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Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch [Kindle Edition]

Sally Bedell Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (227 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $20.00
Kindle Price: $12.26
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“An excellent, all-embracing new biography.”—The New York Times
From the moment of her ascension to the throne at age twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled admiration and 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 extraordinary detail the public and private lives of one of the world’s most fascinating and enigmatic women. In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. And we gain insight into the Queen’s daily routines, 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.
Scrupulously researched and compulsively readable, Elizabeth the Queen is a close-up view of the lively, brilliant, and steadfast woman we’ve known only from a distance, and a captivating window into life at the center of the last great monarchy.

With a new afterword by the author.
“[An] imposing, yet nimbly written, biography [that] dwarfs the field . . . a most satisfying and enjoyable read, one to be savored at length.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

Editorial Reviews Review

A Letter from Sally Bedell Smith

As a five-year-old, I first glimpsed Queen Elizabeth II on the black and white screen in my parents’ mahogany television cabinet in 1953: a glamorous ingenue draped in gleaming robes and wearing a glittering crown during her coronation in Westminster Abbey. Two generations later, children watched her as a proud and bespectacled grandmother in the same majestic setting during the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.

For sixty years, the Queen has been a constant presence as the longest serving head of state--iconic, distant, mysterious, dutiful--the only person about whom it can truly be said that all the world is a stage.

I first met her in 2007 at a garden party at the British ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. In a spirited conversation with my husband about the Kentucky Derby, she showed the animated gestures, sparkling blue eyes and flashing smile familiar to her friends but rare in public. I remembered what British artist Howard Morgan had told me after painting her portrait: “Her private side took me totally by surprise. She talks like an Italian! She waves her hands about.”

Nine months later I began my three year exploration of the Queen’s epic life. I was determined to make her accessible, to bring readers into her world and show that private side in an intimate and humanizing way. I also wanted to explain how she has been so successful in her unique role, and how she became “the sheet anchor in the middle for people to hang on to in times of turbulence,” in the words of David Airlie, her lifelong friend and former senior adviser.

As a woman I was intrigued by how she thrived in a man’s world, juggling her roles as dedicated professional as well as wife and mother. I also wanted to describe for the first time her close relationship with the United States--her eleven visits, five of them private, and her friendships with an array of fascinating Americans including all the presidents since Harry Truman--except Lyndon Johnson, who desperately tried to meet her.

There seemed to be a surprise around every corner: her physical courage when she was attacked by a wounded pheasant and charged by “dive bombing colts,” her compassion while mothering a teenaged cousin who had been nearly killed in a terrorist attack, her earthiness while crawling on her belly stalking deer, her joie de vivre while blowing bubbles at a friend’s birthday party, her fierce reaction to one of her top advisers in the days after the death of Diana, her tenderness toward Margaret Thatcher during the former prime minister’s 80th birthday party.

After two years of research and interviewing, it took another year to write the Queen’s story--to weave together the threads of a life of richness and variety with a great cast of characters both famous and little-known. I hope the result will enable readers to immerse themselves in her life--from the grouse moors of Scotland and kitchen tables of her friends to the state banquets and time-honored pageantry, where even in the middle of the solemn ritual of her coronation, the Archbishop of Canterbury could sneak the 27-year-old Queen sips from a hidden flask of brandy for a pick-me-up.


“An excellent, all-embracing new biography.”—The New York Times
“[An] imposing, yet nimbly written, biography [that] dwarfs the field . . . a most satisfying and enjoyable read, one to be savored at length.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Fascinating . . . After sixty years on the throne, the monarch of Britain is better known for her poker face than for sly wit or easy charm. Yet in biographer Sally Bedell Smith’s Elizabeth the Queen, Her Majesty sparkles with both.”—More
“Smith breaks new ground, [with the cooperation of] more than two hundred people, [including] the Queen’s relatives and friends. . . . [A] smart and satisfying book.”—Los Angeles Times
“A fresh and admiring look at Elizabeth II, a woman whose life has been chronicled in numerous books, but perhaps never with such intimacy.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

Product Details

  • File Size: 19053 KB
  • Print Length: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (January 10, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004X6PRIM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,942 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
166 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and heart-warming December 21, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As author Bedell-Smith points out in this comprehensive, balanced biography Elizabeth II is the only person in the world for whom all the world is a stage. She learned at a very early age to exhibit a public persona which is controlled but not phony. She is dignified and friendly but not a friend. The line is drawn and neither she nor her subjects can step over it.

We follow Elizabeth from her long-ago childhood to the present, learning an immense amount of interesting stuff, such as the fact Queen Mary, Elizabeth's grandmother, wore her tiara to dinner even when she and her husband, George V, dined alone. Queen Mary walked on her stage as a rigid, unbending poker, advising her granddaughter that smiling in public is vulgar, and although she inculcated in her granddaughter a sense of presence, Elizabeth put her own spin on her own image, a much warmer one.

