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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 5, 2012 10:00am-10:59am EST

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was not, and richard are pretty good vocabulary but hopeless was not in a. turning it back to you, i think it says something about the subject that we are talking about tonight as well as the spirit that you've created by having this group that half of the contribution from the floor and from the audience has been in the form of testimonials to the guy. [applause] >> is there a nonfiction author or book you would like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at ..
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>> if you want a book signed but you don't want to stand in line, purchase a book, leave it at the information counter, and then you can pick it up anytime after tomorrow morning. we'll get it signed for you. um, i'm barbara meade, i'm one of the founders of politics & prose, and this evening i want to welcome sally bedell smith. i've introduced her several times before, and this evening she's here to talk about her new biography of elizabeth who is in her 60th year as queen. her diamond anniversary, it is. um, and chronicling the lives of william -- [inaudible] pamela herriman, diana and the clintons, i think sally has well
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established herself as a prominent biographer, prominent and best-selling biographer, i should say. for the past 15 years, she's also been a contributing editor to "vogue." and before that she wrote for "time" and she was a cultural reporter for "the new york times." during the time just as a personal aside that she was researching this biography, she, well, she was interviewing over 200 people and spending six months in residence in london. her daughter was married, this was a true anglo-american event. her daughter married an english army officer at the guard's chapel which is just what she says was a stone's throw from buckingham palace. um, the part i was just telling sally, the part of elizabeth's life that i was so impressed
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with was her complete dedication to being a well-informed monarch. she was regularly briefed by the prime minister, and she assiduously went to her diplomatic red leather box that came to her every day that had intelligence reports, budget reports, minutes of various sessions of parliament. she was just, she was very studious in doing that. um, well, there's no recognized profession or school that you can go to to become a queen. so she came at it really with no experience at all, but she really successfully created a position in which she was both monarch, wife and mother. but most of all, i think, in a royal family that had been so
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marked by scandal, actually, it was scandal that put her -- one scandal was the one that put her onto the throne, and that was the, um, the marriage of edward viii to the twice-divorced wallace simpson. and so then he abdicated in order to do that, and that placed her directly in line to succeed to the throne. um, she, and then on top of that she's had three divorces in her father. three of her children now have been divorced. she's had the lives of her two daughters-in-law, diane and camilla parker bowles, both been in the gossip columns over and over again, and this it's been something that she's so successfully created her own distance from, and she has by
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all reports -- and i think you'll certainly feel this when you finish the book -- is a well, well respected queen. but as sally will tell us about, she's also been able to preserve a very good sense of humor and have a great what sally describes as joie de vivre. so here's sally to tell us all about it. [applause] >> thank you very much, barbara. i was so tickled to see you here tonight because i've own joyed -- i've so enjoyed being introduced by you before. you're always so thoughtful in your introductions, and thank you very, very much. um, several years ago when the queen was at one of her yearly garden parties at buckingham palace making her way through a crowd of nearly 9,000 people and greeting a selection of guests, she was asking such standard questions as have you come far?
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when one woman looked at her and said what do you do -- [laughter] several days later at a friend's birthday party the queen described the exchange and confessed, i had no idea what to say. it was the first time in all the year of meeting people that anybody had ever asked her that question. of. [laughter] my job in writing "elizabeth the queen" was not only to explain what she does, but to tell what she's really like and to take the reader as close as possible to elizabeth, the human being, the wife, the mother and the friend as well as l the highly respected leader. today i'm going to talk first about what it was like to write about queen elizabeth and, second, i'd like to share with you some of the many surprising discoveries that i made about the queen because she is the best known woman in the world.
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people feel as if they know her, but the real woman is very different from the woman in velvet and ermine. this is my sixth biography, all of them about larger-than-life characters that barbara mentioned, but there is no one like the queen, and she lives in her very own remarkable world. while other heads of state have come and gone, elizabeth is the longest-serving leader in the world spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. she is the 40th monarch in the thousand-year history of the british monarchy. reigning over the united kingdom of england, wales, scotland and northern ireland along with 15 realms and 14 overseas territories. she is the second monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee marking 60 years on the throne which is a milestone that you will reach -- that she will
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reach on february 6th. the only other was her great, great grandmother, queen victoria, whose celebration was 115 years ago. in 1897 when she was 78 years old. if elizabeth who will soon turn 86 is still on the throne in september 2015, she will surpass victoria's reign of nearly 64 years. between the two of them, victoria and elizabeth have been on the throne for 124 of the last 174 years and have symbolized britain far longer than the four men who were kings between their reigns. elizabeth is always surrounded by people, but being queen makes her a solitary and singular figure. it is crucial for her to keep a delicate balance at all times.
