Updated: January 10, 2010 21:11 IST

Royal authors battle it out to write Queen’s biography

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Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

Two international writers are said to be locked in a battle over who would pen what is being claimed as the “definitive biography” of the British Queen to be published to coincide with her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

One is an established American biographer who has written about the Kennedy clan, the Clintons and even Princess Diana. The other is a French writer who, by her own admission, is little known for her work which includes a popular book on the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

But the two authors – Sally Bedell Smith and Isabelle Riv – have been going head to head in an attempt to write the Queen’s biography to come out when she celebrates 60 years on the throne, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Both authors are being quietly helped by Buckingham Palace though this falls well short of access to confidential papers and the Queen as she never gives interviews and access to the secret documents which are provided to the official biographer only after the subject’s death.

“I have had a long fascination with the Queen for many reasons. Now I am just trying to write a serious book about a woman that I respect and admire. I have been thinking about this book for years and, about two years ago, I decided the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was the right time to write it.

“I think the Queen is one of the greatest figures of her time and I am very much enjoying researching her life.

It’s very exciting. As an author, I feel very privileged to write such a book. Sally Bedell Smith is much more famous than I am. I have never met her and I don’t know what her book will be like. But I am just an author trying to write the best book possible about a remarkable woman,” 42-year-old French author and journalist Riv was quoted as saying.

A spokesman for Random House, publishers of historian Smith, said she wasn’t familiar with Riv’s work. “We asked Sally to write about Queen and she responded enthusiastically. The Queen is one of the most compelling people on the world stage.”

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