Robert Lacey

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 and Queen Elizabeth II, 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.

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 76)
  • Historian
  • writer
Alma materSelwyn College, Cambridge
University of Cambridge
  • History
  • biography
Years active1964–present

Early lifeEdit

Robert grew up in Bristol and got his 11-plus scholarship to Bristol Grammar School.

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.[2] He began his writing career as a journalist on the Illustrated London News, and later The Sunday Times.[3]


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."[4]

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 70s. Friends he made there included journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Lacey co-wrote his last three articles before he was murdered in 2018[5].

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.[6] This has led to Lacey being employed by American television networks ABC[7] and PBS as a commentator on the subject. Lacey is also ABC's Good Morning America royal commentator and was in London for the channel covering the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. He was also seen on the BBC's late evening coverage of the event where he served as a commentator. He remains active in the academic world, giving frequent talks and lectures in London and Cambridge.

Lacey is the historical consultant to the Netflix series The Crown. He wrote The Official Companion to The Crown in 2017 and Volume 2 was published on 19 November 2019.

Robert Lacey is trustee to Kent Opera[8], registered charity no. 1050479, 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.[9]

In August 2012 Lacey remarried to Lady Jane Rayne (b. 11 August 1932), the daughter of the 8th Marquess of Londonderry, and widow of property developer Max Rayne.[citation needed]


  • 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)


  1. ^ "PAPERBACK BEST SELLERS". The New York Times. 28 June 1987. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Aristocrats".
  3. ^ "Reader Store is Closed".
  4. ^ – PBS Transcript: Rehab for Terrorists?
  5. ^ "Jamal Khashoggi Was My Co-Writer and My Friend. Here's the Last Thing He Told Me". Time. 18 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Robert Lacey in the media".
  7. ^ "'Inside the Kingdom,' by Robert Lacey". ABC News.
  8. ^ "Kent Opera". Kent Opera. 6 September 2019.
  9. ^

External linksEdit