A new biography recently released by Elisabeth Basford focuses on Princess Mary – the aunt of Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Mary – The First Modern Princess is a dive into the life of Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood.
I should preface this by saying that going into this, I did not know much about Mary, so the majority of information in the book was new to me. This book by Elisabeth Basford is the first full biography of Princess Mary – the daughter of King George V, sister to Kings Edward VIII (later the Duke of Windsor) and George VI and aunt to Queen Elizabeth II. Until now, she had really only been a footnote in the biographies and research into their lives.
Basford does an excellent job writing this detailed biography of a royal that has been relatively unknown. The amount of research and dedication that went into this book is remarkable. The praise from Hugo Vickers is telling as he is such an esteemed biographer of the Royal Family.
Reading this biography, you can see how Princess Mary paved the way for Diana, Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex. Mary did not just want to be a royal who cut ribbons – she wanted to make a difference and do things that counted. During World War One, she worked to give soldiers Christmas gifts, and she trained as a nurse.
Mary’s influence on the current Royal Family is apparent. You can see where Elizabeth got her desire to be hands-on and help during World War Two as she learned from her beloved and hardworking aunt. The no-nonsense attitude can be seen in Mary’s great-niece, Anne, and how she takes on royal duties to this very day. From one Princess Royal to the next, the work ethic has definitely passed on!
It is a shame that this is the first full biography of Princess Mary as she is quite an interesting woman. Let’s hope this book allows for more research into the Princess’s life and dedication to duty.