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The Real Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
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The Real Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,269 ratings  ·  131 reviews

A surprising and very personal biography of a woman who may be the world's last great queen, published to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of her reign

Elizabeth II, one of England's longest-reigning monarchs, is an enigma. In public, she confines herself to optimistic pieties and guarded smiles; in private, she is wry, funny, and an excellent mimic. Now, for the

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published October 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  1,269 ratings  ·  131 reviews

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Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I am an unashamed royalist. According to the author, "Though we live in a secular and materialistic age, the Queen believes, quite literally, that she has a vocation - that her function is a religious calling she must answer every day of her life." I have always held the Queen in high esteem due to her dedication, work ethic & stoicism. She has dedicated her whole life to serving her country. On her 21st birthday, she made the following pledge:
"I declare before you all that my whole life, whethe
Mary Robinson
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, favorites
This is a superlative history of an incredible woman. Whatever your opinion of the institution of the monarchy, I don’t think you can question the intelligence, loyalty and endurance of Queen Elizabeth. I admire this writer as well; he gives such relevant background, makes perceptive connections and has a balanced approach to his analysis.
Natalie Print
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An engaging, insightful overview of the Queen, her life, and her role. Andrew Marr had a mammoth task with this book, including background to the modern monarchy, the Queen’s family life, and sixty year reign, plus consider the future of the monarchy beyond Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Despite the huge remit, Marr has created a wonderfully readable and interesting biography. Well worth reading.
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: vine, own, non-fiction
While this is a comprehensive biography of Queen Elizabeth II, it is not an in-depth look at her daily life, which is kept very closely guarded. Rather, it is more about the monarchy as an institution and how her role as Queen has evolved over the years. We are shown the figurehead of England, but not necessarily Elizabeth Windsor as a person. We are given details about events and figures around her (Princess Margaret, Charles and Di), but only speculation about her actual feelings. Yes, it port ...more
The cover says that it is an intimate portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The product description says that it is "a surprising and very personal biography of a woman...". Who were they trying to kid? It was more a biography of the monarchy.

I didn't enjoy the writing. The author tended to be all over the place. He would move on to another subject and then come back and revisit a current one. For example, Marr kept coming back to his assertion that the Queen's audiences with her premiers were private
Elsa K
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I find Queen Elizabeth highly interesting. I have been wanting to read a biography on her and picked this one. I think I may have enjoyed another one more. One thing is the book does not go in chronological order, but by topic. I found that strange for a biography. I also think it was written for someone with a better understanding of British history and government. Major events were mentioned, but not explained at all. I also felt confused as I am unfamiliar with how British government runs and ...more
Arpita K
Mar 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have, autobiography, no
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This is not a bad book; but it’s not a book about the real Elizabeth. Nor is it an intimate portrait. I’m not sure why I expected it to be. (Maybe the title?) After all, who knows the real Elizabeth, apart from her very small circle of close friends and her family, and they’re not talking. Except for Diana, of course, and she’s not talking now. And much of what she did say is somewhat suspect.

The book is really about the role of the monarch, particularly the role that Elizabeth has chosen to pla
Martin Belcher
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
As part of the celebrations of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year (sixty years on the throne), Andrew Marr has written a very good in depth, candid story of Elizabeth’s journey to the throne and the sometimes bumpy ride that has been the wonderful and glorious sixty year reign of our octogenarian Queen.