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if she seems too mysterious and distant, she loses her bond with her subjects. but if she seems too much like everyone else, she loses her mystique. she doesn't carry a passport, she doesn't have a driver's license, although one of her cousins told me that she drives like a bat out of hell on the roads of her country estates. [laughter] she can't vote, she can't appear as a witness in court, and she can't change her face from -- her faith from anglican to catholic. and because of her hereditary position, everyone around her -- including her closest friends and family -- bows and curtsies when they greet her and when they say good-bye to her. although she was trained by strict nannies who prevented her from being spoiled, she was also trained from childhood to expect this deference. a friend of mine told me about the time when then-princess elizabeth came to visit his
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family castle in scotland, and he playfully threw her onto a sofa. his father, the 12th earl, took him by the arm, punched him in the stomach and said, don't you ever do that to royalty. the princess didn't mind, my friend told me, but that was the structure in which she was brought up. so how is a biographer, particularly an american, penetrate the royal bubble especially when the queen has had a policy for the past of -- 60 years of not granting interviews? actually, it really wasn't too different from the way i've approached my other books which was to turn to those who knew her best for insights and information. i am a long-time anglophile, and i've visited britain over the past three decades and made a lot of friends, some of whom who
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helped me when i was reporting my book on the late princess diana in the late 1990s. when i started researching the queen's life, i went back to a group of key sources who agreed to help me again and to introduce me to her people who knew the royal family. they also served as my advocates in getting cooperation from buckingham palace. my book on diana had been fair to the royal family and particularly to charles, so the senior staff at the palace briefed the queen, and they gave me the green light. as a result, i had access to her inner circle of close friends and advisers. while the queen has disciplined herself to keep her views and emotions under wraps in public, those close to her shared with me some of her fascinating opinions and feelings, what worried her most about prince charles when his marriage to diana was falling apart, for example.
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what would happen if she became physically or mentally incapacitated and even some politically sensitive opinions including one hot button issue that she discussed with an american ambassador. her friends explained the secrets of her serenity and her courage, and they sized her up sometimes in unusual, unusually perceptive ways. monty roberts, the california horse whisperer who is one of her most unlikely friends, told me that when the queen gave him good advice, she showed an incredible ability to read intention just like a horse does. with the assistance of the palace, i was also able to watch the queen and prince phillip in many different settings; at the garter parade at windsor castle while presenting honors at buckingham palace, investitures and at one of her annual garden
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parties at the palace. for that i received a personalized invitation on white pasteboard 'em bossed in gold with the queen's crown and cipher announcing that the lord chamberlain had been commanded by her majesty to invite me. everybody got that. [laughter] watching the queen at that garden party make her way along a line of people, i was struck by her measured pace. her lord chamberlain, who was the senior official at buckingham palace, later told me that she moves slowly to absorb everything that's going on and to take as much in as she can. i also marveled at her mastery of brief, but focused conversations and her sturdy stance, a technique that she once explained to the wife of one of her foreign secretaries by lifting her evening gown above her ankle and saying one
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plants one's feet apart like this, always keep them parallel, make sure your weight is evenly distributed, and that's all there is to it. [laughter] as i observed the queen over the course of a year, i accumulated impressions that helped me understand how she carries out her role and how earnestly she does her job with great discipline and concentration in every situation. she is not just a figurehead. and she has an impressive range of duties. every day except christmas and easter she spends several hours reading those government boxes that barbara just described. they are delivered, they are red leather boxes that can only be opened by four keys. she reads them in the morning and at night and even on weekends. one of her close friends told me about the time during one of the queen's visits when she was
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deskbound all morning. must you, ma'am, her friend asked? the queen replied, if i miss once, i might never catch up again. mary soams, who is the youngest tower of the queen's fist prime minister, winston churchill, told me that when elizabeth was a young 25-year-old queen, her father had been impressed by her attentiveness that she always paid attention to whatever she was doing. it's hard to imagine the amount of information that the queen has accumulated over six decades, and she has used it in exercising her right to be consulted, to encourage and to warn when she meets with government officials as well as senior military officers, clergymen, diplomats and judges who come to her for confidential, private audiences. as she once said, the fact that there's nobody else there gives
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them a feeling that they can say what they like. the most important encounters, of these encounters have been the weekly audiences with her 12 prime ministers. consider the trajectory from churchill who was born in the 9th century -- 19th century and served in the army of her great, great grandmother, queen victoria to david cameron, her current prime minister who was born three years after her youngest child, prince edward. she actually glimpsed the first of her -- for the first time her future 12th prime minister when he appeared at age 8 in the school production of "toad of toad hall" with edward. probably her most fascinating relationship was with margaret thatcher, and in the course of my reporting i gained some great insights into how that relationship worked and some of
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which contradicted the common view. the queen does not have executive power, but she does have unique influence. in her role as head of state, she represents the government officially at home and abroad, but she also serves as head of nation which means that she connects with people to reward their achievements and remain in touch with their concerns. two decades past the normal retirement age, she still does something like 400 engagements a year. traveling around the united kingdom to cities as well as tiny ham hamlets. charles poll, who served as private secretary to both john major and margaret thatcher, told me that the queen knows every inch of this country in a way no one else does. she spends so much time meeting people that she has an understanding of what other people's lives are like. she understands what the normal
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human condition is. she's also spent an extraordinary amount of time honoring citizens and members of the hill tear for exemplary -- military for exemplary service. in 60 years she has conferred more than 400,000 honors and awards and given them in person over 600 times. people these pats on the back sometimes, she has said. it's a very dingy world otherwise. traveling with the queen was particularly valuable, especially the overseas royal tour i took to bermuda and trinidad. she was 83 years old at the time, and her program called for long days of meeting and greeting. her stamina was impressive. matched only by 88-year-old prince phillip. whenever they go off on a trip together like that, the lord chamberlain always accompanies to the airport, and phillip turns around and waves at him and says, mind the shop.
