The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen's Childhood by her Governess, Marion Crawford
As royal biographies go The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford is arguably the most famous and also the most maligned. But in comparison to today's revelations it is actually quite tame. I have yet to find a biography that doesn't mention this book, which is often referred to as the definitive version of the Queen and Princess Margaret's childhood.
Covering the period from 1933 until the birth of Prince Charles in 1948, The Little Princesses is a charming and sentimental, account of the early lives of the Queen and Princess Margaret. But reading it was bittersweet. Knowing the trust the royal family gave her, the unparalleled access she had to the royal family, it's easy to see why this was a betrayal. Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable read, offering an insiders account of the Abdication, the war years and a behind the scenes view of Princess Elizabeth's wedding.
Having learnt the royal stiff upper lip from her grandmother Queen Mary, we are never given an idea of Princess Elizabeth's true thoughts. One gets the impression that Princess Elizabeth is the more favored, and that Princess Margaret is the naughty one. A description that would continue throughout Princess Margaret's life.
Aside from their rarefied circumstances, Crawford conveys the two princesse as ordinary little girls in extraordinary surroundings. The writing style harks back to a more innocent, deferential time with a lack of sensationalism. In this day and age of royal tell-alls, the Windsor's didn't realize how good they had it.
© Marilyn Braun 2012
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