With a newly arrived Royal Baby (capitalization probably required), it seems appropriate to read about the child’s great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. What got me picking up this indeed brief book, however, was The King’s Speech. I’d finished watching it on Netflix and remembered seeing screenwriter David Seidler on Charlie Rose when the film was first released. He said that he’d wanted to explore the story of King George VI’s stutter and relationship to his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, but that the Queen mother asked him to wait until she died. Then, of course, she went on to live a total 102 years. Nine years later, The King’s Speech won 4 Oscars, 7 BAFTAs, 1 Golden Globe, and 2 SAG awards. It is an outstanding film, and I wanted some additional information about the family.
I’ve never really been a royalist, but my interest stems from how odd their insular experience must be. In The King’s Speech, the Queen Mother, then the Duchess of York (played by Helena Bonham Carter), makes a joke that being royalty is like “indentured servitude,” which isn’t too far off — though it’s still a very pampered, privileged life, despite its obligations. The Queen: A Life in Brief condenses much of the information found in Robert Lacey’s other book, Monarch (also known as Royal, in the Great Britain edition), which was the basis for the Helen Mirren film, The Queen. When a family is so private, the sources all seem to feed into one another.