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[laughter] i got a real sense of how much in sync phillip and elizabeth are with an expert choreography sort of like fred astaire and ginger rogers. i also saw aspects of him that contradict his caricature of brashness and insensitivity. he always watches the queen intently to see whether she needs any assistance. i once saw him bring a little child over to greet her. he often spots people in the crowd who can't see very well, and he'll walk them out to give them a better vantage point. when the queen needs a boost, he's also there with a humorous aside such as don't be so sad, sausage. [laughter] on the last night in trinidad, i also witnessed at close range what i had heard about from several people, that the queen doesn't perspire even in the hottest temperatures. the british high commissioner was hosting a garden party in
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his hilltop home on such a steamy evening that everyone, including me, was dripping from the heat. but after an hour of lively conversations with some 65 guests, the queen walked past me very close by, and there was absolutely no moisture on her face. [laughter] one of her cousins who traveled in the tropics with her explained to me in her own inimitable way that the queen's skin does not run water. [laughter] and that while it may look good, it does make her uncomfortable. i saw further evidence of this a year later on a july day at ground zero in manhattan when the temperature hit 103 degrees, and one of the women the queen spoke to said to me afterwards, we were all pouring sweat, but she didn't have a bead on her. that must be what it's like to be a royal. [laughter] during these trips i was able to
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see the buckingham palace machinery on the road. to get to know the senior officials and to get a feel for the atmosphere around the queen and the way her household has changed from the early days when it was run entirely by aristocratic men. as i stood in the lobby of her hotel in trinidad, her master of the household pointed toward a half dozen footmen, one of whom was a woman, all dressed in navy blue suits. see sam over there, he said? he has a master's degree in paleontology. it was a far cry from the stereotype of dowden abbey. getting to know all the places important to the queen further deepened my understanding at her stables in barkshe, one of her horse trainers took he out on the gallops which are the rolling hills where she loves to spend hours in the early morning mist wearing her head scarf, her tweed jacket and her wellington
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boots as she watches her racehorses work out. at holyrood house a former official gave me a private tour. i spent the night in the tower of the castle of may which is the queen mother's house in northern scotland where the queen used to visit every year. i hiked the hills and walked along the river d at the queen's estate in the scottish highland. her estate in author folk where she retreats for nearly six weeks every winter, i spent a day getting a tour of the stud farm with her stud manager and her head stallion groom. i also spent a day inspecting the royal yacht brittania which is now in a museum near edinborough, and i was lucky enough to attend several dinners
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in the ballroom and the picture gallery at buckingham palace. i was not, alas, a guest of the queen, but i was invited by prince charles who was hosting his annual gatherings of his prince of wales foundation. but sitting at a table decorated with george iii silver guild candelabra and sculpted centerpieces, i could immerse myself in the experience of being served by footmen in royal livery in rooms where with the queen entertains heads of state. but my favorite moments were at windsor which the queen considers her real home. i spent time with two of the queen's elderly first cousins who have known her longer than anybody else. both live near the castle in modest homes that the queen gave to them. and every sunday after church the queen drives her jaguar to visit one of the cousins, margaret rhodes, who greets her
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with a curtsy and hands her a gin duke nay, and they sit down, and they chat about friends and family. as i sat on margaret's sagging sofa in her living room where her dogs' toys were scattered all around on the floor, i could imagine the queen sitting in the very same spot with her hat on her head but completely relaxed. at public events i watched the queen at a distance always the smiling icon moving through the crowd, careful not to engage too much. so it was especially helpful to have three social encounters at private gatherings, and each time i caught the animated gestures, the sparkling blue eyes and the flashing smile familiar to her friends but rare in public. on my first meeting during a garden party at the british ambassador's residence here in washington, i watched the queen have a spirited conversation with my husband about the
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kentucky derby, and i remembered what the british artist howard morgan had told me after painting her portrait. her private side took me completely by surprise, he said. she talks like an italian. she waves her hands about. [laughter] two years later after i'd been working on the queen's biography for a year, i met her again at a reception at st. james' palace, this time in honor of the pilgrims which is a group that promotes anglo american fellowship. when i mentioned to her that my daughter was getting married in london, she asked when is the wedding? the fourth of july, i replied. oh, she said, that's a little dangerous. [laughter] once again i saw the smile and the twinkle. the third time was a month before the wedding of prince william and kate middleton. again, we met at st. james'
