Interest in the late Queen Elizabeth II of England and her family, the House of Windsor, has been consistent for years, as the many books that have been published (and that PW has reviewed) show. Over the years, books on the Windsors have focused not just on the queen's reign, but on her childhood and that of her sister, Princess Margaret; the letters, and wit, of the Queen Mother; Elizabeth II's faith; and recollections of working as a lady-in-waiting for the English Crown. On the occasion of her death, we've rounded up a handful of reviews of books on the queen and her court that we've has run over the years.

The Last Queen: Elizabeth II’s Seventy-Year Battle to Save the House of Windsor

Clive Irving. Pegasus, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64313-614-1
Journalist Irving (Pox Britannica) delivers a clear-eyed portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Covering Elizabeth’s life from her father King George VI’s 1937 coronation, when she was 11, to her grandson Prince Harry’s wedding in 2018, Irving portrays the queen as the daughter, wife, and matriarch of a “patently dysfunctional” royal family. He details scandals over the Duke of Windsor’s “flirtation with fascism” in the 1930s and the 1979 public unmasking of retired royal family art curator Anthony Blunt as a Soviet mole, a matter the Windsors had kept secret since his confession in 1964. Irving also examines Elizabeth’s relationships with her sister, Princess Margaret, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the “media feeding frenzy” that proved to be the undoing of her daughter-in-law, Princess Diana. According to Irving, Elizabeth chided journalists to “allow [Diana] to enjoy her private life,” but these words fell on deaf ears as “past customs... vanished overnight.” Diana’s death jolted Elizabeth, Irving writes, yet she “was never really able to concede the need for change.” He reserves his harshest judgment, however, for the monarchy itself: “an institution that seems to be unaware of its wanton profligacy.” Irving puts his mark on a familiar story with his confident assessments and insider perspective on the British press. Royal watchers will delight in this richly detailed appraisal of the world’s oldest reigning monarch. (Jan.)

The Queen: A Life in Brief

Robert Lacey. Harper Perennia, $15.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-0-06-212446-3
Veteran royal historian Lacey bases this slim volume—the latest in a slew of books marking Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee—on his acclaimed bestsellers Majesty and Monarch. All three books include numerous off-the-record interviews that Lacey conducted with friends, advisers, and members of the royal family. As he puts it, “this little book is intended to distill and reshape what I’ve learned into one pleasant afternoon’s reading....” Elizabeth II’s reign is seen in more than 40 color and b&w photos and drawings. To encapsulate Elizabeth in six short chapters, Lacey opens with her 1929 appearance on a Time cover at age three. After her worldwide radio broadcast in 1940 caused “radio switchboards across America to be jammed with requests for repeats,” it became a bestselling BBC phonograph record: “In a time of danger, people yearned for reassurance from on high.” Lacey continues this anecdotal journey into the “second Elizabethan age” from what one observer called the “spiritual exultation” of her 1953 coronation to the eve of this year’s Diamond Jubilee. Effectively editing from his insider interviews, Lacey employs a meticulous, fluid writing style that steers clear of tabloid-type sensationalism for a restrained, dignified approach and a level of intimacy with more than a few emotional peaks. Agent: Grainne Fox, Fletcher & Co. (June)

Queen Elizabeth II: An Oral History

Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald Strober. Pegasus, $35 (576p) ISBN 978-1-63936-191-5
Husband and wife biographers Gerald and Deborah Strober paint a mostly flattering portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in this updated and expanded version of The Monarchy (2002). Weaving together interviews with royal family insiders including Lady Angela Oswald, who served as “woman of the bedchamber” to the Queen Mother, the authors detail Elizabeth’s ascension to throne at age 25 and her dawning realization that “the end of her private life had come.” Interviewees praise Elizabeth’s moral rectitude and attention to protocol while shedding light on her 1947 wedding to naval officer Philip Mountbatten; her relationships with Winston Churchill, Boris Johnson, and other prime ministers; and her “determination and resilience” in the face of Philip’s death in 2021. Controversial subjects, including Elizabeth’s decision not to return to London in the immediate aftermath of Princess Diana’s death in a car crash, and Prince Andrew’s withdrawal from royal duties amid a sex abuse lawsuit, are touched on lightly. While many of the interviewees will be unfamiliar to American readers, their observations are an entertaining mix of respectful and catty. (“What would have been the public’s attitude if she’d looked like the back of a bus?” asks one about the British fascination with Princess Diana.) This comprehensive survey of Elizabeth II’s reign will delight dedicated royal watchers. Illus. (May)

