Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Book Review: In Royal Service to the Queen by Tessa Arlen

Pages: 368
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: June 29, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 
Goodreads says, "The revealing story of Queen Elizabeth II's beloved governess, Marion Crawford, who spent more than sixteen years of her life in loyal service to the royal family and was later shunned by those she has loved and served.  Marion Crawford can remember each of the wonderful years when she was governess to the little Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose: included in their lives, confided in, needed, trusted, and loved. These memories will never dim, ever. In Marion's mind, she will always be their Crawfie.  But things become increasingly complicated as the young royals navigate adulthood. It is May 1945 and Princess Elizabeth--the heiress presumptive to the British throne--has fallen in love, and the only member of her family who is happy for her is her governess. No one in the young princess's life thinks that Prince Philip of Greece would be a suitable husband for the future Queen of England. No one that is, except for Marion Crawford.  Crawfie wholeheartedly supports Elizabeth in her determination to marry Philip. She too has fallen in love--and has convinced her fiance, George, that they must wait for Elizabeth and Philip to receive the King's blessing before she can leave her service to the Crown.  Over the next two years Crawfie is caught between loyalty to Princess Elizabeth; running the risk of alienating her royal employer, Queen Elizabeth; and losing the man she loves. But as Crawfie prevails to marry George and stands with him in Westminster Abbey on Elizabeth and Philip's wedding day, she is unaware that her troubled relationship with Queen Elizabeth is far from over. And just around the corner is a betrayal that will sever her bond with the royal family forever."


The year is 1936 and Marion Crawford takes on the job as a governess to the Duchess of York's children, Elizabeth and Margaret.  The sixteen years she serves as the family are tumultuous. First up is King Edward VIII's abdication and their subsequent move to Buckingham Palace. This changes everyone's lives, including Marion, whom they affectionately refer to as "Crawfie."  As the years go by, more events unfold, such as the Blitz, which forces them to move to Windsor.  Once the war is over, Elizabeth has her eyes on Prince Philip.  Marion wants to start her own life and pursue her own marriage, but she feels like she can't leave Elizabeth and Margaret.  Plus, they don't make it easy on her when she mentions leaving to marry her boyfriend, George.  There's also the worry that Elizabeth will certainly have her hands full if she continues to pursue Philip, as her family most definitely does not approve and will need Marion's support.  Fans of The Crown as well Royal lovers will appreciate this historical tale based on the much loved governess to Elizabeth and Margaret in In Royal Service to the Queen by Tessa Arlen.  

I really like how Arlen tells a familiar story of Elizabeth and Margaret's childhood, but tells it to us through Marion's eyes in In Royal Service to the Queen.  I found it really interesting to have the perspective of what it must have been like for a Scottish governess to enter the world of Royalty.  The story follows Marion for many years and as things develop for Elizabeth, things also start to change for Marion. She wants her own marriage and her own life with George, but she can't seem to completely break free from the Royal family's grasp.  Marion keeps pushing off her wedding for one reason or another (things always come up!) and readers can't help but worry she will lose her chance forever.  How much should she risk for Elizabeth and Margaret?

I have read a few books that depict the fascinating initial courtship of Elizabeth and Philip and In Royal Service to the Queen Arlen does a good job bringing it to life. It wasn't easy for Elizabeth to get her family to accept Philip, so the road wasn't always smooth. Philip's tumultuous home life, the fact that he isn't a British citizen, his attitude, and his sisters' connections to the Nazis certainly doesn't help, but you can't help but appreciate Philip's humor, dedication, and the way he lives his life.

I didn't know the history behind Marion and how things ended with Elizabeth, so I must admit it caught me by surprise and broke my heart.  So, if you are a fan of The Crown or find the Royal family interesting, In Royal Service to the Queen shouldn't be missed!

Are a Royal family lover and is this book is on your TBR list?  Let me know in the comments below. 



  1. Replies
    1. It was really interesting to learn more about their governess--had no prior knowledge! Thanks for visiting, Sara!

  2. I can't resist stories about the Royal Family!

    1. This one actually featured some new-to-me info as I didn't know much about their governess! Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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