MONARCH: The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II

Robert Lacey, Author . Free Press $27.50 (496p) ISBN 978-0-7432-3559-4

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. (May 8)

Forecast:A shadow has been cast over the Queen's jubilee by her mother's death (as well as her sister's). Still, that may increase interest in this book. The first printing of 50,000 should sell out easily, with Lacey's appearances on Larry King Live and Good Morning America and a TV and radio satellite tour.

Reviewed on: 04/22/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-7432-3669-0
Open Ebook - 496 pages - 978-1-4391-0839-0
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