Book review-"Elizabeth the Queen-The Life of a Modern Monarch" by Sally Bedell Smith

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I was skeptical when I picked up this book from the shelves of "new" books in the local library.

I love to peruse the shelves of recently obtained books. For there is where the surprises are. If there is a new book of the "true crime" genre, I'll find it on the shelf of new books as all those normally shelved under this genre I have already read.

I've a fondness for biographies as well but like everyone else I must suppose, I'm only interested in reading about famous folks that I knew or knew "of".

For sure I knew of the Queen of England. And just as for sure I'm an American and don't much understand such as royalty. After reading this book I am more confused by the concept of royalty, all the names and terms, the relationships, how it all came to be and why any nation of free peoples would keep a monarchy to "rule" over them.

At which point I hasten to insert two points here. First, the author did a very good job with the writing and background. She'd obviously been fed a lot of royal talking points by those inside the castles, more on this later. But her backgrounds, both political and geographic, were perfectly described.

Second, I do understand that Britain's royal family is as much of a tourist attraction as anything. This is likely why the British merrily choose to keep their monarchs when us Tea Party types are fighting back against politicians who think they're royalty.

Queen Elizabeth II is an amazing woman. I doubt there will be anyone like her in our futures.

Here's a woman born into a lifestyle that would define her, that would decide her future, all with no input from her beyond the accident of her birth.

Which is not such a bad deal, I know yon reader might shout. Consider Princess Diana.

Goodness if anybody had everything to include looks and money it surely was Princess Di. Now I know Diana played second fiddle to Camellia as Prince Charles' love. Any of us foolish Americans could figure out what was up. Now, with benefit of hindsight and may I point out that Charles is now wed to Camellia, we're pretty sure that Charles needed heirs and Camellia was already wed to another.

No this sort of speculation is not in the book.

This book's author was given details, so obvious during the read, by palace insiders who were passing out royal talking points.

For every distressful event or era during Elizabeth's reign so far was handled kindly. There was no flinching on the broader details, to be sure.

But do not think that this book is a juicy insider the palace walls type of narrative. The anguish of Diana is handled smartly but without that snark that child-woman so deserved.

Fergie too was dealt an even and gentle hand by the palace spokespeople who airbrushed her antics then gave the book's authors the cleaned up details.

The author did get in a few interesting details of what goes on behind palace walls from other published accounts by those not beholden to the queen for subject matter.

All in all it is an even-handed account of Queen Elizabeth through her years. The reader learns of Elizabeth and Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, various Americans from the closest we have to an "upper class".

Two things most intrigued me that I learned from this book about British royalty. First, they just make up titles should any sudden need require.

So, for a good example, Princess Diana needed a name after her divorce from Charles. Boom, Queen Elizabeth, with help from the royal flackies, comes up with a name.

Seems everybody needs some sort of "title" once they enter the royal realm. Silly me, I thought those titles were mandated by some kind of fiat somewhere, that titles and lineages were carried down from history.

Nope. They all sit in a room and make up "titles". How cool is that?

Finally, I learned what an equerry is. Goodness, Queen Elizabeth is served by all manner of folks, to include ladies-in-waiting, manservants, the "dresser", her secretary of protocol….on and on. An equerry is referred to often in this book so finally I looked it up.

An equerry is an aide, of sorts, on all things horses.

Oh yes, Queen Elizabeth loves horses and corgis.

Kind of cute actually.

Amazon link to this book.

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