>> Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Our Queen by Robert Hardman
I'm a sucker for a new book about the Queen. Especially when I read excerpts featuring interviews with Prince William. My interest was piqued. Here was the chance to avoid the well-worn anecdotes and get to the truth from someone who actually knows her.
Turns out, those excerpts were the highlight of Our Queen. Not that it's a bad book. But it wasn't a promising start. The first 70 pages outlines her strong sense of duty and dedication, how good she is in her role, and how the monarchy must adapt in order to survive. Anyone who has read a biography of the Queen already knows this. But just in case you don't understand, Hardman writes about them in every possible variation within one chapter.
Now that we've duly noted the Queen's dedication, we're on to how innovative the royal household has become. Gone are the days of toiling away thanklessly amongst the splendor. Now employees can be comfortable too. Affordable lattes, access to the Buckingham Palace pool, brightly decorated canteens, email, makes you wonder why you're spending time reading about it when you could be applying for a job of your own instead.
Hardman covers a lot of territory. Amongst other things, we get to know about her relationships with her Prime Ministers and the public, her image, and most interestingly, an insight into Prince Philip. Who knew that behind his crusty exterior lies a sentimental man anonymously buying artwork for his wife?
Our Queen ends on a predictable note. In short, her shoes will be hard to fill. It's reassuring that as of 2011, that view hasn't changed since it was last written about in every other biography.
© Marilyn Braun 2012
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