Jane Dismore

Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II [Jane Dismore]

40652638A new biography of Queen Elizabeth II, focusing on her early life, with new research and insights.

As a 13-year-old girl, Princess Elizabeth fell in love with Prince Philip of Greece, an ambitious naval cadet, and they married when she was 21. When Elizabeth suddenly became Queen at 25, their lives changed forever. With previously unpublished material and unique interviews with friends and relations, this book looks afresh at her life as princess, glittering yet isolating. Letters from Elizabeth and the royal family give an intimate insight into their lives and minds.  Vivid detail and anecdotes reveal more about her, the era in which she grew up and the people who shaped her life. The love and stability her parents provided, and the presence of her mother’s family, Bowes Lyon, with their creativity and eccentricities, gave her a solid background from which to draw during the rapidly changing times of her long reign. This book tells the story of a young princess becoming a Queen.

My thoughts on the book: The author penned a rich, extensively researched memoir on the early years of Princess Elizabeth, a refreshingly new perspective, considering the huge number of already existing biographies about the Queen of England.

I enjoyed learning more about this distant past where royal life and social mores were quite different from the present day. We already know a great deal about British royalty (the biggest real-life soap opera in the world) thanks to successful TV shows like The Crown, but I thought this book was a good supplement for it shed more light on the upbringing of the future Queen and all the royal twists and turns that led up to her ascending the throne, including the tough daily life during WWII and how it took its toll on her father’s health, King George VI.

The only small damper is that the author sometimes spent too much time elaborating on secondary characters like cousins. I think it was one of the early chapters in which we learn a lot about cousin Margaret’s family tree, a not-so-interesting part that was all the more confusing for the reader because many people in the royal extended family actually have the same first names! This abundance of references to relatives didn’t always make it easy to follow and didn’t always feel very relevant. It could have been cut off.

Despite a few lengthy parts, I found this book very informative. It benefits form a nicely flowing writing style. A must-read if you enjoy reading about an incredible family saga intertwined with History.

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