England is enjoying a prime spot on the world stage this month, as tourists, journalists, and royal watchers descend upon London for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. But for devoted Anglophiles, the island kingdom William Shakespeare hailed as “this royal throne of kings. This scepter’d isle,/This earth of majesty…this precious stone set in the silver sea” holds a special place in our hearts year round. Longtime Bas Bleu readers know our catalog is a rich resource for British books and gifts; we’re inspired by our literary namesakes, the bluestockings, those learned mid-eighteenth-century women (and men) who gathered in the great salons of London for intellectual conversation and witty banter. This week, as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles prepare to play host to the world, we’ve rounded up a selection of some of our most popular England-centric books and gifts, perfect for the Anglophile you know…including you!
The Queen: The Life and Times of Elizabeth II
Though she holds no official political power, to much of the world Queen Elizabeth II is England. Her nation’s longest-reigning monarch (sixty-six years and counting), she was born the daughter of a duke but became heir to the throne after her uncle abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson. Rich with photographs and pertinent quotes, this handsome coffee-table book traces the queen’s fascinating life and rule, as well as the scandals and political upheavals that have surrounded her and her family.
33 Walks in London That You Shouldn’t Miss
For more than a millennium, London has been an important political, economic, and cultural center, its layers of history still evident in the twenty-first century city. Now you can explore London like a local with this peripatetic guide through history and culture, arranged geographically and plotted by theme—the Dickensian Walk, the Walk With the Most Views, the Queen and Country Walk, the Art Lovers’ Walk—marking places of interest along the way.
Royal Stewart Lap Desk
This handsome red plaid is the personal tartan of Her Majesty the Queen, an homage to her Scottish forebears and an eye-catching pattern for this cozy lap desk. Made in Scotland, this “jack of all trades” accessory can be a writing desk, a dinner tray, a laptop cushion, a book holder…and more!
Royal Weddings: A Very Peculiar History
We expect Prince Harry’s wedding will be drama free (unless third-in-line-to-the-throne Prince George goes rogue!), but he can’t say the same for the nuptials of his ancestors. Royal matrimonial history is filled with fascinating—and occasionally scandalous—anecdotes, and royal watchers and history buffs can read all about them in this little gem!
Victorian London Through Time
Take a tour of London—then and now—with this cool visual album: It pairs modern-day photos with nineteenth-century sketches of iconic sites throughout the bustling metropolis. The contrast is startling and intriguing!
Behind Palace Doors: My Years with the Queen Mother
The daughter of a Scottish earl, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons turned down not one, but two marriage proposals from Prince Albert, Duke of York, before finally accepting his hand. Then the abdication crisis thrust her into the unexpected role of queen consort and mother to the future Queen Elizabeth II. Penned by her equerry, this biography offers an insider’s glimpse into the Queen Mum’s incredible life, along with fascinating insight into royal protocols and daily life with the royal family.
Keep Calm and Read Books T-Shirt
The British are famous for their stiff upper lip, reflected in the famous World War II propaganda slogan, “Keep calm and carry on.” We’ve added a literary twist to these steadying words, knowing that—like us—our fellow bibliophiles find solace and strength in books.
The White Cottage Mystery
Margery Allingham made her name writing about her famed (fictional) detective Albert Campion, but her first foray into the genre is a delight! Charming, comical, and tantalizing, this British country-house murder mystery from 1927 is a classic for good reason.
The National Trust Tour of Britain
Visit more than 100 important National Trust sites in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland…all without the steep airfare and entrance fees! From grand country manors and historic buildings to gardens and nature preserves, this gorgeous armchair tour of the United Kingdom can’t be missed.
Umbrellas may be common the world over, but there is just something so inherently British about them! Learn all about the surprisingly colorful—and at times controversial!—past of the seemingly innocuous accessory in this delightful “history of the umbrella in life and literature.”
Royal Wedding Mug
Created by English artist Alison Gardiner, this whimsical souvenir mug features a colorful illustration of Prince Harry and his bride, Meghan Markle, in a horse-drawn carriage, waving to well-wishers bearing American flags and Union Jacks beneath the turrets of Windsor Castle. Gilded with 22-carat gold, the heirloom-quality mug is handcrafted in England at a historic Victorian pottery using centuries-old traditional methods. To learn more, go behind the scenes!
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