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Marion Crawford


(Crawfie; Marion Buthlay)

1909 - 1988

Governess who gained notoriety as the first Royal servant to sell her story to the press. Crawford was the daughter of a mechanical engineer's clerk, born at Gatehead (East Ayrshire) but brought up in Dunfermline (Fife). She trained as a teacher at the Moray House College in Edinburgh and was engaged by the then Duke and Duchess of York in 1933 to serve as governess to the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, taking responsibility for their education. She became a close friend of the family, much loved by the children.

In 1949, she retired to a grace-and-favour apartment in Kensington Palace in London, having married an unemployed army officer, George Buthlay, two years previously. Crawford seems to have been influenced by her husband to write about her experiences and, despite the positive picture she painted, the Royal Family felt she had broken a bond of trust and ostracised her. The couple were asked to leave their apartment. She was also shunned by former colleagues and her behaviour was frowned upon by British Society.

She went on to give her name to a regular column reporting on Royal events in Woman's Own magazine, but this came to an end with supposed accounts of the Trooping the Colour and Royal Ascot which were written ahead of schedule in 1955. Both events were cancelled due to a national rail strike but the articles were still printed and Crawfie's behaviour became a public farce.

She lived out the remainder of her life in Aberdeen, with no rapprochement with the Royals, and died in a nursing home in the city.


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