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Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
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BRITISH MONARCHY/ROYAL HOUSES > 10. ELIZABETH THE QUEEN ~ March 12 - 18 ~ ~ CHAPTERS 19-20 (443-497) ~ No Spoilers Please

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message 1: by Jill (last edited Feb 24, 2012 07:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Hello Everyone,

For the week of March 12th - March 18th, we are reading the next two chapters of Elizabeth the Queen.

The tenth week's reading assignment is:

Nineteen - Moving Pictures - 443

Twenty - A Soldier At Heart - 469

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

This book was kicked off on January 10th. We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle. This weekly thread will be opened up on March 12th or sometime during the weekend before.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Jill will be leading this discussion. But since this is Jill's first time moderating a book; Bentley will be co-moderating this selection.




Elizabeth The Queen The Life Of A Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith by Sally Bedell Smith Sally Bedell Smith



It is always a tremendous help when you quote specifically from the book itself and reference the chapter and page numbers when responding. The text itself helps folks know what you are referencing and makes things clear.


If an author or book is mentioned other than the book and author being discussed, citations must be included according to our guidelines. Also, when citing other sources, please provide credit where credit is due and/or the link. There is no need to re-cite the author and the book we are discussing however.

If you need help - here is a thread called the Mechanics of the Board which will show you how:


Remember there is a glossary thread where ancillary information is placed by the moderator. This is also a thread where additional information can be placed by the group members regarding the subject matter being discussed.


There is a Bibliography where books cited in the text are posted with proper citations and reviews. We also post the books that the author used in her research or in her notes. Please also feel free to add to the Bibliography thread any related books, etc with proper citations. No self promotion, please.

Q&A with Sally

Please as you are reading post questions to the author's Q&A thread because Sally Bedell Smith will be looking in periodically and will be posting answers to your questions and will be available for a chat. She will be dropping in every now and then when she has time between stops on her book tour. We are very fortunate that she is making time to spend with us.

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Chapter Overviews and Summaries

Chapter 19 (Moving Pictures)

Plans for the Queen's Golden Jubilee move forward and the palace uses polls and focus groups to measure the Queen's popularity by region. The Queen plans her tour based on this research. She returns to Northern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement to a less dangerous environment. A centerpiece of the Jubilee is the "people's party" and the Queen listens to pop music with some handy earplugs. Scandal visits the Royal Family once more when Diana's former butler is found in possession of many of Diana's belongings and is brought to trial. The Queen visits a popular nightclub and thoroughly enjoys herself. The Queen forms a close bond with her new dresser who often designs many of the Queen's dresses. A journalist who lies his way into the position of footman at Buckingham Palace, releases candid photos and observations of the private lives of the Royal Family. Successful legal action follows. Prince Charles marries the love of his life, Camilla who becomes the Duchess of Cornwall. The Islamic terrorist attack on the London transit system shocks the nation. The film The Queen starring Helen Mirren is released to rave reviews. The Queen does not attend.

Chapter 20 (A Soldier at Heart)

American photographer, Annie Leibovitz, does a stunning portfolio of pictures of the Queen. The Queen visits President Bush and attends the Kentucky Derby. Tony Blair resigns as PM and Gordon Brown steps into the position. The Queen and Prince Phillip celebrate 60 years of marriage and we get a glimpse of their relationship. Prince Harry goes on military assignment to Afghanistan. Prince Charles turns 60 years of age and becomes the oldest Prince of Wales in history. The Queen gets her own channel on YouTube. She visits East Yorkshire, a bastion of republicanism and is hailed as "a royal tonic". The Queen meets President and Mrs.Obama and sets off on her tour of the Caribbean Islands of the Commonwealth.

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Please feel free to post your comments and thoughts related to Chapter 19 (Moving Pictures) and Chapter 20 (A Soldier at Heart). This is a non-spoiler thread.

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) As a nod to the changing times, the Queen uses polling and focus groups to determine her popularity by region. In her address to Parliament her message was:

Change has become a constant....managing it has become an expanding discipline The way we embrace it defines our future pg. 445

I felt that her attitude toward the monarchy's "job" was admirable but had to be hard for one so steeped in ritual and ceremony.

Cheryl (cheryl319) | 372 comments It seems like keeping a pulse on the opinion of the people has become a theme with the Royal Family - the Queen has been doing it for years, since at least 1955 from what I can tell from the book - much earlier than I would have thought. Before reading this book I was under the impression that the Royals paid no attention to public opinion until the death of Diana.

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Her ideas certainly became more modern as time passed. I think the whole Diana situation really brought home to her the importance of connecting with the people and she made more concerted efforts to change her approach.

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I got a laugh out of the Queen wearing ear plugs while Clapton sang "Layla" at the "people's party". I wonder what she was thinking? I don't remember reading anywhere in the book what type of music she likes or maybe I just missed it. But somehow I have a feeling that it isn't rock.

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) It appeared to me that there was something really strange about the withdrawal of the theft charges against Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell. He told the Queen that he had "taken some of the Princess's papers for safekeeping".....but that was not the case, as authorities found clothes, jewelry, furniture and items allegedly taken from Charles and William. Even though he had only told the Queen about some documents and not all the valuables, it stopped the trial in its tracks. What do you think was behind this?