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palace at a party given by one of the queen's cousins. i knew that the queen would be there, but i didn't expect her to stay 90 minutes, and she was in high spirits. the atmosphere was much more informal than the pilgrims' reception probably because so many of her friends and family members were there. and she was making her way happily on her own without any attendant running interference for her. and what really struck me was that here she was this her own palace -- in her own palace, but she was merely another guest which was a measure to me of her surprising humility. when i greeted her, i told her that i'd recently been to the home of one of her american friends in florida. i've never been to that house, she said. so i told her about it and particularly that how much of it had been designed for their grandchildren. yes, she said, and they have so many, don't they?
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clearly, she didn't miss a trick. the first question that people ask me about the queen is, what was most surprising, what was the most surprising thing i learned about her which is very difficult to answer because so much was unexpected. one surprise was that humility that i just mentioned. part of her side that is seldom seen. behind her regal and dignified image, the queen is also smart, shrewd, tolerant, cozy, sensitive, lively, funny, compassionate, respond spontane, keenly observant and even earthy. so i'll give you a few of the many be examples of these traits that i've found. how about cozy. when the american artist was at windsor castle to paint a portrait of prince phillip, the queen invited him to lunch in her private dining room.
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to his amazement, there were no butlers around to serve the meal. not only did the queen insist on serving him from a buffet, she also insisted on clearing the table. she stacked the plates, he said -- [laughter] which is what we were taught never to do when we were growing up. [laughter] another time she was entertaining a larger group at a luncheon, and she told the man next to her i need to explain about the napkins, as she looked down the table. she said, they're doing it all wrong. they have the starched side down so the napkins will slide off their knees. do it like this with the unstarched side on your lap, and then you tuck it under your bottom. [laughter] what about spontaneous? while driving a scottish cleric on a tour of her estate, she suddenly shouted, hooray! as they passed one of her game keepers walking on the hills
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with a young woman. the queen explained that his wife had left him, and she was absolutely delighted that he was out with a new girlfriend. [laughter] sensitive? when margaret thatcher had her 80 birthday party in 2005, she had become frail, and her mind had been impaired by strokes. as the queen approached, the former prime minister extended her hand, and the queen held it as margaret thatcher curtsied to her. but what was surprising is that the queen continued to hold her hand and then tenderly guided her through the crowd of 650 guests which was a remarkable sight for the british who are unaccustomed to seeing the queen so physically demonstrative. compassionate, when ira terrorists killed lord louis mount batten, the queen's cousin and phillip's favorite uncle along with several other members
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of his family, the queen cared for the 14-year-old grandson who had been severely injured in the attack. when he arrived late one evening with his sister, the queen was there to greet them, and she served them soup and sandwiches, took them to their rooms and even started to unpack them until she was prevailed upon to go to bed. timothy later talked about her unstoppable mothering. he told me that the queen had been caring and sensitive and intuitive, and that she had managed to get him talking about his traumatic experience in a way that nobody else had been able to do. funny, british actress prunella scales got rave reviews for playing the queen in the play "a question of attribution," and when she was introduce today the queen, she bowed, and the queen said, i expect you think i should be doing that to you.
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[laughter] earthy, probably the least expected trait when you think of the prim and proper queen. imagine her stalking stag in many her mcintosh trousers, crawling on her stomach through the undergrowth with her nose up against the boots of the stalker in front of her, or visiting her yearlings in their stables and seeing that they seem to be suffering from respiratory problems. she blew her nose, showed her trainer what was in the handkerchief, and said it's too dusty in here. there's no air. needless to say, he promptly installed a better ventilation system. and finally, something surprising because i just think the image is so sweet. when the queen and prince phillip were guests of ronald and nancy reagan on a trip to california in 1983, reagan's deputy chief of staff, mike dever, asked the queen's private secretary why she was taking o long to prepare for the evening.
