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Publisher's Summary

In this magisterial new biography, New York Times best-selling author Sally Bedell Smith brings to life one of the world’s most fascinating and enigmatic women: Queen Elizabeth II.

From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.

In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibet as she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines - the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press - as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends.

©2011 Sally Bedell Smith (P)2011 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“She was so young, and the task was so enormous. Yet with grace and a determination to do her duty come what may - and so much has indeed come - Elizabeth II studiously made herself part of the fabric of global civilization in the most tumultuous of times. This is a terrific book about a fascinating figure.” (Jon Meacham)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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3.5 stars- fascinating

What made the experience of listening to Elizabeth the Queen the most enjoyable?

I'm around a 3.5 on this one. The audio version was great, Rosalyn Landor has such a soothing and wonderful voice. I really enjoyed learning more about Elizabeth II as a person, and particularly liked the earlier stories about her childhood and first years of her marriage and reign. I felt that the middle sort of all ran together with different official engagements and traveling, and that it got too much into Prince Charles, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge toward the end, rather than end by summarizing the impact and important of Elizabeth II, though much of the book had taken the time to explain her role in the governing of England and the larger Commonwealth. I do wonder whether the royal family had any real part in this biography, whether some of the more endearing stories are accurate, but all in all I thought that the author did a good job of trying to portray Elizabeth as a woman, a husband, mother and friend.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A Personal Look at a Great Queen

Would you listen to Elizabeth the Queen again? Why?

I would absolutely listen to this book again. I felt like I came to know her as much more than a figure-head for the British people. I was continually intrigued by the story and I found myself admiring the queen for much more than just her role as a queen.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I have adored Queen Elizabeth II since I was 3 1/2. She continued to be my favorite queen as I listened to this book.

Any additional comments?

Overall, this book is both amazingly crafted and wonderfully narrated. The narrator did voices both consistently and believably. Sally Bedell Smith did her research for real and although it could have been easy to be biased, I felt the presentation was very fair. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a closer look at Her Majesty, the Queen.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A role model for all women to emulate

Where does Elizabeth the Queen rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Queen Elizabeth is the only woman who many of us have watched for decades. She has hit her stride and more. A true leader, able to change and to be sensitive to the world around her. This book opened my eyes to this truly remarkable woman. <br/>I highly recommend it to woman professionals.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • SPM
  • Baschi - TR, Italy
  • 07-13-12

Very interesting read

Although this is clearly a totally rosy picture of Queen Elizabeth II, I found it very informative and interesting. The narrator did a good job too. Well worth a credit.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian
  • Catlett, VA, United States
  • 07-10-12

An Enchanted Life of a Queen and Duty

If you could sum up Elizabeth the Queen in three words, what would they be?

Duty, Motherhood, and Love of Country

Who was your favorite character and why?

Elizabeth the Queen of course!

What does Rosalyn Landor bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She brought compassion, reality and an incredible sense of personal knowlwedge and intimacy of a woman who will be remembered for generations.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The description of Elizabeth's relationship with her Father and losing him so young and being thrust into a role she may not have been quite ready for.

Any additional comments?

I would definately and likely be reading this again.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating!

I am a fan of British history going back centuries, and was not sure if I would enjoy this more contemporary biography. But, it did not disappoint. It was well written; seemed to follow history accurately, and the author did not take sides on the issues, just recorded them.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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New perspective on the Queen

Where does Elizabeth the Queen rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the top

What was one of the most memorable moments of Elizabeth the Queen?

Her sense of laughter

Which character – as performed by Rosalyn Landor – was your favorite?

Queen Elizabeth

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Couldn't wait to get back to hearing more about the Queen

Any additional comments?

I never imagined that I would enjoy this book as much as I did. The Queen was young when she became the Queen. Her love for Phillip began early in her life. She has alot of responsibilites. She always tries to be optimistic and not critical. I highly recommend this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A Fascinating Life, Well Lived

How tough is it to narrate a life that is lived so privately in public? Very tough. But that's what keeps us curious. Those who criticize William and Kate for guarding their privacy so jealously would do well to remember that they have opened themselves up in ways that the Queen never has and never will-- interviews, for example. And the appetite is more insatiable than ever. Her Majesty is something to behold, and I wonder what it would be like to have some sense of national pride that was timeless. Politicians come and go, but it would be lovely to have some traditions that were a point of pride in the US. A good, solid read on the hardest subject imaginable.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Interesting story of QE2

Overall, I liked this, although for me, the British narration was a little hard to take, but I am American and don't talk that way. The story begins with Queen Elizabeth's birth and does a great job of presenting the background which played into the kind of Queen Elizabeth became. My only complaint is that the book tries overly hard to paint a better than deserved picture of various members of the Royal Family and less than favorable of others, but I think that is to be expected. I liked the book and would recommend to others.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A True Lady. This Is Why I Love My Queen.

Sally Bedell Smith has certainly done her research. This is a living history of a most human Monarch who was not born to be Queen however took on that mantel with grace and has given her whole life to the Nation and the Empire.

If you have lived through these events it will bring back so many memories such as the Profumo Affair and poor Princess Margaret Rose's anguish when she wanted to marry her late Father's equerry Peter Townsend. For those of you who were not around you will walk through several decades of very interesting history. For example who knew that Camilla's husband ended up having a relationship with Princess Anne! It is so good that I could not stop listening!

I could not give it five stars for one reason and it may seem very silly but for someone who has done so much research as Sally Bedell Smith she repeatedly made an error throughout the tome this would make Price Phillip 'lose his cool'. In fact she only got this fact correct once in the last chapter. Our British flag is a Union Flag and only known as a Union Jack when it is attached to the mast of a ship. Every time I heard the wonderful Rosalyn Landor, her performance is pure perfection, say Union Jack it was just like the proverbial nails on a chalk board.

All in all, however I will be recommending this to my friends and family in the UK and Stateside. I will also consider this as one of my 'Library go to basics' for snow days and flue breaks.

Loved it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-07-17

very thorough read, very enjoyable

full of all the scandal and glamour you would expect from the English monarchy but brought me to a sympathetic and supportive new view on the monarchy and this comes from a northern irish lass

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  • HildaW
  • 03-13-15

superb biography

I was pleasantly surprised by this biography of Elizabeth11 . I though4 there wasnt much more that could be said but this book gives lots of detail behind stories others skim over. Well worth listening to

1 of 3 people found this review helpful