Synopses & Reviews
In this magisterial new biography, New York Times bestselling author Sally Bedell Smith brings to life one of the world’s most fascinating and enigmatic women: Queen Elizabeth II.
From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.
In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibet as she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines—the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press—as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends.
Compulsively readable and scrupulously researched, Elizabeth the Queen is a close-up view of a woman we’ve known only from a distance, illuminating the lively personality, sense of humor, and canny intelligence with which she meets the most demanding work and family obligations. It is also a fascinating window into life at the center of the last great monarchy.
"In her 60-year-reign, Elizabeth II has evolved 'from beautiful ingÃ©nue to businesslike working mother to wise grandmother,' whose grave public persona conceals her spirit, intelligence, humor, and joie de vivre. In a respectful, engrossing, and perceptive portrayal, Smith (Diana in Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess) relates that Elizabeth defied her mother in marrying her cheeky third-cousin Prince Philip of Greece, but she bowed to Churchill in not adopting Philip's surname, which strained their marriage; while her laissez-faire attitude toward child-rearing allowed a flinty, critical Philip to dominate the sensitive Charles. Her compassion in shaking hands with cured Nigerian lepers in 1956 prefigured Diana's handshake with an AIDS patient in 1987. But while some of the inner workings of the monarchy are exposed, Smith often pulls her punches; the queen's passion for her dogs and horses gets more ink than daughters-in-law Camilla and Sophie, and the monarch remains distant, her thoughts and feelings ultimately unknowable. Photos. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From New York Times bestselling author Sally Bedell Smith comes a magisterial new biography of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, one of the world’s most fascinating, enigmatic, and admired women.
Sally Bedell Smith is known for her compulsively readable, prodigiously researched portraits of iconic public figures, from the Clintons to the Kennedys to Princess Diana. In Elizabeth the Queen, she explores in intimate detail the public and private life of the most prominent monarch of our time: the eldest daughter of King George VI, who ascended to the throne in 1952 at the tender age of twenty-five and has beguiled royal observers ever since.
In an enterprising feat of scholarship, Smith managed to get the first look at a trove of research materials that bring fresh insights into Queen Elizabeth’s professional and family relationships, including those with her husband of nearly sixty-five years, Prince Philip, her four headline-grabbing children, and her grandchildren William and Harry. Here is a compelling profile drawn from the Queen’s personal correspondence, the unpublished journals of a former American ambassador, and hundreds of interviews with some of the Queen’s closest friends (a number of whom have not spoken before), key advisers, family and neighbors, as well as former heads of state, first ladies and ambassadors from the U.K., U.S., and Canada.
Published to coincide with the British monarch’s sixtieth year on the throne—her Diamond Jubilee—in 2012, Sally Bedell Smith’s groundbreaking biography is an up-close and eye-opening look at Elizabeth the leader, strategist, and diplomat; the daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother: Elizabeth the Queen.
About the Author
Sally Bedell Smith is the author of the bestselling biographies of William S. Paley, Pamela Harriman, Diana, Princess of Wales, John and Jacqueline Kennedy, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. A contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1996, she previously worked at Time and The New York Times, where she was a cultural news reporter. She was awarded a Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award for magazine reporting in 1982 and was a fellow at the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center in 1986.