Queen Elizabeth The Royal Family

The Governess who spilled the Queen’s secrets


Marion Crawfie Crawford was one of the Royal Family’s most trusted confidantes. She helped bring up a future Queen Elizabeth in a way that no one ever could.

Her loyalty and pure loving care were rewarded with royal favour and even a rent-free home for her whole life.

But in the year 1950, Marion Crawfie Crawford, Scottish governess of Princesses Elizabeth and Princess Margaret and servant of the Royal Family, was expelled from court. She was kicked out of her house.

Why did this happen? What was her crime?

Crawford, the Scottish governess, was the first-ever servant in the royal household ever to spill the royal secrets. She was just 22 years old when she entered the Royal Family. She was hired by the Queen Mother. Crawford worked as a governess for her two daughters.

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Everything changed as time passed. Edward 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. So, he abdicated the throne in order to marry Simpson. George VI became the king. This left little Elizabeth, next in line for the throne.

Crawford moved with the family to Buckingham Palace and helped train Elizabeth for her royal roles.

She worked in such a manner so as to make life normal for the girls. She took them on expeditions outside the palace and took them shopping at stores like Wool-worth. 

The royal household was obsessively secretive.

For the Royal members and the servants, secrecy was an unwritten and unspoken law. The British public knew some things which happened in the palaces where Elizabeth and Margaret grew up. And the Queen Mother wanted to keep it that way. As time went on, Crawford became one of  Queen Mother’s close confidantes.

But she was trapped in her role as a governess. Even after Elizabeth was an adult and Margaret was into her teens, she was expected to stay in the palace. Some reports say, she had a long-term boyfriend. But she was forbidden to marry until Elizabeth did. She only left the household after Elizabeth got engaged.

In return for her 17 years of loyalty, Crawford was showered with royal gifts.

Crawford was made an officer of the Royal Victorian Order. She was also given a generous pension and was allowed to live rent-free in a cottage on the grounds of the Kensington Palace. 

Crawford settled into her life and maintained good relationships with the Royal Family. But in 1949, the Ladies’ Home Journal, an American magazine, approached her. They asked if she’d write an article about her service to the Royals.

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Crawford asked Queen Mother if she’d agree to its publication. Queen Mother said yes and even got the palace to break the deal. The idea was to tell good stories about the family. This might strengthen Anglo-American relations.

There was just one condition:

Anonymity. Queen insisted that Crawford not give her name to the publication. Instead, connected her with a journalist who could write the stories based on the information she gave.

Queen wrote to Crawford:

“I do feel, most definitely, that you should not write and sign articles on my children. This is so, people in positions of confidence with us must be utterly oysters. I know you truly understand this because you have been so wonderfully discreet all these years you were with us”.

Also read: Know everything about Queen Elizabeth and Kate Middleton’s relationship.

The article published had Crawford as a source.

It included in-depth information about the former king and Wallis Simpson. Queen found it distasteful. Crawford’s tales in Buckingham Palace were read by the future Queen Elizabeth and the other members.

Queen Mother, she was indeed furious. She told other royals that the trusted nanny had ‘gone off her head’. The very next year, Crawford published a book: The Little Princesses. It was about her life in the palace.

The Queen got her kicked her out of her house and cut her out of the royal life forever. For the Royals, it was a big betrayal. No member of the royal family ever spoke to her ever again. Also, her name apparently still is not uttered in palace circles.

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