This March, the L,BBG Rights team has chosen ‘When Marilyn Met the Queen: Marilyn Monroe’s Life in England‘ by Michelle Morgan as one of our Rights Non-Fiction Books of the Month!
'England? It seemed to be raining the whole time . . . Or maybe it was me'
In July 1956, Marilyn Monroe arrived in London, on honeymoon with her husband Arthur Miller, to make The Sleeping Prince (later released as The Prince and the Showgirl) with Laurence Olivier.
When the couple arrived at London Airport, they were looking forward to a peaceful stay. Marilyn would work during the day at Pinewood Studios, while Arthur would write. Then, in the evening, the couple would be able to relax together in their private English country cottage. It didn't quite turn out that way.
The 'cottage' was actually a mansion, which belonged to Lord Drogheda, the managing director of the Financial Times. Raised in tiny hotel rooms and apartments, Marilyn felt herself being watched. She was, by Lord Drogheda's servants, who were selling stories to the papers.
When filming began, it was a disaster. Director Joshua Logan had written to Olivier, offering advice on how to handle Marilyn as an actress, but Olivier ignored him. Instead, he condescended to her in his introduction to the cast, pooh-poohed her views on acting, and dismissed her stage-fright as an inconvenience. Marilyn grew to hate Olivier with a passion; the feeling was mutual.
Marilyn found herself torn between settling into married life, being a curiosity for the frequently hostile British press, and her work on The Prince and the Showgirl. She took solace in small acts of kindness from members of the public, and a new fascination with Queen Elizabeth.
Marilyn made a point of adopting some of the Queen's favourite brands, buying gloves from Cornelia James, perfume from Floris, and switching from Chanel No. 5 to Yardley's Lavender. Marilyn made a point of asking the film's PR manager to add a royal meeting to her schedule, but each day Olivier would delete the request.
Michelle Morgan describes Marilyn's trip to late-1950s' Britain in evocative detail, exploring the making of the film alongside the film star's troubled private life and her quest to meet the Queen.