Queen Elizabeth becomes a royal detective - iO Donna

LEnglish author SJ Bennett returns to the microphones of God Save The Queen, the podcast of iO Donna dedicated to royals (which you can listen to on Spreaker, Apple and Spotify) to tell us about the second novel of the series dedicated to Queen Elizabeth in the unusual role of detective. This time he is struggling with a mysterious corpse in the Buckingham Palace swimming pool.

The first book, published by Oscar Mondadori, was The Windsor knot. Now back with a new royal yellow, A three dog problem, (always Oscar Mondadori) who sees the Queen Elizabeth again as a kind of Miss Marple.

«The idea came to me looking at Queen Elizabeth in The Crown “

How did you get the idea?
In seeing the queen in The Crown doing something I don’t think she would ever do in real life, I realized I knew her so well that I wanted to write about her. And since Elizabeth herself knows the places around her very well, I thought she would be a very good detective.

The English writer SJ Bennett

The plot of A three-dog problem takes place in 2016.
Yes, the year of the Brexit referendum and the American elections. At Buckingham Palace the Queen is worried. One of her precious paintings of hers has disappeared and one of her maid’s is found dead at the edge of a swimming pool. It is the starting point to describe the daily life of the queen in a huge palace with 770 rooms and a vast art collection, but also many tensions due to the historical moment.

Queen Elizabeth in green (surprisingly) closes the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Queen Elizabeth in green (surprisingly) closes the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

“I intertwine Queen Elizabeth’s investigations with her real commitments”

How are your yellows born?
I do too much research! I have been following the queen for forty years and I visit a lot the places where I want to set the story. At the moment I am writing the third book in the series, set in Sandringham, in the countryside of Norfolk. After the setting I think about the murder and insert Elisabetta’s investigations into her typical day, checking first what her commitments were at the time.

Elizabeth visits London Paddington Station for the inauguration of a new railway line bearing her name, May 2022 (Getty Images)

What are the sources of inspiration for the detective queen?
My favorite author is Dorothy Sawyer and as I write this I have hers in mind Lord Peter Wimsey, another aristocratic detective. But also Black Wolfby the American Rex Stout, a character very similar to the queen as she cannot leave her Manhattan apartments and relies on her assistant. Elizabeth, forced to carry out her investigations in secret and sends the secretary Rozie around.

“I’ll end up writing about twenty books on Queen Elizabeth”

Will the series continue?
I’m starting the series with four novels, set respectively in Windsor, Buckingham Palace, Sandringham and Balmoral, in 2016/17, so before the Harry and Meghan story begins. But I also want to go back in time, drawing on the Queen’s 70 years of adult life, even her teenage years. I think I can write at least twenty books.

Have the books been “appreciated” at the palace?
I sent a copy of The Windsor knot to the queen’s private secretary, thinking he would be amused to see himself represented by a woman in high heels, and I received a letter of thanks with the royal logo. But I’m sure that someone will have given it to the queen as a joke at Christmas.

Will we soon see the transposition on television?
Yes, they are already working on it. The actress I would like in the role of the queen? As it happens, those of the right age have all played detectives, queens or both. They will also have starred in Downton Abbey. I would say Penelope Wilton. But it must be someone with a great sense of humor. And she doesn’t have to be tall, because the queen looks down on everyone.

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Queen Elizabeth in the sketch with the Paddington bear shot for the Jubilee, June 2022 (Getty Images)

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