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the queen needs her tiara time, he said. the private secretary explained that she has a little kit with tools that she uses to decorate certain diamond tiaras by hooking pearls or emeralds or sapphires or rubies on them depending on what she's wearing. her former crown jeweler, david thomas, confirmed to me that this pastime is something she enjoys a great deal. well, such private glimpses may surprise many people. elizabeth's behavior as queen as always been reassuring and consistent and predictable. her wise conduct and her unifying, her role as a unifying force are more valued today than ever. long admired and respected, she is now beloved. when she celebrated her golden jubilee ten years ago, people realized that she was about
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stability, continuity, calm through adversity and humor when things were going wrong. her former senior adviser, charles anson, told me. suddenly, they got the point of the queen who had been doing her job for 50 years. now that she's reached her 60-year milestone, she is bigger than politics or celebrity or fashion. yet she has learned to move with the times, making sure the monarchy responsive without being trend de. trendy. her ability to adapt to a changing world is all the more impressive when you consider that she grew up really in an edward yang atmosphere. she is the sheet anchor in the middle for people to hang on to in times of turbulence. her lifelong friend and former top adviser david ehrle told me. she lives by the values we all wish to have which have made her life story inspiring for me to
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write about, and i hope that readers are equally inspired. thank you. [applause] >> okay, we've got a mic right here in the middle for questions, please. can you go to the mic? it's right behind you. it's right behind you. >> i talk loud. >> no, to, they can't hear you behind. just turn around and go -- [inaudible conversations] >> oh, okay. >> right there. >> right here. >> there you go. >> what was relationship with diana and the divorce of charles and the situation with the situation with diana and
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charles? >> well, that was one of the most difficult periods of her reign, i would say. she was hoping that her son, charles, would marry happily, and i think in the beginning they all thought diana was ideal. they seemed to be, they seemed to be in the love, or at least they talked themselves into thinking they were in love. but they were, in fact, very badly mismatched. she was very welcoming to diana in the beginning. i think everybody underestimated how sensitive and how kind of emotionally turbulent she was and how difficult it would be for her to adapt to royal life. but one of her queen -- one of princess diana's close friends said that the queen always kept an open door for her. the problem was that, um, you know, the queen can be a bit formidable, and diane that was very young, and she was, she was somewhat intimidated by her. and so she didn't take that opportunity to go and spend time
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with her and, um, and get to know her better. and the queen was very busy, and she just assumed that other people would take care of her and bring her along which didn't really happen. but a lot of the problems that happened between charles and diana were quite, um, invisible to both the queen and prince phillip, and it really wasn't until the book written by andrew morton that diana had secretly collaborated with that was published in 1992 which was 11 years after they were married, and it was, um, it was highly critical of charles. it was very damaging to charles. and, um, very tough on the rest of the royal family. so the queen not, you know, not, not, i mean, completely understandably viewed this as an act of betrayal and disloyalty, and it was compounded by the fact that when she was asked
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about it, diana did not tell the truth. so at that point it became clear that it was going to be difficult for them to continue with their marriage, so they separated not long after that. and then, you know, we're -- >> was the reason that she chose her grandson and not her son to succeed her? >> oh, she hasn't done that. no, charles is definitely in line to succeed her. >> [inaudible] >> oh, yes, that's the way it works. yeah. i mean, i think there have been public opinion polls that have indicated that a lot of people would prefer to see the, you know, beautiful young couple, um, succeed her. but charles is the one. >> [inaudible] >> yeah. >> thank you. >> uh-huh. i think somebody's at the mic right now. yes. >> perhaps i'll read about it in the book, but, um, i wonder if queen has ever commented to her circle of friends or publicly about the speech affliction of
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her father? has she talked about it? [inaudible] >> well, i think it did, i think to this extent i think she was so, she so admired him for, um, his duty and his absolute determination to overcome it. i think it must have been very difficult for her to see. she once said that the quality that affected her most about him was his steadfastness, and she learned a lot from watching him and from seeing him overcome what was a, you know, almost crippling disability. and yet go on and be an incredibly admiral king, particularly during world war ii. i think that's when she saw her parents in a new light. they were very brave. they could have gone elsewhere, but they came into london every day.
