In February 6, 1952, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor became Elizabeth II, Queen of England. Monarch is bestselling author Robert Lacey's unique biography of Elizabeth Windsor as well as his acute analysis of history's most durable symbol of political authority: the British monarchy.
Monarch is a revelatory examination of Elizabeth II as a human being and of an institution shaped over the years by the wishes and dreams -- and sometimes the anger and unhappiness -- of the British people. As such, it is both a celebration and an analysis of the world's best-known monarchy. Here are Elizabeth's ancestors and models: her great-grandmother Victoria (adored as a young queen, derided for her middle-aged seclusion from her subjects, and revered as the longest-reigning monarch in British history); the playboy Prince of Wales, later Edward VII; Elizabeth's grandfather George V; her adored uncle David, who abdicated as Edward VIII; her father, George VI; and her extraordinarily well loved mother, the Queen Mum. Monarch brings Elizabeth to life as never before: "Lillibet" as a baby, being instructed in the proper way to wave to a crowd; as a child, inspiring her people with radio addresses through the Blitz; annotating her books on constitutional law with carefully written notes on how to be a queen; and falling in love with her cousin Philip at age thirteen...for life. Here is Elizabeth ascending the throne at twenty-six as the subject of the world's first worldwide television broadcast...watched by virtually everyone in the United States who owned a TV. This is the inside story of the world's most watched family, for whom the attention of millions has been attracted to each triumph or scandal: Princess Margaret's on-again, off-again "engagement" to RAF hero Peter Townsend, and her marriage to and divorce from Lord Snowdon; the Windsors' glorious 1980s, with a royal wedding and a birth practically every year; and their horrific 1990s, with a head-spinning assortment of financial scandals, divorces, and even a fire that devastated Windsor Castle. And here, of course, is a nuanced and sympathetic look at Diana, the most complicated royal of all, whose life and death marked both the deepest decline and the redemption of the House of Windsor.
But finally, this is the story of Elizabeth herself: her bravery in the face of family crises and IRA assassination threats; her lifelong love affair with Philip (and its not always salutary effect on her children); and her heroic -- and very English -- understanding of the duty of a constitutional monarch. No matter what opinion readers have already formed about the Queen -- who may not yet be Britain's longest-reigning sovereign, but who has earned the title of the monarch who has put in the most hours of work -- Monarch is certain to remind them of her remarkable resilience, simplicity, character, and courage.