ANDREW FFRENCH gets into Jubilee mood with our latest Book of the Month that’s all about the Queen THE BOOK: THERE’S no better time time for a Royal knees-up than when the economy is in crisis.

The Silver Jubilee in 1977 certainly gave the nation a lift and the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana in 1981 took people’s minds off the country’s troubles.

Now, in two days’ time, there will be an orgy of pomp and ceremony to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Beacons will be lit, buns thown, 1,000 boats will make their way down the Thames, and a Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace will be followed by a Royal procession. But just how big a deal is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee?

The following statistic, helpfully provided by Andrew Marr in his new book The Diamond Queen tells you why it’s an absolutely massive one.

On May 12, 2011, the Queen became the second-longest serving monarch in British history, having reigned for 21,645 days and beating George III’s record. In September 2015, if she is still alive, she will outlast even Queen Victoria’s record too.

Marr’s book is packed with helpful facts and figures like this to paint a colourful and detailed picture of Her Majesty’s last 60 years.

The study begins with a lively history of the Windsors, and Marr draws on a variety of unnamed sources to tell the Queen’s life story.

The text has been read by staff at the Palace to correct any factual errors, but as a reader I did not get the sense that the author was pulling any punches, although the tone remains quite deferential throughout.

However, as Marr thanks members of the Royal Family in his preface and acknowledgements it seems clear that he has been given access to some top Royal sources.

The broadcaster examines the historical precedent of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and the traditions that come with celebrating such a landmark, including the beacons, street parties and church services.

But the best chapters in the book are when Marr tries to show how the Queen reacts to troubled times.

The chapter Off With Her Head! looks at the political backdrop of the 1960s and the 1970s, while Into the Maelstrom recalls 1992, the Queen’s Annus Horribilis, when part of Windsor Castle went up in flames, and the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales began to disintegrate.

Marr also tackles the sensitive subject of how the Queen dealt with the death of Diana in 1997, eventually breaking with protocol and giving the order for the Union flag to go up and fly at half-mast.

How much money the Royal Family gets from the taxpayer is also addressed, but it is not the major focus of this engaging book. Marr offers a portrayal of a determined and organised Queen, and her court around her, and the book is a timely and accessible introduction to the world of Her Majesty.

If I have a minor criticism, it is that the index needs to be more detailed. There is no reference, for example, to Treetops, the Kenyan resort where the Queen was staying when she learned of her father’s death.

And Michael Fagan, who broke into the Queen’s bedroom in 1982, only merits a couple of paragraphs.

But Marr clearly has a lot of respect for the Queen, and the way she has reigned over us for so long, which is why troublemakers like Fagan are virtually consigned to the footnotes of Royal history.

Now go and buy bunting!

THE AUTHOR: PEOPLE don’t often say this about journalists but Andrew Marr has become something of a national treasure.

After starting out in newspapers he switched almost effortlessly to broadcasting and was the BBC’s political editor from 2000 to 20005.

He has written and presented TV documentaries on history, science and politics and, taking over from where David Frost left off, he presents The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday mornings on BBC1, and has done since 2005. He also hosts the BBC Radio 4 programme Start the Week.

The father-of-three’s other books include My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism, A History of Modern Britain and The Making of Modern Britain.

In My Trade, Marr outlines his long career in political journalism, beginning with The Scotsman. He also worked for The Economist, The Independent, The Express and The Observer. His career trajectory has not always been a smooth one, and his two years as editor of The Independent, from 1996 to 1998, coincided with turbulent times at the paper and he ended up getting fired and, rehired, but only for a very brief period. Shortly afterwards he launched his career as a broadcast journalist.

Now Marr has become a TV curator of the nation’s heritage.

In 2007, he presented Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain on BBC2, followed in 2009 by Andrew Marr’s The Making of Modern Britain.

The three-part series The Diamond Queen was shown in April on BBC1 but Marr has stressed that the book is not the book of the series but a ‘separate endeavour’ and is not in any way authorised.

Mr Marr lives in London with wife Jackie Ashley, also a journalist.

* Diamond Queen is half-price in Waterstones Oxford and Witney with an Oxford Mail voucher, available in Thursday's edition of The Guide.