Posted in Historical Fiction

Discover the Love Story of One of the World’s Most Famous Couples in “Before the Crown” by Flora Harding

Image courtesy of Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Harper 360 via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review

Plot Summary:

As war rages across the world, Princess Elizabeth comes face to face with the dashing naval officer she first met in London nine years before.

One of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy, Philip represents everything she has always been taught to avoid. Instability. Audacity. Adventure.

But when the king learns of their relationship, the suitability of the foreign prince is questioned by all at court.

He is the risk she has never been allowed to take. The risk not even the shadow of the crown will stop her from taking… (Goodreads, 2021)

Review:

I’ve long been interested in the British monarchy so when I stumbled on this book I just knew that I had to read it. I have to say that I’m so glad I did, because this book is phenomenal!

First of all, Flora Harding does a fantastic job of making the reader feel as if they are in the heads of the future Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Thanks to each “character” having their own POV they felt more real to me so to speak. That may seem like a strange thing to say since this book is based on real people, however with the Queen and Prince Philip so rarely voicing any thoughts or opinions it is sometimes hard to think of them as something other than symbols of the British monarchy and people. The different POV chapters allow us to see these two not as royals, but just two people struggling with their roles and budding feelings for one another.

This is definitely not a sappy love story, which fits well with how the Queen and Prince Philip present themselves in real life. And even though we know a “happily ever after” s is sure to come, we are treated to a friendship that eventually blossoms into something more rather than a passionate romance from the very start. The pair at times come off as too practical, in my opinion at least, when it comes to planning their marriage. However the POV chapters help us realize that these are two very guarded people Their roles in life and previous experiences make it difficult for them to let anyone in. That is why any declaration of feelings seems to resonate more and comes off as that much more heartfelt.

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was learning more about Prince Philip’s family and background. His mother was definitely an interesting character. Princess Alice was definitely not your typical princess.And Prince Andrew was very much an absentee father. It was also surprising to learn that Prince Philip’s sisters had married high ranking Nazi officers. Learning about Prince Philip’s complicated past definitely goes some way to explain his relationship with his children, especially Prince Charles. I was also very surprised with regards to how much opposition there was to the marriage of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth. It seems that the royal family and even the British government were dead set against the match. Their ability to overcome these obstacles and remain married for so long seems even more impressive now.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. Flora Harding did a fantastic job of making these “characters” and the time period come alive. At times I almost felt like I was witnessing these events rather than just reading about them. I feel that this book definitely deserves a 5 out of 5 and I highly recommend it to all my fellow historical fiction readers.

Quotes I Enjoyed:

It is Elizabeth’s secret worry. She has spent her whole life being special, and now, the one time it matters, she may not be- at least, not for Philip”

Princess Elizabeth

He wants her to think of him as strong and steadfast, not as a little boy longing for somewhere to belong”

Prince Philip

It is not the princess or the position he wants. It is Elizabeth herself. Eizabeth, with her warm smile and her kindness, her straight back and steady spirit

Prince Philip

Later, I realised you were the only man I would ever love. The only man who would ever see me for myself. the only man I would ever want beside me.

Princess Elizabeth

I hope you enjoyed this review. Let me know if this book caught your interest. Have you read any other books about the British royal family?