It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the royal family. I have a Kate Middleton Pinterest board, a tote bag with Will and Kate’s faces on it, and I am always proud to tell people that I was in London in front of Buckingham Palace on the day of their wedding in 2011. Want proof?
So, as an avid royal observer, when Netflix announced that it would be creating a new show based on Queen Elizabeth II’s life and reign, I was automatically interested. So interested, in fact, that I purchased this biography to read before the show started. For many reasons, I didn’t get around to finishing this until just a few days ago. This book is a very, very thorough look at Elizabeth’s life, from her childhood through her diamond Jubilee, which occurred in 2012.
If you’re interested in the royals, and specifically the queen, this is a great book for you. It’s not an authorized biography, as the queen’s official biographer will only be selected once the queen dies. The author is an American, and she is very loyal to the queen. In fact, many of the other people in the royal family (mainly Princess Diana) are depicted in this text quite differently than I would have expected. So, in that regard, it is a little biased towards the main subject–Queen Elizabeth II–as sometimes happens in a biography.
That being said, the queen is amazing! Let me just share a few stats with you:
- She became queen at age 25. I am currently 25 years old, and it’s all I can do to reign over a class full of ninth graders, let alone an entire country.
- Her first prime minister was Winston Churchill. Let that sink in for a minute: Her first prime minister was WINSTON. CHURCHILL.
- She is 90 years old, and her mother lived to be 101.
- She has been on the throne longer than any other British Monarch.
- She still carries on her royal engagements even though the typical retirement age in the UK (it used to be a forced retirement age) is 65.
So my main takeaway from this book was an admiration for the queen’s longevity and perseverance in a job that is very taxing. According to Smith, Elizabeth takes the job incredibly seriously, regarding it as a calling from God. In her long rule, she has seen and done some incredible things. At various parts in the book I would visualize Elizabeth as a young, thirty-something monarch, only to look at the dates and realize she was already in her sixties and seventies. If the goal of the monarch is to serve as a symbol of national unity and stability, no one could do a better job than she.
This is one of my favorite quotes from the book–taken from a speech she gave on her 21st birthday:
“…go forward together with an unwavering faith, a high courage, and a quiet heart..”
I think, after reading this biography, the queen has accomplished all three of those things. I thoroughly enjoyed this biography–it gave me a closer look at what goes on “behind the scenes,” and I’m happy reading just about anything about Britain/England/Kate. If you’re looking for all things royal, here’s a short list of other movies/shows to check out:
- The Crown, streaming now on Netflix
- Victoria, a new series coming to PBS in January
- The King’s Speech, an Oscar-Winning film about Queen Elizabeth’s father
- “The Queen at 90” a recent documentary that I’m still trying to figure out how to watch! If you have hints, let me know.