Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch

(10 customer reviews)


SKU: B004X6PRIM Category:


  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B004X6PRIM
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House (January 10, 2012)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ January 10, 2012
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 21520 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 721 pages

10 reviews for Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch

  1. ColorMeBeth

    Very intensive compilation
    This is not a light hearted or puff piece. This is an intensive, detailed , historical account of her entire life. For me, that’s perfect. I love the behind the scenes explanation of what we knew already. Not light reading but very detailed. I love. Only complaint is this was listed as used, very good condition but it was only satisfactory condition. For the price I paid tho, I still got a good deal. I wish it were the hard back version.

  2. John D. Cofield

    Her Majesty: The Public Face, And Some Of The Private Life
    Queen Elizabeth II must be one of the most instantly recognizable personalities in the world. Since her birth in 1926, and especially since her accession in 1952 she has been in the publicity spotlight almost without a break. Incredibly, she has rarely put a foot wrong, only occasionally being caught scowling or agitated and never being seen as anything other than coolly polite and interested in whoever she’s meeting or whatever she’s being shown. Despite the unceasing attention, however, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor has managed to keep much of her life and personality private.

    This excellent new biography by Sally Bedell Smith is an apt example of this conundrum. Smith, an American journalist and biographer, has chronicled the Queen’s public life extensively and almost exhaustively. Her early years as Princess, when she was less often in the public eye, are covered in the first couple of chapters, while her reign as Queen is described in great but not overwhelming detail from then on. Much of the book deals with the political issues the Queen has had to deal with. We learn of her dealings with each of her twelve Prime Ministers, her relationships with the other Commonwealth countries, the controversies in which she has at times become embroiled, and her meetings and sometimes friendships with the leaders of other nations, particularly the successive US Presidents since Harry Truman. Her ceaseless rounds of visits, audiences, and ceremonies are covered, and we are given a good idea of what she does on a typical day. Interspersed with this more public history are glimpses into her private life. We learn much about her interests in dogs and horses and hear from friends and cousins about her sense of humor.

    While Smith’s biography contains an enormous mass of fascinating and revealing material, there is still much that many would like to know more about that is not covered. While the Queen’s own relationships with her husband and children are discussed in great detail, her purely personal reactions to issues like her children’s marital problems are not revealed. That is not Smith’s fault, its due to the Queen’s understandable desire to keep some things private. Nevertheless we get a good idea of the Queen’s personality and of what it might be like to spend time with her. The book covers the Queen’s life through the wedding of her grandson Prince William and finishes up with a preview of the planned Diamond Jubilee celebrations for 2012.

    As an American Anglophile and monarchist of many years’ standing I thoroughly enjoyed Smith’s biography. It left me with an even deeper appreciation of a lady who has been conscientiously going about her duties for more years than I’ve been alive. I’ve seen the Queen a few times, always in her ceremonial public role, when its impossible to see her as more than a public icon. But once I did see something of her private self break through, when I was watching the Order of the Garter procession at Windsor Castle in 1983. I was near the front of a large crowd which broke into cheers as the Queen passed by. An elderly gentleman near me cried out “God Bless Your Majesty!” She heard him, smiled, and mouthed “Thank you!” to him as she passed. A small moment, but one that gave me a little bit of insight into her as a person. I felt some of the same insights as I read this biography.

  3. Curtis A Commabatch

    This was for my mother and she likes it.

  4. C. Jackson Blair

    As a contemporary of Prince Charles in age, I have grown up with news reports about Britain’s royal family. At one time I worked for one of Britains most famous merchant banking houses. Over the years I had the privilege of meeting Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, for tea and on another occasion at a small dinner party in NYC. I had two similar social events with Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. My wife and I attended the Commonwealth Services at Westminster Abbey one year and saw the Queen. I mention all this because I want to establish some background beyond just reading about the Royals in the news.

