Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, passed away at age 96. Whatever you may feel about the British Monarchy, you can’t deny the power and effect she had on the United Kingdom and the entire world. You couldn’t help but admire her work ethic and determination for overcoming any obstacle thrown her way through the many trials and tribulations she went through in her life.
She was always that constant figure in everyone’s lives, especially me, Caribbean American who saw her emotional power and effect across the pond but still felt close to her. It will be hard to reconcile that she is no longer with us, especially since she has been one of the few constant things in our tumultuous lives. She will be greatly missed.
If you want to learn more about the illustrious life Queen Elizabeth II led, here are some great and detailed biographies that are perfect to begin your journey. Queen Elizabeth II’s life has also inspired writers to write fictional books that you will also find on this list:
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith
From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled 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 intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.
In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibetas she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines–the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press–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. (Credit: Random House Trade)
The Queen by Matthew Dennison
For millions of people, both in Britain and across the world, Elizabeth II is the embodiment of monarchy. Her long life spans nearly a century of national and global history, from a time before the Great Depression to the era of Covid-19. Her reign embraces all but seven years of Britain’s postwar history; she has been served by fifteen UK prime ministers from Churchill to Johnson, and witnessed the administrations of thirteen US presidents from Truman to Trump. The vast majority of Britons cannot remember a world without Elizabeth II as head of state and the Commonwealth.
In this brand-new biography of the longest-reigning sovereign in British history, Matthew Dennison traces her life and reign across an era of unprecedented and often seismic social change. Stylish in its writing and nuanced in its judgements, The Queen charts the joys and triumphs as well as the disappointments and vicissitudes of a remarkable royal life; it also assesses the achievement of a woman regarded as the champion of a handful of ‘British’ values endorsed–if no longer practiced–by the bulk of the nation: service, duty, steadfastness, charity, and stoicism. (Credit: Head of Zeus)
Elizabethans: A History of How Modern Britain Was Forged by Andrew Marr
In this wonderfully told history, spanning back to when Queen Elizabeth became queen in 1953, Andrew Marr traces the people who have made Britain the country it is today. From the activists to the artists, the sports heroes to the innovators, these people pushed us forward, changed the conversation, encouraged us to eat better, to sing, think and to protest. They got things done. How will our generation be remembered in a hundred years’ time? And when you look back at Britain’s toughest moments in the past seventy years, what do you learn about its people and its values?
In brilliantly entertaining style and with unexpected insights into some of our sung and unsung heroes, Andrew Marr offers up a first draft of the history we are all living. This is our story as the new Elizabethans – the story of how 1950s Britain evolved into the diverse country we live in today. In short, it is the history of modern Britain.
The Queen by Andrew Morton
US Publishing Date: April 23
For years she prayed for her mother to give birth to a son. She longed to be spared her destiny as Britain’s future Queen. Her dream was to live in the country surrounded by children, dogs and horses.
But Elizabeth did her duty, the young princess pledging before her people that she would dedicate her whole life to the service of Britain and the Commonwealth. She hoped that that day would be a long way off. It was not to be. Only twenty-five when she became Queen after the premature death of her father, King George Vl, Elizabeth has become the stuff of superlatives: the longest reigning, most travelled and, for a shy woman, the Queen who has shaken more hands and made more small talk than any other monarch in history. She has been seen and believed by millions, either in person, on television or film.
Elizabeth was set firmly on the road to becoming sovereign because of the D word – divorce. In 1936, her uncle David, King Edward VIII, wanted to marry a twice-divorced American, Wallis Simpson. When he couldn’t he abdicated. Since that national trauma, divorce and the fall-out from divorce has shaped her reign. She has witnessed her sister Margaret, three of her children and several grandchildren divorce. And she has lived long enough to see the wheel turn full circle, watching as another American divorcee, Meghan Markle, walked down the aisle with her grandson Prince Harry.
While her reign has been defined by divorce, her private life has been moulded by an irascible husband, an extravagant mother and a querulous eldest son. In the winter of her reign she refereed a war between two of her grandsons, brothers William and Harry who were once inseparable friends. As she celebrates her platinum anniversary, the first monarch to reign for seventy years, she has, during a once in a lifetime pandemic, become the reassuring face of hope and optimism, the grandmother to the nation.
A Queen for All Seasons: A Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II on Her Platinum Jubilee by Joanna Lumley
In 2022 Queen Elizabeth II celebrates seventy years as Queen and Head of the Commonwealth. She is Britain’s longest reigning monarch and the very first to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee.
