There’s been a global fascination with the royal family for centuries. And, if viewing figures of The Crown are anything to go by (73 million households have watched the royal drama since it began in 2016), interest shows no signs of waning.
Much like any other family, there has been a good deal of drama and tragedy, yet, unlike others, they cannot escape public scrutiny.
From Prince Charles and Diana’s turbulent marriage to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s departure from the UK, you may feel as though you still have questions – the tabloids and television documentaries often don’t tell the whole story. So you may prefer to turn to biographies.
From stories about the Queen’s early life in Buckingham Palace, to the lesser-known memories of Christmases at Sandringham, the authors of these titles have worked hard to reveal the truth through painstaking research and interviews.
If you’re a fan of the royals and are looking to learn more about the inner workings of the family, these are the must-read titles to add to your collection.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
‘Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch’ by Sally Bedell Smith, published by Random House Trade
An in-depth look into the life and legacy of the longest-serving monarch, this book is said to be a comprehensive and well-researched biography that takes you on a fascinating journey from the Queen’s childhood up until Kate and William’s wedding in 2011. With a range of photos from private collections, as well anecdotes from those close to her, it’s a great read if you’ve finished The Crown and have been left wondering what is truth and what is fiction.
Buy now £15.50, Amazon.co.uk
‘Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words’ by Andrew Morton, published by Michael O’Mara
In 1993, Princess Diana announced she was reducing her official royal duties, at the height of her fame, to live a more private life following her separation from Prince Charles. During her time in the royal family, she was best known for her humanitarian efforts and her attempts to reshape the monarchy into a more emotional institution. Diana: Her True Story documents the princess’s long-term legacy through never-before-published material from original interviews, as well as an account of the events that surrounded her death. Just when she was finding her freedom and happiness her life was cut short, making this a heartbreaking story.
Buy now £9.99, Waterstones.com
‘Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family’ by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, published by HQ
Finding Freedom promises to dispel the misconceptions about the Sussexes and depict the frustrations behind closed doors as the pair planned their exit from royal life.
The unofficial biography, written by royal reporters Carolyn Durand and Omid Scobie, documents the early days of Harry and Meghan’s courtship, the culture of increased tension between the Sussexes and other members of the royal family, and the resentment that they claim grew between Harry and Meghan and William and Kate.
While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed for the book and made no contributions, it’s based on sources close to Harry and Meghan, as well as the authors’ experiences as members of the royal press. Uncovering everything from the courtiers’ open dislike for Meghan, to Harry’s friends having reservations about his relationship, this is a must-read for anyone looking to find out the truth behind “Megxit”.
Buy now £18.60, Bookshop.org
‘Princess Margaret: A Life of Contrasts’ by Christopher Warwick, published by Wellbeck Publishing
The much-loved Netflix series The Crown provided a glimpse into the life of the Queen’s younger sister Princess Margaret, played by Helena Bonham Carter, and this biography, authorised by Margaret herself, is said to be a gripping read. From early childhood memories of moving into Buckingham Palace, to her doomed romance with Peter Townsend and her life in Mustique, this reveals everything there is to know about the late princess.
Buy now £13.58, Amazon.co.uk
‘Prince Philip Revealed: A Man Of His Century’ by Ingrid Seward, published by Simon & Schuster UK
Following the Duke’s life from infancy to the present day, this is a well-researched overview of the longest-serving British consort in history. Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, brings her wealth of knowledge and experience in covering the royals to this biography of the most enigmatic member of the family.
‘Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life’ by Sally Bedell Smith, published by Random House
Providing an intimate view of the heir to the throne, Sally Bedell Smith documents how Prince Charles has spent his life waiting in the wings to take his position as king. The details of his private and public life have been well documented, and Smith’s biography is said to cover them in a diligent and exemplary way. Regarded as an interesting and insightful read, it’s perfect for those looking to discover more about his turbulent marriage to Diana and subsequent relationship with Camilla.
Buy now £15.50, Amazon.co.uk
‘Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult’ by Robert Lacey, published by HarperCollins
Royal expert and historical consultant to The Crown, Robert Lacey lays bare the relationship between Harry and William, from their early closeness and dealing with their parent’s chaotic relationship to their alleged rift. Asking questions about what happens when two siblings are raised for different futures – one with the prospect of becoming king, the other one knowing he will always be “spare” – Lacey provides an insightful account into royal life.
Buy now £18.60, Bookshop.org
‘The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe’ by Angela Kelly, published by HarperCollins
There are few people who have really been at Her Majesty’s side throughout her life, but her former dresser and personal advisor Angela Kelly has done just that. The queen gave Kelly permission to write this book and, as a result, it gives a rare glimpse into the household. Aside from fascinating details of Elizabeth’s life, Kelly also shares the inner workings of her wardrobe and the getting-ready process, such as the fact she does her own make-up and her diamonds are cleaned with gin ahead of events (we’re wondering whether they use her Hillsborough Castle gin or the Buckingham Palace version). Said to be written with much joy, we think this will make any queenie fan happy.
Buy now £20.00, Blackwells.co.uk
Can’t wait for the new film about Lady Diana? Read these books about the people’s princess