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Monarch: The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II Paperback – May 13, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (May 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743236696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743236690
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,698,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As a child, Princess Elizabeth longed "to live in the country with lots of horses and dogs." That dream came to a crashing end when her uncle, King Edward VII, followed his heart instead of his head, giving up the throne for an American divorcee. The princess's fate was sealed: not only was she destined to become Queen of England, but as Lacey shows in this skillfully constructed biography, nearly every upheaval of her otherwise quiet and dutiful 50-year reign would be the direct consequence of impetuous relatives putting personal needs above royal responsibility. It's all here: the romantic debacles of Di, Fergie, Margaret, Ann, Charles and Andrew, as well as Prince Philip's unfailing ability to insert his foot in his mouth ("How nice to be in a country that is not ruled by its people," he said to Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner in 1969). Through it all, there have been two constants: the Queen is pragmatic and restrained, and the media is all over every mucky story. Lacey, veteran royal historian and biographer (The Queen Mother's Century, etc.), writes with the cooperation of the Palace, and his portrait is sympathetic, but he also offers an incisive analysis of the development of royal media coverage (which started with Queen Victoria and the invention of the camera) and the relationship between the two powerful entities, setting this apart from and far above the average by-the-numbers royal bio.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Although Lacey discusses Queen Elizabeth II's formative years and family life, his 16th book is not so much a biography as an examination of "the diminishing boundaries of [the royal family's] personal privacy" in the 20th century. Significant events, such as King George VI's death, Charles's and Andrew's doomed marriages, and the queen's financial status, are considered in light of how they are treated by the media and viewed by the public. Also highlighted are Mass-Observation, a volunteer organization used to measure the public's response to the royal family, and the intrusive tabloid press. Prince Charles cites the media's aggressive role in his rushed (and unfortunate) choice of a bride, and Lacey shows that Diana's own on-again, off-again relationship with the paparazzi served only to emphasize her insecurities. Plodding in parts, Lacey's work reveals little that is new about the queen, but it is a mature and thoughtful discussion of the public's evolving relationship with the British royal family. Recommended only for large public libraries with a special collection on the British monarchy. Isabel Coates, Canada Customs & Revenue Agency, Ont.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

The Queen - A Life in Brief.

I have been writing about the Queen now for nearly forty years, and this little book is intended to distil and re-shape what I've learned into one pleasant afternoon's reading - a summary of its predecessors Majesty (1977) and Monarch (2002, Royal in the UK), with further research and thoughts on Elizabeth II in the year of her Diamond Jubilee.

'Lege feliciter', as the Venerable Bede used to say - May you read happily!

- Robert Lacey, January 2012 -

Robert Lacey is an historian and biographer whose research has taken him from the Middle East ("The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Saud") to America's Mid-West ("Ford: the Men and the Machine"). "Majesty", his pioneering biography of Queen Elizabeth II, is the definitive study of British monarchy - a subject on which Robert lectures around the world, appearing regularly on ABC's Good Morning America and on CNN's Larry King Live.

