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Publisher's Summary

“This captivating page-turner whisks readers back in time to Buckingham Palace in 1933…A majestic story that delves into the incredible life of Queen Elizabeth II before she took her place on the throne.” (Woman’s World)

Sunday Times best-selling 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, 22-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 20th-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, best-selling novelist Holden shines a captivating light into the years before Queen Elizabeth II took the throne.

©2020 Wendy Holden (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A beautifully woven and exquisitely detailed story of strong upstairs/downstairs women whose lives entwine during some of the most significant periods of modern British history...a novel that will stand the test of time. I loved it." (Heather Morris, New York Times best-selling author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz)

"An intimate view of the royal family at a time of great uncertainty and change, The Royal Governess is a beautifully written and richly detailed piece of historical fiction. Marion Crawford's dedication to her charges, as well as her passion for education and reform, shines through the pages. Through her eyes, the reader is transported back in time and thoroughly immersed in the lives of the British royal family. A delightful read!" (Chanel Cleeton, New York Times best-selling author of The Last Train to Key West)

“Wendy Holden absolutely delivers in this perfect blend of story and history. The Royal Governess is a fabulous read for not only devotees of period fiction and the British Royals, but anyone with a hunger for a well-crafted tale. Lovers of The Crown will adore this!” (Susan Meissner, best-selling author of The Last Year of the War

What listeners say about The Royal Governess

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Fascinating

Fascinating and so well written. The excellent reading made this book one that I will likely return to.

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A Gossipy Work of Speculative Fiction

I really expected more from this book. However it was a big disappointment.
Having Read Marion Crawford's book "The Little Princesses" Many years ago
I expected the story to be more in that vein.
This was a fictionalized account of Marion Crawfords
life before and during her 17 years as the Royal Governess.
Non of the Royals came across very sympathetic with the exception of the young Lilabet.
Margaret was a brat, Queen Elizabeth 1 was cold and manipulating , and The King troubled
Not to mention his parents King George and Queen Mary
who were Obnoxious Entitled Boors. Brother David and Wallis Simpson were portrayed as selfish .
When Philip entered the family he was portrayed as an arrogant playboy. What a Family!
I am sure Queen Elizabeth would be furious with this account of the Windsor's.
The narrator was fine.