Clive Irving has been covering Britain’s longest-reigning queen and her eyebrow-raising family for over 60 years. Although his new book, The Last Queen, would seem timed to feed the appetite of the enormous fan base for Netflix’s The Crown, despite his title Irving is not especially interested in Elizabeth II, whom he regards as something of a stick: dowdy of dress, fusty of manners, scripted of speech, ignorant of arts and letters. His actual theme is the fate of the British monarchy, protected for generations from public scrutiny by a press committed to a genteel omertà, in an age which regards royals as no more than high-grade celebrities. “During that time, fawning and obsequious coverage and automatic public deference gave way to aggressive and intrusive world-wide scrutiny. Royal journalism became the most profitable stream of celebrity journalism, and the royal family assumed the role of a compulsively viewable soap opera,” he writes. His subject matter is as much the changing media coverage of the royal family as the royal family itself.

A former managing editor of the Sunday Times (London) and former consulting editor for Newsday, Irving is an experienced journalist with an engaging, gossipy style and a flair for delivering delectable name-dropping tidbits. Many are of a distinctly salacious nature, such as

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