Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II
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For the Jubilee, I also watched a few documentaries about Queen Elizabeth. My favorite was, The Unseen Queen, 2022. There have always been people for and against the monarchy. Here is a quote from the book that I found put the situation quite well: “Left Wing radicals couldn’t understand why ordinary workers view the monarchy as a source of patriotic pride rather than as a class thing." Hardman briskly dismisses the suggestion that the Queen neglected her children Charles and Anne when small. As for the affair of Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend, Hardman claims that the story of “star-crossed lovers” was a myth invented by Princess Margaret after the event. In fact, Margaret herself made the decision not to marry Townsend, and the Queen supported her throughout. As for Lord Altrincham’s magazine article criticising the Queen, whom he described as a “priggish schoolgirl”, Hardman considers that its impact has been wildly exaggerated.
The definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by a renowned royal biographer in an updated Commemorative Edition following Her Majesty's passing, 1926-2022. Hardman takes the story right up to today and the Platinum Jubilee. The later parts of the book, which are dependent on interviews, will be invaluable to historians. By the second decade of the 21st century, the Queen had become the focal point of a revival of monarchy, driven by the two princes William and Harry. As ever, however, the danger came from within, in this case the war between the Sussexes and the Cambridges. The Queen acted with characteristic decisiveness over the Sussexes, insisting that they must choose to be either “in or out”. Rich in new material, wit, and original thought. With intimate and unrivalled access to those who really know the story, Queen of Our Times not only gives us the real Elizabeth II, but it also reminds us, often movingly, that we are living through one of history’s greatest reigns.”When discussing current affairs or politics, particularly foreign affairs, she never seems bored by it, or tired by it. I think it's that sort of combination of knowing "I have to do this" and finding it interesting at the same time." Most biographies of Elizabeth II follow the “Crown in Crisis” narrative, which frames the Queen as lurching from one disaster to another, and portrays her reign as one of managed decline. The TV series The Crown is an outstanding example of this story of catastrophes – and Hardman is having none of it. He maintains that, for most of the so-called crises of her reign, the Queen remained firmly in control. In addition to getting a good view of the Queen's personal life I also learned much about other members of the Royal Family. For example I had to revise my view of Prince Phillip. I had previously remembered some of his controversial statements. My view changed ,however when I learned some of the details of the good work done by his Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and also his hard efforts for his other Charities
You can get a feel for Hardman’s style and content in this article, published by the Daily Mail on June 1, 2022, the eve of the Queens Jubilee Celebrations announced in the opening statement of this review: The definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth IIby a renowned royal biographer in an updated Commemorative Edition following Her Majesty's passing, 1926-2022. Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen tells the story of the Queen's life through BBC exclusive access to never-before-seen home videos and footage of Elizabeth’s private moments, making it the most complete look at her life in existence to date.This is a beautifully crafted, deeply informed, and rounded portrait of the gold standard monarch and the age to which she has given her name. Robert Hardman’s Queen of Our Times has depth feel and insight in abundance. Professor Peter Hennessy
This article from Elite Daily contains a nice list of documentaries if you would like more in that genre... While I’m not interested in the celebrity of monarchy, I am interested in the governance/ geopolitical precedent of the English system. Most of my reading of the Royal Family has taken place in context of history and biography. I also watch a few documentaries. Though I write more of my musings about the ethics of the system in my review, the only other book I have also read/ reviewed is the inferior:There are plenty of good stories. Who knew that Thelma Holland, who did the Queen’s makeup for her Coronation, was the daughter-in-law of Oscar Wilde? There’s an anecdote about the sharp-eyed Queen inspecting film footage of Queen Victoria at one of her Jubilees. “That’s interesting,” she remarked after a pause. “They had eight horses on the landau.” Or a glimpse of the Queen on a Pacific cruise in the 1970s helping one of her equerries to dress up as a Polynesian beauty. The Queen was kneeling on the floor, and “he was stripped to the waist and she was fitting a brassiere on him.” Andrew Roberts A compendious new biography . . . closely observed . . . I relished the incidental details