Photographer Cecil Beaton didn't mince his words. In a new book featuring his private diary entries, the original photographer-to-the-stars wrote what he really thought about his iconic subjects.

She might have been famous for her bombshell curves, but Beaton's impression of Marilyn Monroe was more childlike than womanly. 'The puzzling truth is that Miss Monroe is a make-believe siren, unsophisticated as a Rhine maiden, innocent as a sleepwalker.'

Cecil Beaton photographing Marilyn Monroe in 1957

He also had some pretty unconventional views about lady-killer Mick Jagger, calling him 'sexless'. 'He looked like a self-conscious suburban young lady. He is sexy, yet completely sexless. He could be a eunuch. As a model he is a natural.'

But Beaton saved his most scorching criticism for Elizabeth Taylor. 'She’s everything I dislike' he wrote, 'I have always loathed the Burtons for their vulgarity, commonness and crass bad taste, she combining the worst of U.S. and English taste.' Ouch.

But the one woman he only had good things to say about was HRH The Queen. His photographs, Beaon said, didn't convey her brilliant personality as much as he'd liked. 'Her real charm, like her mother’s, does not carry across in her photographs, and each time one sees her one is delighted how much more serene, magnetic, and at the same time meltingly sympathetic, she is than one had imagined.'

Read more of Cecil's razor-sharp observations in the full book, ‘Cecil Beaton: Portraits & Profiles’, edited by Hugo Vickers, published on Sept 4 by Frances Lincoln (£30).

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By Lucy Pavia / @lucypavia