    As a huge supporter and fan of Elizabeth II I approached this book with the hope it would do her justice. I found it did just that.

    She will be considered historically as one of Britain’s greatest rulers. She takes her job seriously, carries out her functions with diplomatic skill and grace, works very hard and has an inner sense of history and an outer sense of class.

    As a Royal, no one even comes close to Elizbeth II in accomplishment and patriotic commitment to her countrymen. The book demonstrates how deftly she handles the deep political divisions in the Commonwealth. It provides a glimpse of the balancing act she must present in dealing with Labor and Tory Prime Ministers. It clearly shows that while politicians come and go in the favor of the public, the Queen retains very high marks from all.

    The book does less to chronicle how she has failed as a mother. While she provided England with four heirs, from their births she had little time for the more traditional motherly duties. Not only have her children proven in their young adult years to have very few of her outstanding qualities, the have brought shame to the House of Windsor for years.

    Not once in her long reign has the Queen acted in a way that would have harmed her country or her family. I would have appreciated the author spending more time trying to account for these two very different performances, one as Queen and the other as Mother, in her book.

    The author also fails to properly account for the life of the Queen’s consort, Philip. It appears that he has been a stalwart for the Queen personally, their affection for one another having commenced when the Queen was only 13 years of age. That said, Philip is a bit notorious and little of that was touched on. Again, especially how a Queen with the image of Elizabeth dealt with a reported playboy consort as well as a man who regularly misspoke while on official missions.

    At the end of the day, Ms Smith set out to write about the Queen, not her family. She succeeds admirably.

    The book was full of facts. For much of the Queen’s last decades David Lord Airlie was her Lord Chamberlain and orchestrated her every move and managed her household. I had the privilege of working of Lord Airlie in his business life and hold him in the highest regard, as does the Queen. The book demonstrates how important the Courtiers are to the functioning of the Royal Family.

    In a few years Elizabeth will succeed Victoria as the longest reigning British Monarch. Treat yourself. Buy this wonderful book that demonstrates how a very young woman became Queen as a result of her uncle’s abdication and her father’s early death and carried the crown with dignity and class throughout her life.
    We, as her contemporaries, are living at a time that always will be celebrated as a second Elizabethan Age.

  5. Deborah K. Lovett

    A Real Life Cinderella Story 60 Years On
    Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. For the first ten years of her life, although she was also HRH Princess Elizabeth of York, she was merely the charming daughter of particularly doting parents. Her father’s status as the second son of King George V foretold a life of luxury but not limelight for her. But then her uncle David became obsessed with a married American and when King George V died in January 1936, the new King Edward VIII refused to give up his inamorata in the name of duty–or at least scoot her a little to the side– and marry a maiden filly to produce an heir and a spare. Instead, eleven months after his accession to the throne but not yet crowned, he chucked it all and ran off with his girlfriend.

    In Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch (Random House, 2012), Sally Bedell Smith takes a thorough but not gossipy approach to the life of HM Elizabeth II, who celebrates her Diamond Jubilee this year after sixty years on the throne. Great-great-granny Queen Victoria would be proud.

    In some ways, the Queen’s life differs from ours merely by scale: You and I go on Ancestry.com in search of leaves for our family tree. The Queen’s Heralds can show her in detail how she descends from Alfred the Great’s great-grandfather, who signed a charter in 784 A.D. and Charlemagne’s fifth great-grandfather Pepin of Landen, who lived from 560 to 640 A.D. You and I pick which dress (or tie) to wear to a party. The Queen chooses a tiara.

    And some things are exactly the same. The Queen and her younger sister Princess Margaret both sat for painter Pietro Annigoni in the 1950’s. When asked her opinion of her big sister’s portrait, Margaret replied, “Mine was better than hers.”

