Some poll has established that his face is the most recognizable in the world. And not just because we’ve seen it printed on coins, stamps, mugs, kitchen towels, and any other kind of gadget. Without forgetting the pop of Andy Warhol and the works of Bansky. And again the interpretation of Helen Mirren or that of Cate Blanchett, or even the cameo with James Bond. Her Majesty Elizabeth II, 95 years old next April 21, is famous in any corner of the globe, far beyond the territories of Commonwealth.
But what do we really know about the most powerful woman in the UK (and beyond)? Over the years, Queen Elizabeth has been very good at sipping information on her private, always faithful to her motto: never complain, never explain, that is, never complain, never explain. Who really is Lilibet, the woman who has reigned for almost 70 years without ever a weakness or a misstep that could not be recovered? The writer and journalist, royal expert, Eva Grippa, in Elizabeth and the others – Ten women to tell the true queen (DeAgostini publisher, now in bookstores), try to tell it from another point of view. Not a new biography, but a choral story. Queen Elizabeth through women – for one reason or another – most important in her life. From the beloved Queen Mother to the nanny Marion Crawford, from the turbulent sister Margaret, to the fragile Lady Diana, from Wallis Simpson, the woman to whom she owes the throne, to Meghan Markle, the one who opened the deepest crisis in recent years. And then again Camilla Parker Bowles, Kate Middleton, his only daughter, Princess Anna.
Who, then, is Queen Elizabeth?
“A woman who has internalized a lot and has become queen very young. It was not very easy for her to play this duty-like role. He is a truly ironic person. He inherited his temper from his father, famous for his tantrums, while the funny side comes from his mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The Palace assistants over the years have described her as a funny woman, with “a big laugh” that is often heard echoing in her buildings. His laughter companions, the faithful seamstress and assistant Angela Kelly, but also Sarah Ferguson ».
How did you choose the ten women who tell it?
“They are the ones I think are the most important. Sister Margaret was the first to put her to the test, forcing her to choose between duty and affection. He chose the crown, he suffered a lot. Her mother, on the other hand, advised her, helped her, but then she too became a cumbersome character. The nanny was banned. The daughter Anna? He has a very different relationship with her than his three other children. With Kate Middleton, on the other hand, he built a good relationship, but this took time ».
«Diana, even in the most difficult moments, has always wanted to preserve it. He shot zero on Carlo, but the queen always safeguarded her. About her he said: “Nobody at the Palace helped me, but I respect my mother-in-law” ».
“For half of my life I hated her, because I loved Diana. I started to value her when I became an adult. I think that between Carlo and Camilla is the love of life. In recent decades she has always remained close to Carlo, but a step backwards. A very bad thing for a common couple, but it works for a real couple. Camilla worked a lot on herself, she rolled up her sleeves, she never gave interviews. After all, today they are a beautiful middle-aged couple. And over time the queen has also been able to appreciate it ».
Queen, mother-in-law, mother, sister, friend… Which role was more difficult for Elizabeth II?
«I believe that of a mother, especially towards the first two children (Carlo and Anna, ed). After all, having been a cold and distant mother is the only accusation that has ever been leveled against her. But it must not be easy to be queen at 25 with two children… ».
What, on the other hand, came out better for you?
«’The Training’ by Kate Middleton. He learned from the mistakes he had made with Sarah and Diana, who have always complained that they found themselves unprepared, that they did not receive an instruction booklet. With Kate, on the other hand, he gave precise instructions, he made sure that he approached real life gradually. And today Kate is ready to be a perfect queen consort. If the British monarchy will resist, it will be thanks to Kate and William, and therefore to Elizabeth ».
Meghan would say no, but can you be free within the royal family?
“In a way you are caged, but I think Harry and Meghan have given themselves too little time to try to fit in.”
Is Queen Elizabeth a free woman?
“In order to survive being queen, she has built a freedom within this world of hers. She feels free when she takes refuge in Balmoral, Windsor, when she is surrounded by her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren. Elizabeth II was able to welcome change, she became iconic, without ever holding back. This is the real modernity, not riding a bicycle like the royals of Northern Europe do. It has never disappointed anyone, which is why we Italians like it so much too ».