First airing in 2016, the last episodes of the series The Crown, the lavish, Netflix-original drama chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s to modern times, will be released in mid-December. The series begins with an inside look at the early reign of the queen, who ascended the throne at age 25 after the death of her father, King George VI. As the decades pass, personal intrigues, romances, and political rivalries in the royal family are revealed that played a big role in events that shaped the later years of the 20th century.
If you are one who will miss the show terribly and still want to linger in that era, or if it has piqued your curiosity about the British royals even more, or if you would like to fact check the show, these recent nonfiction books and biographies as well as some historical fiction titles available with your Livingston Library card should help.
Nonfiction and Biographies
Brothers and Wives : Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan by Christopher P. Andersen
Explores the last twenty years in the lives of Princes William and Harry and the evolution of their relationship as adults, with one brother the designated heir, and the other doomed to life as the spare. “Diana’s Boys” revealed the iron-strong bond between the teenaged princes, and how it strengthened even more in the wake of their mother’s tragic death. Now, twenty years later, Queen Elizabeth II is in her mid-nineties, Prince Charles is in his seventies, and all eyes are turned increasingly toward William and Harry again. Andersen picks up where he left off, covering everything that has happened to the brothers as they have grown up, gotten married to two remarkable women, and had children — all while facing continual waves of controversy and questions about the ways their relationship has shifted.
Throughout history, the British monarchy has relied on its courtiers–the trusted advisers in the King or Queen’s inner circle–to ensure its survival as a family and a pillar of the country. Today, as ever, a carefully selected team of people hidden from view steers the royal family’s path between public duty and private life. Queen Elizabeth II, after a remarkable 70 years of service, saw the final seasons of her reign without her husband Philip to guide her. Now, a newly ascended Charles seeks to define what his future as King, and that of his court, will be. The question of who is entrusted to guide the royals has never been more vital. Yet, as the tensions within the family are exposed to global scrutiny like never before, the task these courtiers face has never been more challenging.
Diana, William, and Harry by James Patterson
Diana’s faced with a seemingly impossible challenge: one son destined to be King of England and another determined to find his own way. She teaches them to honor royal tradition, even while daring to break it. “Sometimes I’d like a time machine…” Diana says as William and Harry grow up, never imagining they’d have less than a lifetime together. Even after she’s gone, her sons follow their mother’s lead—and her heart. As the years pass and William and Harry grow into adulthood and form families of their own, they carry on Diana’s name, her likeness, and her incomparable spirit. Patterson applies his writerly skills to real-life history with novelistic style in this deeply personal and revealing biography of the world’s most storied family.
The esteemed royal biographer traces the unlikely and extraordinary story of the once-reviled wife of Britain’s Prince Charles, detailing her roles in some of the darkest days of the modern monarchy and her role in helping restore its reputation.
Elizabeth & Margaret : the Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters by Andrew Morton
A biography of Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret examines their early idyllic youth as the closest of sisters as well as their often fraught relationship after their father’s death and Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne.
The marriage of Britain’s Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten in November 1947 is remembered as the beginning of an extraordinary, lifelong union but success was not guaranteed. Published 75 years after their marriage, this deeply touching history explores the ups and downs, the public appeal and the private tensions that defined an extraordinary relationship. The high stakes involved might have devoured a less committed pair – but Elizabeth and Philip shared a common purpose, one higher even than marriage, with roots much deeper than young love.
On September 8, 2022, the world stood still as news broke of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. Her death dismantled the protective shield around the world’s most famous family and saw a long-simmering crisis of confidence in the British monarchy begin to resurface. Now, with unique insight, deep access, and exclusive revelations, journalist Omid Scobie pulls back the curtain on an institution in turmoil–exposing the infighting, family deterioration, and outdated practices threatening its very future. This is the monarchy’s endgame. Do they have what it takes to save it?
George VI and Elizabeth:The Marriage that Saved the Monarchy by Sally Bedell Smith
This deeply researched and revealing book shows how a loving and devoted marriage helped the King and Queen meet the challenges of World War II, lead a nation, solidify the public’s faith in the monarchy, and raise their daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.
When the Duke of Windsor abdicated the throne in 1936, his shy, uncertain, unprepared younger brother became King. Sally Bedell Smith was granted by Queen Elizabeth II special access to the letters and diaries of George VI and Elizabeth, to tell the story of how their love, devotion, and strong marriage led George VI to overcome insecurities and difficulty speaking and to become an exceptional leader. His wife Elizabeth, a pretty, confident, and outgoing woman, who became known later in life as “the Queen Mum,” simultaneously strengthened and advised her temperamental husband, while raising the future Queen Elizabeth II (who at an early age was educated to lead, and fell in love at 15 with Prince Philip) and Princess Margaret.
The King : the Life of Charles III by Christopher P. Andersen
Since the day Charles Philip Arthur George was born, he has been groomed to be King. After more than seventy years of waiting, he finally ascends the throne. The King examines the private life of this historically important and controversial figure, set against the grand, thousand-year sweep of the British monarchy. This richly detailed biography covers it all, from his military training to his marriage to Lady Diana, through their separation and her tragic death, to his marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles. In the process, it provides a balanced but fully honest look into the life of the new monarch.
