13 books to read if you loved The Crown
So you binge-watched the second season of The Crown over the weekend, and now you’re at a loss, wanting to know more about the Queen’s palace, state dinners, corgis, and the good old red box. To feed your regal fix until the next season comes along, with a new actress in Olivia Colman playing Queen Elizabeth, EW’s compiled a list of royally fascinating reads about Queen Elizabeth’s life and reign. Toast some crumpets and dive right in.
Tim Heald, Princess Margaret
In The Crown, Queen Elizabeth always has to sacrifice her wants and desires for the role she must play, while her younger sister Princess Margaret often gets to have plain, simple fun. Margaret also encountered some trying times — namely her forbidden romance with Group Captain Peter Townsend — but all that passion, angst, and betrayal makes for an even more gripping read in her biography, written by Tim Heald. With help from the Princess’ eventual husband, Lord Snowden, and her son, Lord Linley, as well as some of her ladies in waiting, Heald dives into the conflicting private and public worlds of the queen’s little sister.
Ingrid Seward, My Husband and I
This one’s perfect for season 2 watchers. In My Husband and I, Ingrid Seward digs into the real, complicated, at times scandalous story of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Described as a celebration of the power of love, the book was released only a month ago, just before The Crown‘s second batch of episodes launched on Netflix. Of course, season 2 provides a fascinating portrait of the marriage, making this an essential companion reading.
Sally Bedell Smith, Elizabeth the Queen
This one’s juicy. Detailing Elizabeth’s early days as Heiress Presumptive, her determination to marry Prince Philip despite her parents’ protests, and all the ups and downs of her 60-plus-year reign, this best seller goes behind the queen’s perfectly presented public poise to explore the wit and charm that is rarely given the chance to flourish outside the palace walls.
Gyles Brandeth, Elizabeth & Philip: Portrait of a Royal Marriage
If Claire Foy and Matt Smith’s portrayal of Elizabeth and Philip’s romance was your favorite part of The Crown, this one’s for you. The course of true love never did run smooth, and that’s certainly true for the young queen and her overshadowed husband (and distant cousin). Despite living their entire married life in the public eye, very little is known about what actually goes on between the couple behind palace walls. Read this biography to find out if the Duke of Edinburgh was really as surly as the Netflix show suggests. Plus, the book includes a selection of Prince Philip’s family photographs as well as pictures from the Queen’s royal collection.
Marion Crawford, The Little Princesses
Written by Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret’s nanny of 16 years, Marion Crawford (“Crawfie”), The Little Princesses tells of the girls’ royal upbringing and Crawford’s attempt to expose the children to the ordinary world outside of the palace. However, scandal followed the publication of the book, dubbed the “original nanny diaries,” as the press went after Crawford for divulging royal secrets and the Queen Mother — who had given the nanny permission to write the book — never spoke to her again.
Philip Eade, Young Prince Philip
Charming, truculent and often times not entirely politically correct, Matt Smith’s Prince Philip is one of the best parts of The Crown.Despite having been married to the queen for more than 60 years, the early life of the man whose grandson and future king, Prince William described as a “legend” is rather mysterious. This book focuses exclusively on the future Duke of Edinburgh’s young life, before Elizabeth’s coronation, including his mother’s commitment to a psychiatric clinic when he was just nine years old, his turbulent upbringing across Greece, France, Nazi Germany, and Britain, and later his time serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
William Shawcross, The Queen Mother
No monarch has ever been as publicly adored as the queen mother. She lived to the impressive age of 101, so you know there’s plenty of royal living to pack these pages. Shawcross was awarded unrestricted access to the queen mother’s personal papers, letters, and diaries to put together this biography. The queen mother’s life spanned two world wars, and she was also witness to the abdication of her brother-in-law and the death of her younger daughter, Princess Margaret, making this one a gripping reading.
Cecil Beaton, Queen Elizabeth II: Portraits
English photographer, designer, and diarist Cecil Beaton’s collection of stunning photos offers a glamorous glimpse into royal living with accompanying descriptions of how these royal portraits shaped the monarchy’s public image from the 1930s to the late 1960s.
Robert Hardman, Her Majesty
Robert Hardman travels with Queen Elizabeth on the road, in honor of her 60 years serving the monarchy. He provides an intimate, thrillingly personal account of meeting with the Royal Family and their staff, tracing changes in culture and the effects of modernity on an institution whose relevance and value has drastically changed.
Brian Hoey, Not in Front of the Corgis
No, Not in Front of the Corgis isn’t told from the point of view of one of the Queen’s adorable pups. Instead, it’s told from the perspective of the palace staff. Deep within the pages are fun facts about the Queen’s television and music preferences, insight into what’s served at Prince Charles and Camilla’s dinner parties, and admissions about which royals really get on the serving staff’s nerves. Perfect for the reader who wants to believe the royal family members are just like us.
Kitty Kelley, The Royals
Imagine if The Crown had aired on the CW rather than Netflix. That’s what you get with The Royals, packed with scandals including marriage dissolutions, affairs, and the ruined lives of regal children. With accusations of Prince Philip’s bisexuality and Princess Margaret’s anti-Semitism, it’s a juicy, shocking page-turner — and, most definitely, an unauthorized biography.
Dickie Arbiter, On Duty with the Queen
In this unique look at royal life, former press secretary to the royal family, Dickie Arbiter, reveals the day-to-day workings of Buckingham Palace as well a day in the professional life of the queen. Arbiter has four decades of experience covering the queen and is the only royal commentator to have witnessed the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, covered her Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilees, and join Her Majesty for dishwashing chores after a picnic in Balmoral Castle. Those classy credentials make for fascinating and insightful reading.
Robert Lacey, The Crown: The Official Companion
This official companion guide was released just in time for season 2. Royal biographer Robert Lacey adds unique insight and offers delicious extra details on the events of the series, presenting an full portrait of the series’ characters while also enhancing its many addictive story lines.