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The Governess Who Spilled the Queen’s Secrets

December 14, 2017 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Princess Elizabeth (center) and her younger sister Princess Margaret of Great Britain play in a miniature automobile while their governess, Marion Crawford, keeps an eye on them. Elizabeth will grow up to become Queen Elizabeth II. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

She was one of the Royal Family’s most trusted confidantes. She helped bring up a future Queen. Her loyalty and loving care were rewarded with royal favor and even a rent-free home for life.

But in 1950, Marion “Crawfie” Crawford, beloved Scottish governess of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret and servant of the Royal Family, was expelled from court, kicked out of her house and shunned by the very people she’d loved for decades.

Her crime? Spilling the beans about her former charges. Crawford was the first servant in the royal household ever to cash in on royal secrets—and she paid the price for her candor.
A trained teacher, Crawford was just 22 years old when she entered the Royal Household. She was hired by the Duchess of York—the future Queen Mother—as a governess for her two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. Their uncle, Edward, was expected to become king and they were raised accordingly (their father Albert, Duke of York, was second in line to the throne). Crawford’s charges were privately educated, and had little contact with the outside world. Daily life was routinized and quiet.

Then, everything changed. Edward, now king, fell in love with Wallis Simpson, an American who had been married twice. At the time, it was unheard of for a king to marry a commoner, much less a divorced American. But Edward refused to relent and in 1936, against his family’s wishes, he abdicated in order to marry Simpson. Albert (now George VI) became king, with his oldest daughter, 10-year-old Elizabeth (known fondly as Lilibet), next in line for the throne.

Princess Elizabeth (center) and her younger sister Princess Margaret of Great Britain play in a miniature automobile while their governess, Marion Crawford, keeps an eye on them. Elizabeth will grow up to become Queen Elizabeth II. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Crawford moved with the family to Buckingham Palace and helped train her charges for their royal roles. But she also worked to make life as normal as possible for the girls. She took them on expeditions outside the palace, formed a Girl Guide troop for royals, and took them shopping at stores like Woolworths.

The royal household was almost obsessively secretive. For members of the Royal Household and their servants, confidentiality was not just expected—it was a kind of unwritten law. As the London Review of Books noted in a review …read more

Source: HISTORY

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