Queen Elizabeth II is the focus of two new books

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The Platinum Jubilee celebrations may be over, but the royal fascination lives on forever. Fans of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II have new options to learn more about her seven-decade reign. A quick and fun read tackles the most visible element of the monarch’s role – her fashion. The other book dives deep into the history of the House of Windsor.

“The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style”, by Bethan Holt

The charm of this book extends far beyond its images, even if it contains an impressive collection of the rarest shots: the queen in pants. It is impossible to cover everything queen looks, so Holt, fashion director of news and reporting for the British newspaper Telegraph, categorizes the monarch’s extensive wardrobe into different phases of her work (on tour, off-hours), accessories (yes, there’s a chapter just on jewelry), milestones, colors, designers and more. The book deals with influential figures such as Her Majesty’s longtime dresser, Margaret “Bobo” MacDonald; Norman Hartnell, who designed her wedding and coronation dresses; and the guardian of the Queen’s clothes today, Angela Kelly (nicknamed AK-47 for her “steel attitude”). (Kelly, with the rarely granted permission of a member of royal staff, has published two books on the Queen’s fashion; “The Other Side of the Coin” was updated last month to include the covid era.)

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Holt’s assessments are apt: She notes that the Queen, known for being steadfast in her public role, hasn’t changed her private style – checkered skirt, sweater, sensible shoes – since she was a child. Holt describes how the Queen became a muse for designers and an icon as she got older, even fashionable for a bright green suit she wore to her birthday parade in 2016 (#Neonat90). Fans of fashion and royalty can find a lot to like in this slim volume.

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“Queen of Our Time”, by Robert Hardman

The journalist and biographer tells an admiring story of Queen Elizabeth II’s life amid political and social issues throughout her record reign. At 624 pages, it’s not a quick read. But it covers an impressive amount of history without getting bogged down – taking readers from the end of Elizabeth’s grandfather’s reign to her uncle’s abdication in 1936 and through Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne. , including the abrupt exit from royal life by the Duke and Duchess. of Sussex, the death of the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, 99, in 2021, and the build-up to the Platinum Jubilee.

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Hardman argues that Elizabeth’s commitment to her role is motivated by more than a sense of duty: “she enjoys being queen and always has.” It touches on family disputes (not just Prince Andrew), Commonwealth concerns and lately the quiet ‘transition’ stages as mobility issues limit the Queen’s public appearances. (At this time, Hardman writes, there are no plans to cede the throne to Prince Charles; courtiers instead aim to “optimize” both the 96-year-old Queen and her heir as she entrusts specific tasks. .)

It tells certain events as they happened in real time – such as the unexpected death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 – but also retreats into the later thoughts of key figures, such as former British prime ministers David Cameron, Tony Blair and John Major, and foreign officials, including George W. Bush, who remembers meeting the Queen while her father, George HW Bush, was in power and later welcomed her as President himself.

Time and again, the text debunks inaccurate portrayals of Netflix series ‘The Crown’, including pushing back against the show’s depiction of the Queen’s reluctance to visit Aberfan, the Welsh town where a 1966 mining disaster engulfed a local school, killing nearly 150 people. , mostly children. “In his view, it doesn’t help anyone that the queen bursts into tears,” Hardman said, quoting a former private secretary, and Palace staff maintain that the monarch did not want to jeopardize the rescue efforts.) While readers may at times wish Hardman’s own views were presented more directly, he ultimately makes a clear argument that the UK – too loosely united as it is these days – is unlikely to end the monarchy, although the end of the Elizabethan era portends significant change.

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Hardman’s extensive research included access to the Royal Archives and he cites war diaries from the Queen’s father. The book is littered with original interviews, including quotes from Prince Philip and Prince Charles. “Queen of Our Times” doesn’t have the same flat tone and pace as Tina Brown’s “The Palace Papers”; readers may find themselves wanting less of America’s experts on “soft power” and more of flexing the Queen’s royal muscle (“Get that dog out of my house,” she reportedly ordered after learning that the wife of a visiting African president snuck her pet dog into Buckingham Palace, in defiance of British customs rules). Yet this authoritative work is likely to inform both longtime fans and new followers of the role of royal diplomacy and Queen Elizabeth’s evolution from young monarch to seasoned sovereign.

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