Well Played: An Exclusive Excerpt From Elizabeth: A Celebration In Photographs of The Queen’s Life And Reign


As a special treat this morning, we’re bringing Fug Nation another Royals Report from Kelly Lynch and our friends at Socialite Life: an exclusive excerpt from a fabulous new book about Queen Elizabeth II, as well as photos from the book — a copy of which we are very excited to announce we will be giving away when it is released in October. Please enjoy the excerpt below, and click through the slideshow for some fabulous retro photos of the Queen and Royal Family. Behold the awesomeness:

“In her gorgeous, colorful new book about Queen Elizabeth, Jennie Bond pays tribute to Her Majesty. The British reporter, who joined the BBC in 1977 before becoming a royal correspondent in 1989, highlighted milestones both large and small, from the Queen’s quiet upbringing to that ‘Annus Horribilis’ in Elizabeth: A Celebration In Photographs of The Queen’s Life And Reign (Published by Carlton Publishing Group, dist. by Trafalgar Square Publishing/iPg).

Elizabeth was brought up with a profound sense of duty, which has never wavered. She has unfailingly put her job before her personal happiness and family commitments – some would say at considerable cost to her children. Although she is, of course, cushioned against the everyday drudgery suffered by most of us, the Queen is and always has been a working mother and has undoubtedly experienced something of the conflict that goes with that role. Since her accession in 1952 she has carried out more than two hundred and fifty tours abroad, taking her away from her children sometimes for months at a time. The fact that this has long been an accepted way of life for royalty may have lessened the pain, but the Queen is not without maternal feelings and the long separations were not necessarily easy. Duty, though, has always prevailed over maternal feelings.

By nature Elizabeth is a countrywoman, happiest in a tweed skirt and headscarf walking her dogs, or in jodhpurs and hacking jacket (stubbornly minus the hat) riding one of her thoroughbreds. Even though she is now over eighty-five, she enjoys a sedate trot across her estates at Sandringham, Balmoral or Windsor. Perhaps because of the solitary job that became hers so suddenly when she was twenty-five, Elizabeth has always been something of a loner, content with her own company – when she can get it. But, as Queen, it is her duty to meet and greet tens of thousands of people each year. Her official life entails making polite conversation with strangers the world over. On numerous overseas tours I have watched her display due care and interest in the lives and thoughts of these strangers, even when yet another “cultural performance of song and dance” has over-run, her feet, like mine, must be aching and the temperature is soaring.

The Queen is not out-going by nature but she has learned to ‘work the crowds’ and, although she has never quite rivalled her mother’s effortless charm with onlookers and fans, she is a consummate professional. She also has a keen eye for the ridiculous, a dry sense of humour and in the privacy of her immediate circle she’s a dab hand as a mimic.

When you meet her for the first time you may be struck, as I was, by her wide smile and the occasional mischievous glint in her eyes when something amuses her. Beware, though, of over-stepping the mark: a touch too much familiarity and you will find yourself frozen out. For she is, first and foremost, the guardian of a position that she regards as sacrosanct: in an increasingly cynical world, the Queen is potently aware that she is on the front line of defending the institution of monarchy.

Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister, recalled asking the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1936 about her future role.

‘When our father became King, I said to her, “Does that mean you’re going to be Queen?”  She replied, “Yes, I suppose it does.” She didn’t mention it again.

Elizabeth: A Celebration Of The Queen’s Life and Reign is available October 1st.”

[Photos: Getty/Elizabeth: A Celebration In Photographs of The Queen's Life And Reign]

Leave a reply

Comments (21):

  1. Kristen from MA

    LOVE her!

    But, as Queen, it is her duty to meet and greet tens of thousands of people each year. Her official life entails making polite conversation with strangers the world over. On numerous overseas tours I have watched her display due care and interest in the lives and thoughts of these strangers, even when yet another “cultural performance of song and dance” has over-run, her feet, like mine, must be aching and the temperature is soaring.

    Not enough money in the world to get me to do that job.

