The queen’s passing may have piqued your interest in her life and the remarkable story of a quiet young woman crowned at age 25 and reigning for 70 years as Britain and the world were transformed. These four books explore their subject in different ways: Two are more traditional biographies, another describes the relationship between the queen and her sister Margaret, and the fourth considers her among Britain’s 1,000 years of monarchs and puts her reign in perspective.
Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman (2022)
British journalist Hardman offers a weighty in-depth look – 630 pages worth, plus 22 pages of photos — at the queen’s life and often challenging reign. The young queen, he writes, was handed “a unique task” when she succeeded to the throne, “one which no new monarch had ever been expected to deal with before: manage decline.” The author knows his stuff. He also penned 2019’s well-reviewed Queen of the World: Elizabeth II: Sovereign and Stateswoman and Her Majesty: Queen Elizabeth and her Court, which was timed to her diamond jubilee in 2012, but his latest, which begins with her birth and ends just shy of her recent passing (the book came out in April), is billed as “a definitive portrait.”
Elizabeth & Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters by Andrew Morton (2021)
The prolific Morton — author of books on Prince Andrew, Meghan Markle and many others — focuses here on the queen and her sister Margaret, whom viewers of The Crown know as a slightly wild, rather embittered character forever and inevitably in her more reserved sibling’s shadow. This book adds detail to the portrait of two very different girls, then women, and the growing tension between them. While they were the best of friends as children, when Elizabeth was crowned at age 25, Margaret suddenly was in a position where she “would have to curtsey to the sister she called ‘Lillibet.’ And bow to her wishes,” he writes. If this book leaves you wanting more, there’s more coming: Morton’s publisher has just pushed up the release date for his next book about the queen, called, yes, The Queen, out on Nov. 15