Royal of the day: Princess Mary
In the lead up to the Royal Tour of New Zealand, we look back at the salacious, noble and sometimes tragic lives of Britain's lesser-known royals. Today, we explore the life of Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood ...
Princess Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary (known as Princess Mary) had a life shaped by war and was said to be locked in an unhappy arranged marriage.
She was the fifth in the line of succession to the throne at the time of her birth and the third child and only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. Princess Mary's brothers were George VI, aka Colin Firth in The King's Speech and King Edward VIII, aka Guy Pearce in The King's Speech (he's got the nose) and James D'Arcy in W.E.
At 17 her calm, mostly domestic life of home schooling was turned on its head when World War I broke out. However, she took it in her stride and went on to work for the Red Cross, enroll in a nursing programme and start her own project, the Princess Mary's Christmas Gift Fund (which sent Christmas packages to all British troops overseas in December 1914). Tally ho. Jolly good. Pip pip.
At 24, Princess Mary married Henry Charles George, Viscount Lascelles, who was 39 at the time. The historical rumour mill claims that Mary was not happy about the supposedly 'arranged' marriage and that King Edward VIII - the chap that abdicated in 1936 to be with his American twice-married already love Wallis Simpson - was particularly unhappy his sister had to marry someone she didn't love. In fact, Lascelles was considered so unfortunate looking and lacking in character that he was called 'The Dismal Bloodhound' behind his back - harsh!
Again, this is all Tabloid-Sensationalism-the-Ye-Olde-edition-level rumour and her eldest son did defend his parent's marriage in his memoir 'The Tongs And The Bones', saying, "they got on well together and had a lot of friends and interests in common" [passionate stuff].
In 1932, her father George V (she was said to be his favourite kid) named her Princess Royal - a title given to only one British monarch woman at a time - in fact she bears a strong resemblance to Princess Anne, the current Princess Royal.
The Princess Royal died in 1965 when only 67 - she suffered a fatal heart attack while taking a walk through her estate with her eldest son.