    •  HelenBackAgain

      I couldn’t live the life of an ambassadress either. Kudos to her.

    • Janice Marie

      I don’t know – she does get some castles and some crowns……..

  2. JennyC

    Can we get a “THE QUEEN” tag? :) And yes, LOVE HER!

  3. nicole

    But wheeeeeereeeee are the royal corgis? I demand some cute with my Fab! :)

  4. qwertygirl

    There’s a wonderful book called “The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen’s Childhood by Her Nanny, Marion Crawford.” I read it many years ago, and it’s a great book, but I understand the Queen was Not Amused and basically refused to ever have anything to do with her nanny again because she felt betrayed. It wasn’t really that controversial or revealing, but I guess she felt any revelation was too much. An interesting companion read to this, perhaps.

  5. S

    “the Queen is and always has been a working mother”
    Hell to the yes on this. She may be less than perfect (who of us are?) but I feel that she doesn’t get respect for the very difficult job that she does. Her job responsibilities are treated as trivial, and maybe they are compared to some jobs, but they are still meaningful for hundreds of thousands of people and she does her job Very, Very Well.

    To bring it back to the subject at hand, I love the Queen in yellow. And she looks very smart in the suit at the castle picture (and that seems totally in character for Princess Anne.)

    • Beth

      The Queen as a working mom – I agree with you, and until I read this post, I never saw her as a “working mom.” But she does work, and she’s made it so clear over the years that being Queen is a full-time JOB that doesn’t allow for much downtime. I keep forgetting she’s 87; she has such a full plate and it seems like she’s always doing *something*.

  6. True_Blue

    In the second photo (the one with diamond tiara)–there is a man right out of a Velasquez painting, with a neck ruff. Did people in Vatican actually dress up like that on a regular basis? In 1961?

    •  HelenBackAgain

      I KNOW! The neck ruff had me falling out of my chair!

      And, apparently, yes.

    • scone

      I think that’s a member of the Swiss Guard: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/swiss_guard/

      • Sandra

        The guy with the red-plumed helmet is a Swiss Guardsman. You can see his blue and yellow striped trousers behind the Queen. The gentleman just to her right in the black outfit with the fuschia piping is a monsignor. I’ve never seen one wear a ruff, but back before Vatican II things were much more formal.

  7. Kris1 fka Kris

    Since the Fug Girls introduced us to The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor, I just enjoy everything royal SO much more! I think this would be a neat book to spend a few hours poring over.

  8.  Melissa

    I have such respect for the Queen. It’s not fashionable to put duty above personal happiness these days, but I admire her for her dedication.

  9. Lily

    Can these pictures be filed under Everyone Looks Hot in Crowns? She is just FAB.

  10. Karen

    I suspect that getting 40,000 cards is awesome only if one has a personal secretary designated to respond to all of them FOR one.

    •  HelenBackAgain

      I think that takes an entire staff. I certainly couldn’t do it all within an appropriate amount of time!

      Which, hmmm… I wonder if the Palace just keeps people on forever, or if they actually hire temps from time to time, like at holidays, and notable birthdays like this, when the floodgates of mail really open?

      Because, imagine being a temp at the Palace! One roommate to another: “So Dee, what’s your new assignment from the agency? You’re looking very dressed up for it!” “You’d never believe it, but I can’t tell you!”

    •  Steph

      I sent the Queen a birthday card when I was 6 years old. My mum can still recall the squeal of joy I exuded when I got mail… FROM THE QUEEN (well, her Lady in Waiting, thanking me for the “lovely card.”). I mean, when you’re 6, getting mail from anyone but Nana is amazing. But from BUCKINGHAM PALACE?! Whoa.

      And yes, I still have the card. :)

  11. Sajorina

    I love books like this… Royalty, History & Photographs!

  12. Nanny

    I can’t wait for this! I always remember the scene in The Queen where Tony Blair screams at his entire staff to cut her some slack, and then goes on to describe her dedication to her duty in such a way, you can’t help but have profound respect for her. And I believe she is the most traveled woman in history. Imagine the things she has seen!