[she is] a wave breaking on a rock, because although she is sweet and pretty and charming, she also has a basic streak of toughness and tenacity. … when a wave breaks on a rock, it showers and sparkles with a brilliant play of foam and droplets in the sun, yet beneath is really hard, tough rock, fused, in her case, from strong principles, physical courage and a sense of duty. Sir Hugh Casson on Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
In this letter to her husband Albert (the future King George VI), regarding their second daughter (Margaret Rose), Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother shows a profound understanding of baptism, and the importance of it, even in just a few words:
Isn’t Oct 30th a bit late for the christening–the baby will be 10 weeks old, and still a pagan. Counting One’s Blessings–The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
As you may have noticed, this has been a very British year for our family. Starting in the summer, I began searching for and reading as many books about the monarchy as I could find. I prefer reading “authorized biographies,” especially for contemporary figures, so I focused on finding as many of those as possible. Many of them are out of print, but I was able to track down pretty much everything I was looking for in our library system. I did have a few more “scandalous” books on my list, too, but nothing that was intentionally negative about the royals, and only books written by respectable authors–nothing sensational. Other than general information on the monarchy, I started at about the time of Queen Victoria, and moved to the present day from there.
- King George V by Kenneth Rose
- Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy
- King Edward VIII by Philip Ziegler
- King George VI by John Wheeler-Bennett
- Mountbatten by Philip Ziegler
- The Queen Mother by William Shawcross
- Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross
- Dressing the Queen by Angela Kelly
- We Two by Gillian Gill
- The King’s Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
- The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford
- Her Majesty: The Court of Queen Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman
- The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr
- Prince Philip by Philip Eade
- Philip and Elizabeth by Gyles Brandreth
- Jubilee! Queen Elizabeth II–60 Years on the Throne by the Editors of Life magazine
- Elizabeth: Reigning in Style by Jane Eastoe
- The Queen’s Jewels by Leslie Field
- Crown Jewels of Britain and Europe by Prince Michael of Greece
- The Queen’s Diamonds by Hugh Roberts
- Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration by Caroline de Guitaut (This book and the one that follows are the only ones I haven’t even looked at, as our library system doesn’t have them. I hope to see them eventually, though!)
- The Crown Jewels by Anna Keay
And, a few bonus royal documentaries, just because I can!
- Windsor Castle: A Royal Year
- Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work
- Queen and Country
- Diamond Queen
- The Queen’s Palaces
I didn’t finish reading all of them…there just wasn’t time. But I do intend to go back and finish the rest, because it’s so interesting to read about the history of Europe’s most prominent royal family!
This quote is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. It’s from a letter written to the Archbishop of Canterbury following the birth of Princess Margaret in September, 1930. It’s funny, but there’s also some wisdom to it…
My dear Archbishop…Daughter No 2 is really very nice, and I am glad to say that she has got large blue eyes and a will of iron, which is all the equipment that a lady needs! As long as she can disguise her will, & use her eyes, then all will be well…
Yours very sincerely
In honor of the Royal Wedding, I thought I’d share two of my favorite quotes from Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. I always respected her for being a kind, yet spunky woman, and the more I read about her, the more my admiration of her grows. She was definitely a strong and determined woman, and it showed in the way she lived her life.
On being advised to send her children to Canada during World War II:
“The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave the King. And the King will never leave.”
On the bombing of Buckingham Palace, also during World War II:
“I’m glad we’ve been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face.”
What an example of strength and loyalty to her husband and her nation!