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Diamond Queen [Paperback]

Andrew Marr
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 31 2011
With the flair for narrative and the meticulous research that readers have come to expect, Andrew Marr turns his attention to the monarch -- and to the monarchy, chronicling the Queen's pivotal role at the centre of the state, which is largely hidden from the public gaze, and making a strong case for the institution itself. Arranged thematically, rather than chronologically, Marr dissects the Queen's political relationships, crucially those with her Prime Ministers; he examines her role as Head of the Commonwealth, and her deep commitment to that Commonwealth of nations; he looks at the drastic changes in the media since her accession in 1952 and how the monarchy -- and the monarch -- have had to change and adapt as a result. Indeed he argues that under her watchful eye, the monarchy has been thoroughly modernized and made as fit for purpose in the twenty-first century as it was when she came to the throne and a 'new Elizabethan age' was ushered in.

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About the Author

Andrew Marr was born in Glasgow in 1959. He studied English at the University of Cambridge and has since enjoyed a long career in political journalism, working for the Scotsman, the Independent, the Daily Express and the Observer. From 2000 to 2005 he was the BBC's Political Editor. He has written and presented TV documentaries on history, science and politics, and presents the weekly Andrew Marr Show on Sunday mornings on BBC1 and Start the Week on Radio 4. He lives in London with his family.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Queen Elizabeth will be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee - 60 years - as queen of England in 2012. A lot of books and television programs will mark the occasion and most, if not all, will be marketed as "intimate". Andrew Marr is a journalist who also hosts a show on the BBC. His book, "The Real Elizabeth", is more a popular than scholarly look at the Queen and her role. I think Sally Bedell Smith's up-coming biography might be a touch more scholarly in its approach to her subject.

There's nothing wrong with "popular" history books. And Andrew Marr's book is a prime example of an interesting, easy-to-read book without a lot of depth, but with a good grasp of the subject. He begins by reviewing the House of Windsor, from its beginning with King George V - son of Edward VII - through the reigns of George, his son Edward VIII, and finally, his other son, George VI, who took over the throne after Edward's abdication in 1936. George VI was, of course, Elizabeth's father, and when he died in 1952, she became queen at the age of 25. Marr then continues with her reign, highlighting her family, her relations with her people, and with the various prime ministers she's worked with. He also writes about Diana's influence on the royal family.

I've read many books on British Royalty. Most are more scholarly than Marr's. For a Royal-groupie who already knows a lot about the Royal family, I wouldn't advise wasting your time on Marr's book. However, for the casual reader it is a good choice to start with during this long Jubilee year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diamonds are Forever? July 17 2013
By Mr. D. James - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Andrew Marr, The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People

Andrew Marr, a lapsed republican, gives a very respectful, not to say hagiographic account of the life and work of the Queen. As the title indicates the book is a celebration of fifty years in her reign, from her birth by Caesarian section on April 26, 1926, to her accession to the throne in 1952 and her continued occupancy of the royal seat through many changes of government until the present. The work penetrates deeply into both domestic discord and Britain's changing place in the world, the Queen's relation with her court, parliament and her encounters with a host of international heads of state. We pass through the war years, austerity, the lively Sixties and the present period of economic downturn, the wise queen adapting with equanimity to every crisis. In a first chapter outlining `What the Queen Does,' Marr concludes with the resounding cliché that after her death `there will be a gaping, Queen-sized hole in the middle of British life.'

If ever there was a book capable of shoring up the dying institution of monarchy this is the book. Marr the fair-minded liberal leans over backwards to support the heroic little woman whose devotion to `family values' has persisted through the ages. Thus he quotes her message to the Mothers Union rally in 1949: `We can have no doubt that divorce and separation are responsible for some of the darkest evils in our society today.' Thus speaks the royal `we' who goes on to attack a materialism and selfishness later to be epitomised in the wild capers of her younger sister. But the spectre of divorce was to haunt the royals in the coming decades, when the queen was obliged, publically at least, to hold her tongue. But the waving and the smiles returned with the new generation; the public forgave and forgot. The gush of sentimentality over royal romances and royal babies it seemed would never die. Once the monarchy began paying taxes the royal image was revamped. The heroic ages of Victoria and Elizabeth I were invoked, for Murdoch knew what the public wanted was a mixture of scandal, sentiment and ceremonial.

The Diamond Queen is an absorbing troll through the archives, throwing up many fascinating royal encounters that show the queen as a tough-minded but discreet antagonist. Her meetings with Tony Benn are especially revealing. The vexed questions of the House of Lords and birthday honours lists lie behind the duel over the queen's head appearing on postage stamps. The chapter entitled `Off with her Head' amusingly records the seemingly polite but bitter struggle between republicanism and monarchy. Marr, as ever, is fully supportive of the Queen, who is such an obvious target for levellers such as Benn, who after taking the oath of loyalty to be admitted to the Privy Council `left the Palace boiling with indignation and feeling that this was an attempt to impose tribal magic and personal loyalty on people whose real duty was only to their electors.' The debate continues. But for how long?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uninspiring and disappointing March 19 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is disappointing. I always admire Andrew Marr's works especially his inspiring "A History of Modern Britain" (both TV series and the paperback), but stories about the Queen in this book have already been reported by many other authors, thus it offers no new insight about the Queen nor the Windsor dynasty. The narration is dull. Pictures in the book are also disappointing, as most of them have already been seen in other books or media.
If readers really want to know more about the Queen and the Windsor monarchy, I recommend Robert Lacey's "Monarch" and Gyles Brandreth's "Philip & Elizabeth: Portrait of a marriage".
I regret having bought this book, it is a waste of money and time.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy of the Queen April 21 2012
By AlineDobbie - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
The other review did not rate this book. I have read both Robert Lacey's and Giles Brandreth's. Both are outstanding but the latter is particularly good because of his closeness to Prince Philip and the latter's opinions and thinking which are often quoted. This book does not have any of that and is indeed a book to go with a documentary; nevertheless I found it up to date and good. Andrew Marr comes over as such a Labour man with an opinion on everything when one sees him first as a BBC reporter then Political Editor and documentary maker. I suspect he started to shadow HM The Queen with a fair degree of cynicsm but he then becomes engrossed in all her work, her commitment and indeed Prince Philip's huge contribution to the success of their standing and work. After having had two appalling Labour prime ministers who seemed to want to change everything and for what, who brought this country UK to its financial knees it is therefore encouraging to see a man who belonged to that larger political family respecting and admiring the Queen for what she is, what she does, and how she does it. He makes it clear that there were huge sad and bad events but these have been overcome. I liked the book and found it entertaining....all the earlier royal details I knew from thorough reading in the past but the recent events were well covered.
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