A Biography of Elizabeth II
She is the fifth longest reigning monarch in British history, and one of the most famous people in the world. Yet, despite a life lived at the center of the international stage, Elizabeth II remains an enigma. What kind of person is she? What does she stand for? How has she adapted to her role—if at all? How does she cope with problems that threaten the survival of the monarchy itself? Now, in the most authoritative and probing biography of Queen Elizabeth to date, one of Britain's most distinguished biographers and political historians reveals the sometimes surprising answers.
In The Queen, Ben Pimlott creates a richly detailed, compelling portrayal of Elizabeth II—the individual, the institution, and the icon. Written with the cooperation of Buckingham Palace, this distinguished biography is enriched by unprecedented access to government and palace archives, as well as interviews with dozens of persons close to the queen, including Princess Margaret; the archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Runcie; Lord Charteris, the queen's longtime private secretary; and Hardy Amies, the royal dressmaker, and by access to the private diaries of Jock Colville, who served as private secretary to both the queen and Winston Churchill. The result is a penetrating examination that goes far beyond the typical royal biography.
With the same sharp historical focus he brought to his acclaimed portrait of Harold Wilson, Pimlott reveals how Elizabeth's image has been manufactured and manipulated from her earliest childhood to suit the need of government. He explores the social, political, and psychological influences that shaped the queen's personality and the ideas she represents. Pimlott brings an illuminating perspective to the queen's relationship with her prime ministers, and he offers an intriguing view of the phenomenon of the monarchy itself—and of its future.
Beginning in 1926, the year of Elizabeth's birth—and Britain's infamous General Strike—and continuing all the way into the era of Di and Fergie, this masterfully written account of the very public life of a very private woman is a fascinating, at times provocative, and vastly entertaining book. It is candid, respectful, intelligent, and certain to win admiration for both the author and his royal subject.
"There will not be a better royal biography for many years."— The Daily Telegraph (London).
"[Pimlott] has succeeded triumphantly. . . . He has written a book that can be enjoyed and admired by people who would never have imagined reading any previous royal biography." —The Independent (London).
"An important and stimulating book." —Antonia Fraser author of Mary, Queen of Scots in The Guardian (London).