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Like so many around the world, we’re mourning the recent loss of Queen Elizabeth. We originally put this list together in 2020 after enjoying The Crown, but it includes non-fiction books about Queen Elizabeth to help you learn more about her remarkable life, from serious topics to commemorating her impeccable fashion.
Like all the fans of the Netflix series, The Crown, we have been eagerly awaiting the release of season 6. After the introduction of Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher, we can’t see how the next phase of history plays out on the screen. If you’re like us, and you can’t get enough of the British Royal Family, we hope you find these books to read after watching The Crown helpful.
These regal reads include both non-fiction and historical fiction about the House of Windsor. Some of these books for fans of The Crown are about the Royals themselves, while others provide insights into the lives of those who serve and support them. Several books on the list also delve into royal fashion and architecture.
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Books to Read if You Love The Crown
Non-Fiction Royal Reads
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
by Sally Bedell Smith
Published in 2012, after Queen Elizabeth had been on the throne for 60 years, this biography covers the queen's public and private life. The author relied on both interviews and written documents to tell the story of Lillibet from her time repairing trucks during WW2 as a teenager to the modern day.
The King's Speech
by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
This non-fiction read - based on the diaries of Lionel Logue - provides the true story behind the fictionalized, Academy Award nominated film by the same name.
Lionel Logue, an Australian commoner, was the speech therapist that helped King George VI overcome his terribly stammer and anxious shyness to become the leader that England desperately needed after his older brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson.
by Prince Harry
In this intimate memoir, Prince Harry tells his story, beginning when he learned of his mother's tragic death at the tender age of twelve.
We all remember the image of two young boys - two princes -walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow—and horror. As Princess Diana was laid to rest, billions wondered what Prince William and Prince Harry must be thinking and feeling—and how their lives would play out from that point on.
For Harry, this is that story at last. After his mother's death, he struggled at school, struggled with anger, with loneliness—and, because he blamed the press for his mother’s death, he struggled to accept life in the spotlight.
After his teen years to he found purpose and structure during his two combat tours with the British Army. But after the military, he felt more lost than ever, suffering from post-traumatic stress and prone to crippling panic attacks.
Above all, Harry dreamed of finding true love and some sense of normalcy. He hoped to start a family of his own, and to somehow protect them from the media scrutiny that ended his mother's story so tragically.
The Book Girls Say... While many question the accuracy of Harry's stories, we found that reading the book for ourselves and then comparing it to the twisted headlines about the contents of the book demonstrates how much the press has demonized him over the years and painted different pictures of him to suit their needs.
We both appreciated that he didn't skip the hard stuff that shows he is not perfect, and listening to the audiobook could feel how relieved he was to be able to share his side of things without a filter. We know people have different opinions, but we both really enjoyed listening to all his stories just like we have other memoirs.
We highly recommend this book in audio format, read by Prince Harry himself.
The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen's Childhood by Her Nanny
by Marion Crawford
This memoir broke all the rules when it was published in 1950. It was the first published account of life with the Royals, and, despite being a loving and gentle portrait of the childhood of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, it was met with absolutely fury by the press and the royal family alike.
Marion Crawford - or "Crawfie" as she was affectionately dubbed by Elizabeth - was a 24-year-old from Scotland when she was brought on to care for and educate the two young princesses in the early 1930s - Elizabeth was five at the time, and Margaret just two. She stayed with the family for the next sixteen years, all the way up to the birth of the Queen's eldest son, Prince Charles. During those formative years, Crawfie helped prepare the sisters for their royal roles while also attempting to show them a bit of real life.
Crawford became close friends with the Queen Mother, and she maintained that the she had been given permission to write the memoir, but following its publication, the Queen Mother never spoke to her again.
A newly published historical fiction novel - The Royal Governess - delves deeper into Crawford's time with the Windsors, as well as what came after when she was shunned for her memoir.
The Mountbattens: Their Lives & Loves
by Andrew Lownie
Fans of The Crown have seen glimpses of the incredible influence Dickie Mountbatten had on the life of his nephew, Prince Phillip, as well as on the upbringing of Prince Charles. In this book, historian Andrew Lownie dives deeper into the incredible lives and marriage of Dickie and his wife, Edwina, who was once the richest woman in Britain and an playgirl turned humanitarian. From high society to battlefields, and from affairs to assassination, this book provides a fascinating look at the Mountbattens.