A Queen For All Seasons, edited and introduced by Joanna Lumley, is a perceptive, touching and engaging tribute to this unique woman. A treasure chest of first-hand writings, insights and snapshots of the Queen during key moments of her reign to form a vibrant portrait of the woman herself and the extraordinary role she plays.
Joanna Lumley guides us as we meet Princess Elizabeth in 1952, aged just twenty-five, and about to become Queen, and brings us through to the present day when, as our matriarch, the Queen keeps the national ship steady, including in moments of crisis and suffering. Here are unique perspectives into some of the most fascinating aspects of the Queen’s life – her role as head of state at home and abroad, her private passions and public interests and a bird’s-eye look at key events that have held the nation together and the Queen in our affection throughout Britain and beyond.
This book is a special and unique portrait of our constant Queen in an ever-changing world. (Credit:
Hodder & Stoughton)
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large. (Credit: Picador USA)
The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett
It is the early spring of 2016 and Queen Elizabeth is at Windsor Castle in advance of her 90th birthday celebrations. But the preparations are interrupted by the shocking and untimely death of a guest in one of the Castle bedrooms. The scene leads some to think the young Russian pianist strangled himself, yet a badly tied knot leads MI5 to suspect foul play. When they begin to question the Household’s most loyal servants, Her Majesty knows they’re looking in the wrong place.
For the Queen has been living an extraordinary double life ever since her teenage years as “Lilibet.” Away from the public eye and unbeknownst to her closest friends and advisers, she has the most brilliant skill for solving crimes. With help from her Assistant Private Secretary, Rozie Oshodi, a British Nigerian officer recently appointed to the Royal Horse Artillery, the Queen discreetly begins making inquiries. As she carries out her royal duties with her usual aplomb, no one in the Royal Household, the government, or the public knows that the resolute Elizabeth won’t hesitate to use her keen eye, quick mind, and steady nerve to bring a murderer to justice. (Credit: William Morrow & Company)
Before The Crown by Flora Harding
Windsor Castle, 1943
As war rages across the world, Princess Elizabeth comes face to face with the dashing naval officer she first met in London nine years before.
One of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy, Philip represents everything she has always been taught to avoid. Instability. Audacity. Adventure.
But when the king learns of their relationship, the suitability of the foreign prince is questioned by all at court.
He is the risk she has never been allowed to take. The risk not even the shadow of the crown will stop her from taking…
The Royal Governess by Wendy Holden
In 1933, twenty-two-year-old Marion Crawford accepts the role of a lifetime, tutoring the little Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Her one stipulation to their parents the Duke and Duchess of York is that she bring some doses of normalcy into their sheltered and privileged lives.
At Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Balmoral, Marion defies stuffy protocol to take the princesses on tube trains, swimming at public baths, and on joyful Christmas shopping trips at Woolworth’s. From her ringside seat at the heart of the British monarchy she witnesses twentieth-century history’s most seismic events. The trauma of the Abdication, the glamour of the Coronation, the onset of World War II. She steers the little girls through it all, as close as a mother.
During Britain’s darkest hour, as Hitler’s planes fly over Windsor, she shelters her charges in the castle dungeons (not far from where the Crown Jewels are hidden in a biscuit tin). Afterwards, she is present when Elizabeth first sets eyes on Philip.
But being beloved confidante to the Windsors comes at huge personal cost. Marriage, children, her own views: all are compromised by proximity to royal glory. In this majestic story of love, sacrifice and allegiance, bestselling novelist Holden shines a captivating light into the years before Queen Elizabeth II took the throne.
The Secret Guests by Benjamin Black
Ahead of the German Blitz during World War II, English parents from every social class sent their children to the countryside for safety, displacing more than three million young offspring. In The Secret Guests, the British royal family takes this evacuation a step further, secretly moving the princesses to the estate of the Duke of Edenmore in “neutral” Ireland.
A female English secret agent, Miss Celia Nashe, and a young Irish detective, Garda Strafford, are assigned to watch over “Ellen” and “Mary” at Clonmillis Hall. But the Irish stable hand, the housemaid, the formidable housekeeper, the Duke himself, and other Irish townspeople, some of whom lost family to English gunshots during the War of Independence, go freely about their business in and around the great house. Soon suspicions about the guests’ true identities percolate, a dangerous boredom sets in for the princesses, and, within and without Clonmillis acreage, passions as well as stakes rise.
Benjamin Black, who has good information that the princesses were indeed in Ireland for a time during the Blitz, draws readers into a novel as fascinating as the nascent career of Miss Nashe, as tender as the homesickness of the sisters, as intriguing as Irish-English relations during WWII, and as suspenseful and ultimately action-packed as war itself. (Credit Picador USA)
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