The Diamond Queen, By Andrew Marr
It would be a foolhardy critic who badmouths a royal paean this weekend, but the woman described as having "shrewd judgement" and being "a wicked mimic" deserves a better assessment of her six decades on the throne than this po-faced hagiography.
Andrew Marr nails his Royal Standard to the mast in his preface: "Britain without her would have been a greyer, shriller, more meagre place." So much for objectivity. Marr lambasts his erstwhile republicanism: "This was mainly because I thought it would make me feel clever."
Unfortunately, the reverse does not apply. His ardent defence of Elizabeth II is glib and incurious. Stuffed with PR spiel ("Britannia... travelled a total of 1,087,623 nautical miles calling at over 600 ports in 135 countries"), it rarely goes beyond the glossy surface of the royal story.
In the 20 pages devoted to George V, we inevitably learn that he was "over-enthusiastic about his world-class stamp collection" but not how he financed this obsession. Princess Elizabeth's "Grandpa England" sold the unequalled royal collection of Gillray and Rowlandson cartoons (acquired by the far more cultured George IV) to the US Library of Congress.
Touching on honours, Marr ignores the devaluing of knighthoods by a seedy choir of pop stars, but extols the OM and gives a glowing list including "Henry Moore, Lucian Freud and Anthony Caro". How odd that he fails to mention royal art acquisitions in the past century. As a visit to Buckingham Palace gallery reveals, the Royal Collection pretty much ended with Victoria.
In other areas, there is excessive padding. Even though he admits the affair is "trivial", Marr devotes five pages to the attempt of Tony Benn as Postmaster General to remove the Queen's head from stamps.
Marr's observation that following the death of the Queen Mother "some Palace people thought that... the Queen came to feel liberated" is a rare exception to the pervading blandness. This shallow, unrevealing portrait ends with Marr trilling like a toadying 18th-century poet laureate: "The British public's view of the Diamond Queen is sparkling, crystal, clear." One can almost hear the "wicked mimicry" this will inspire in Buckingham Palace.
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Gaza Banksy mural sold to 'conman' for just $175
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
Top Gear live to go ahead: Jeremy Clarkson to join Richard Hammond and James May... just don't call it Top Gear
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men