    But few if any of us had to keep an executive on the payroll for fifteen years, knowing he was a spy, as a matter of national security, as was the case with Soviet double agent and Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures Sir Anthony Blount. And it’s a safe bet none of us ever had the responsibility of choosing the next Prime Minster, the Queen’s job for Conservatives until 1965. In 1994, after a State Visit to London, then President Bill Clinton observed, “[B]ut for the circumstance of her birth, [she] might have become a successful politician or diplomat. As it was, she had to be both, without quite seeming to be either.”

    How the Queen has fulfilled her strange role and the life she lives within it makes for an intriguing portrait of rising to one’s duty.

    And where would Cinderella be without her Prince Charming? HM’s pepper-mouthed husband deserves his own tome: Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth II by Philip Eade. No stranger to hardship, Prince Philip grabbed hold of his bootstraps while he was still in booties and emerged from a rootless childhood to live a life of service, first in the Royal Navy and then as he forged a role in support of the Queen. It’s the other half of a great love story.

  6. Wolfie635

    Terrific history
    This is a very worthwhile book. I learned a great deal about the why she reigned so long. Great , enjoyable book

  7. Daniel Putman

    A Journalistic Biography
    It seems virtually impossible to do a great biography of a living person, especially one that is famous. Try finding a reasonably objective biography of George W. Bush or Barack Obama. Among the problems are 1) their lives and the actions they were involved with are not complete so events that shape our perspective of the past may not have happened yet, 2) many documents are unavailable, especially for political figures, so the author is left with questionable often superficial source material, 3) emotions run high and, no matter what position an author takes about why certain historical events happened, strong feelings will exist for the other side.

    Though Sally Bedell Smith does have the advantage of Elizabeth having lived a very long life at the time of this biography, the points above are real issues for this book. Even the apparently predictable Elizabeth may perform actions that surprise us or that put her overall life into a somewhat different perspective. Bedell hypothesizes in many places about why Elizabeth acted the way she did. But could the author have foreseen, for example, Elizabeth’s somewhat zany role in the marvelous opening to the London Olympics? Was it to show the “light” side of the monarchy? Was it to show the younger generation that the monarchy is still relevant and not a bunch of stuffy old folks? Was it to show a side of Elizabeth herself that she now wants to make more public? Whatever the reason (or reasons), it shows the problem of interpreting an ongoing life, even if that person is an octogenarian. Second and more important, lack of in-depth documentation is a big problem in this book. Many documents on the current monarch are not available and will not be for quite some time. So, for example, Elizabeth’s relation to (and reaction to) Diana has much information that is not known, despite the tabloids. Third, as many of these reviews indicate, there are strong feelings by both the author and the readers about many of the recent events in Elizabeth’s life, especially about her family. Biographers will always have a perspective on their subject and some feelings about the people they are writing about. But you also need more emotional distance than Smith sometimes shows. Henry VIII produces strong feelings too but there are some superb biographies out there and the quality of the book does not rise or fall by how much the author or the readers personally like or dislike Anne Boleyn. Emotional distance is critical. The events in this book are just too close in time and emotion and Smith could have done a better job taking that fact into consideration.

    The result is a biography that is incomplete in many ways and that reads in large sections like a journalist writing an extended piece for a newspaper. I thought the first half of the book was better written than the second because Smith could at least tie material together into a more unified narrative. But, especially in the second half, paragraphs frequently do not flow into one another well and there are weak transitions much as one finds in news reporting. Frequently also, a paragraph will make a point, then, like in the newspaper, reinforce it with a one line “clincher” quote from a source. Sometimes that source is helpful, other times it is a source that many historians would never touch at all or at least not quote without much more careful research. Smith’s use of tabloid material and the films about Elizabeth has its place but their use as primary historical material is not the stuff of great biography. Clearly, as many of these reviews point out, Smith comes down very hard on Diana. The author could have made more of an effort to stand back and be more even-handed about it. This is the problem referred to earlier. The author and we are too close emotionally to the subjects in the biography. But the author should know that.