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the girls were living at windsor castle which was very well fortified, and the queen and -- the king and then-queen elizabeth spent many lives there, but they put their lives on the line going to buckingham palace. it was hit nine times by bombs, one of which almost killed the two of them. so she developed great admiration for both of them in their duty and in their courage. >> it seems as if it was sort of a lesson of empathy that most of the royals don't get. >> yes. one of her first private secretaries, actually, noted that after they'd taken, well, the whole family when she was still princess elizabeth, and they had taken a trip to south africa. and he said something to that effect, that she has a, that he noticed an ability to connect with people and be a kind of empathy and sense of compassion that he said was rare in the royal family. she has seen "the king's speech," by the way. she did see it. she didn't -- initially, she was
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reluctant to see it, i think, because she was a little nervous about seeing her parents portrayed, but her cousin margaret rhodes with whom she has gin every sunday told me that she did see it after it had won the awards. she was so, you know, i think people told her the reaction which was common there and here of applause at the end. and she, she liked it. she wasn't effusive about it, but she thought it was fine. um, but she didn't see the queen. with helen myrrh -- myrrh remember. [laughter] she made a pact with tony blair. >> she didn't see "the queen"? >> no, but she was told about it. yeah. >> i think one of the things people talk about being criticized the queen about, you know, not lacking in compassion is about one of the things is that the continuing, um, gravitation between her and,
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well, the royal family and the duke and duchess of windsor. i think that has a lot of times that, you know, they should be invited to, like, family greetings. but they were always excluded. i think that was sort of like a comment upon that time, that -- >> yeah. well, it was a very traumatic moment when, um, edward viii abdicated and her father became king. he had not been prepared for it, and he wept to his mother and said i was trained as a naval officer. he did learn to be an admirable king. and i think they, you know, they did -- well, i think they were tough on them. i think one of the difficulties was the possibility that the duke and duchess of windsor could have lived in england. that would have set up a parallel court. i think it would have been extremely difficult to have an ex-king and a current king living in the same place. and so for that reason they wanted them to live in, you know, someplace else, and during
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the war they lived in the bahamas, and then afterwards in paris. but i was struck that the queen did reach out to him. um, he came, you know, there was a rapprochement, and it was at her instigation. he had to come to london for some eye surgery, and she went and visited him in the hospital, and there was a commemoration for, um, for his mother, queen mary, and he was included in that. and, um, when she was making a state visit to paris in 1972, he had already been diagnosed with cancer, and, um, you know, the queen knew that he did not have long to live. and so she went, and she visited him. and it was, apparently, a very tender visit that they had together, and his doctor said she had tears in if her eyes. and only weeks later he died. and she was very kind to the duchess of windsor who was in, you know, she was heavily
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sedated and kind of out of it during that period of time. but, um, california race saw -- clarissa said she looked over at one point and saw the queen with her hand on the duchess of windsor's arm, and she said she was sort of treating her with nanny-like tenderness. so i think one of her qualities is a tolerance and a capacity for forgiveness. and i think she exercised that. there were other members of the family who weren't quite that way. >> thank you. no other -- oh, here comes somebody. >> i was a passer by. [laughter] but i briefly wanted to inquire, could you elaborate just a little bit on the, um, blow-up over the first lady's wrapped arm around the queen?
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>> oh, i have that in the book. i have an absolute eyewitness account from the queen's videographer who was actually recording the whole thing, told me what happened. and it was, it was not as big a deal as it was made out to be. what happened was with, um, as you can imagine there's quite a disparity in height between the queen and michelle obama. and they were standing at this reception for all the g20 leaders, and they were, first of all, they were sort of comparing their shoes, and then they turned to two ladies in waiting who were standing right over there, and they started to sort of demonstrate how tall she was and how short she was. [laughter] and they quite naturally kind of as they were showing, demonstrating this, they put their arms around each other. and, you know, it's long been said that you shouldn't touch the queen, although there have been many people who have over the years, and she's become much more relaxed about it. and she -- but, i mean, and
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michelle sort of lingered a bit and rubbed her on the shoulder. but nobody took offense. um, except the british tabloid press who decided to make a big deal out of it. [laughter] but i talked to people at buckingham palace, and they said everybody was in a very good mood that day, and it was kind of in the spirit of how everybody felt. so nobody took offense, much less the queen. >> okay. >> nothing else? no? >> okay. >> okay. thank you very much for coming. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> for more information visit the author's web site, you're watching beaumont weekend on booktv. up next, a visit with local author j. lee thompson on his book, "theodore roosevelt
