The Diamond Queen by Andrew Marr

The Diamond Queen by Andrew Marr
The Diamond Queen by Andrew Marr

Well, here is a first. It is The Delightful Mr F  normally reads the improving books in our house, but today, I am pleased to report, I have read some non-fiction. 

On September 9th 2015, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II will be the longest reigning monarch in British history, having ruled for longer than Queen Victoria’s reign of 23,226 days. Whilst Buckingham Palace have said there won’t be any celebrations, I thought it might be nice to read up a little about the Queen. 

I went off to the local bookshop and was instantly overwhelmed by the number of books about the Monarch. I decided to go with Andrew Marr’s book which he wrote for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I enjoy his TV documentaries, and a quick read of the first few pages convinced me it wasn’t going to be too dry. At home I settled in for a long haul. 

This is another case of my having to eat humble pie. My goodness this was good. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting a book full of wonderful insights, not just not the Queen herself, but into how the Monarchy fits into the British Constitution. I am quite fascinated by our constitution. It is made up of all sorts of random bits of law and legislation from the last thousand years or so, so it isn’t terribly coherent, and has seemed to cause some quite difficult moments during the sixty odd years of the Queen’s reign. For instance, can a member of the royal family have a civil marriage? Apparently the answer is yes, but only after many legal experts have poured over the documentation. 

The book isn’t solely about the queen. In the early chapters we get to understand some of the issues which lead to her being in line for the throne in the first place, if things has been different, she never would have been Queen. We learn about what is expected of her as the head of state and how that role has changed as social norms have changed. 

All in all it is an absolutely wonderful combination of social and constitutional history. Whether you are pro-monarchy or anti-monarchy, or whether you don’t mind one way or the other, this is a fantastic book to spend some time with. My only wish is that I had the hardback version so I could see the lovely photos on glossy paper*.

*Superficial? Me?