Friday, February 12, 2021

Clive Irving Interview - The Last Queen

Photo Content from Clive Irving

Clive Irving has had a long and career in journalism on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been managing editor of the Sunday Times in London, he was director of current affairs programming for London Weekend Television; and a consulting editor for Newsday in New York. He was a founding editor of Conde Nast Traveler, where he is still Editor Emeritus, and is a regular columnist for the Daily Beast. Most recently, he was a key contributor to the acclaimed two-part BBC documentary, Margaret: The Rebel Princess, which was broadcast on PBS in America. Irving lives in Sag Harbor, New Yor.

Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in London, England. But for the last 40 years home has been Sag Harbor, in Long Island.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I have previously published three novels and four non-fiction works in the span of 50 years. My last book, Wide-Body, was the biography of a machine, the Boeing 747, published in 1993. Having a book published now, in the middle of the pandemic, has been a completely new kind of experience in which social media has been the most effective way of finding an audience.

Tell us your latest news.

The book is into its third printing three weeks after being published, so that is very gratifying.

Can you tell us when you started THE LAST QUEEN, how that came about?
I have not written a book about the British royal family before. This one was initiated after I took part in a BBC documentary film about Princess Margaret. My agent felt I had such a long experience as a journalist, more or less paralleling Queen Elizabeth II’s whole reign, that I should use that as the perspective for a biography of the Queen.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Again, not a novel. I would hope readers would see the Queen as a remarkable survivor, someone who has had a long and, at times, bumpy journey in the public eye and is now above reproach as she approaches the age of 95.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Wanting to walk on the beach.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Travel as far as possible in distance – in my case, to Australia and New Zealand, a complete change of world view.

Best date you've ever had?
Meeting my wife.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I do not believe in the rear view mirror, I’m more excited by what lies ahead.

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
It’s too risky to take the side of someone if you are not in possession of a real knowledge of them and, in any case, I have spent a lot time taking the side of people I know well.

First Heartbreak?
Donald Trump’s election.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
Finally visiting Florence and understanding why it has an indelible place in the culture of romance.

  • 1. Discover why Elizabeth II was the accidental Queen.
  • 2. See how improbable it was that she would become such a commanding figure.
  • 3. Understand why Winston Churchill was such a great influence on her.
  • 4. Follow the Queen and Prince Philip as they do poorly as parents.
  • 5. Discover as I did that there was not really one royal family but two for the first two decades of the Queen’s reign and why that caused great stresses for her.
  • 6. Althought in theory the Queen has no political power she has acquired something more valuable – authority of a very personal quality.
  • 7. In the beginning coverage of the royal family was fawning and deferential. Now it is relentless and invasive. I show how that happened, and its consequences.
  • 8. Princess Diana, without much effort, became a supernova, more famous than the Queen. That had tragic consequences.
  • 9. Being unknowable is the key to the Queen’s success as a monarch, while Prince Charles, her heir, is all too knowable and unfit to be King Charles III.
  • 10. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are exemplary amabassadors for the royal family, but you would not know that from the way the family treated them.
Writing Behind the Scenes
The most challenging part of writing this book was to find the right balance between autobiography – my journey as a journalist – and biography, how I apply my personal perspective to the long life of the Queen. I was fortunate to have an editor who pushed me to actually put more of myself in the story than I had intended and yet, at the same time, removed stuff when it was superfluous to the story telling. Above all, it was the story telling that mattered and gives the book its own tone.

A timely and revelatory new biography of Queen Elizabeth (and her family) exploring how the Windsors have evolved and thrived, as the modern world has changed around them.

Clive Irving’s stunning new narrative biography The Last Queen probes the question of the British monarchy’s longevity. In 2021, the Queen Elizabeth II finally appears to be at ease in the modern world, helped by the new generation of Windsors. But through Irving’s unique insight there emerges a more fragile institution, whose extraordinarily dutiful matriarch has managed to persevere with dignity, yet in doing so made a Faustian pact with the media.

The Last Queen is not a conventional biography—and the book is therefore not limited by the traditions of that genre. Instead, it follows Elizabeth and her family’s struggle to survive in the face of unprecedented changes in our attitudes towards the royal family, with the critical eye of an investigative reporter who is present and involved on a highly personal level.
You can purchase The Last Queen at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CLIVE IRVING for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Last Queen by Clive Irving.


  1. "Who has had the most influence in your life?" Nemesis.

  2. Great question. I'd have to say my wife has had the most influence on my life. She's usually the voice of reason when I lose my perspective. Thanks

  3. My father had the most influence in my life, he was a great guy.

  4. Growing up, that'd be my mum. Now, not so much.

  5. The most influence in my life has been my Dad he was so amazing we miss him so.

  6. I would say my grandmother Clarice had the most influence in my life.