This well researched non-fiction is based on over 100 interviews and extensive archival research, as well as new information released under Freedom of Information requests.
The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe
by Angela Kelly
When Angela Kelly began working for Queen Elizabeth twenty-five years ago, it was as Her Majesty's Senior Dresser. Over the years, the two formed a unique working relationship and a close personal relationship marked by lots of laughter. Kelly now serves as the Queen's Personal Advisor, Curator, Wardrobe and In-house Designer - the first person to ever hold this title.
Queen Elizabeth gave Kelly her blessing to write this book in which she provides a unique insight into the demands of a job supporting the Monarch, reveals charming anecdotes of their interactions, and shares never-before-seen photographs for her own private collection.
Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II
by Robert Hardman
Published in 2022 and written by a renowned Royal Biographer, this book includes previously unpublished Royal Family photographs and papers. The author covers her full reign and both private and public successes and challenges, from the Abdication of her Uncle to the loss of Prince Philip, her husband of over 60 years.
This is a long book, at just under 700 pages, but it offers a comprehensive view of the Queen's life.
Our Rainbow Queen: A Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and Her Colorful Wardrobe
by Sali Hughes
This is the book every fashion-loving fan of the royals needs to own! Covering all the colors of the rainbow and spanning nearly a century of style, the photographs in this book are made even more vibrant by the captions and commentary of Sali Hughes, the resident beauty columnist for British newspaper The Guardian.
Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown
by Anne Glenconner
Even the juiciest Hollywood tell-alls have nothing on this royal memoir from Anne Glenconner, who was a friend and official Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret, and who The Guardian aptly describes as a "posh old lady who isn’t afraid to talk dirty."
In early 2019, Glenconner agreed to consult with Helena Bonham Conner and Nancy Carroll to help them prepare for their respective portrayals of Princess Margaret and Glenconner in Season 3 of "The Crown." It was these meetings that prompted Anne to begin writing her memoir to tell the stories in her own words.
The book covers her full life to date, from teenage years through her late 80s. While Princess Margaret is involved in some of the stories, the book is not directly focused on the royal family. Instead, it's all about Anne's unbelievable life.
Her husband, Colin, was...eccentric to put it mildly. He took her into situations that will make your jaw drop over and over. Although even when not with Colin, she gets herself into some very interesting circumstances.
We highly recommend listening to this one as an audio book because Anne Glenconner narrates it herself and her proper British voice adds magic to the unbelievable stories. But a word of warning... Don't listen with your kiddos around. Some of the stories go from innocent to risque with no warning.
The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1
by Robert Lacey
This book, as well as the follow-up Volume 2, features additional historical details to go along side the storylines from The Crown, with both archival photos and photos from the show. Volume 1 covers 1947 to 1955, and Volume 2 spans 1956 to 1977.
Diana: Her True Story--in Her Own Words
by Andrew Morton
When it was first published in 1992, this book shocked the public, and forever changed the view of the British monarchy. Unlike many tabloid style books written about the Royal family, this biography was written with intimate involvement from Princess Diana herself, and with the full cooperation and support of her family and friends, who also speak freely in this tell-all.
Via this book, Diana became the first senior royal to ever speak in such unfiltered terms about her relationship with the Queen, her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, and her life in the House of Windsor. Twenty-five years later, biographer Andrew Morton revisited the secret tapes that he and the late Princess made to reveal even more insights into her extraordinary life.
Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life
by Sally Bedell Smith
Published in 2017, this was the first major biography of Prince Charles in more than 20 years, and the first authoritative book to shed light on Diana's death, his marriage to Camilla, and - as the oldest heir to the throne in more than three hundred years - his preparations to take the throne one day. Sally Bedell Smith, who previously authored Elizabeth the Queen, conducted four years of research and hundreds of interviews with palace officials, former girlfriends, and many others - some speaking on the record for the first time.
Buckingham Palace: The Interiors
by Ashley Hicks
The Book Girls love interior design (fun fact, we each run our own interior design website) so we couldn't not include this book on the list! British author, architect, interior and furniture designer, and photographer Ashley Hicks presents his stunning photos of the palace interiors, along with informative text. This gorgeous book also includes some historic paintings of the palace, providing an interesting comparison to the contemporary photos of the same spaces.
