Ever since his early-1990s blockbuster ''Diana : Her True Story,'' about the Princess of Wales [which was expanded after her death], Andrew Morton has been the best known and most accessible, if not the foremost, biographer of England's royal family.

He's on a first-name basis with the lot of them, at least on the page.

''The Queen : Her Life '' by Andrew Morton was originally supposed to be published next spring, but then Her Majesty, in a final act of her famous grace, died in time for the holiday book-buying season -and, as it happens, the fifth series of Netflix series  '' The Crown,'' in which Morton, receiving the ultimate tribute to his trade, is played by actor Andrew Steele.

Even during a rote command performance, Morton can be droll and dry, noting that our heroine's upbringing was ''less Disney, more brothers Grimm'' and that her gilded paternal bloodline included a dentist.

I enjoyed learning the word ''rumbustious,'' and that the royals once amused themselves on a beach in a downright Kennedyesque fashion, flinging ''small pellets of bird dung'' at one another and then catapulting into the sea. Though tellingly, Elizabeth set out the fun.

But all but the most uninformed readers are in for quite a bit of recapitulation, often of facts that are already canonical. Four times they'll be told that Elizabeth's father, King George suffered from ''gnashes,'' or outbursts of temper, caused by frustration over his temper.

Thrice they will be reminded that Princess Margaret and her husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, were leading glamour symbols of the Swinging 60s.

Diana's bulimia, which she revealed to Morton in '92, and then again in a notorious interview with Martin Bashir [also depicted on the new season of ''The Crown''] is revisited : fleetingly but repeatedly.

Elizabeth had a red box of government dispatches delivered almost daily; her chronicler's red box is stuffed rather with cliche. Since Bob Dylan has his own book out right now, I might have allowed Morton one rueful observation, after John Lennon tells an audience of royals to ''just rattle your jewelry,'' that ''the times really were a-changin ''

''The Queen'' isn't terrible; it's just terribly serviceable, with names, dates and places cantering past like Elizabeth's beloved horses over the course of 375 pages - which, if you do the math, is under four for each year of her life, like a special-edition Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The tense changes necessitated by her death could have used one more combing-over. ''She has the kind of face that looks angry when is trying not to smile,'' Morton writes. We have a name for that here, my good man.

If you know nothing whatsoever about Elizabeth Windsor, this is a perfectly satisfactory primer. 

But if you're a buff of the royal soap opera, it will feel like standing at a party having to nod and grin politely while your husband, maybe after a few too many Pimm's cups, tells one of his favorite tales, that you've heard a million times too fast, to strangers.

The World Students Society thanks review author Alexandra Jacobs.


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