    So I had a mixed response to this book. If one is going to do a biography of this Queen, it will by necessity take much recent material pulled from the headlines. However, like medieval historians using the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, the author needs to acknowledge the limitations of the source material. If you compare this biography with, for example, Elizabeth Longford’s biography of Victoria or Sarah Bradford’s life of Elizabeth’s father, this book often comes across as shallow and unnecessarily biased at times and uses some questionable sources. Smith’s book does pull together for the reader the events in Elizabeth’s life up through the marriage of William and Catherine Middleton. It does a good job at that. But the reader should expect a book similar in many ways to an extended newspaper article and not a biography in the traditional historical sense of the term. It is just incredibly difficult to do a great biography of a famous living figure.

  8. Little Miss Fun

    My Favorite Biography of the Queen
    This is the second biography that I’ve read by Sally Bedell Smith. The first one was about the Kennedys. I’ve come to realize that in order to enjoy her biographies, it helps to be really and truly interested in the person. Her books are so long and detailed. If you only have a passing interest, it’s not worth all the time and energy. Both books have been over 700 pages. I didn’t mind it with this one, since as some of you may already know, I love monarchy, as well as all things British. Let me correct that. I don’t just love the Queen, I adore her. I’ve have seen her twice, once from up close.

    Reading this was engaging from the start and I went through it relatively quickly. As far as biographies about the Queen go, this has been my favorite so far. It never felt dull or dry.

    The book ends in 2012, which is too bad, since I would love to know her thoughts on Meghan and Harry. She doesn’t think too highly of Diana. That section was eye-opening for me. I used to be a die-hard Diana fan, not so much anymore. I’m still not too keen on Charles and Camilla. I wish that it would skip them altogether and William would be next in line. Oh well. I know that’s not going to happen. Talking about wishful thinking, Britain’s had some amazing queens, if Anne had been the eldest and the laws had been changed earlier, I think that she would have been superb.

  9. Maggie Clifton

    Exactly what I wanted
    Arrived early exactly what I ordered

  10. Barbara L. Pinzka

    Extremely informative and enlightening
    With regards to  Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch ELIZABETH THE QUEEN] [Hardcover ] I must confess to a decades-old Anglophilia, no doubt permanently instilled in me when I had a chance to attend Oxford University’s Trinity College for a term in 1973. I learned a lot about the Royals while I was there, and I had the added benefit of long weekends spent with two very different couples: one upper middle-class and the other blue-collar. They and almost every Briton I met seemed duty-bound to inform me about the Royals and their admiration was, interestingly, fairly consistent. (They STILL hated Wallis Simpson for the pre-war scandal that cost Edward VIII his throne.)

    A THOROUGHLY researched (even the 70-degree-temp of the Queen’s bath), well-organized book, Ms Bedell Smith should be proud. I gave the book four instead of five stars because her prose style is very flat.

    Since my stay I’ve eagerly followed the ups and downs of the Royals and considered myself well-informed. After reading this book I felt that what I had learned was for the most part accurate, but at least until recent years the Royals acted like icebergs (and I don’t mean emotionally), whereby only some 10% of the berg shows above the waterline.

    As I read, I was often fatiqued learning what her typical day might be. Perhaps most interesting was learning that she and the Prince do manage to get together regularly with “just friends. All of the major members of the family – except Elizabeth, who’s too busy – have made major contributions in various forms of endeavor. Maybe I should include the Queen; she started the “Horse Whisperer’s” career and invested a lot of money to spread the word about his talents. There’s a lot of detail in the book about the Queen’s intense interest in and love of everything horsey.

    Virtually every Prime Minister, beginning with Winston Churchill, who has served her has praised her to the skies and the reasons are explained here. No one else has had such a long run, seeing governments and ideas and come and go, as she waits to see what will stick to the proverbial wall. Before I read this I didn’t know much about the Commonwealth and, once again, her role in creating opportunities for foes to agree on something is heralded.

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