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The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen's Childhood by her Nanny, Marion Crawford Hardcover – April 10, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (April 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312312156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312312152
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In today's world of celebrity scandals and royal rumor, it's hard to believe that when this memoir was originally published in 1953 it caused such a stir. For 17 years, Crawford-"Crawfie"-was nanny to then-Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, and taken on its own, her account is innocuous in the extreme. But Crawford was shunned by the royal family after the book's publication, as BBC Royal correspondent Bond explains in the foreword: "She was cast adrift as if she had committed treason and neither the Queen nor the two Princesses ever spoke to her again." To the contemporary jaded eye, it's far more interesting to read the book in this context rather than for its own merits. What might seem mundane becomes poignant in light of Crawford's eventual fate, such as when she fusses over her charges, describing 13-year-old Elizabeth ("Lilibet") as "an enchanting child with the loveliest hair and skin and a long, slim figure." Crawford's story is particularly sad given her degree of personal sacrifice-she delayed her marriage for years so as not to, as she saw it, abandon the king and queen. But it is possible to find repressed traces of bitterness on Crawford's part if one is so inclined, such as when she tells the queen that she would finally like to marry, and relates the queen's response: "'You must see, Crawfie, that it would not be at all convenient just now.'" There certainly aren't a lot of juicy tidbits, at least not by modern standards, but the book is interesting as an historical document, if for nothing else than to remind us how innocent scandal used to be. B&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Marion Crawford, or “Crawfie,” as she was known to young Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, was born in the Scottish countryside and studied teaching at the Moray House Training College in Edinburgh. In the early 1930s, she became governess to the daughters of the Duke and Duchess of York, little suspecting that she would devote the next sixteen years to nurturing her future Queen. Her account of life as a royal governess originally appeared in American magazines, but soon became a front-page sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. The first edition of The Little Princesses was published in 1950, and although it created a scandal, it was nonetheless a valuable social history and the first inside account of life at Buckingham Palace. Crawford died in 1988, having never been forgiven by the royal family for writing her book.

Jennie Bond has been following the Royal Family as the BBC’s Royal correspondent for thirteen years. In that time, she has covered many momentous events---among them, three marriage breakdowns, Camillagate, the Queen’s annus horribilis, and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Bond has written two other books: Elizabeth: Fifty Glorious Years and Reporting Royalty: Behind the Scenes with the BBC’s Royal Correspondent.

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Customer Reviews

It's heartbreaking the way the royal family treated her after writing such a beautiful story.
Kindle Customer
More importantly the book provides insight into the woman, Elizabeth, that would become the current queen of England.
Deborah V
She devoted much of her life to their well-being, and sacrificed much of her own personal life for the family.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Patricia VINE VOICE on February 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This was the very FIRST book to present Royalty as human beings --and as such, it truly got its authoress, (to use the contemporary term), into much trouble with the English Royal family, whom she worked for in the capacity of Governess to the two Royal Princesses, Pss. Elizabeth and Pss. Margaret Rose, from the 1930s until they were grown young women -- and in Pss. Elizabeth's case, married.

This is the GENUINE article -- a first-person reminisence, the
REAL story of what went on behind the palace walls in the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s. It is great reading for royal-watchers, as one can almost feel oneself actually there, a "fly on the wall" as it were, to these auspicious royal happenings. And seeing the royal personages themselves, through Ms. Crawford's eyes: the dilligent and almost too-dutiful Pss. Elizabeth, the rather diffident, but still very brave Duke of York who became George VI, the artistic, rebellious, and elfin Pss. Margaret, the warm, friendly, yet very, very Royal Queen Elizabeth, the King's Consort, and the extremely regal, yet still very human
Queen Mary.

