The Royal Governess: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth II’s Childhood by Wendy Holden
English | 2020 |Historical Fiction| ePUB | 2.8 MB
In “a beautifully woven and exquisitely detailed story of strong upstairs/downstairs women” (Heather Morris, New York Times bestselling author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz) 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.
Everything was ready. The mahogany table in the dining room was spread with a white lace cloth. Sunlight streaming through the wide bay window set the gold rims of the china cups ablaze. Plates had been set out with little white linen napkins. Silver cake-forks had been removed from boxes and polished. Sugar tongs, a silver cream jug and silver spoons all shone brilliantly.
In the cool of the kitchen, sandwiches waited on best plates. Smoked salmon, chicken, ham and cucumber, all with the crusts removed. There were the circular jam sandwiches, “jam pennies,” that had always been a favorite. There were scones and muffins and a magnificent chocolate cake.
There were flowers everywhere, bought specially for the occasion. Vases and jugs rescued from dark cupboards had been washed and restored to use. Pastel summer petals foamed on every surface and the rich scent of roses mingled with that of beeswax polish.
On the other side of the hall, in the high-ceilinged drawing room, a tall old woman in a pale pink dress stood straight-backed at the window. Pearls glowed at her neck and on the decoration pinned to her bosom. On either side of her nose, large, sloping eyes burned with anticipation. She was breathing rapidly and her knuckles were clamped to the sill. Her entire being was focused on the end of the street, where it met the busy main road. It was along there that her visitors would come.
They had not been here before, to her fine big villa on one of the city’s best streets, built of the local gray granite. In dark weather it looked somber, but in sunshine, against a blue sky, it glittered. Today, the end of July, was one of those beautiful, glittering days.