April 12, 2012

Book: Queen Elizabeth II – A Woman who is NOT Amused by Nicholas Davies

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:36 am

This book is interesting despite two main problems it has. First, its  theme, which makes you think ‘Oh come on, yet another book on the travails of the British Royals?”. Second, at least the version I read was written in 1997 and so the really current stuff is not in there. When the book was written, Diana had divorced Charles but was still alive.

But, the treatment given to the story is so different from the ‘unauthorized biographies’ out there, including the famous one by Kitty Kelly. This  is interesting stuff. Nicholas tries to tell the story of the Queen and her family in a straightforward manner.

A lot of interesting historical information is explained. (Maybe I am the only one who did not know these!) For instance, the passages on connections with Germans of Prince Phillip and the attempts to change the name House of Windsor to Mountbattens, and the fact that some of his close relatives founght on the side of Germans in the Second World War are fascinating. The author tries to strike what seems like a balanced view but spares no one. Elizabeth is sympathized for being so devoted to the monarchy and for making sacrifices to ensure the survival of the monarchy but her ‘cold parenting style’ is fully analyzed.

Prince Phillip’s complete irresponsibility and philandering ways throughout his life, his foul temper and bad language, sometimes even in public, are fully described, but so are his penchant for efficiency, modernization and his perspicacity in understanding how the palace cliques are keeping the Royal Family far apart from understanding the very people who they rule.

Mountbatten’s machinations to gain power and control the family, Edwina Mountbatten’s fascinations with ‘anything female  in pants’ entertain.

Diana’s description is equally balanced. The fact that she never passed even one exam in college, the fact that she was awkward and tongue tied, and awful in public speaking, the fact that she placed a disproportionately large expectation on her husband and when he obviously failed to live up to it, became disillusioned and bitter are balanced with her genuine love of public service and charity work, and her obvious and real connection with the common people.

Is Charles spared? No! His peccadillos with Camilla throughout life are brought under the microscope. Of course, at the time the book was written, he had not married her.

Reading about Princess Michella and Sarah Ferguson, not to mention Princess Ann may strengthen your belief in republicanism, their life and behaviour are so completely wild! (There is a description of how much British taxpayers pay to keep them in the wild and fun lifestyle for free – hmmmm)

At the same time, Elizabeth’s personal sacrifices, her steadfast devotion in doing the right thing by the people and her obvious belief in keeping monarchy current and moving with the times may  justify British people’s enduring faith in monarchy.

Her relationship with the Prime Ministers – especially Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher – is fascinating!

All in all, an interesting book – a tad too long, and is too detailed in pages, very few pictures to relieve the tedium of reading on and on, but nevertheless, deserves a 6/10

— Krishna



  1. But is it true, or sheer speculation?

    Comment by Iceni — June 13, 2017 @ 12:53 am

    • The ‘balanced’ treatment suggests that it could be true and I do not remember if the author gives specific cross references of sources, but otherwise your guess is as good as mine! – Krishna

      Comment by krishnafromtoronto — July 8, 2017 @ 12:17 am

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