Her Majesty: Queen Elizabeth II and Her Court

Robert Hardman. Pegasus (Norton, dist.), $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-60598-361-5
Veteran journalist and royal observer Hardman (Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work) notes that Queen Elizabeth has always been quite visible on the global stage and “one of the most respected figures in the modern world.” Mining the usual sources and interviewing many who know the queen intimately, Hardman gathers fresh material and illuminating anecdotes, such as a little-known “bizarre royal bust-up” during a 1954 Australian tour when the queen “hurl[e]d shoes and threats and sporting equipment” at the duke of Edinburgh. BBC cameras captured the incident, but the film was destroyed on the spot. With wit and panache, Hardman unveils a prismatic portrait of a thoroughly modern monarch. 24 pages of color photos. Agent: Charles Walker, United Agents (U.K.). (Apr. 15)

Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen

Kate Williams. Pegasus, $28.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-60598-891-7
Williams (Becoming Queen Victoria), British historian and biographer, dives into the life of the U.K.’s reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, zeroing in on her childhood and young adulthood and portraying those years as the most pivotal of Elizabeth’s life. As a young royal, Elizabeth was ”brought up to be a good aristocratic wife”; her uncle, David, the Prince of Wales, was to be king, and her father wasn’t expected to hold any particular influence on the crown. But when David abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson, Elizabeth’s father was named the new king, and she was suddenly thrust in line for the throne. Williams documents the ease with which Elizabeth, with her penchant for order and composure, fell into her new role. The author’s research is all-encompassing, but the life of Elizabeth herself is a bit muted. There is nothing particularly new or exciting in this biography; Williams writes a simple piece on an already very well documented royal life. Agency: Zoe Pagnamenta Literary Agency. (Nov.)

Long Live the Queen: 23 Rules for Living from Britain’s Longest Living Monarch

Bryan Kozlowski. Turner, $19.99 (312p) ISBN 978-1-68442-544-0
Kozlowski (The Jane Austen Diet) takes a fresh and fascinating look at how Queen Elizabeth II has stayed healthy and vital over her nearly 70 years on the throne. He identifies 23 “rules,” or lifestyle choices, that have contributed to her longevity, beginning with “don’t be a drama-food queen,” based on the queen’s preference for a simple, no-frills diet. Kozlowski also explores the queen’s attitude toward exercise (a brisk walk with the corgis) and alcohol (she shows how to “drink like you reign it,” partaking of a cocktail or two occasionally, but never to excess). In each chapter, Kozlowski digs into why the “rules”work. To pick two, the queen models the dictum that “sovereign is as servant does” with her devotion to the British public, and has shown why it’s fulfilling to “defend the faith which defends you” with her public advocacy for her Christian faith, which the queen incorporates into her life with weekly churchgoing and nightly prayers before bed—both service and faith, research indicates, promote health and longevity. Kozlowski’s clever and informative book will be embraced by her majesty’s many admirers, as well as by readers hoping to pick up some tips for living a long and rewarding life. (Nov.)

HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style

Elizabeth Holmes. Celadon, $35 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-62508-3
Fashion journalist Holmes debuts with a flattering and thoroughly enjoyable assessment of style choices made by Queen Elizabeth II, Diana Spencer, Kate Middleton, and Meghan Markle. In Holmes’s view, Elizabeth, typically seen as the fustiest of the bunch, is a “strategic genius” for her decision to dress head-to-toe in a single, sensational hue. Princess Diana’s clothing choices changed drastically during her 16 years in the spotlight, Holmes notes, from “demure and romantic” to “bold colors and big shapes that seemed to scream: Look at me!” Kate Middleton’s commoner status has influenced her style, according to Holmes, who lauds the Duchess of Cambridge’s habit of wearing “off-the-rack pieces” that burnish her “every-girl appeal.” Meghan Markle’s breezy, California-girl style took the requisite conservative turn when she married Prince Harry, though the scrutiny of the British tabloid press never let up, eventually contributing to the couple’s decision to distance themselves from the royal family and relocate to America. Holmes makes a strong case, in enthusiastic prose along with lavish photographs of all four women, that her subjects’ sartorial choices say as much about their positions in the royal family as they do about their individual identities. Royal watchers will delight in this breezy survey of Windsor family fashions. (Nov.)

