Robert Lacey

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Robert Lacey
Robert Lacey at Surrey County Library's speaking event in 2012
Born (1944-01-03) 3 January 1944 (age 74)
Occupation British historian and biographer
Years active 1964–present

Robert Lacey (born 3 January 1944) is a British historian and biographer. He is the author of a number of bestselling 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 historical advisor to the Netflix award-winning drama The Crown. Lacey was educated at Selwyn College, Cambridge where he studied history.

Early Life[edit]

Lacey is an alumnus of Bristol Grammar School and Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he earned a BA 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 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]

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.[5]

This has led to Lacey being employed by American television networks ABC[6] 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.


His first marriage to Alexandra Jane "Sandi" Avrach ended in 2004 in a legal separation after 34 years and three children – Sasha, Scarlett and Bruno.[7] In August 2012 Lacey remarried[8] to Lady Jane Rayne (b. 11 August 1932), the daughter of the 8th Marquess of Londonderry, and widow of property developer Max Rayne. She was a charity worker in the east end of London, and later with the Chiswick Women’s Shelter and the Chickenshed Theatre Company. She also served as maid of honour at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.[9]


  • 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)


  1. ^ "PAPERBACK BEST SELLERS". New York Times. 28 June 1987. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  2. ^ "Aristocrats".
  3. ^ "Reader Store is Closed".
  4. ^ – PBS Transcript: Rehab for Terrorists?
  5. ^ "Robert Lacey in the media".
  6. ^ ABC News. "'Inside the Kingdom,' by Robert Lacey – ABC News". ABC News.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "The secret bride... at a very spry 80". Mail Online.
  9. ^ "Queen's Coronation: Elizabeth's maids of honour Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill, Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Lady Anne Coke, Lady Mary Baillie-Hamilton, Lady Moyra Hamilton and Lady Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby reunited – Daily Mail Online". Mail Online.

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