Friday, January 03, 2014

Royal Review: Her Majesty by Christopher Warwick & Reuel Golden

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Christopher Warwick and Reuel Golden
306 pages

Aside from finding room, one problem with compulsively collecting books (600 by last count) is that it is very hard to surprise me, especially when it comes to books containing lots of royal photographs. Books that tout 'unseen' or 'rare' royal photographs are often not the case for me. Which is why I'm often incredibly skeptical of any new release that makes these types of claims.

On first glance, Her Majesty is an impressive book. It is so large (16" x 12") and heavy (10 pounds) that it comes with its own carrying case. I would wage a guess that this book is now is the largest in my collection. It also has an impressive price tag ($150) although if you're lucky and patient you can get it on sale like I did. But just because a book is large, does not mean it breaks new ground.

Her Majesty covers the Queen's life from childhood to her Diamond jubilee celebrations. She is depicted on duty with the occasional casual photograph. Throughout her long life and reign, the Queen has been photographed by some of the finest photographers of the 20th century. Photographs, which are familiar to any avid royal follower. Unless you have never seen a book about the Queen, there are few surprises in Her Majesty. Which is disappointing given the fact that as the most photographed woman in the world, there is no shortage of material to choose from.

With Her Majesty, the text is interesting and offered in English, German and French. However, again, there are no surprises.  It must be an occupational hazard for any royal biographer to come up with a new take on the Queen. Especially when other authors and journalists have already covered that same well-documented life ad-nauseam. The book becomes more interesting in the Appendix section which contains a chronology of her life and detailed list of her overseas travels from 1953 - 2011. It truly shines in the Royal Media section with newspaper and magazine covers throughout her life and reign, which serves to illustrate her cultural impact far better than any of the photographs within the book.

If you want to find a book with royal photographs, there are far more affordable options. Queen Elizabeth II: A Photographic Portrait by Philip Ziegler, The Queen: Art and Image by Paul Moorhouse. Cecil Beaton: The Royal Portraits by Roy Strong. If you're looking for rare and interesting outtakes from those sessions, you can find them in Queen Elizabeth II: Portraits by Cecil Beaton by Susanna Brown.

© Marilyn Braun 2014

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