Queen Elizabeth II's friends dare not ask her about her personal feelings because of the wall of privacy around her, according to a US journalist given access to the British monarch's entourage for a new biography.
"Elizabeth the Queen" by Sally Bedell Smith is already a hit on both sides of the Atlantic as Britain starts commemorations for the monarch's diamond jubilee.
Bedell Smith, a writer for Vanity Fair, has produced biographies of Princess Diana, John and Jacqueline Kennedy, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Bedell Smith was given tacit approval by Buckingham Palace for her latest project and spoke to advisors, courtiers and relatives of the woman she calls "the most public and the most private person in the world."
In the book, Bedell Smith tells of the queen's fears over the divorce between her son Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana and many other dramas in her reign.
Speaking in New York, the American author and historian said that the queen has devoted friends but because she lives "in her own little bubble and own little world" it is "a different kind of friendship."
"She tries to be amusing and she gives them very good advice although they are very careful about not being presumptuous and calling upon her for that," Bedell Smith
"She is very interested in their families and what is going on. But there is a kind of a scrim in front of her," said the writer, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and former New York Times reporter.
"They dare not really ask her about her personal feelings and personal life. She keeps a lot of that to herself. One of her cousins told me that when she gets frustrated -- there is a weed in Scotland called the sticky willy -- she goes out into the fields and pulls it up."
Elizabeth ascended to the British throne on February 6, 1952 after the death of her father King George VI. Mass national commemorations are to be held from June 2-5 across Britain.