With a foreword from former royal correspondent Jennie Bond, new book Reader’s Digest & the Royals (RRP £9.99; ISBN 978-1-78020-100-9) celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a commemorative collection of articles chronicling history as it happened. From the Royal tour of 1954 to the Queen and Prince Philip’s Golden Wedding anniversary, the magazine’s royal correspondents have charted the Queen’s journey from young sovereign to modern matriarch. A nostalgic memento, the book carefully reproduces original Reader’s Digest layouts, including over 70 illustrations.
Hand-picked articles mix first-person recollections from subjects with individual royal profiles, a special Silver Jubilee Supplement and a letter from the Queen herself. Read of the Queen at 28, ‘smiling unremittingly’ in public so as never to appear ‘displeased’. Remember a young Prince Charles, queuing for his 5s 6d dinner at Cambridge University beneath a portrait of his ancestor, Henry VIII. Hear tales of the late Queen Mother ‘laying a foundation stone as if she has just discovered a new and delightful way of spending an afternoon’.
In her Introduction, Reader’s Digest magazine Editor-In-Chief Gill Hudson explains what a pleasure it is to share these gems from the archive with the world. ‘What I like most about the contemporary accounts—of family life as well as all the pomp and ceremony—are the small-but-telling observations. A 1957 article, for example, comments on the Queen’s facial expression: ‘Without the Smile, relationship between girl-at-desk and the ancestors-on-wall is quickly apparent…this stern-mouthed Hanoverian heritage has been a trial since childhood.’ Or there’s the Queen Mother, dancing with a ’nervous and fumble-footed student at a university ball’, who encourages him by saying, ’Cheer up…You haven’t knocked my tiara off—yet!’’
In the book’s foreword, Jennie Bond explains that ‘Attitudes to the monarchy have undergone something of a revolution in the sixty years that Elizabeth has been our Queen.’ The BBC’s royal correspondent for 14 years, and author of Elizabeth, an illustrated biography of the Queen and Reporting Royalty goes on to say that, ‘The age of deference has passed, the royal family are held to account and the modern media leave them with few places to hide. Through all of this, support for the monarchy has hardly wavered from a highly respectable 70 per cent plus, and the Queen herself remains constant’.
Reader’s Digest and the Royals: A Jubilee Celebration of the British Royal Family (RRP £9.99; ISBN 978-1-78020-100-9) is available on 28 May 2012.