The 14 Best and Most Accurate Books About the Royal Family
The best way to satisfy your royal obsession between seasons of The Crown? By digging into a royal biography or two. We rounded up the best (and most true-to-life) books about the royal family. Some are pictorial, some feature first-hand interviews with members of the British monarchy themselves, but all are chock-full of royal details you’ll want to know.
1. Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton
Written with Princess Diana’s cooperation—and featuring first-person interviews with the woman herself—this book honestly chronicles everything from Diana’s unhappy marriage to her relationship with Queen Elizabeth. What’s more, it was re-published 25 years after its original 1992 release to include even more details about the princess’s extraordinary royal life. (Writer Morton re-visited the interview tapes to glean more insights into Di’s life and mind.)
2. Finding Freedom: Harry, Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand
Speaking of authorized biographies, royal scuttlebutt on the street is that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle themselves may have contributed to this upcoming biography (it’s due out in August, but available for pre-order now) about the relationship between a beloved English prince who courts and falls in love with an American actress who lives across the pond. But whether this book features interviews with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex themselves or not, it does promise participation of those closest to Harry and Meghan, not to mention an honest and up-close portrait of a modern couple unafraid to break with tradition and go their own way—even if that means away from the monarchy.
3. The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela Kelly
Queen Elizabeth herself gave Kelly personal permission to pen this book, which details her 25 years working as her royal highness’s personal dresser. It’s about the clothes first, of course, but it includes gossipy revelations about royal protocol and life inside Buckingham Palace.
4. Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith
Drawing on numerous interviews and documents, Smith paints a picture of Queen Elizabeth II starting with her early days as Heiress Presumptive up through all the highs and lows of her impressive 60-plus-year-reign. But Smith also has a flair for pulling the curtain back, revealing a more personable side of the stoic monarch from her determination to marry Prince Philip despite the objections of her parents to the ins and outs of her daily routines (including the famous “red boxes” carrying the news of the day).
5. The Queen Mother by William Shawcross
The Queen Mum died in 2002 at 102 years old, but before she passed, she authorized this biography—which came out seven years after her death—and includes access to her personal papers, letters and diaries, provided by Queen Elizabeth II’s mother herself. For background, the Queen Mother was incredibly well-liked during her reign as monarch. This biography is a portrait of a lady, but also a portrait of Britain’s evolution over the course of the 20th century.
6. Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Royal Marriage by Gyles Brandreth
This book is best-defined as semi-authorized. (In fact, The New York Times reports that Prince Philip himself annotated some of the original manuscript noting: “Do you really want to keep that last sentence?”) It also captures the early days and longevity of the romance between Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip—now married for more than 70 years—as told through the eyes of some of their most trusted servants.
7. Modern Monarchy: The British Royal Family Today by Chris Jackson
As a Getty photographer who’s been granted intimate access to members of the royal family ranging from Prince Charles to Princess Charlotte, Chris Jackson has compiled a collection of his favorite photos snapped over the past 15 years. But that’s not all: He’s annotated them too, offering behind-the-scenes details of events ranging from Princes George’s first day of school to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s fairy-tale wedding.
8. On Duty with the Queen by Dickie Arbiter
As the former press secretary for the royal family, Arbiter has a unique perspective—and insight—on daily life inside Buckingham Palace. He also has over four decades experience covering the queen including being the only royal commentator to have witnessed her coronation and lived through her Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees.
9. Her Majesty: Queen Elizabeth II and Her Court by Robert Hardman
Written in celebration of the queen’s Diamond Jubilee, this book details Elizabeth’s monumental reign via interviews with those closest to her—including her beloved grandson, Prince William. In fact, Hardman was given special access in order to produce this portrait, which looks at her rise to the throne, but also how she’s modernized the monarchy slowly, but surely, year after year.
10. Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life by Sally Bedell Smith
A rich and nuanced account of the life of Prince Charles, author Smith captures—via interviews with those in his inner circle—his awkwardness, but also his good humor as the oldest heir to the throne. It also details not only his romance with Princess Diana, but also with Camilla Parker-Bowles, and the complex dichotomy between his ambition and the pressures to follow protocol.
11. The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown
The former editor-in-chief of Tatler, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, Brown was also a personal friend of Princess Diana. A decade after Diana’s death, Brown released this biography that details the female cast of characters (ranging from her mother Frances Shand-Kydd to her sister-in-law Fergie) that shaped the Princess of Wales’s life—whether she liked it or not.
12. Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown
In one of the more sympathetic portraits of Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister, Brown manages to capture Princess Margaret’s glamour, vulnerability, likeability and unlikability all at once. To do this, he relies on interviews, parodies, diaries, royal announcements and more, painting Princess Margaret as the opposite of Cinderella—someone full of hopes and dreams that all get thwarted (or mishandled) in favor of preserving the crown.
13. Kate: The Making of a Princess by Claudia Joseph
Based on interviews with Kate Middleton’s closest friends and relatives, this book takes a deeper look at the woman who will be queen, starting with her upbringing as a commoner and covering her journey all the way to Westminster Abbey and Kensington Palace, when she married Prince William, the future King of England.
14. The Crown Official Companion: Volumes 1 and 2 by Robert Lacey
Yep, we’re in withdrawal, too. The official companion guides to the series provide a deeper dive into the historical events depicted in the series—everything from Queen Elizabeth II’s relationship with Winston Churchill to her royal relationship with Prince Philip.