Book Review: Before the Crown by Flora Harding

Before the Crown…

About the Book:


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.

My Thoughts:

I do enjoy watching The Crown so this novel, Before the Crown, offered a nice bit of fan fiction that takes readers through the courtship of Elizabeth and Philip, ending at the point where the popular Netflix drama begins. Prospective readers need to be aware that this is purely fiction though, there are no historical endnotes to this novel indicating otherwise, and so as long as you go into it expecting a royal fairy tale, then you won’t be disappointed.

The novel is true to the characterisation of Elizabeth and Philip as they appear in The Crown. I am a bit of an Elizabeth fan, less so of Philip, and this novel did nothing to alter that for me. Within a life guided by duty, choosing Philip as her husband was her one act of defiance, the only time she insisted on something for herself. She quietly fought for him, against the wishes of both of her parents and the British government, and in the end, as we all know, she got her way. He really was not worthy of the efforts! At least, not at the start, and quite possibly, not at many points during their marriage, particularly in the early years. While Elizabeth was quietly nursing a very true love for him, he merely regarded his impending marriage as a goal. He does redeem himself in the end. This scene where Elizabeth is showered with gifts for her twenty-first birthday, all sorts of riches from dignitaries all around the world, offered the first step, in my eyes, towards Philip’s redemption, but I’ve always been rather sentimental about ‘the little things’.

‘Elizabeth opens the box and lifts the tissue paper to release the sweet smell of roses, lavender, and lily of the valley. Inside lie three perfect bars of soap, and she smiles as she lifts each to her nose, remembering how she had told him how much she longed for soap during the war.’

The description for this novel gives the impression of a far more romantic story than what it actually is – thank goodness! Their courtship was not like that, and I appreciated that the author maintained a level of authenticity within this representation. Without the context of The Crown to fall back on, the story may seem a little bland to readers, the characters a little one-dimensional. I did enjoy it, but it is a light read, devoid of the politics and intrigue that the television series has become known for.


Thanks is extended to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing me with a copy of Before the Crown for review.

Before the Crown
Published by HarperCollins UK
Released 17th September 2020

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Before the Crown by Flora Harding

    • I can relate to that tbr of yours! I’m sure others may disagree, but I just felt like the book may come off flat without the context of the show. Of course, I’m probably influenced by having watched the show for even thinking that!

      Liked by 1 person

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