Robert Lacey

British historian and biographer (born 1944)

Robert Lacey
Lacey at Surrey County Library's speaking event in 2012
Lacey at Surrey County Library's speaking event in 2012
Born (1944-01-03) 3 January 1944 (age 78)
  • Historian
  • writer
Alma materSelwyn College, Cambridge
  • History
  • biography
Alexandra Jane Avrach
(m. 1970; sep. 2004)

Lady Jane Rayne
(m. 2012)

Robert Lacey (born 3 January 1944) is a British historian and biographer. He is the author of a number of best-selling biographies, including those of Henry Ford,[1] Eileen Ford, Queen Elizabeth II and other royals, as well as several other works of popular history. He is best known for his work as historian to the Netflix award-winning drama The Crown. Lacey was educated at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he studied history.

Early life

Robert grew up in Bristol and won a scholarship to Bristol Grammar School.[2]

Lacey is an alumnus of Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he earned a BA in History in 1967, a diploma of education in 1967, and an MA in 1970.[3] He began his writing career as a journalist on the Illustrated London News, and later The Sunday Times.[4]


Lacey's 1981 work The Kingdom, about the Saudi royal family, and its 2009 follow-up Inside the Kingdom have now both been cited as standard study texts for the diplomatic community working inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. David Brancaccio said: "In Saudi Arabia, Robert Lacey had the kind of access most journalists only dream of."[5]

To research and write the book Lacey took his wife and children to live for two and a half years in Jeddah in the late 1970s. Friends he made there included journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Lacey co-wrote his last three articles before Khashoggi was murdered in 2018.[6]

Lacey's Alma Mater Selwyn College, Cambridge

In 2009 Lacey made the controversial documentary Rehab for Terrorists?: Can Terrorists be Rehabilitated with Kindness? for the Now show for the PBS channel[7][8] and appeared as a commentator on the subject for the channel. Lacey is a royal correspondent, appearing regularly on ABC's Good Morning America and was in London for the channel covering the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.[9] Lacey remains active in academia, giving lectures "around the world".[10]

Lacey is the historical consultant to the Netflix series The Crown.[11] The series has been widely criticised in the UK - despite its commercial success - for its historical inaccuracies and artistic inventions; former National Trust chairman and ex-Times editor Simon Jenkins branded it "cowardly...fake history".[12]

Robert Lacey is trustee to Kent Opera,[13] which provides training and development of professional and amateur opera singers and educational and community workshops linked to operas.


His first marriage to Alexandra Jane "Sandi" Avrach ended in 2004 in a legal separation after 34 years. They had three children: Sasha, Scarlett and Bruno.[14]

In August 2012, Lacey married Lady Jane Rayne (b. 11 August 1932), the daughter of The 8th Marquess of Londonderry and widow of property developer Max Rayne. Lady Jane Rayne Lacey is a founding member and director of the Chickenshed Theatre and was President of Trustees until her daughter Natasha took over in 2013.[15][16]


  • Robert, Earl of Essex: An Elizabethan Icarus (1971)
  • The Life and Times of Henry VIII (1972)
  • The Queens of the North Atlantic (1973)
  • Sir Walter Ralegh (1973)
  • Majesty (1977)
  • The Kingdom (1981), History of Saudi Arabia to 1979.
  • Princess (1982) with Michael Rand
  • Aristocrats (1983)
  • Ford (1986)
  • God Bless Her! (1987)
  • Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life (1991)
  • Grace (1994)
  • Sotheby's: Bidding for class (1998)
  • The Queen Mother's Century (1999) with Michael Rand
  • The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium (1999, with Danny Danziger)
  • Royal (2002)
  • Monarch: Life and Reign of Elizabeth II (2002)
  • Great Tales from English History, Volume 1 (2003)
  • Great Tales from English History, Volume 2 (2005)
  • Great Tales from English History, Volume 3 (2006)
  • Inside the Kingdom (2009), History of Saudi Arabia from 1979 to date.
  • A Brief Life of the Queen (2012)
  • Gulf Charities and Islamic Philanthropy in the Age of Terror and Beyond (2014) with Jonathan Benthall)
  • Model Woman: Eileen Ford and the Business of Beauty (2015)
  • The Crown: The official book of the hit Netflix series (2017)
  • The Crown Volume 2: The official book of the hit Netflix series (2019)
  • Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult (2020)
  • Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult - Fully Revised and Updated (2021)


  1. ^ "PAPERBACK BEST SELLERS". The New York Times. 28 June 1987. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  2. ^ "The Old Bristolians Community". Retrieved 27 July 2021. Our first speaker is esteemed Royal Historian and Biographer Robert Lacey. Robert attended Bristol Grammar School from 1951-1962
  3. ^ Lacey, Robert (1983). Aristocrats. ISBN 9780771045813.
  4. ^ "Reader Store is Closed".
  5. ^ – PBS Transcript: Rehab for Terrorists?
  6. ^ "Jamal Khashoggi Was My Co-Writer and My Friend. Here's the Last Thing He Told Me". Time. 18 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Robert Lacey in the media".
  8. ^ "'Inside the Kingdom,' by Robert Lacey". ABC News.
  9. ^ Kelley, F. (30 April 2012). "William and Kate one year on: Robert Lacey". 2021 ABC. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Robert Lacey". Copyright © 2021 HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. Retrieved 2 September 2021. For nearly forty years, Lacey has been writing about Queen Elizabeth II and her extraordinary life, making him an expert on her long reign and the royal family. Majesty, his pioneering biography of the Queen, is a landmark study of British monarchy – a subject on which Lacey lectures around the world, appearing regularly on television.
  11. ^ Coke, H. (6 October 2020). "Everything we've learned from Battle of Brothers – the explosive new book on William and Harry's relationship". conde nast 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2021. In Battle of Brothers, British historian and biographer Robert Lacey – a royal expert who acted as a historical consultant for The Crown – delves into the relationship between Prince Charles’s two sons
  12. ^ "The Crown's fake history is as corrosive as fake news | Simon Jenkins". 16 November 2020.
  13. ^ "Kent Opera". Kent Opera. 6 September 2019.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Lady Jane Rayne Lacey. Chicken Shed Theatre Trust. 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  16. ^ "The day of the Queen's Coronation as remembered by five of her six blue-blooded Maids of Honour". Tatler. 2 June 2020.

External links

  • Robert Lacey website
  • Inside the Kingdom – The Official Website for Robert Lacey's Book
  • Transcript: Rehab for Terrorists?
  • Works by Robert Lacey at Open Library Edit this at Wikidata
Authority control Edit this at Wikidata
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