on 11 August 2008
Unfortunately, I read the 1996 version of this superlative biography, but doing so offered some unsettling glimpses of the times to come for The Queen and her clan. This is a surprisingly even-handed biography which neither exploits nor glosses over the troubles in the House of Windsor, and acknowledges the kind permission of The Queen, The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret for their sharing of personal papers. The Queen is a lady I think I'd like to meet, and certainly someone for whom I'd love to work. I don't think I'd enjoy working for anyone else in her family, but she seems to be a great boss. She is portrayed as a kind woman who loves horses, and who is rather remote with her children; not terribly surprising information there. What is surprising is how attuned she is to the goings-on around her, but how she chooses to ignore many of the more troublesome aspects because she loathes confrontation. This is referred to by Sarah Bradford as "ostriching."
One of the sentences that leapt out at me in its optimism was one about Elizabeth's "ability to read the mood of her country." Just over a year later, this would prove tragically wrong when Princess Diana was killed in Paris and The Queen took almost a week to respond to the pain her country was feeling over the loss. It has been a turbulent decade since the original publication, including that awful week, and then the loss of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret in 2002, and I'd like to read updated information regarding those events. I see that there is another version of "Elizabeth" updated in 2002, and I'll have to put that on my "to read" list.