The Queen: Her Life by Andrew Morton
Biographer Morton takes an in-depth look at Britain’s longest reigning monarch, exploring the influence Queen Elizabeth had on both Britain and the rest of the world for much of the last century. From leading a nation struggling to restore itself after the devastation of the second World War to navigating the divisive political landscape of the present day, Queen Elizabeth was a reluctant but resolute queen. This is the story of a woman of unflagging self-discipline who will long be remembered as mother and grandmother to Great Britain, and one of the greatest sovereigns of the modern era.
Queen of Our Times:the Life of Queen Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman
A definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the seventieth anniversary of her reign by a renowned royal biographer. Hardman distills Elizabeth’s complex life into a must-read study of dynastic survival and renewal. It is a portrait of a world leader who remains as intriguing today as the day she came to the Throne at age twenty-five. With peerless access to members of the Royal Family, staff, friends and royal records, this book will bring fresh insights and scholarship on the modern royal story.
Reveals the inside story about Meghan Markle’s journey from minor actress and attempted activist to the woman powerful enough to drive a wedge within the British Royal Family.
Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow–and horror. As Diana, Princess of Wales, was laid to rest, billions wondered what the princes must be thinking and feeling–and how their lives would play out from that point on. For Harry, this is that story at last. With its raw, unflinching honesty, this is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.
All the Queen’s Men by S. J. Bennett
Amateur detective Queen Elizabeth II is back in this hugely entertaining follow-up to The Windsor Knot, in which Her Majesty must determine how a missing painting is connected to the shocking death of a staff member inside Buckingham Palace.
Coronation Year by Jennifer Robson
It is Coronation Year, 1953, and a new queen is about to be crowned. The people of London are in a mood to celebrate, none more so than the residents of the Blue Lion hotel. Edie Howard, owner and operator of the floundering Blue Lion, has found the miracle she needs: on Coronation Day, Queen Elizabeth in her gold coach will pass by the hotel’s front door, allowing Edie to charge a fortune for rooms and, barring disaster, save her beloved home from financial ruin. Edie’s luck might just be turning, all thanks to a young queen about her own age. When anonymous threats focused on Coronation Day, the Blue Lion, and even the queen herself disrupt their mood of happy optimism, Edie and her friends must race to uncover the truth, save their home, and expose those who seek to erase the joy and promise of Coronation Year.
Marion Crawford, the former governess to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret finds herself shunned by those she loved and served after she alone believes that Prince Philip of Greece would be a suitable husband for the future Queen.
The Other Windsor Girl : A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel by Georgia Blalock
While writing scandalous novels, Vera Strathmore dreams of regaining the happiness she enjoyed before her fiancé was killed in WWII. Then a chance meeting with Princess Margaret changes her life forever. Thrust into the center of Margaret’s social and royal life, Vera watches the princess’s love affair with dashing Captain Peter Townsend unfurl. But while Margaret, as a member of the Royal Family, is not free to act on her desires, Vera is, and before long both women will be forced to choose between status, duty, and love.
The Princess by Wendy Holden
Britain, 1961: A bouncing blond baby is born to Viscount Althorp, heir to the Spencer earldom, and his wife Frances. Diana grows up amid the fallout of her parents’ messy divorce. She struggles at school. Moving to London, she takes menial jobs as a cleaner and nanny. Her refuge throughout is romantic novels. She dreams of falling in love and being rescued by a handsome prince. In royal circles, there is concern about the Prince of Wales. Nearly 30, Charles remains unmarried; the right girl needs to be found, and fast. She must be young, aristocratic and come to the royal family without any past liaisons. The eighteen-year-old Diana Spencer is just about the only candidate. Her desperation to be loved dovetails perfectly with royal desperation for a bride. But as the ruthless Palace machine starts up, there are challenges for Diana to face, from press intrusion to a certain Mrs. Parker Bowles. Can her romantic dream survive the forces that shape her into a global icon?”
The Queen’s Secret: A Novel of England’s World War II Queen by Karen Harper
1939. As the wife of King George VI and the mother of the future queen, Elizabeth–“the queen mother”–shows a warm, smiling face to the world. But it’s no surprise that Hitler himself calls her the “Most Dangerous Woman in Europe.” For behind that soft voice and kindly demeanor is a will of steel. Two years earlier, George was thrust onto the throne when his brother Edward abdicated, determined to marry his divorced, American mistress Mrs. Simpson. Vowing to do whatever it takes to make her husband’s reign a success, Elizabeth endears herself to the British people, and prevents the former king and his brazen bride from ever again setting foot in Buckingham Palace. Elizabeth holds many powerful cards, she’s also hiding damaging secrets about her past and her provenance that could prove to be her undoing.
The Royal Governess : A Novel of Queen Elizabeth II’s Childhood 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.
—Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian