A revelatory account of how the loving marriage of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth saved the monarchy during World War II, and how they raised their daughter to become Queen Elizabeth II, based on exclusive access to the Royal Archives—from the bestselling author of Elizabeth the Queen and Prince Charles
“An intimate and gripping portrait of a royal marriage that survived betrayal, tragedy, and war.”—Amanda Foreman, bestselling author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
Granted special access by Queen Elizabeth II to her parents’ letters and diaries and to the papers of their close friends and family, Sally Bedell Smith brings the love story of this iconic royal couple to vibrant life. This deeply researched and revealing book shows how a loving and devoted marriage helped the King and Queen meet the challenges of World War II, lead a nation, solidify the public’s faith in the monarchy, and raise their daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.
When King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936, shattering the Crown’s reputation, his younger brother, known as Bertie, assumed his father’s name and became King George VI. Shy, sensitive, and afflicted with a stutter, George VI had never imagined that he would become King. His wife, Elizabeth, a pretty, confident, and outgoing woman who became known later in life as “the Queen Mum,” strengthened and advised her husband. With his wife’s support, guidance, and love, George VI was able to overcome his insecurities and become an exceptional leader, navigating the country through World War II, establishing a relationship with Winston Churchill, visiting Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in Washington and in Hyde Park, and inspiring the British people with his courage and compassion during the Blitz. Simultaneously, George VI and Elizabeth trained their daughter Princess Elizabeth from an early age to be a highly successful monarch, and she would reign for an unprecedented seventy years.
Sally Bedell Smith gives us an inside view of the lives, struggles, hopes, and triumphs of King George VI and Elizabeth during a dramatic time in history.
About the Author
Sally Bedell Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth the Queen and Prince Charles, as well as biographies of William S. Paley; Pamela Harriman; Diana, Princess of Wales; John and Jacqueline Kennedy; and Bill and Hillary Clinton. An on-air contributor for CNN since 2017, she was a contributing editor at Vanity Fair from 1996 to 2018.
“Smith’s lively account reminds readers that at its finest hour—whatever the historic sins or abiding iniquities of the British Empire itself—the crown managed to stand for selfless leadership, resilience and compassion for its people.”—The New York Times
“George VI and Elizabeth is a vivid history that captures the courage of a couple whose actions saved a monarchy. It is also a largely unknown love story. Sally Bedell Smith’s reputation rests on her commitment to scholarship and access to previously undiscovered information. But it’s not enough to find it—you have to bring wisdom to it. This book is a deeply moving marvel.”—Peggy Noonan, columnist for The Wall Street Journal
“Sally Bedell Smith takes us into the inner sanctum of the Windsors, giving us an intimate and gripping portrait of a royal marriage that survived betrayal, tragedy, and war. The product of meticulous research, George VI and Elizabeth is an unputdownable book.”—Amanda Foreman, bestselling author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
“Sally Bedell Smith has written a richly textured and deeply moving paean to the power of duty, honor, and courage in Britain’s darkest—and finest—hour.”—Evan Thomas, author of First: Sandra Day O’Connor
“With a marvelous combination of sympathy and perception, Sally Bedell Smith has created a memorable and touching portrait of two decent people who took on a job they never wanted and did it with dedication, courage, and success.”—Margaret MacMillan, author of War: How Conflict Shaped Us
“Veteran royal biographer [Sally Bedell] Smith focuses on the marriage of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, calling their union absolutely central to the survival of the British monarchy. . . . [She] writes in great detail, notably sharing revealing intimacies of the couple’s letters to one another.”—Booklist (starred review)
“The touching love story of the parents of Elizabeth II . . . Smith, the bestselling author of Elizabeth the Queen and Prince Charles, leaves no jewel unturned as she recounts the lives of an improbable couple who would do so much to steer their country through the turbulent period of the abdication crisis and World War II. . . . [She] gracefully brings us into her subjects’ inner world.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)