The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II marks a time in the history of the British Monarchy, which may never be repeated. The fact that one monarch has spent (survived?) so many years on the throne, amidst enormous changes throughout the world, is a cause for wonder at both her and the monarchy’s adaptability. Elizabeth came to the throne as a young woman in the shadow of war and the enormous personality of Winston Churchill. She has seen the Empire become a Commonwealth, the shrinking of Britain’s military influence, and great changes in the demographics of her subjects. Personally, she has weathered similarly earth-shattering events that have changed the image of “the Royals.” Through it all, however, the monarchy carries on, maybe due in great part to her. A number of books have been written about this very private and reputed shy individual. The latest, The Real Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, by Andrew Marr is as good as any. Marr spends a great deal of time at the beginning of the book convincing the reader that Queen Elizabeth is a significant person, her life worthy of examination. I found it tedious, since, for goodness sake, if I didn’t already agree, I wouldn’t be reading the book. He covers the sweep of her long reign in chapters that capture certain eras, and he does an impeccable job of portraying the times, issues, challenges against which Elizabeth had to make decisions. Despite the book being historically well-researched, I came away feeling as if I had not learned much more about “the REAL Elizabeth.” Maybe she can not be known outside of her safe, immediate circle. I chose this picture of her as a young woman because of her joyous, infectious smile. That is one hint to the “real” Elizabeth often repeated in Marr’s book: that her laughter is contagious, her smile electric.