The House of Windsor has been attracting worldwide attention in recent decades with scandals, deaths, weddings, and the birth of royal children. As living symbols of England, the Windsors are seen as an above-average family with numerous jobs and responsibilities. We know their names; King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip, Prince (now King) Charles, Princess Diana, and Prince William. We know their stories from the numerous books, tabloids, and documentaries about their lives, but what about their lives when they go home to relax? Gareth Russell peels back the gilded curtain to explore the life of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, lovingly known as the Queen Mother, in his latest biography, “Do Let’s Have Another Drink: The Singular Wit and Double Measures of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.”
This is not my usual area of interest, especially for my blog, but I have always wanted to learn more about the House of Windsor. A few years ago, I read “The King’s Speech” about King George VI, and I wanted to learn more about his wife, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. When Gareth Russell announced that he was writing this biography about the Queen Mother, it sounded enchanting, and I wanted to read it.
This biography is not like your typical biography. It goes in chronological order, but unlike others that include copious details of the person’s life, Russell decided to give his readers a different experience by telling the Queen Mother’s story in 101 vignettes, one for each year of her life. It is a unique and fun way to tell the tale of a member of the royal family, especially Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who lived through both World Wars and saw her husband and daughter become King and Queen of England, respectively.
The short stories of her life as a young Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon were heartfelt and full of personality. I learned some fun facts about her early life, such as George VI had to propose to Elizabeth three separate times until she said yes, to the relief of George’s mother, Queen Mary. Elizabeth had a colorful way of looking at life and was not afraid to speak her mind, especially after a few cocktails or what she would call “drinky-poos.” Her life drastically changed when her brother-in-law Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, leaving the throne to his brother George VI and Elizabeth, the new King and Queen of England.
As Queen of England and later the Queen Mother, we see her tenacity and humorous side emerge as Elizabeth could be herself. She was a lover of life, and even though she had feuds with members of her family, such as Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana, she truly loved and fought for her family until the very end of her long life.
Russell does a magnificent job telling the story of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother thoughtfully and engagingly. The stories included in this book range from utterly hysterical to gut-wrenching, with every other emotion in between. Another masterpiece by Gareth Russell, “Do Let’s Have Another Drink: The Singular Wit and Double Measures of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother,” is the perfect gift for fans of the English Royal Family.
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