Saturday, March 10, 2012

Elizabeth the Queen (Sally Bedell Smith)

Events related to Queen Elizabeth II and/or London have been in the news quite a lot lately, from the much-watched royal wedding in 2011 to the Summer Olympics in 2012. 2012 also marks 60 years on the throne, which was only surpassed by Queen Victoria. Even though there has just lately been a renewed interest in the monarchy, she has done her job and put duty above everything else since her ascension to the throne in 1952. Imagine the weight of your country (and the robes...and the crown) being put on your shoulders at the age of 25.

Sally Bedell Smith's Elizabeth the Queen is a thoroughly researched, 537-page biography. It begins with the story of her parents, famously depicted in the the award-winning movie, The King's Speech. The Queen grew up during World War II, repairing army trucks, never one to refrain from getting her hands dirty. When her father died, her reign began, and continued through 12 (and counting) prime ministers (the first being Sir Winston Churchill) and the many, many dramas of her children and family.

Bedell Smith wrote Elizabeth the Queen for 2012, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year. At times, it can read slowly, and some things were not really necessary to include (I don't need to read graphic details of the Queen watching horse intercourse.). Smith is also extremely flattering to the Queen and presents her in an always positive light, even though there have been controversies along the way. However, it is fascinating to read about the ins and outs of the Queen's life, from her sumptous events to her comfort in routines. This is a very worthwhile read.