"The Crown: The Official Companion" by Robert Lacey

Erin Mifflin

5 Stars

December 5, 2017

Have you seen the Netflix show The Crown? They have done a stunning job bringing to life the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. If you, like me, have watched the show and wondered where they blurred the lines between fact and fiction, this is a book you'll be wanting to read. Written by royal biographer and show historian Robert Lacey, this official companion feels authoritative and thorough as it digs into each episode and the history behind it.

Both the book and Episode 1 open shortly before 21-year-old Elizabeth Windsor is to wed Prince Philip. Princess Elizabeth had met Philip when she was 13, and reportedly he was the only one she ever dreamed of marrying. King George VI's sudden death in 1952 caused 26-year-old Elizabeth to ascend to the throne, and suddenly it was a very different world for this young couple. While they had always lived a somewhat public life, and while Elizabeth had often assisted her father or even gone on tours on his behalf - she was indeed in Kenya when she learned of his death! - she was just one young dutiful woman who became one of the most well-known figures in the world.

Just like the series on Netflix, this book primarily focuses on the first three years after Elizabeth II's ascension, covering her coronation, the scandal of her sister's love affair with divorcee Peter Townsend, the decline of Winston Churchill, and so much more. This volume is filled with historical photographs as well as stills from the show. All the major players are given a biographical sketch, if not entire sections devoted to who they were and how their lives interacted with the Queen and the royal family. It's highly informative and yet easy to read, especially for devoted history fans.

After watching the show I had a few questions, like were Elizabeth and Philip really caught fighting on film by the Australian press in 1954? Did the Queen Mother actually purchase a ramshackle estate in Scotland after her husband's death? This book answered all of that and more, plus provided lots of interesting tidbits, such as the fact that Queen Elizabeth's racing manager, her childhood friend "Porchey," was the owner of Highclere Castle, better known in modern days as the set of Downton Abbey! If you enjoy history and have had your curiosity piqued by Netflix's award-winning drama, you should consider picking up this detailed companion!

I received my copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.