The Queen's House
by Edna Healey
With the assistance of the royal family, Edna Healey mined the Royal Archive to compile this charming social history of Buckingham Palace takes readers into its moonlit gardens, up the grand staircase, and inside its tapestried walls. This "biography" of the world's most famous house reveals not only the changing façade of the palace, but also the changing face of England's culture, morals, fashions, and tastes.
This book includes 16 pages of color photographs, and 8 pages of black & white photographs, but those really interested in diving deep into Buckingham Palace might want to consider pairing this book with Buckingham Palace: The Interiors, which is a full book of photographs.
Historial Fiction About the Windsors
The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding
by Jennifer Robson
The Gown takes place in London, 1947 as the city is slow to recover from the end of WW2. Queen Elizabeth’s wedding is a hot topic and many are excited for an upbeat event and other question the expense. The book isn’t heavy, but still includes a bit of contrast between the working class in England versus the royalty and aristocracy.
The novel follows the embroiderers still surviving on limited wages and food ration coupons while working on the elaborate wedding gown for then Princess Elizabeth.
The book also has sections set in the present day as a woman's grandmother leaves her a mysterious box of detailed embroidery samples.
Melissa was worried this book would spend too much time on gown details, but instead, she found a character-driven 5 star read. Many books are set during World War 2, so it was interesting to see life in the years following the Blitz instead.
Before the Crown
by Flora Harding
With war raging in 1943, young Princess Elizabeth encounters a charming Naval officer, Philip. He is the antithesis of everything she is expected to have in her spouse. Unpredictable, adventurous, and a foreign prince. How will her father, the King, react to the news of their potential relationship? Will her future role as Queen keep them apart? This historical fiction covers the period of courtship between Elizabeth and Philip and its present-tense format will transport you back in time.
The Royal Governess: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth II's Childhood
by Wendy Holden
In a life of royalty, there is no denying the impact of the governess role on the children. The Royal Governess takes a peek into the life of Queen Elizabeth as a child with Marion Crawford. She became the governess for the princesses in 1933, when she was only twenty-two.
Throughout the Abdication, Coronation, and beginning of World War II, she strives to bring some normalcy to extraordinary lives. This dedication to the royal family comes at the expense of her own personal life. This novel explores the lives of both the royal family and those who sacrifice everything to support them.
If you prefer to hear the story straight from Marion Crawford, you can check out her memoir - The Little Princesses. She caused quite a stir when she published her personal account in 1950, despite it being a very respectful and gentle look into her life with the royal family.
The Golden Hour
by Beatriz Williams
WWII-era Nassau was a hotbed of spies, traitors, and the most infamous couple of the age, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Five years after their love affair rocked the British monarchy, Lulu arrives in the Bahamas to investigate them for a New York society magazine. As she works her way into their social circle, Lulu uncovers evidence of an uglier reality. Part beach read, part British Royalty, this is a great pick if you love a mix of love and suspense.
Another Woman's Husband
by Gill Paul
The split timeline in Another Woman’s Husband explores the connection between Wallis Warfield in 1911 and Princess Diana in 1997. Two women who challenged the traditional monarchy. While the story revolves are these royal figures, it’s told through the eyes of others.
Mary befriends Wallis at camp and then remains constant support as Wallis begins a relationship with the Prince. Rachel and Alex are in a cab when the car in front of them crashes in a tunnel. They have no idea the occupant is Princess Diana. Rachel is haunted by the crash and her interest leads to a link back in time and a historical revelation.
The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal
by Bryn Turnbull
Before Prince Edward Abdicated the throne and choose his relationship with Wallis Simpson over the crown, he had another stunning relationship. Thelma Morgan, the daughter of an American Diplomat, married a Duke and found herself immersed in the glamour of British Royalty.
When she meets Prince Edward, her new life gets even more complicated. Back in America, Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt becomes involved in a scandal, and Thelma sails home to support Gloria. While she is gone, she couldn’t predict the lasting consequences of leaving Edward behind with her friend, Wallis.
If you’re looking for even more books like The Crown, you’ll also want to check out our list of books for Downtown Abbey fans!
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