Steady as She Goes
The 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne of Britain has produced a predictably large slew of books, most of them pretty worthless scissors-and-paste jobs or photo collections. One exception is British royal historian Robert Hardman’s superb Our Queen, to be published in America as Her Majesty in April, and another is by Sally Bedell Smith, the American blockbuster biographer. Both have interviewed a large number of courtiers off-the-record, and the result is something I had thought well nigh impossible: good, new anecdotes about the queen that have the added advantage of probably being true.
Because the queen has never given an interview, and whenever she’s on official duty (which is almost always) she is constitutionally duty-bound to say only words that her ministers have written for her, her private personality remains enigmatic. That is why biographers of this kind completely rely on the Buckingham Palace insiders to give them snippets, and Bedell Smith—whose previous subjects have included Pamela Harriman, the Kennedys, and the Clintons—has certainly been favored with some privileged access. This was undoubtedly helped by the fact that, very much unlike those previous subjects, there was absolutely no sexual element involved.
About the Author
Andrew Roberts is the author of The Royal House of Windsor, now available on Kindle.