I got this book out of the school library when I was in college....but was so excited to have found it, that I just skimmed it. However, I have recently bought a copy, and am forcing myself to read it all the way through! So far I am only up to the Abdication of King Edward VIII -- but I realize this is a true turning point, and am loathe to go futher, though I know I must. Never, (believe it or not), was there ever such a reluctant couple to mount the throne of England as George
VI and Elizabeth -- the responsibilites, and separation from their children, were great burdens to them.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jean Reynolds on July 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're fascinated by royalty, you need to read this classic book about the present Queen of England, Elizabeth II, and her late sister, Princess Margaret. Yes, it's an old book--but it's extremely well written, and everyone I know who's read it has been enchanted by it. Besides the intimate glimpses of the Windsors, it tells you a great deal about everyday life in Britain during World War II. The royal family suffered the same wartime privations that everyone else did. If you enjoyed "The 1940's House" series on PBS, you'll love this book. Incidentally, "The Little Princesses" was ghostwritten, and Marion Crawford was a governess, not a nanny.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nina M. Osier on May 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A lovely portrait of royalty as it used to be, painted in the words of a woman who devoted years of her life to royalty's service. "Crawfie," as a very young Princess Elizabeth nicknamed her new governess, had no idea when she accepted the post that she would be staying for more than a short time. She'd come to help the Duke and Duchess of York begin their little girls' education, after which Miss Crawford fully intended to take up the classroom teaching career of which she had always dreamed. She wasn't planning on growing to love Elizabeth and Margaret as she did. Nor had she any clue that one of her charges would someday sit on England's throne.

The interlude Miss Crawford planned to spend with the Yorks lasted until after Princess Elizabeth's marriage. As a member of their household, she experienced history first hand when the abdication of King Edward VIII - otherwise known as "Uncle David" - forced her employers to give up their private, comfortable, family-centered life. She kept their daughters out of harm's way during the frightening war years that soon followed; and after the war's end, helped the family that by now considered her indispensible in guiding its "little princesses" from adolescence into womanhood.

Charming, but in no way saccharine, this recently re-released book provides invaluable insight into the character of the woman who has reigned for more than half a century as Queen Elizabeth II. Not by any means just for "royal watchers"!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By catherine penn on August 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
absolutely fascinating story of Nanny Crawford which brings to life how the Royal Family live. I cannot understand why the Royals thought it was disrespectful to write this and cut Nanny Crawford off for the rest of her life. I wonder what the real reason was?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Katrina Lojek on June 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a big aficionado of Engllish / European royalty. This book is great if you want to get more information not from the approved source but from the person 'outside-the-royal-circles'. The language is 'very proper', you will not find any calumnies and that what is great about this book: no cheap sensationalism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Etc. VINE VOICE on June 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The final 15 pages of this book were difficult. I had been reading slower and slower, because I didn't want it to end, but I finally set aside 20 minutes and did my duty, just as Princess Elizabeth would do. As with Zeno's arrow, one can delay a finish only so long without rationing sentences ridiculously.

Marion Crawford met the Duchess of York (known to us as the Queen Mother) in 1932, when Elizabeth, the future queen, was around age 6. "Crawfie" served as the governess for both Elizabeth and her sister Margaret for 16 years, until the birth of Elizabeth's first child. Crawfie herself had married a few months before Elizabeth did, but she delayed for some time her retirement from service to the royal family. Supposedly it was Crawford's new husband (who had boorishly suggested investments to the royal family) who encouraged her to sell her memoirs to an American magazine publisher that clearly couldn't care less about the fallout, a publisher that quite probably edited the book liberally to make it more "interesting." Is this where the smug insider tone creeps in? One wonders if egoistic claims to closeness were original to Marion Crawford's manuscript, or if the publisher added them to lend a sense of legitimacy to the project.

What a dilemma for the reader such as myself, enjoying this inside peek at royal life, because it came at such a personal cost to Marion Crawford. She was handsomely paid for her personal memories, but after the book was published, the royal family was furious, and none of them spoke to her again. Crawford, who had studied to be a child psychologist, had devoted herself to the young princesses, and then was disowned after her own child-bearing years were past.
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