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abroad" about roosevelt's 15-month postpresidential expedition to africa and europe. >> when did teddy roosevelt first decide he wanted to go to africa? >> well, he'd been a sort of a fan of africa for many years, and in 1907, 1908 he was coming to the end of his presidency, he wanted to take a extended vacation away from it all. he thought about going to alaska, but in 1908 he made a decision to go to africa instead. he was a longtime hunter and conservationist and the big game there, lions particularly. the lion was sort of his totem animal. in fact, his sons called him the old lion. >> how long after his presidency did he leave? >> about three weeks. very short. he handed over the reins to his friend taft, william taft, who he basically made president. taft was supposed to carry out
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his policies while he went abroad. so he was gone the third week in march, 1909. the expedition was organized by the smithsonian. it was a cutting-edge, scientific expedition of the time. and he went to africa for about a year, then he went to europe for three months after that. he was gone about 15 months. his son, kermit, was the photographer and his kind of -- he called him my side partner in the operation in the dedication of his book. kermit was 20, 19 or 20 years old, a little bit adventuresome, maybe too much for his father. he went off by himself at times and sort of scared his father to death. [laughter] but they had a great time. and photography was also very important. in fact, roosevelt said about the expedition that maybe the most important thing would be the photographs that they took. because they made a record of how the animals actually lived on the ground. at the same time, they were
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taking big game -- the smithsonian expedition brought back 11,000 specimens from elephants down to, you know, invertebrates. for a long time, the natural history museum in washington had a huge hall full of exhibits which they've now taken down. there's only one thing left significant there on display, and that's a white rhino which he shot. it has a tiny little tag which says, you know, shot by theodore roosevelt. [laughter] but for a long time there were these dioramas. they shot family groups. that was what you did in those days. you went out and took family groups of animals, and then you took them, stuffed them, put them in dioramas in museums. you can still see this in museums today. and, in fact, that ended up being a very good thing. the people at the smithsonian told me by taking family groups rather than just trying to get the biggest trophies, this is very useful today. they can still do dna testing on the remains that they have as
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benchmarks for what's going on today. um, so, i mean, he was, he was looking at birds, he was looking at everything. i mean, the man was interested in everything. people try to portray this as a game-butchering expedition, that's what they call it. he wanted to make sure that, you know, that wasn't what got out. and he made his own press by sending back these articles. but there were other articles which said he was slaughtering all these animals. and they did take quite a few toeties. we -- trophies. we don't do that today, and we haven't done that for decades, but at the same time kermit took several thousand of photographs for the expedition. he was a political animal, so even while he was in darkest africa, he was getting letters from political friends companying about -- complaining about taft and asking for his advice, talking about things going on at home. he was also an imperialist, and he went to the british empire. he spent 12, the months basically in the british empire. so there he met the people on
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the ground, and he talked to them about what his views were and what britain should be doing. i mean, he took the bully pulpit with him. the man could not stop giving his opinions, um, and so the book, the book has a subtitle, the journey of an american president, so there's lots of things going on. he was never able to do just one thing. i mean, he was a human dynamo. he was the sort of inventer of multitasking which we talk about today. [laughter] he read a book every day. he took with him something called the pig skin library which was a volume of 50 books he had specially made, and plus he was writing, he wrote a book while he was out there called "african game trails." it was done as a series of articles for scriveners, and then he published that when he came back, plus a serious scientific -- as i said, it was a cutting-edge scientific saw safari, so he brought with him smithsonian naturalists, and one of them, the two of them
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collaborated, and they published a very serious two-volume book about african game. he met his wife, his wife was edith and his daughter, earth them, they met them at khartoum in a very picturesque place down the nile. they traveled up to cairo where he made another speech about the british empire which irked a lot of egyptian nationalists, actually, and then he went to europe. he had promised edith that he would give her a sort of second honeymoon, you know, if she'd let him go on the safari. they made a de. sari. they made a deal. so they went to italy and tried to recreate their honeymoon of 1885, but the crowds wouldn't let them. i mean, they were basically mobbed. because he was a star. i mean, he was a media star, you know, around the world. and even though he wasn't president anymore, they treated him like he was president. and he didn't want to have to meet with kings and queens and royals, but, of course, he did everywhere he went, in every country they fell over
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themselves to try and, you know, get him to come to the palace and tell them stories, and he regaled them with tales of the spanish-american war and tales of being president and also his western days, you know? he was this cowboy, he had this cowboy strain in him from his days as a reason cher. as a rancher. >> did he like that kind of attention? >> oh, certainly. i mean, he was a political animal, and he -- loved being in the spotlight. there was the old story that t.r. wanted to be the groom at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. in europe he was treated as though he were still president, everybody fully expected he's going to go back to the united states and probably be president again. and he met with the leaders of the time. and, in fact, this was sort of an introduction. i'm doing a book right now about roosevelt and the great war. and in europe he met, for example, kaiser wilhelm of germany, sort of loose cannon, bombastic leader like himself. they were very, actually, very similar.