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Sally Bedell Smith is currently on line in the "Q&A With Sally" thread.......please join in if you can

message 10: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Please jump over to the "Q&A With Sally" thread where the author has answered some of the many questions posted by readers. It is quite interesting and we are lucky to be able to share some time with her. She was very complimentary of the group.

message 11: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The film The Queen is released and is a huge success. The Queen does not attend but many of her friends who did felt that the portrayal "rang true". If you have seen the film, do you feel that it provided a true picture of the Queen's personality based on what we have read in this biography?

Cheryl (cheryl319) | 372 comments I have to say no - I thought it portrayed her as much stiffer. Maybe that has to do with the somber events the movie is about, but the movie does not show the lighter side of her that I have come to see from reading this book.

message 13: by Jill (last edited Mar 17, 2012 09:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) What are your impressions of Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall as a couple? Although the author did not include this quote in the book, I heard that Prince Charles said (and I paraphrase), "We are not very exciting....just a comfortable middle-aged couple. And I think that they have presented the image of two people that are indeed comfortable in their marriage.

Cheryl (cheryl319) | 372 comments Agreed - and I think that's a great accomplishment given all the negative press they received during the Diana years, with most of the public believing and taking Diana's side.

Cheryl (cheryl319) | 372 comments I loved the anecdote on page 477 from MP Chris Mullen in which the Queen distracts Prince Phillip from one of his "unpredictable comments" by prompting him to look at pottery that isn't there!

I read the NY Times review of The Uncommon Reader - the review also mentions the play A Question of Attribution by the same author. It strikes me that Alan Bennett has a high opinion of the Queen despite the book's bit of lampooning.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett and Plays 2 Kafka's Dick, The Insurance Man, The Old Country, An Englishman Abroad, A Question of Attribution (Faber Contemporary Classics) by Alan Bennett by Alan Bennett Alan Bennett

message 16: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Prince Phillip often speaks before he thinks.....and I think the Queen learned over their long marriage to be prepared to counter his comments or nip them in the bud. He has gotten a lot of bad press over some of his statements but it doesn't seem to garner resentment from the citizens. Maybe they just find it endearing and part of his personality. I think the author has shown that he is a deeper person than he appears.

message 17: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The Queen's trip to the Commonwealth island in the Caribbean was a huge success (but I was overwhelmed by the amount of baggage she took with her....even her monogrammed electric kettle for tea!)
"The Commonwealth is very much her legacy....without the Queen's leadership and example, many of us would have left" She developed better relationships with Commonwealth leaders than her prime ministers pg. 495.
The question remains....will Prince Charles, when he takes the throne, be able to hold the Commonwealth together since it is somewhat of an anachronism?

Virginia (tootwistedtv) I agree with Jill - I also got a laugh out of the Queen wearing ear plugs at the pop concert. I wonder if she also muttered "Kids these days...with their loud music and whatnot"? LOL!

message 19: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) She probably did!!!!!

Barbara (barbaraannewaite) Elizabeth-chap. 19-20
I really like the photo of Queen Elizabeth waving from her Coach. She appears happy and content. She must have felt great satisfaction in having completed 50 years.
I like the quote by Prince Charles to his mother on page 446 “You have embodied something vital in our lives- continuity. You have been a beacon of tradition and stability in the midst of profound, sometimes perilous, change.” I suppose “continuity” is something America lacks due to the changing of leadership. We also lack the elaborate traditions England has.
I also enjoyed the delightful photo of Prince William with his grandmother in chapter 20. She looks so small. It must be pride shining in her face in this photo.
I thought the statement on page 495 by Brian Mulroney was well said, “The commonwealth is very much her legacy…for it is a major achievement and platform.”

message 21: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I think another telling statement which shows the esteem in which the Queen is held is that of the former President of Zambia who stated, "Without the Queen's leadership and example many of us would have left (the Commonwealth)" pg. 495. She appears to be the glue that holds it all together.

Cheryl (cheryl319) | 372 comments Agreed, which further raises the question of whether those countries would stay in the Commonwealth under Prince Charles.

message 23: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I also wondered that and mentioned it in post# 17. Her long reign and lack of any personal scandal about her, has endeared her to the people. But I also think that the image of Charles has changed dramatically since his "Diana days" and his popularity has risen which may bode well for his reign as King when the time comes.

message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 22, 2012 03:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "It seems like keeping a pulse on the opinion of the people has become a theme with the Royal Family - the Queen has been doing it for years, since at least 1955 from what I can tell from the book -..."

Response to message 5 and to Cheryl:

I felt that way too Cheryl; but I guess that has not been the case.

message 25: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "It appeared to me that there was something really strange about the withdrawal of the theft charges against Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell. He told the Queen that he had "taken some of the Pri..."

I never understood that either unless the interpretation of the law is very narrow; either he told someone or not and since he did - the matter had no weight or consequence.

message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Agreed, which further raises the question of whether those countries would stay in the Commonwealth under Prince Charles."

I think that folks who were part of the Commonwealth after all of this time will continue to stay; they are obviously feeling that they gain more out of this relationship than not.

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