Some people have been anxiously awaiting the latest installment of The Crown on Netflix while others have just discovered it. Still, others might not have heard of it but have noticed the recent uptick in media stories focusing on the early days of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981 and marriage through the 1980s. The current season of The Crown (season 4) covers this period in the contemporary history of the royal family. (Seasons 1-3 are in our catalog at EVPL; Season 4 is now streaming but not yet in our catalog)
The wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981 was watched by over 750 million people across the world (the largest television audience at the time), but their union was decidedly not the fairytale the world thought it was. Though Diana provided the Windsors with “an heir and a spare” (Prince William and Prince Harry) within three years of the marriage, the relationship between Charles and Diana disintegrated almost completely throughout the 1980s and by 1992 it was officially over.
Like any story “based on historical events”, it is important to look beyond the story on the screen to get a more accurate account of what really happened. There are many books about the royal family, and it is difficult to know which ones have the most reliable information. What follows is a list of some of the more critically acclaimed titles we have at EVPL if you’re interested in expanding your knowledge of all things Windsor.
The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown
Published in 2007, this book by the former editor of Vanity Fair magazine is considered one of the most balanced and definitive of biographies about Diana. Brown interviewed over 250 associates of Diana in her quest to document her life and legacy.
Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton
The original “bombshell” biography of Diana, published in 1992, and largely consisting of information Diana gave to Morton through a series of taped interviews.
A compilation of photos of Diana throughout her life, with a foreword by Tina Brown and interspersed with informational captions and quotes from Diana and those who knew and worked with her.
Diana: In Search of Herself by Sally Bedell Smith
Another well known and authoritative biography about Diana, this time adding focus to Diana’s struggles with her emotional and physical well-being before, during, and after her marriage to the Prince of Wales.
Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life by Sally Bedell Smith
This title focuses on the life of Prince Charles, often maligned due to the public perception of his marriage. Smith’s book discusses the complications of Charles’ life as the Prince of Wales, and his attempt to balance the traditions and expectations of his aristocratic family, his personal relationships, and his role in the adaptation of the British monarchy to the modern (post-WWII) times.
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith
Another biography by Sally Bedell Smith that draws on copious documentation and unprecedented access to tell a concise and detailed story about the life of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch (Elizabeth II surpassed Victoria in 2017).
Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown
A biographical account of Princess Margaret’s life, told in 99 chapters that are actually vignettes from her life experiences. The younger daughter of King George VI and Elizabeth’s younger sister by four years, Margaret was definitely the less inhibited of the two princesses. By the time her sister was crowned Queen in 1952, she was already tabloid fodder for her love affairs, her glamorous sense of style, and a tendency toward excess. Outspoken, she remained a public fascination until her death in 2002.
Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner
The autobiography of one of Princess Margaret’s ladies in waiting. Lady Glenconner shares many intimate stories from her time with Princess Margaret (from Elizabeth II’s coronation until Margaret’s death in 2002), as well as her own personal struggles.
Feel free to contact Reference Services at Central Library or EVPL Recommends for more nonfiction titles in our collection!
Kate Linderman is the Community Knowledge Librarian of Practice. A life long reader and student of history, she also enjoys gardening, calligraphy and fluffy cat herding.
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