Get Up, Elizabeth!

Shirin Yim Bridges, illus. by Alea Marley. Cameron Kids, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-944-90394-7
The Elizabeth of the title is none other than a very young Queen Elizabeth I (still technically a princess in these pages), and any reader who’s been thrust into a stifling party outfit will have built-in empathy as little Bess is roused from her comfy four poster bed and prepped for a big court appearance. Her outfit includes a linen smock and lace-up petticoat, impossibly dangly pinned-on sleeves, and a sewn-on ruff that’s the very definition of “get me outta here.” Told through the voice of an impatient lady’s maid (“And now for your petticoat... /Poppet, stand straight! /Really, Elizabeth, /You’re going to be late!”), Bridges’s (Ruby’s Wish) rhyming text scans coldly officious. Marley’s (The Many Colors of Harpreet Sing) wonderful illustrations, meanwhile, portray Elizabeth as relatably sleepy, stubborn, and resigned—all along sporting a comically magnificent head of completely unruly, radiantly red hair that’s as big as the girl herself. Back matter further describes likely ablutions from the era. Ages 4–7. Illustrator’s agent: James Burns, the Bright Agency. (Sept.)

Diana, William, and Harry

James Patterson and Chris Mooney. Little, Brown, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-0-7595-5422-1
Patterson (James Patterson by James Patterson) and thriller author Mooney (Remembering Sarah) mix biography and imagined dialogue in this intimate portrait of Princess Diana and her sons, William and Harry. Opening with the 1978 wedding of Diana’s sister to Queen Elizabeth’s assistant private secretary, the authors use cinematic vignettes to recount how Prince Charles, age 32, was coerced by his father to marry 20-year-old Diana Spencer, who quickly gave birth to two sons: “the heir and the spare.” William, the eldest, she nicknamed “Drop Dead Gorgeous”; his younger brother was called “Good King” Harry. After uncovering evidence of Charles’s ongoing relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles, Diana turned her energy to AIDS awareness, antifur activism, and other causes, as well as to a string of suitors. William is portrayed by the authors as somewhat of a bully in his formative years, though loving and protective of his younger brother, while Harry is described as more like his mother, shy and disinterested in academics as a boy but passionate about the military. Full of intriguing anecdotes (Diana insisting on ironing her bodyguards’ shirts; Charles and Camilla “locked in intimate conversation” at a party) and sharp character observations, this is an entertaining and persuasive study of the royal family. (Aug.)

The Windsor Diaries: My Childhood with the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret

Alathea Fitzalan Howard. Atria, $30 (352p) ISBN 978-1-982169-17-6
The WWII diaries of Alathea Fitzalan Howard (1923–2001), an aristocrat and childhood friend of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, provide a captivating behind-the-scenes look at the royal family. Howard, who would have become the Duke of Norfolk had she been a boy, was sent by her estranged parents at age 16 to live with her grandfather and maiden aunt at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Park. A lonely adolescent who imagined that she was Marie Antoinette reincarnated, Howard chronicled her deepening friendship with the two princesses, who spent the war years at Windsor Castle. Howard describes attending Elizabeth’s 14th birthday party and taking dancing and drawing lessons with the sisters, and details her volunteer work at a home for displaced civilians. The diary entries, some only a few lines long, are intimate and endearing. Howard notes the “atmosphere of happy family life” at Windsor Castle, expresses pride in hearing Elizabeth’s voice on “the wireless,” and expresses approval of her friend’s budding romance with Philip Mountbatten. Howard also acknowledges the “heavy nameless cloud” of depression that sometimes settles over her, and reflects on her parents’ unhappiness. Royal watchers and British history buffs will cherish these frank reflections. (May)