers sense some of the parade of people who crossed her path, the royal engagements that filled her calendar and the pivotal historical events that shaped her life, Shawcross delivers a disappointingly bland celebration of the queen mother. 32 pages of photos.