The Autobiography of the Queen – Emma Tennant

One day, Queen Elizabeth decides she has had enough. Enough of her family, enough of ruling the country. So with the help of a bent employee, she gets hold of a fake passport renaming herself Gloria Smith, packs her bags and gets on a flight to St. Lucia. Here she has purchased a house off-plan, and she plans to enjoy her retirement in total peace and quiet, without anyone ever knowing who she really is.

However, almost from the offset the Queen has a bumpy journey. She has never packed a suitcase herself, has no idea what ladies usually carry in their handbags, is not accustomed to the way she is spoken to and treated by people and generally has an air of confusion. However, she arrives in St. Lucia in one piece – albeit minus her luggage – and makes her way to the house she has purchased, which she soon discovers is far from a house. More a hole in the ground.

Perplexed at something not being finished (things are always finished prior to Her Majesty’s visits), the Queen makes her way to the nearest posh hotel and proceeds to check-in, something else which proves difficult due to her ignorance in such matters.

The next few days are a complete rollercoaster ride for the monarch, as she realises that relinquishing her identity means she is treated completely differently; with the result she has to spend two nights sleeping in the back of a rum shop; she is forcibly removed from a bar and is then “papped” wearing a loud t-shirt and looking nothing like her usual self. Eventually she admits defeat, and after seeing TV and newspaper coverage about her disappearance, she realises that her subjects need her just as much as she needs them. And besides, she missed the corgis.

This is an unusual novel. There seems to be a lot of royalty-bashing going on just now, but I don’t think is exactly “bashing” the Queen. It is merely taking her out of her usual world and seeing how she would cope. It simply shows her as a very lost, naive and confused old lady. It is most definitely a humorous book, and a really easy read. You’ll nail this within a few hours and giggle at the very thought of the Queen “going it alone.” Excellent.

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