The Crown, The Official Companion, Volume I: Review

Thanks to Blogging for Books for a review copy of The Crown.

Have you watched “The Crown” on Netflix? I know this may surprise you, but I have not. Just haven’t gotten around to it, although several have asked me if I have and have told me it’s good. Indeed, watching this trailer for the next season (starting in December) does look delicious:

The Crown, The Official Companion, Volume 1

But, I *have* now read The Crown, The Official Companion, Volume 1, which covers season one of the show. I was drawn to this book, of course, because I love British royalty. It’s also a gorgeous book — I love the dust jacket photos on the front and back, which show the Queen (both the real one and “Crown”‘s version) in profile. It’s full of photos — in fact, one thing I would suggest is that the editors make clear which photos depict actors from the show, and which depict the real people. This was usually clear to me, but I could see it getting confusing for the lay-watcher.

After reading this book, I understand that season 1 of The Crown covered the years 1947-1955 in Queen Elizabeth’s life. There were 10 episodes, and each gets a chapter in this book.

Despite the book’s attractiveness, I’ll admit that when it arrived I kind of thought — hmmmm, yet another book about the Queen? But I really enjoyed this one. Yes, there’s the basic storyline, but the book covers several kind of niche topics that I didn’t know a lot about. For instance, there’s a feature on Cecil Beaton, who photographed Elizabeth and Philip’s wedding. There’s a chapter with a lot about the education of Elizabeth and her sister Margaret. Did you know that their parents weren’t all that interested in them learning a lot of academics? They were more concerned with manners and the like.

Interesting bits —

  • George VI, the father of the current queen, summed up his daughters’ personalities when he once said, “Elizabeth is my pride, and Margaret is my joy.”
  • There is quite a bit made of Prince Philip’s struggles in the early days of his marriage to the queen. Within a matter of months, he lost his name (Elizabeth as Queen went by Windsor rather than Philip’s family name of Mountbatten, his career, and his home (when Elizabeth became queen, the family had to move to Buckingham Palace from the homier Clarence House where they’d lived before).
  • The book quotes a letter from a young Elizabeth to her parents: “Darling Mummy, I don’t know where to begin this letter, or what to say, but I know I must write it somehow because I feel so much about it … I think I’ve got the best mother and father in the world, and I only hope that I can bring up my children in the happy atmosphere of love and fairness which Margaret and I have grown up in.” Reading this, I had to wonder how things went so wrong with the Queen’s children, all four of whom have seemed to struggle with life and relationships to some degree or other. And Elizabeth and Philip have never been known as nurturing parents.

So, I recommend this book to fellow royal fans out there. One suggestion I have is that all or at least more of the pages be numbered. Maybe 1/3 are, and when you are looking for a page to cite in notes (which I realize most readers may not be), it can be really difficult when 10 or more in a row have no numbers.

How about you? Have you watched The Crown?

4 thoughts on “The Crown, The Official Companion, Volume I: Review

  1. I hadn’t even heard of The Crown. But the book sounds interesting.

  2. I haven’t, but it looks interesting. Like you, it’s just hard to make time to work it in, especially when it’s not something my husband would be interested in – I wouldn’t play it while he’s there, but there’s no time for a lot of TV watching during the day (although I admit I did make time for Downton Abbey when it was on!) Sounds like an interesting series and book! I can imagine Phillip having a hard time with those changes – I would have, too. I guess you know you’ll have to face that kind of thing when you marry royalty, but it’s still not easy.

  3. No, I haven’t seen the TV version nor have I read the book. I watch very little TV but, as you know, I read a lot of books. My TBR stack is huge so I hesitate to add any more to the pile. This sounds like it would be fun to watch/read especially for those who are following the royal families. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  4. The aristocracy (Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was an Earl’s daughter) didn’t give a fig about education and gave even less of one for girls education. Queen Mary is the only reason they learned anything–she butted in and made sure they learned history at least! Margaret (in The Crown it is the Queen) was known to complain often that she’d not been educated. This was the case thru our day, though Diana was probably the poster child for slacker aristo students! Most managed at least one A level by our day!!

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