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Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch

February 18, 2012

I just finished reading an absolutely fantastic book! I am a sucker for British history and especially love reading about the various monarchs and their personal and political lives. I find it much more entertaining to read than American history because there are simply more centuries of colorful pageantry, political scheming and peculiar or passionate monarchs. Typically, I most enjoy British history from the 1400’s to the 1800’s the best, but lately I chose a book completely out of my usual interest zone.

In preparation for the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee later this year, Sally Bedell Smith wrote a page-turning historical narrative of this long-reigning queen.

I think that it can be hard to find an interesting and entertaining biography. Smith does a fabulous job bringing this remarkable woman to life.

The book begins when Elizabeth is only ten years old when her uncle abdicates the throne to marry an American divorcee. Because of this, Elizabeth’s father is made king and Elizabeth discovers that she is the next in the line of succession. The book follows her through her youth and young adulthood as a princess as she travels around the world on official business to promote the British Commonwealth and forge stronger ties with many countries.

The description of her coronation was particularly moving with the strong symbolism of religious and historical significance. I was inspired by her dedication to the British people and by her constitutional neutrality even in the face of extreme partisanism. Her dedication to her country far outweighed her personal wishes. She was indefatiguable and remains so today. Also, her family struggles with her children and their often painful marriages was put in perspective without being white-washed.

Even if you are not much of a reader, the pictures in the book are phenomenal and really give a taste of her personality. If you love British history, you should really check this book out!

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