There’s exactly one week to go before the premiere of Season 2 of Netflix’s The Crown. If you can’t wait another second, here’s a list of 12 books to read before (or even after) you binge watch.
Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen by Kate Williams
Kate Williams highlights the childhood, adolescence, early marriage, and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She brings to life the early years of this young woman who was never meant to become queen, but whose destiny was changed forever after the abdication. Fans of The Crown will enjoy this peek into the life of Princess Elizabeth, before she became the monarch we know today.
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith
An accessible and engaging biography of the Queen, here Sally Bedell Smith details her life from childhood up to 2011 and the marriage of her grandson Prince William to Kate Middleton. Although a bit biased and an uncritical, flattering account, Elizabeth the Queen offers insight into Her Majesty’s daily routines and personal relationships.
Princess Margaret: A Life Unravelled by Tim Heald
Glamorous and fun; flirty and mischievous, Princess Margaret often stole the show during Season One of The Crown. Her real life was full of scandal and sadness alongside the glitz and charm. This biography attempts to paint a more vivid portrait of this dynamic and complex figure.
The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1: Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen (1947-1955) by Robert Lacey
This is a new release written by the show’s very own historical consultant. Robert Lacey gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into the first season of The Crown, and provides detailed historical context along the way. The book features historical images and photos from the set, and explores the early years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
My Husband and I: The Marriage of the Queen and Prince Philip by Ingrid Seward
Another recent release, this one is all about the 70-year marriage of the Queen and Prince Philip. Seward chronicles their unique relationship from their early romance, through their royal wedding, up to their momentous anniversary. She recounts their marital ups and downs as well as the ways in which their partnership has affected the nation and the course of history.
The Queen’s Houses by Alan Titchmarsh
If you can’t get enough of The Crown‘s formal sets and lavish interiors, then this may be the book for you. The Queen’s Houses serves as an intimate private tour of the royal residences. Readers are given insider access to Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Balmoral, alongside a glimpse of royal life at home.
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett imagines the Queen’s reading habits in this clever novella. His whimsical story begins with Her Majesty encountering a mobile library in her quest to track down one of her errant corgis. This sparks a new love of reading and leads to a new perspective on the world for the Queen, who is soon devouring books based on the recommendations of her household staff.
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
This charming novel envisions what would happen if the Queen were to play hooky. William Kuhn offers a playful plot featuring the runaway royal as she spends the day out and about undercover, while the staff at Buckingham Palace flies into a panic and a national scandal brews.
Princess Elizabeth’s Spy (Maggie Hope Mystery #2) by Susan Elia MacNeal
The second book in the Maggie Hope Mystery Series centers around an international plot against the British royal family at the beginning of WWII. The brilliant, spirited former secretary to Winston Churchill is put on the case. Maggie is sent undercover to act as tutor to Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, where she must quickly unlock the clues to this dangerous and deadly conspiracy.
Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Why not spend some time with Queen Elizabeth’s great-great grandmother Queen Victoria? Writer Daisy Goodwin is also the creator behind the popular ITV/PBS drama Victoria. This fictionalized account of Victoria’s life chronicles the early years of her reign and draws from her personal diary entries.
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
Her Royal Spyness is the first in a cozy mystery series featuring the effervescent heroine Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie-aka Georgie-who is 34th in line to the throne. As she is dead broke, blue-blooded Georgie decides to act as a Lady Detective, with her first case being a race to clear the family name. This is a fun romp through 1930’s London with plenty of mystery, romance, and glamour.
Abdication by Juliet Nicolson
Abdication chronicles the upheaval of 1936 and the scandal and event that altered the line of succession, paving the way for Queen Elizabeth to take the throne. This rich historical novel follows three characters at the periphery of the love affair of Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII. It’s a story of secrets, duty versus personal happiness, and tradition versus modernity.
Will you be watching The Crown? What book(s) would make your list?