Finished watching all of the award-winning Netflix original series The Crown but still experiencing a royal craving? Fortunately, there are dozens of books that can help satisfy your curiosity to know more about Queen Elizabeth, the royal family, and their palatial lives. Here are five of the very best reads for you if you loved The Crown.
The Queen: Elizabeth II and the Monarchy, by Ben Pimlott (Harper Collins, 2002)
Newly revised for Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, famed University of London historian Ben Pimlott’s biography is a richly detailed and well-documented study of Elizabeth’s life and reign. Until her official biography is written, this is probably the most authoritative account of her life. Pimlott shows particular insight in connecting her personal life and her personality with the broader social and political context of her times. Pimlott enjoyed an unusual level of access to documents and people in writing his biography, so he provides an unrivaled glimpse at what life is really like behind the gates of Elizabeth’s Buckingham Palace.
Elizabeth the Queen, by Sally Bedell (Random House, 2012)
This New York Times Bestseller was published on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. A magisterial and intimate portrait of Elizabeth, Bedell’s epic biography cuts through the gossip and draws on an unprecedented range of new, documentary materials to explore the personal life of the queen. Bedell pays particular attention to her role as a woman who came to power in an age dominated by men. Eloquently written, thoroughly researched, and comprehensive in scope, Elizabeth the Queen is a compelling journey through one of the most remarkable lives of our time.
Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Royal Marriage, by Gyle Brandreth (W. W. Norton & Company, 2006)
There are several books about the royal marriage of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, but this is the only one that was written by a long-time personal friend of the Duke. Brandreth interviewed many members of the royal family and many people who have worked for the family over the years, and he does not quote anonymous sources—a true rarity in books about the royals. Written with charm and elegance, Brandreth’s account of how the young couple met, and the very different lives that they led before then, expands into one of the most penetrating and personalizing examinations of this famously enigmatic and private marriage of almost sixty years.
Queen Elizabeth II: Portraits, by Cecil Beaton (Victoria & Albert Museum, 2011)
This gorgeous volume combines both famous and lesser known photographs of the royal family and Queen Elizabeth with insightful essays and commentary by Susanna Brown, curator of photographs for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The images were taken by photographer and designer Cecil Beaton, whose personal relationship with the Windsors granted him the privilege of documenting some of their most important and private moments from the 1930s through the 1960s. Fans of The Crown will see many of the most iconic images that helped inspire the series and that fashioned the public perception of Elizabeth as a mother and a queen, accompanied by the stories behind the moments they captured.
The Royals, by Kitty Kelley (Grand Central Publishing, 1998)
Written by one of the modern age’s most popular biographical journalists, The Royals was a New York Times bestseller when it first appeared in 1998. The writing is accessible and the stories Kelley tells delve into some of the most sensational and surprising gossip and tabloid headlines. The Royals is that rare portrait of a family that is both revealing and engaging, both novel and highly entertaining. Readers are able to see how Elizabeth’s life and career has been shaped—for better or for worse—by the family and people around her. Though a bit dated today, Kelley’s penetrating insight into the truth behind the rumors makes for a revealing read, even decades later.