[Before the Crown]: A Review

Hi y’all!

Hope you’re having a great week and staying warm. If we could just have more snow, I think the cold would be more bearable.

Today I am excited to share a review of Before the Crown by Flora Harding. I enjoyed this historical fiction novel about Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s courtship leading up to their marriage. I was on a British royalty kick in fall 2022 and loved reading about them and their histories. This was an intriguing novel based on their experiences. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of the British royal family. So that colors my experience with this and all other novels I read about them.


Book Summary: Windsor Castle, 1943. 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…

Step through the palace gates and discover a captivating historical novel of royal secrets and forbidden love exploring the tempestuous courtship between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in the wake of WWII.”

I enjoyed being inside both protagonists heads. I loved seeing Elizabeth and Philip together and seeing their relationship bloom and develop. I would have liked even more glimpses into their relationship like from letters or added visits. Seeing how they fall in love and how their interactions change as their engagement continues was so satisfying.Also, it was very interesting to get background on Philip and his family whom I didn’t know much about. The tragedy and heartbreak that he has lived through was surprising. To lose a sibling and your parents in such varying dramatic ways would be incredibly difficult. I did not realize his connection to Nazi Germany was so clear through his sisters’ marriages. How difficult that must have been to navigate. This novel made Elizabeth and Philip feel like relatable, average people which was really engaging. I often put them on pedestals but enjoyed seeing them more as real people. 

The writing sometimes hindered the story for me. The present tense felt strange at time. I read several passages more than once to get the plot a few times. Overall, it was a bit of a slow start for me. It took a while to get to the more interesting parts of the story. Once we were in the history, I think the novel hits its stride well. We get a lot of interesting historical detail about WWII, individual battles and experiences in the war, VE Day, celebrations at the end of war (I love that Elizabeth and Margaret really did go celebrate in London with the crowds!), rationing and eventually the royal wedding. It just was slow to get going.

The historical setting was beautiful and offered compelling details that really added to the story. I love the historical settings at Balmoral, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and post war Germany. Each location is beautifully described and I loved the details of life in each place from the rationing, moving couches, rain and sunshine at the loch, and more. These backdrops help give life to the story. I also loved seeing King George VI and the Queen Mum in this one. I respect them so much for their duty and strength. Seeing them portrayed in this story was a lot of fun and made them more human. I am also reading a biography of King George VI right now that is fascinating. The ending is fantastic! I think that brought my opinion of the whole book up. For so long, Philip seems to not be very interested in Elizabeth just her title. But the ending beautifully brings love into the center of their relationship.

This novel brought Elizabeth and Philip to life in compelling and surprising ways. The historical settings are rich with details. And the ending makes the whole story better. Love the British royals!


What are your favorite novels about royalty?

4 thoughts on “[Before the Crown]: A Review

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