At 92, Queen Elizabeth seems like a new woman. “People who have known her for a long time say she smiles more and is more relaxed,” royals expert Robert Hardman tells Closer. The reason she’s in such good spirits has a lot to do with her granddaughters-in-law, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

“Both women were totally new to this royals game when they came into it,” says Hardman, author of the new biography Queen of the World. “So from the get-go, the queen has made an effort to take them under her wing. It’s a team operation, and it’s a united team — that makes the queen happy.”

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Things weren’t always so jolly at the Palace. As the longest-reigning British monarch, the queen has endured many crises over the years, including the tragic death of her daughter-in-law Princess Diana in 1997.

At the time, “her primary concern was to make a secure family situation for Prince William and Prince Harry,” says Hardman. But she was also determined to ensure an easier transition for new members of the royal family.

“The queen is conscious that there were all sorts of problems when Diana was joining the family,” he says, “and she wants to make sure that [Kate and Meghan] don’t regard their role as an ordeal.” That means bonding with the duchesses on royal engagements (in June, the queen took Meghan on an overnight trip to Northern England and didn’t invite Harry!) and offering gentle guidance.

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“She doesn’t give orders, she gives advice,” explains Hardman. “And there’s a lot of leading by example.” Her approach, says Hardman, is working. “The monarchy is in a good place, and a lot of that is down to the fact that the younger generation is settled and happy.”

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