It’s Mummie

Jenny Diski

  • The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford, introduced by A.N. Wilson
    Duckworth, 128 pp, £14.99, November 1993, ISBN 0 7156 2497 0

‘It was not ever thus in England,’ says A.N. Wilson, stilting his prose in deference to the text he’s introducing. He’s speaking of the deluge of intimacies we can expect these days in the press about the Royal Family. The ‘mystique of kingship’, Wilson explains, was restored in the late Thirties by George VI and Elizabeth, who, even before they moved into Buckingham Palace, erected a wall of silence around the House of Windsor, as soundproof as the walls of all those castles they processed around. Who knew of David Windsor’s dereliction of duty in favour of love (or whatever it was) until a week before the Abdication? Well, quite a lot of people actually, but not the readers of the popular (as in lower orders) press. Marion Crawford, governess to Lilibet and Margaret Rose, started the rot by ratting on her employers in 1950. Which means that, like liberated and consequence-free sex, the period of royal mystery was brief, helped by the fact that a large war was going on for much of the time, when the intimate doings of the royal family may not have been uppermost in people’s minds.

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