A colorful coffee table book, a thrilling cozy mystery, an extensive biography — if you’re looking to honor or reflect on Queen Elizabeth II’s life through literature, the titles below offer a little something for every reader.
“Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II”
by Robert Hardman (Pegasus, $39.95)
From Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s step down as “senior” members of the royal family to the Suez Canal conflict and the Abdication, “Queen of Our Times” provides an up-to-date and comprehensive account of Queen Elizabeth II’s long-running reign. The biography — published early this year in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee — was written by Daily Mail journalist Robert Hardman, who also authored two other nonfiction works on the late queen: 2012’s “Her Majesty,” which included the first-ever book interview with Prince William, and 2020’s “Queen of the World.” “More than his previous books, this one is structured as a detailed chronology, following Elizabeth on diplomatic voyages throughout the world and dutifully reporting on interactions domestic and foreign,” a Kirkus Reviews writer wrote of “Queen of Our Times.” “He debunks critics and especially delights in exposing fictions perpetrated by The Crown.”
“The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe”
by Angela Kelly (Harper, $35)
The relationship between a stylist and their client is not one to take lightly. The stylist is in charge of crafting that person’s visual identity, an onlooker’s first perception that can evoke confidence and demand respect. For more than two decades Angela Kelly worked closely with Queen Elizabeth II as her personal assistant and senior dresser. Her book “The Other Side of the Coin” is a peek into those 25 years, filled with lavish clothing, fine jewelry and iconic looks. Including photographs never seen by the public prior to its publication, “The Other Side of the Coin” boasts full backing and endorsement from the queen herself and shares intimate stories about Kelly’s time with the queen.
“Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya”
by Caroline Elkins (Henry Holt, $24)
Queen Elizabeth II cannot be properly remembered without touching on the controversial parts of her long-standing reign. “Imperial Reckoning,” the 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner in general nonfiction, shines a light on a history many British leaders and government officials would rather leave in the dark. Caroline Elkins recounts Kenya’s Mau Mau uprising and the atrocities committed by British colonialists in their attempts to prevent the East African country from gaining independence. A Publishers Weekly review of the book explained: “Having combed public archives in London and Kenya and conducted extensive interviews with both Kikuyu survivors and settlers, Elkins exposes the hypocrisy of Britain’s supposed colonial ‘civilizing mission’ and its subsequent cover-ups. A profoundly chilling portrait of the inherent racism and violence of ‘colonial logic.’”
“Our Rainbow Queen: A Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and Her Colorful Wardrobe”
by Sali Hughes (Plume, $20)
Speaking of the queen’s fashion over the decades, Sali Hughes’ vibrant coffee table book “Our Rainbow Queen” offers a stunning pictorial journey through the queen’s life. In addition to the eye-catching images, Hughes includes notes explaining the strategic political intention behind certain clothing choices.
“The Royal We”
by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (Grand Central Publishing, $33)
If you’re in the mood for a light, feel-good read, this 2015 romance novel may be the perfect fit. While not about the late queen herself, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s “The Royal We” is loosely based on Kate Middleton and Prince William’s courtship. The story follows American Rebecca Porter, aka Bex, who has never been interested in love stories or the glamorous royal life. But when she ends up living in the same hallway at Oxford as Prince Nicholas, Bex finds herself falling head over heels for the future king of Great Britain. What she doesn’t enjoy, however, is the tumultuous lifestyle that comes along with dating someone in the royal family. One top Goodreads reviewer wrote, “This is 100 percent Kate Middleton fan fiction and I have absolutely no problem with that.”
“The Windsor Knot”
by SJ Bennett (William Morrow, $27.99)
For another venture into the land of fictional royal reads, SJ Bennett’s adult debut, “The Windsor Knot,” is the inaugural release in a cozy mystery series where Queen Elizabeth II secretly solves crimes. Bestselling crime writer Ruth Ware called the novel “[a] pitch-perfect murder mystery,” while Sarah Weinman of New York Times Book Review said, “Bennett infuses wit and an arch sensibility into her prose … This is not mere froth, it is pure confection — and the first, I expect, of more royal detecting adventures.”