The Queen and I by Sue Townsend

Book Review Mar 18, 2022

My review

4/5 stars

I borrowed this from the library having never heard of it before. It grabbed my attention on a shelf and the blurb made it seem interesting enough. As a supporter and follower of the Royal Family, the idea of them being subjected to a republic and how they would cope with that piqued my interest.

Being one of the few people left on Planet Earth that have not read the Adrian Mole books, I knew nothing about the author's writing style and was pleasantly surprised by the dry wit throughout (something that I'm sure any reader more familiar with the author's work would have expected from the outset). It really suited the story, as I can well imagine that a family who has been raised on stoicism is thrust into a normal everyday life would have a very sarcastic and dry response to it.

All of the characterisations felt oddly realistic, given that it's hard to imagine the Royal Family in that situation; Princess Anne and Prince Charles' story arcs felt particularly well-written. Coming to it in 2020, given that it was written in 1992, meant that it felt dated, but only because some of the characters that were at the forefront of the story are either no longer with us (e.g. Diana) or are not involved with the Royal Family anymore (e.g. Fergie).

The social commentary in the book provided an interesting insight into what life was like in the early 90s (I was there but I was very young). What I liked is that it was informative and biting, but never felt too heavy as it was perfectly balanced with the comedy elements of the story.

I was slightly disappointed with the ending of the book, after spending a couple of hundred pages investing in the new reality, but I understand why it needed to happen the way it did. I think it would have been a little too shocking to most people's sensibilities to leave it hanging as a real possibility.

Given that I had no awareness of the book when I entered my local library, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I love it when that happens.

Book blurb


When a Republican party wins the General Election, their first act in power is to strip the royal family of their assets and titles and send them to live on a housing estate in the Midlands.

Exchanging Buckingham Palace for a two-bedroomed semi in Hell Close (as the locals dub it), caviar for boiled eggs, servants for a social worker named Trish, the Queen and her family learn what it means to be poor among the great unwashed. But is their breeding sufficient to allow them to rise above their changed circumstance or deep down are they really just like everyone else?


You can buy the book here now. It was published by Penguin.

For more works by the same author, check out her Goodreads page.