Sunday, April 28, 2019

Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch, by Ruth Cowen (author), Jennie Bond (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2019

This isn't, as I feared it might be, a cheer-leading, uncritical work, nor is it carping and hypercritical, which was the other risk. It shows Elizabeth as a human being with strengths and weaknesses, and the ways her strong sense of duty has been both an essential part of being a successful Queen in a century where society has experienced rapid and turbulent change, and something that kept her comparatively distant from her children, and created problems understanding her daughters-in-law, especially Diana, raised in a different age and not even as close to royal circle as Elizabeth was before her father's ascension to the throne.

Elizabeth Windsor wasn't originally expected ever to become Queen of England. She was the daughter of the Duke of York, the second son of George V, and, a shy man with a stammer, he was happy to leave the Crown to his elder brother, the Prince of Wales.

Then George V died, the Prince of Wales became King Edward VIII, and all the behaviors that had been of growing concern quickly transformed into a crisis. He announced his determination to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite on friendly terms with Nazis. I suppose younger readers and listeners might only recognize why the last of those was a problem, society and culture have changed so much in the past century. Edward abdicated within a year, and the Duke of York, very reluctantly, became King George VI. Elizabeth was now the heir to the throne.

We follow her development from a carefree, young girl hoping to someday marry a farmer to the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch in history, and it's fascinating and a good listen.


I bought this audiobook.

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