In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess

Written by Tessa Arlen
Review by Dorothy Schwab

In Royal Service to the Queen is an insider’s view of the British royal family through the eyes and heart of Marion Crawford, selfless governess to Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret for 16 years. The 22-year-old “Crawfie,” as she was lovingly named, began her service as governess in the summer of 1931. Tessa Arlen’s extensive research of British history and the monarchy, seen through Crawfie’s lens, takes the reader on the rocky road through the Great Depression, the abdication of King Edward VIII, World War II, and economic recovery. During Marion Crawford’s service, she traveled between Balmoral in Scotland, Windsor, and Buckingham Palace. She endured five years at Windsor with the princesses during the war then navigated “Lilibet’s” coming of age and her wedding to Philip.

The peek into their daily life is extremely compelling and so intriguing with all the publicity—positive and negative—about the royal family in the last decades. Those who have been called to serve, as teachers are, will struggle along with Marion as she continues to sacrifice her own chances at love, marriage, and a family. Tessa Arlen creates the perfect tension between Marion’s aging mother, her love interest, George Buthlay, and her royal commitment to the princesses. At the end of her service to the royal family, Crawfie is faced with a life-altering financial decision that will leave readers in a quandary. As Tessa Arlen inquires of readers in her revealing, detailed author’s note, “Was Crawfie guilty of disloyalty or disobedience?” Read In Royal Service to the Queen to make your own wise and regal decision.