Royal authors battle it out to write the Diamond Jubilee biography of the Queen

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One is an established American biographer who has written about the Kennedy clan, the Clintons and Diana, Princess of Wales. The other is a French writer who, by her own admission, is little known for her work which includes a book on the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

But the two women – Sally Bedell Smith and Isabelle Rivère – are going head to head in an attempt to write the definitive biography of the Queen to be published to coincide with her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

As the Queen prepares to celebrate 60 years on the throne, both authors are being quietly helped by Buckingham Palace but this falls well short of access to confidential papers or, of course, the subject herself. The Queen never gives interviews and access to the secret documents and letters of a member of the Royal family is only provided to the official biographer after the subject's death.

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