Biographer Morton (Diana: Her True Story) examines in this vibrant history the “push-and-pull between... deep love and primal jealousy” that bonded Queen Elizabeth II and her younger sister, Princess Margaret. Opening in 1936 as Edward VIII ceded the throne to his younger brother, George VI, Morton draws a sharp contrast between duty-bound George and self-indulgent Edward, and between Elizabeth and Margaret, who once confessed that “disobedience is my joy.” Growing up in Buckingham Palace under the care of Scottish governess Marion “Crawfie” Crawford, the sisters studied and played only with each other until May 1940, when they were evacuated to Windsor Castle, a “medieval fortress... virtually impregnable to aerial attack.” At Windsor, Elizabeth and Margaret got a taste of civilian life, mingling with Girl Guides and putting on plays. In 1947, however, their dynamic shifted inexorably when 21-year-old Elizabeth married Prince Philip. Elizabeth emerges in Morton’s account as a somewhat distant figure and a reluctant player in the Windsor family soap opera, while much attention is paid to Margaret’s intrigues, including her affair with Royal Air Force officer Peter Townsend in the 1950s, her 1978 divorce, and her falling-out with Princess Diana for “question Prince Charles’s fitness to be king” in a 1995 TV interview. Royal watchers will be enthralled. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"The king of royal tea...Morton provides rich context on the coldness of royal life...Margaret’s tale is revelatory."—New York Times
"A diligent and well-researched job, examining the closeness of the sisters and their conflicted relationship in a seamless, readable way."—Wall Street Journal
“Deliciously detailed, sometimes gossipy, often moving, this in-depth examination of royal siblings is sure to be in demand.”—Booklist
“Morton’s insightful analysis of the complex relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret succeeds in humanizing two extremely public figures and the myths surrounding them. It will engage history buffs, biography readers, and especially fans of The Crown.”—Library Journal
"Thoroughly researched and well written, the most comprehensive account of the complex relationship between the Queen and Princess Margaret to date. Fascinating and enjoyable."—Sarah Bradford, New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth
"The dynamic between the two royal sisters is endlessly fascinating when presented by Andrew Morton. Informative, insightful, and never a dull page. Morton at his forensic best."—Ingrid Seward, author of Prince Philip Revealed and My Husband and I, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine
“A smooth, composite portrait of the messy yet indissoluble bond between sisters.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Biographer Morton (Diana: Her True Story) examines in this vibrant history the ‘push-and-pull between... deep love and primal jealousy’ that bonded Queen Elizabeth II and her younger sister, Princess Margaret… Royal watchers will be enthralled.”—Publishers Weekly
"[Morton] has gleaned snippets about these two remarkable subjects from private records and insightful insiders. The dual portrait that emerges is of powerful women who cared for one another as best they could in the roles that fate assigned."—BookReporter
Celebrity biographer Morton (Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words) returns with another fascinating biography of the royal family, this time shedding light on the interpersonal dynamics between Queen Elizabeth II (b. 1926) and Princess Margaret (1930–2002). Following the two sisters throughout the years, Morton eschews the familiar tendency to categorize their relationship as one always living in the shadow of the other. Instead, the author illustrates the difficulties of their relationship, especially as Margaret was publicly expected to be loyal to the queen while privately struggling with being defined as the queen's sister. Though much of the material will be familiar to viewers of The Crown, Morton offers more details of the sisters' shared history and how it affected their relationship, both positively and negatively, throughout the years. He also pinpoints some scenarios in The Crown, such as the handling of the Townsend affair, that were made to appear more dramatic than the reality. VERDICT Morton's insightful analysis of the complex relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret succeeds in humanizing two extremely public figures and the myths surrounding them. It will engage history buffs, biography readers, and especially fans of The Crown.—Stacy Shaw, Denver
The British celebrity biographer and dogged royal watcher examines the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II (b. 1926) and her only sister, Princess Margaret (1930-2002).
At the risk of stating the obvious, fans of the Netflix series The Crown will be keen to devour Morton’s latest portrait of the royal family, following his 2018 book, Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. (The author has also written unauthorized biographies of Madonna, Tom Cruise, and Angelina Jolie.) Here, Morton focuses on the close relationship of the queen and her only sibling, who was both her closest supporter and sometime rival. From their earliest years, the two were rare peas in a royal pod. With their father’s unexpected accession to the throne as George VI, following Edward VIII’s scandalous abdication in 1936, the daughters became second and third in line to the throne. As in previous books on the royal family, the author captures their dramatic differences in temperament and character. Elizabeth was dutiful, shy, retiring, imperturbable, and content to embrace tradition and protocol; Margaret was theatrical, extroverted, individualistic, and self-indulgent. Their differences grew more pronounced over the years, even perilously so. Elizabeth dug into her role as queen with a dour sense of fatality while Margaret flaunted the royal boundaries at every turn. Morton focuses much attention on Margaret’s unraveling, as she continually fought against her sister’s staid public image and conventional marriage by capturing tabloid headlines in pursuit of “unsuitable” men—from the divorced, older Group Capt. Peter Townsend to the much younger Roddy Llewelyn. The author points out the double standard used against Margaret at the time, when “older women dating younger men had not yet been accepted by the mainstream.” Morton cruises through the events of the decades to create a smooth, composite portrait of the messy yet indissoluble bond between sisters.
A fairly evenhanded portrait sure to please fans of the royal-family genre.