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King's Counsellor  By  cover art

King's Counsellor

By: Sir Alan Lascelles,Duff Hart-Davis
Narrated by: Pip Torrens
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Publisher's Summary

The diaries of 'Tommy' Lascelles - as featured in the Netflix hit The Crown.

As Assistant Private Secretary to four monarchs, 'Tommy' Lascelles had a ringside seat from which to observe the workings of the royal household and Downing Street during the first half of the 20th century.

These fascinating diaries begin with Edward VIII's abdication and end with George VI's death and his daughter Elizabeth's Coronation. In between we see George VI at work and play, a portrait more intimate than any other previously published.

This compelling account also includes Princess Margaret's relationship with Peter Townsend, and throws an intriguing new light on the way in which King George VI and Winston Churchill worked together during the Second World War.

Lascelles was a fine writer - like most of the best diaries his are a delight to listen to as well as being invaluable history.

©2020 Duff Hart-Davis (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Brilliantly entertaining and historically priceless." (Spectator

"Fascinating...as much a contribution to royal legend as to the history of the war." (Daily Telegraph

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What listeners say about King's Counsellor

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One of the most enjoyable audiobooks I've heard.

Pip Torrens was absolutely brilliant in his reading/acting of this audiobook. How he managed to read so rapidly (to capture the quick pace of Lascelles' brilliant mind), without ever sounding clipped or breathless, and while maintaining such perfect diction and personable inflection, is a true wonder. He scarcely ever paused, and yet left you always wanting more. Bravo!
As for Lascelles himself, I can only say I wish I had known him. A truly fascinating man. Though I differ with his thoughts on religion, I enjoyed his insights and wit on everything else, and I believe I would have liked him very much if we'd ever met.
I highly recommend this audiobook.

9 people found this helpful

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Brilliant narration of a great story

Pip Torrens provide a magnificent performance with the narration of this diary. The editor provides excellent context for the diaries and the author is very clear in his refusal to judge or criticize his employers but to offer insights to his role as the secretary managing the relationship between the monarch and the government.

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Interesting and Entertaining

Sir Henry Ponsonby was famous as Queen Victoria's private secretary (Lascelles even mentions him twice), but less well-known (unless you're into British Royal Family History) is Sir Alan Lascelles, who served four members of the British Royal family during the early 20th century and oversaw some of the most turbulent moments in the Windsor family as well. Initially part of the Prince of Wales' (Edward VIII) staff, he left after despairing over David's behavior and joined the staff of the Governor General of Canada. He later returned to England to serve King George V, then Edward VIII before his abdication. He stayed on during the reign of King George VI and his daughter Elizabeth II before retiring in 1953.

His diaries are fascinating. They mention everyone of note in England during the war like Viscount Edward Halifax, Field Marshal Smuts, Sir Winston Churchill, Louis Mountbatten, etc. Because he was assistant private secretary and later private secretary to the king, Lascelles interacted with many people and was in on lots of information that the public wasn't, such as war plans for offensives and how George VI handled the stresses of wartime. But he also writes about his family and how he tries to see them as much as he can despite his duties, He sympathized with George VI and seemed to like Churchill overall, which made sense since he both interacted with and observed both men daily.

I have only two major issues with this audiobook and that has to do with Pip Torrens' reading. I think his voice is very appropriate and would match closely to Lascelles' but he reads too darn fast. Sentences run into each other and you can't always tell if he's finished a sentence. I tried slowing the speed down (which I rarely do) and that somewhat helped but it's too fast for my taste. Same with how he read the notes and footnotes Lascelles later made about events. There was a part where Lascelles waxed upon his relationship and views of the Duke of Windsor following his death and subsequent obituary. I didn't realize it wasn't part of the entry until a good deal in. I'd say he should preface things like that with "Footnote" which sometimes happen but not always. If he slowed down a good deal and let a little more pauses between entries and notes, it might help as well.

Overall, it was Torrens' fast pace that prevent me from being highly enthusiastic about this book. But I do recommend it nevertheless for the fascinating information and unique viewpoint of a man perfectly situated to give it. Additionally, I recommend Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household by Adrian Tinniswood, which also offers perspectives on serving the British Royal Family, albeit over six hundred years but with similar stories.

