“This captivating page-turner whisks readers back in time to Buckingham Palace in 1933…A majestic story that delves into the incredible life of Queen Elizabeth II before she took her place on the throne.”—Woman’s World
Sunday Times bestselling author Wendy Holden brings to life the unknown childhood years of one of the world’s most famous figures, Queen Elizabeth II, and reveals the spirited young governess who made her the icon we love today.
In 1933, twenty-two-year-old Marion Crawford accepts the role of a lifetime, tutoring the little Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Her one stipulation to their parents the Duke and Duchess of York is that she bring some doses of normalcy into their sheltered and privileged lives.
At Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Balmoral, Marion defies stuffy protocol to take the princesses on tube trains, swimming at public baths, and on joyful Christmas shopping trips at Woolworth’s. From her ringside seat at the heart of the British monarchy she witnesses twentieth-century history’s most seismic events. The trauma of the Abdication, the glamour of the Coronation, the onset of World War II. She steers the little girls through it all, as close as a mother.
During Britain’s darkest hour, as Hitler’s planes fly over Windsor, she shelters her charges in the castle dungeons (not far from where the Crown Jewels are hidden in a biscuit tin). Afterwards, she is present when Elizabeth first sets eyes on Philip.
But being beloved confidante to the Windsors comes at huge personal cost. Marriage, children, her own views: all are compromised by proximity to royal glory. In this majestic story of love, sacrifice and allegiance, bestselling novelist Holden shines a captivating light into the years before Queen Elizabeth II took the throne.
Holden (A View to a Kilt) offers a charming story of a real-life teacher who served as governess for the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Margaret. In 1932 Edinburgh, 20-year-old reform-minded Marion Crawford is a teacher in training determined to help improve the lives of the children who live in the city's slums, where the literacy rate is close to zero. Marion also chafes at the corporal punishment meted out in the classrooms she observes, and at the teachers' insistence that British colonial subjects are "uncivilized." When Marion's teaching college principal recruits her to teach the princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, then six and two, Marion initially declines until she is persuaded that her lessons would impact the country's future. Marion's interactions with royalty, whose routine is often scripted and unfolds "like a play," range from intimidating through enlightening to amusing, such as the princesses' mother's impromptu mimicking of a film star. Throughout, Marion remains mindful of the divide between herself and her clients ("A freshly brushed carpet is fit only for royal feet," says a footman) as she works to liberate their minds from the royal coterie with trips around London. Holden grounds the story of Marion's attempt to help the princesses understand all classes of English society with rich historical details, and develops Marion's character as she navigates her true calling amid staggering privilege. This lively historical tale will please fans of the English royal family.
Governess to Princess Elizabeth and Margaret
After being their devoted governess for 16 years, upon retirement she goes against the express wish of the queen mother and writes a tell-all book. She made money, but was shunned from royalty from that time on.