Our Washington, D.C., office hosted the latest Executive Women’s Forum on June 8, 2023. Led by Faegre Drinker partners Jessica Abrahams and Maureen Hardwick, the event featured Sally Bedell Smith and brought together women executives from a variety of industries and professional disciplines.
Following introductory remarks from Hardwick, Abrahams spoke with Smith about her book George VI and Elizabeth: The Marriage That Saved the Monarchy and fielded questions from attendees. A definitive biography of the mother and father of the late Queen Elizabeth II, the book is based on special access to their letters and diaries in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle and Glamis Castle in Scotland. It was an engrossing discussion of Smith’s research into historic events during WWII, the role of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in rallying the British people and their unique relationship with Winston Churchill. Elizabeth — declared by Hitler to be the most dangerous woman in Europe — demonstrated real insight and bravery, as well as a tremendous sense of service, traits for which she was held in the highest esteem throughout her life, and, with her husband, imparted to their daughter, who would become Queen Elizabeth II.
Smith shared fascinating anecdotes about her work which led to numerous insights and revelatory stories that would otherwise be lost in the mists of time. Among other things, she described the efforts of the Nazis to assassinate the couple, Churchill’s plan to eliminate the national security threat caused by Edward VIII and how the three of them worked to engage FDR, so as to involve the U.S. secretly in the war effort long before Pearl Harbor and the official declaration of war. Smith brought history alive with her brilliant storytelling and concluded her comments with some thoughts on the future of the monarchy.
Smith has written numerous best-selling biographies, been an on-air contributor to CNN since 2017 and was also a contributing editor at Vanity Fair for more than a decade. She previously worked at Time and The New York Times, where she was a cultural news reporter.