The book rather than being set chronologically has been cleverly written in themes and this keeps the reader interested. I’m not ashamed to admit I am a passionate monarchist so you wont
Andrew Marr has written a fascinating look at the institution of the British monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II. Although it does present biographical information, this isn't really a biography, but a journalistic look at the how the institution of the monarchy has evolved and adapted to historical change over the course of her long reign. As an American, I was not familiar with much of what Marr covers. The importance that Elizabeth attaches to her being head of the Commonwealth was a real surpr ...more
Bingo - about royalty. I had no idea what to expect but this was surprisingly engaging, not-so-surprisingly informative (I learned quite a bit about Great Britain's history and politics; I'll likely pay more attention going forward, and that pleases me!) and simply enjoyable. Highly recommend for anyone who's a fan of the royals.
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
An endearing look at the current British monarch and the events and people who have influenced her.
Julie Goring
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. Easy to read and bang up-to-date. I thoroughly enjoyed it
Sarah Lee
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had started watching The Crown on Netflix and remembered that I had bought this book many years ago in hardback but had never got around to reading it (one of the reasons was that it was just so heavy). Anyway I decided to read it at long last. I really enjoyed this book. Andrew Marr writes in an informative, accessible style. I never was much of a royalist when I was younger, in fact I always thought that they were a waste of time, however as I have gotten older I do appreciate the Queen and ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
After having reading 304 pages, and not having read a single page more for countless weeks, I can safely assume that I won't be tempted to complete this book.
It's not like I didn't find it terribly interesting while I was reading it, but it hardly stands a chance of being prioritised in the Continuation Department when I'm surrounded by much more exciting books. And I doubt I'll be pushed deep enough into the murky depths of BIBALOERM (Boredom Induced By A Lack Of Exciting Reading Material), to
To quote a classic, not great, not terrible. Just... the book's not quite about Elizabeth II, more about the monarchy as such. As the author keeps saying, not many personal details are known about the queen, and that's exactly what's in the book: not many personal details.

The author is very much a royalist and very much on the side of the queen and her husband, at the expense of everyone else. This might or might not be a deterrent for you.

A polskie tłumaczenie niestety nie całkiem daje radę i
Keith Johnstone
I’m a big fan of Andrew Marr and his journalism so this was a little bit disappointing. The blurb on Goodreads says: “A surprising and very personal biography...” - I don’t agree, it doesn’t present much we don’t already know and it doesn’t uncover the enigma that is Queen Elizabeth II. And of course being published in 2011-13 it is already very out of date with so much having happened that has involved the Queen including Brexit which is changing the political landscape and she is Beverly much ...more
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well-written glimpse into the life of the current royal household. Marr concludes the biography by saying that in his younger years he was a republican who wanted to do away with the monarchy, but after spending so much time with the literature about, ethos of, and actual royals, he can't help but be a monarchist. His respect for the individual and the figurehead that is the current Queen Elizabeth is evident throughout the whole work, and it is a great tribute to the Queen in her Diamond Jubi ...more
At the beginning the book was quite interesting, it was really about Elizabeth II but.. the more I read, the more book was about monarchy and its significance rather than the queen. Although it's clear to me that there has to be some historical background, some information about the monarchy, it shouldn't dominate the book. You can see that there was enormous work done and preparations before writing the piece but I'm rather disappointed as it wasn't the content I was expecting.
Summer bingo-Biography of a royal
This biography did not give much of an "Intimate Portrait" of the queen as the title suggests, but did give a good look at the workings of the monarchy in Britain.
Ruth Soz
An engaging look at Queen Elizabeth II's 60+ year reign, including some interesting background prior to her 1953 Coronation. I would say that the author came across as a little biased in her favor and I would have enjoyed it more if it felt more objective.
Pam Erickson
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have always wanted to know what she carries in her purse, now I know of one thing.
My interest started because of "The Crown"
Wasn't disappointed.
She is an amazing woman.
"Because nobody else visits the small places, cheering up people is a substantial part of her job."
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I am not one that enjoys reading about the queen. However, a friend encouraged me to try this book, The queen has always seemed to be cool and indifferent, so learning about her witt and warmth was a nice surprise.
Chris Thompson
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lots of fun to read while watching "The Crown" on Netflix!
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I actually enjoyed this book. It is about the Queen and her life/family/duty. Recommended for those interested in her and the British monarchy.
Helen Sanders
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually did learn a few new things about the Queen and her family in this book. Very readable and I read it in about 2 and a half days!
Julie Szuster
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
it's a history of the monarchy under the reign of Elizabeth II, not an intimate biography of the Queen, therefore such a low rating, since it is misleading.
There are more current reads available about Queen Elizabeth II.
Paul Dickson
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much enjoyed this book.
May 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I don't get the English putting up with funding all this. I try . . . but I don't
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Andrew Marr was born in Glasgow. He graduated from Cambridge University and has enjoyed a long career in political journalism, working for the Scotsman, The Independent, The Economist, the Express and the Observer. From 2000 to 2005 he was the BBC's Political Editor. Andrew's broadcasting includes series on contemporary thinkers for BBC 2 and Radio 4, political documentaries for Channel 4 and BBC ...more

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