Customer Reviews

Ok, I admit it - I'm a bit of a royalist.
Kathryn E. Pullam
The book does a very good job of describing the situation that developed at the time of the death of Diana.
shirley lieb
Enjoyable and educational - very well done.
Joseph P. Naughton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By shirley lieb on July 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book about the reign of QEII, goes behind the scenes and makes you feel a part of history, all without the tabloid style information that appear in some papers. Mr. Lacey's research is meticulous and his sources are close enough to the monarch that we knew these people witnessed the events first hand.
The book does a very good job of describing the situation that developed at the time of the death of Diana. It was interesting to find out that the queen herself approved of all of the plans for the funeral, many in fact were her idea. While not diminishing the role of Prince Charles in the arrangements, the queen and her staff were largely responsible for that memorable day.
It was also interesting to find out that Diana's sons had distanced themselves from her that summer because of her romance with Dodi. And also that her brother in law Sir Robert Fellowes was not the villian he has often portrayed to be in other books, where his feelings for Diana were concerned.
The history leading up to the accession of QEII is always fascinating and is well handled here in the book. The scenarios surrounding the plans for the coronation and her wedding give a real inside look at the royal family.
After reading this book, I was a little disappointed in some members of the family and staff, liked other even more and found a great respect for the woman herself. While she can be stubborn and dig in when the chips fall against her, she can also quickly see the light and move with the tide. Most particularly in the flag flap at the time of Diana's death.
I give high marks to this book. There is so much interesting history in the book that is can be read again and again and still hold the reader's interest.
On a more picky note, I found several mistakes in the book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Tiedemann on June 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've often wondered just what the Queen of England does. With no real governmental power and, seemingly at least, nothing much to do, hers looked (to me on this side of the pond)like a totally useless life.
Lacey's book doesn't answer my questions but it does seem that although she may not have the power of the President of the United States, she wields a power of her own that is just as important to her people. This book, however, focuses more on the person and her life than on her job.
"Lillibet" dreamed of a quiet life with horses and dogs and what she got was life in the fishbowl of royalty with horses, dogs, Parliamentary boxes and public scrutiny. Luxury, yes, but luxury well earned in terms of personal sacrifice. Where others triumph and suffer the "trials and tribulations" of living in quiet peace, Queen Elizabeth experiences much the same under the unforgiving -- and often misunderstanding -- glare of fame. It is not an enviable position.
Robert Lacey has a number of impressive biographies in his repertoire (THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HENRY VIII, ROBERT, EARL OF ESSEX and SIR WALTER RALEIGH, to name a few) and his work is imminently readable. MONARCH, The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II is not only beautifully written and researched, it's downright fascinating in its portrayal of a woman touched by destiny and pride. I can't help but hope he'll follow this by an equally beautifully written and thoroughly researched book on what she does.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Allyn on March 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Obviously, Robert Lacey is a dedicated biographer. His book is characterized by research, depth, and scope. What's more, he doesn't resort to cheap sensationalism to add a few more chapters. Yet somehow, "Monarch" is still one of those books that doesn't just capture you and leave you gushing about how wonderful it was.

Lacey begins his book by attempting to chronicle the development of the "modern" royal family, beginning with reign of Queen Victoria and providing glimpses into several other monarchs' rule. It would be true to say that these "foundations" help one understand the current queen. Occasionally, this extended history lesson was just plain fascinating, too, imparting nuggets of history that any royal buff delights in.

Unfortunately, the history lessons definitely became too textbook-ish at times, too. Lacey has an extremely unfortunate habit of seeming to bring up every single name, place, and government activity when talking about an event. This leaves the reader with an overly long and dull account of event that could have been summed up much more interestingly.

The same analysis, to a lesser extent, holds true for the queen's own story in this book. At times, Lacey fabulously describes people and events, knows just where to place a well-chosen quote, and makes one want to read about the queen's life forever (as in the opening chapters about the queen's dealings with Diana's funeral). Yet the "bogged-down-in-boring-detail" problem still surfaced in this part (the parts dealing with the Margaret-Townsend affair were dry and too long).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on March 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was kind of hoping that Robert Lacey did a follow-up to his earlier biography, Majesty but instead, he seem to rehashed many of the old material from that book while writing a whole new biography. So while this book proves to be an interesting read to those who have not read Majesty, you cannot help but to be disappointed by how the last 20 years of Elizabeth's reign have been written. Its almost appears to be a mini-biography of Princess Diana. I believed this spell out the major weakness in this biography of Elizabeth II. Some of the readers might questioned although others may praised the fact that Lacey did not treat Diana with any sort of adoration that seem to be so typical of many of the current writers.

I thought the book could have better written, in more details and with more insights to Elizabeth's character as she grew older. There's probably not enough information on her husband in this book as well. He's probably more important to Elizabeth's life then Diana could ever be. The author's unwillingness to dig deeper for a more complete biography make this book somewhat of a compromise quality. There's really nothing written about Elizabeth in this book toward her last 20 years of reign that we couldn't pick up already from the mass media. Do we have to wait until after Elizabeth's death to get a decent indepth biography on her life??
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