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Loved this Book

A fascinating life led by a very interesting man living in consequential times. The narration is excellently done. Highly recommended.

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The narrator is perfect.

Loved it!!!!!!
It was wonderfully narrated. Just a joy from start to finish. Real treat!

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Pip Torren narrates King’s Counsellor

After watching Pip Torren play Tommy Lascelles in “The Crown”, I was quite pleased to hear him narrate this book. His interpretation of Lascelles objective bluntness was spot on. Any hardened historian will appreciate the fresh character reflections on Winston Churchill, Elizabeth II, King George V, as well as the Abdication of Edward VIII.

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For fans of history or “The Crown.”

If you’re interested in the “goings on” in the court of St. James during WW2 or a fan of Pip Torrens’ work in Netflix’s “The Crown”, you’ll enjoy this reading.

Pip’s voice is easy, unstrained and his acting ability adds character to the writing. I’ve listened to this several times, sometimes just as background noise. I wish Pip would do more Audible books.

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Wonderful story.

The narration was perfect. I enjoyed hearing about the point of view of someone who had a ringside seat to history being made.

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Tommy the courier

I loved this book. I became interested after watching the ‘Crown’ He seems a much more lovable character after reading this. He is much
more human. Lately everything I read about the Queens courtiers is so negative. After reading this you realize his true interest was protecting and serving the Crown. He loved his family and his Country. Great book would love anything else about him.

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  • mb
  • 05-07-22

Beautifully read close up view of history

This book was fascinating. I enjoyed every minute. The reader is amazing - perfect. A real view into a slice of Great Britain and WWII.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-10-21

Sir Tommy Lascelles

So interesting to listen to the diaries and letters of Tommy Lascelles. I truly felt as if I was in the same room with him.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Parissa
  • 03-16-21

Fascinating diaries of the Secretary to George V, George VI and Queen Elizabeth

Extremely interesting diaries of “Tommy” Lascelles, secretary to George V, George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Peppered with events of international importance and personal - often humorous - anecdotes which bring both the author and the people around him to life. I recommend this audio book to all history lovers who would like to learn more about the Royal Family and those who look after the monarch. I particularly enjoyed his description of life at Buckingham Palace during WWII. My only regret is that there wasn’t more about the Abdication. I wondered whether he had not kept a diary during this period or whether it had been edited out. Well read.

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  • phantom lover
  • 12-04-20

A great listen

I adored this book. It kept me interested all the way through. Great narration from Pip Torrens. (Who incidentally plays Lascelles in The Crown) I listened to it over 2 days. Having recently watched all 4 seasons of The Crown, in which Lascelles features frequently , it helped to put things around the abdication/ ii ww into perspective.


4 people found this helpful

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  • Phil A.
  • 02-16-21

Fascinating

A truly great tale of a great man and superbly narrated by the actor who played Tommy Lascelles in the Netflix series 'The Crown'.

2 people found this helpful

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  • ValleyGirl
  • 01-30-21

Hugely interesting

A thoroughly enjoyable and interesting listen. I would have been happy to have heard more diary entries were there to have been them. It will be a book I return to at some point in the future.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 08-23-21

A treasure trove of history

I stumbled across this and loved it, Pip Torrens who plays 'Tommy Lascelles' in The Crown reads beautifully and the insight into the comings and goings 'backstage' at Buckingham Palace during the war is excellent. There is nothing here that is shocking or revelatory but none the less it is a super resource and brilliantly written by a very interesting man.

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  • Ian
  • 04-13-21

It don't require a degree to appreciate quality

Lascelles' only error in his fascinating life would appear to be simply that he never got around to the writing of novels.
Brilliant language, brilliantly delivered by Pip Torrens.

1 person found this helpful

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  • claire gibbs
  • 01-03-21

Recommended

Very very interesting .
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this purchase but I couldn’t put it down once I started.

1 person found this helpful

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  • J Peers
  • 11-24-20

Fascinating

Fascinating insight into the period, little snipets of history from a different perspective. Excellent narrator and very easy to listen to..

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-20-22

Who doesn't love Pip Torrens?

After his fabulous turn as Tommy Lascelles in The Crown, there couldn't really be any other choice of narrator. I think breathing life into diary entries is tricky because they can be quite repetitive but this is well done here, it's like I'm listening to a prequel to the Netflix series.