Amy's Reviews > The Queen Mother: The Official Biography

The Queen Mother by William Shawcross
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Sep 10, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: best-book-of-2010, history-british, biography-great-britain
Read from April 06 to 14, 2010

A phenomenal book!

Author, William Shawcross states in the Epilogue that fate dealt the Queen Mother an extraordinary hand and that this book attempted to show what she made of it.

She had an incredible life! I learned so much about the Queen Mother and her family from this book; I also gained a wealth of information about Great Britain and its history. For example, in 1772 the Royal Marriages Act was put into place after two of King George III's brothers secretly married commoners of whom the King did not approve. The Royal Marriages Act requires the sovereign's approval before members of the royal family can marry a commoner -- this "law" is still in effect today!

Queen Elizabeth and King George VI married for love and theirs was a cherished period in the history of England. However, her relationship with the Duke of Windsor after he abdicated the throne and Wallis Simpson could be described as chilly at best. I believe she long thought that by abdicating the throne, the Duke, was responsible for the death of King George VI at such a young age.

People are always debating the merits when the United States steps into various conflicts around the world. Both Churchill and King George VI wanted to draw the US into the war as an ally of Britain. While Roosevelt was willing to provide supplies to Britain, he was not yet willing to "go to war".

Early in 1941, a new basis for the purchase of American material was introduced. It was intended to make arms and supplies available to governments whose defense was considered vital to the defense of the United States. The Land-Lease Act, passed by Congress on March 11th, gave Britain extended credit, allowing the country to buy equipment, oil and other supplies, and would not have to be paid for until the end of the war ... However, this war debt was not actually paid off until 2007!!

Many people on Goodreads have stated that this book is not very good after King George VI dies. I disagree. The reader is introduced to a slightly different side of Queen Elizabeth in the 50 years after the King's passing.

And yes, she is known as Queen Elizabeth after the King dies. Her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II (the reigning monarch) is known as THE QUEEN.

Queen Elizabeth developed a keen interest in horses and horse racing beginning in the early 50's. One of her jockeys was none other than famed author, Dick Francis, who recently passed away at the age of 89.

I mentioned the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 above. That Act came into play again when Princess Margaret was contemplating marriage to Peter Townsend, a commoner in the mid-50's.

Queen Elizabeth believed that people should marry for love, but she also believed that duty to the crown should always come first. If Princess Margaret wished to marry Townsend, she would have to renounce her royal status. After a matter of some arduous years, they mutually decided that marriage would not work.

Throughout this book, I thought about this relationship and that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana vs. Camilia Parker Bowles. How would history have changed if these people had been allowed to marry for love instead of for duty?

Queen Elizabeth had may patronages that she supported through the years. For the reader, there is a 15-page alphabetical list at the end of this book of all the patronages Queen Elizabeth sponsored along with the years and offices served. As you read this book, it will come as no surprise to learn that she had a special affection for groups relating to WWII. She also had some other interesting passions including the Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society (p. 742).

Queen Elizabeth had a passion for her patronages, but she was also impassioned for her family. She spoke to The Queen at least once a day and had great relationships with her grandchildren -- King Charles was a favorite!

She also had a fantastic relationship with Antony, Earl of Snowdon before and after his divorce from Princess Margaret.

It was [naturally:] very upsetting whenever Queen Elizabeth lost a family member or friend or employee -- at 101, she outlived so many including all of her siblings. I do not mean to be disrespectful, but it could almost be considered a fluke that she lived as long as she did.

Probably the saddest event (besides the death of the King) was the passing of her younger daughter, Princess Margaret on February 9, 2002. Princess Margaret had been ill for awhile and while her death came as no surprise ... the death of a child ...

Queen Elizabeth passed away at 3:15 on March 30, 2002.

There is so much more that I could have added to this review, but did not. The information discerned in this book is fascinating! I am not a student of the royals meaning I have not read everything out there, but I do like history and I sincerely believe that anybody who has a taste for learning about the past, will love the book!
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04/07 page 115
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message 1: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Thanks for the great review. I'm a complete Anglophile, so I enjoyed reading your comments.


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