Elizabeth's mother. the Queen Mum Elizabeth, who was a star in her own right, exuded a graciousness in public that endeared her to all . Elizabeth publically is shyer, less ebullient than her Mum, but comfortable in her unique role.Her father, George VI, was tossed on the throne by the abdication of Edward VIII, and he was horrified. He was a sensitive man but insecure, and suffered a pronounced stutter that made public speeches for him a nightmare. But he had courage, he persevered and brought Britain through the agonies of World War II.

The young Princess Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret Rose, lead idealized childhoods but duty was considered before all. The Princess had a role to play, and even though her ownchildhood friends had to bow and curtsy and call her "Ma'am," she was not arrogant.
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133 of 156 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The authorized unauthorized biography... January 7, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoy reading about Queen Elizabeth II and the British Royal Family, so I selected Sally Bedell Smith's Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch. Although Smith claims that this is not an authorized biography, it didn't take long to realize that this is actually an authorized unauthorized biography. While I admire Queen Elizabeth II, she has shown some warts over the years. Yet, this book follows the strict party-line when writing about the queen and Smith downplays anything that could be critical.

Elizabeth the Queen provides just the shortest of backgrounds about Elizabeth's childhood. In fact, World War II has ended and Elizabeth turned 19 by page 23. Most of this book is dedicated to Elizabeth's time as queen, her marriage, her children, her mother and sister, her royal duties, her prime ministers, her travels, her estates, her horses and her dogs. There is much to admire about Elizabeth, who came to the throne as a young woman of 25. She always has a seriousness of purpose and devoted her life to her country and the Commonwealth. She has also adapted to change, although not something that Elizabeth found easy over the years. But red flags went up when I started to see all the friends, employees, and even cousins that were extensively quoted in Elizabeth the Queen. Smith even provides entries from Prince Charles' diaries. Such interviews would not be tolerated unless Elizabeth gave her approval for this biography. And because of this, this book is just a little too much of a white-wash.

Smith's harshest treatment is saved for Diana, Princess of Wales. The adjectives that she uses to describe Diana are anything but complimentary (unstable, conniving, secretive, manipulative, etc.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Look in Queen Elizabeth's Life January 3, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is a lengthy read, so prepare yourself for some time to read it as it is intriguing, interesting and for me, personally, an eye-opener. I grew up in the Diana era, when she dominated the stage starting with her wedding to Prince Charles and I viewed Queen Elizabeth as this fuddly old monarch royal. After reading this book (of which I read an excerpt of in Vanity Fair and found it interesting enough to request this from the Amazon Vine newsletter), I find the Queen a much more interesting persona than what the news media would have you believe

This is a time-line biography starting from the time Elizabeth II was a little girl, but it really did not go into much detail of her earlier life since this is a portrayal of the queen itself and how she handled the transformation from being a young princess happily married to reigning a commonwealth of many countries. While the biography is not intimately personal as this is a book written with comments and conversations derived from people close to her, it is still interesting enough to read. It does give an insight to what the Queen might be thinking or doing while accomplishing her duties and this woman does take her duties seriously.

It is a bit of a harder read as it didn't always flow so smoothly in the narrative, and the details of how people are related to her as relatives, friends or friends of her children, can bog this reading down considerably. (After awhile, I found myself skimming the pages to get to something more interesting such as politics or events that were happening world-wide.) It is still an interesting read of a woman who continues to be an world-wide influence on today's events. I personally love reading historical books and this one is a good read, though not as well-written as I had hoped it to be. Still, it is an interesting read and definitely changed my perceptions of who this queen really is.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A thorough and very insightful biography of a very substantial lady.
Published 8 days ago by maureen moy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read
Published 18 days ago by James Clarkson
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative and entertaining. The author is a little ...
Very informative and entertaining. The author is a little rough on Diana, portraying her as emotionally unstable, but other than that it was an enjoyable read.
Published 18 days ago by Lisa Bond
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Biography.
If you want to know about Queen Elizabeth II then read this excellent biography by Sally Befell Smith with incredible detail and historical accuracy this biography will give you a... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Molly
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good book with a lot of history.
Published 1 month ago by Steph
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
I felt the book did a good job providing the life and duties of the Queen. I really looked forward to reading the next chapter.
Published 1 month ago by Peter Spear
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 1 month ago by AmazonJunkie
5.0 out of 5 stars Very pleased.
Shipped very quickly. Very pleased.
Published 1 month ago by John Wilbanks
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice
Lovely hardcover, a little hefty if you're not overly interested in her
Published 2 months ago by Lindsey
5.0 out of 5 stars So interesting! I never did rate Dianne as someone ...
So interesting! I never did rate Dianne as someone to be admired but this book certainly gives information previously not known. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Felicity Schutte
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