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OSTRACISED kiss-and-tell nanny Marion Crawford revealed all about life as a royal governess on official instructions from the Queen Mother.

Working-class Scot 'Crawfie', who was responsible for bringing up the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, was outlawed by the Royal Family when she published the first inside account of the private life of a member of the Royal Family in 1950.

But in the first of three Channel 4 programmes marking the 100th birthday of the Queen Mother, it is claimed she told her story on official instructions from the Queen Mother as part of a deliberate and secret attempt by the Foreign Office to promote the public profile of the Royal Family in America.

In a never-seen-before letter sent to Crawfie, dated April, 1949, the Queen Mother tells the governess that it would be "quite all right" to help with the articles for an American magazine on the strict understanding that her name must not be mentioned.

Until now, the woman the Queen Mother once regarded as indispensable has been held solely responsible for her own undoing.

But new evidence suggests that not only were the American and British governments involved in the "betrayal", but that American publishers broke her confidence and her husband had his own part to play in the book that eventually led to her attempting suicide.

At a time when the monarchy was still revered by the majority of the public, Crawfie's "betrayal" marked the moment when royal gossip became a commodity and the old system of discretion and silence began to crack.Not only was Crawfie the woman responsible for introducing the young princesses to the realities of life, she was the first Palace employee to reveal that an obsessive Elizabeth "stabled" her 30 horses by her bed each night and that her first crush was on the Palace groom.

Born on June 5, 1909, and brought up in Fife, Crawfie had planned a career in child psychology before she caught the Queen Mother's eye.

In 1932, having graduated from teacher training college in Edinburgh, Crawfie got a temporary job as a summer governess for a family near her home.

That summer, the then Duchess of York made the young governess an offer she couldn't refuse - to teach Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

But in 1950, after 17 years as a governess, Crawfie committed a sensational act of betrayal. She put her name to an intimate memoir of her time in the Royal nursery, The Little Princesses.

Serialised in America and then in British magazine Woman's Own, Crawfie's stories of life behind the palace walls were an instant hit with the public.

The Queen Mother, however, hated them. She branded Crawfie a Royal Judas, who had revealed her family's most intimate secrets for her own personal profit. She ordered all links be severed with the woman who had taught her young daughters about life.

Crawfie remained an outcast until she died in 1988. But, as Channel 4's film reveals, Crawfie was pushed into betraying the family she loved.

A combination of pressure and blatant deceit turned what was initially intended as a discreet PR exercise into a front-page sensation.

When the then Princess Elizabeth married her glamorous fiance, Prince Philip, in November, 1947, American publishers Bruce and Beatrice Gould wanted to run a series of articles on the new royal bride.

They approached the Foreign Office who, anxious to raise the profile of Britain in the US, agreed to the articles.

The Goulds contacted Buckingham Palace, who decided that Crawfie knew the Princess better than anyone. In a letter dated April 4, 1949, the Queen Mother wrote to Crawfie saying: "I do feel, most definitely, that you should not write and sign articles about the children, as people in positions of confidence with us must be utterly oyster.

"If you, the moment you finished teaching Margaret, started writing about her and Lilibet, well, we should never feel confidence in anyone again.

"I know you understand this, because you have been so wonderfully discreet all the years you were with us.

"Also, you would lose all your friends, because such a thing has never been done or contemplated amongst the people who serve us so loyally and I do hope that you will put all the American temptations aside very firmly."

She did, however, agree that Crawfie could help with the articles and be paid for her work, "as long as your name did not come into it".

She wrote: "Mr Morrah (the man chosen to write the articles), who I saw the other day, seemed to think that you could help him with his articles and get paid from America.

"This would be quite all right as long as your name did not come into it.

"Nevertheless, I do feel most strongly that you must resist the allure of American money and persistent editors and say No No No to offers of dollars for articles about something as private and as precious as our family."

So it was with the Queen Mother's own blessing that Crawfie ventured into the cut-throat world of publishing, under the guidance of her husband, financier George Buthlay, and persuasive Bruce and Beatrice Gould, publishers of best-selling American magazine Ladies' Home Journal.

Buried in the never-seen-before contract they drew up, dated May 25, 1949, was the clause that was to bring about Crawfie's downfall.

"You will further consider publication of the articles without Her Majesty's consent (possibly with only the consent of Princess Elizabeth, or no consent) and under your own name, on terms to be arranged."

Crawfie was paid $85,000 to relay her first-hand account of the strange and isolated childhood of the Queen and Princess Margaret to a ghost writer during the summer of 1949.

The finished manuscript was delivered to the Queen Mother who regarded Crawfie's "affectionate memoir" as shockingly frank.

In 1950, Crawfie's chatty description of the King's moods and the Queen Mother's chilly relationship with Mrs Simpson was shocking stuff.

The Queen Mother wrote to the Goulds: "The governess has gone off her head."

But the Goulds shielded Crawfie from her response, and it wasn't until Christmas, 1949 - while Ladies' Home Journal was preparing to serialise The Little Princesses - that Crawfie realised something was wrong.

For the first time, she hadn't received a Christmas card from the Queen Mother.

When Woman's Own magazine snapped up serialisation rights in Britain for pounds 30,000, the story became a front-page sensation on both sides of the Atlantic - carrying Crawfie's name.

Near to a nervous breakdown, Crawfie fled her home at Kensington Palace and headed home to Scotland. She settled into quiet retirement, and bought a house on the fringe of Aberdeen - 200 yards from the road from Aberdeen to Balmoral.

From her window she could see the royal cars she had once travelled in heading for Balmoral.

When her husband died in 1977, Crawfie descended further into a black hole. She attempted to kill herself with an overdose and left a note by her side saying: "The world has passed me by and I can't bear those I love to pass me by on the road."

Crawfie recovered, but died of old age on February 11, 1988, in Aberdeen. There was no wreath at her funeral from the Royal Family.

Crawfie: The Nanny Who Wouldn't Keep Mum, Channel 4, Monday, June 26, 9pm.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Spavin, Vicky
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 24, 2000

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