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he, he got to be the first, the only civilian to have the german army parade in front of him. he sat on the horse back with wilhelm, you know, for several hours, and they had a meeting at one of the palaces, and it was -- and then he went to england, and he was actually working for -- one of the things he did in europe was he was working for andrew carnegie, the world's wealthiest man. carnegie had this dream of world peace, and so while he was in europe, um, roosevelt gave his belated nobel prize speech. he won the nobel prize in 1906 for settling the war between russia and japan. and so at the time the tradition was presidents didn't leave the country. now they leave the country all the time. but down to this time if you were president, you were supposed to be there being president. so he didn't go and give his speech. so he gave it belatedly in 1910, and in it he laid out the idea of an international league of peace, something his rival woodrow wilson is going to lay
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out a few years later, you know, roosevelt is seen as this sort of bellicose warrior type but, in fact, his -- he had this slogan, speak softly and carry a big stick. in fact, he spoke softly, kept the big stick like the united states navy behind him and managed to keep the country out of war while he was president. there weren't any wars, a few little minor incidents, but no big wars. so this, the peace emissary business actually gets sunk because ed war vii -- edward vii dies, the king of england, while t.r.'s overseas. and juster is remember diptously he's going to england, and he gets to be the emissary at the funeral. so he gets to dress up in his tuxedo. he looks like a penguin among all these roy yalses, there's some great pictures. the royals all have these plumed hats and amazing outfits with medals and stuff, he's there in
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his tuxedo standing out as usually being plain. he want today wear his roughriders' colonel's uniform, but his wife said, no, you're not going to do that, theodore. she was one of the few people in the world who could tell him what to do, and he would actually do it. he gives another speech there. he had promised the people on the ground in africa that he would support them. they felt like the british government, the liberal government wasn't supporting their imperial effort, so he made a speech at the guild hall, very famous old building in london, in which he basically told the british to buck up, you know, they weren't being strong enough in egypt and elsewhere. >> what convinced him to come back to the u.s. and get in politics again? >> well, he was always going to come back. i mean, he never meant to move away. what he wanted to do was take a break. he also wanted to let his friend, will taft, the president, run his own show. because if he stayed at home, everyone would say you're t.r.'s puppet.
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but that ended up up being bad because taft fell under the orbit of very conservative people in the republican party and did a lot of things who roosevelt and his friends who, of course, wrote him letters and told him what was going on particularly with conservation. so he was going to come back anyway, but he felt he needed to straighten things out that had gone awry while he was in africa. so he comes back and very -- i believe, and i say in the book that i think he decided to run again while he was on this trip because people were complaining about taft wasn't doing what he was supposed to do. in fact, in letters he batesically says, i meat a mistake -- i made a mistake. i shouldn't have put taft in there as i did. other people will say he makes the decision later in 1911, even 1912 to start the progressive party, the bull moose party. he dies in january 1919 sort of unexpectedly. everybody believes he's going to be the presidential candidate for republicans in 1920, probably would have won if he'd got the nomination.
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but just like woodrow wilson, i think people were by 1920 sort of tired of reformers, they were tired of activism. it would have been interesting to see what he might have done if he had been president. and that's another thing about roosevelt which is interesting, is how he resonates down to today. president obama just made a speech in kansas talking about theodore roosevelt and progressive stuff, and so roosevelt is this really interesting amalgamation of, you know, speak softly, carry a big stick in foreign policy, but then progressive stuff at home trying to put in place reforms for the people, trying to look out for working people and, you know, it's a message which comes down to us today. he just had charisma. he had personal magnetism. he was, you know, not the best speaker in the world. in fact, if you hear the recordings, he sounds sort of like a reedy version of fdr, you know, we've heard fdr's
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speeches, but only a few of roosevelt's survived. he wasn't a very, you know, didn't sound very good, but he sold what he was doing. he was a very, you know, not a great orator, but he knew how to sort of paint pictures with speeches. and also he wrote all the time. but as far as him being, you know, he was just a charismatic, magnetic personality, and his enthusiasm would just bowl people over. even if you didn't -- in fact, you know, one of his friends famously said about him if you wanted to stay mad at roosevelt, you had to stay away from him. because if you got around him, you know, he would charm you into forgetting whatever it was that made you mad, had made you mad in the first place. so, you know, he certainly charmed me. i mean, i've always found him an interesting figure. and at this university we all teach american history, so, um, i taught about him in my classes and always really enjoyed the roosevelt bit, you know, when we
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were talking about progressivism. in fact, it lasts probably longer than it should just because -- [laughter] he's such an interesting character. >> interviews from beaumont, texas, are being featured all weekend long on booktv. for more information visit [inaudible conversations] >> each yearbook tv brings you several events from across the country. here's a look at some of the up coming fairs and festivals we plan on covering this year. booktv's first stop will be the fifth annual savannah book festival in georgia over presidents day weekend. live all-day coverage on saturday, february 19th, will feature author presentations including pulitzer prize finalist s.e. quinn. booktv will be live from the tucson festival of books on the
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