The then-Princess’s life changed dramatically when she was 10 years old, following the news her uncle King Edward VIII had abdicated – making her first in line to the throne, after her father King George VI. The Princess then spent years preparing to ascend the throne, during which time a childhood friend said Elizabeth could be quite cold and “distant”.
Several months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) and her two daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, moved to Royal Lodge in Windsor.
The Queen refused to bow to pressure to send her daughters to Canada, out of the range of enemy fire.
While the two Princesses stayed at Windsor, they grew close with Alathea Fitzalan Howard, the daughter of British peer Henry Edmund Fitzalan Howard, second Viscount Fitzalan of Derwent.
Alathea, who was a few years older than Princess Elizabeth, recorded intimate details of her time with the future monarch in a personal diary, which includes an insight of their friendship and how the girl viewed the royal sisters.
The diary is set to be published in the form of a book next month, and excerpts from the journal have been released by the Daily Mail.
Several diary entries suggest Princess Elizabeth, known as “Lilibet” to her friends and family, was reluctant to grow close to her peers.
One entry from Christmas Eve 1942, read: “It struck me as sad that she counts so little on her friends — it would seem she will never change: she will marry and be a model wife and mother, devoted to her family and dogs, and never desire anything more.”
A second excerpt recorded several months later is equally critical of the future Queen’s ability to form close bonds.
The entry on June 24, 1943, which refers to Princess Elizabeth as PE and Princess Margaret as M or PM, states: “Her temperament is unsuited to forming strong attachments — no doubt this is a blessing in one of her position and she is wholly fitted for being a queen but I believe her sister will be quite different.
“I think, were it not for the difference in our ages, I could make a greater friend of [M], though I shall always be deeply devoted to P.E.”
A third entry from November 11, 1943, read: “P.E. was rather distant today.
“P.M. is more friendly and I nearly always go to her room to tidy, which to me is v. strange, but I know P.E. too well now to be hurt by it.”
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Alathea was sent to live at Windsor from the age of 16 with her grandfather Viscount Fitzalan of Derwent during the war.
She grew close to Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret and often visited the two sisters at Windsor Castle for parties and balls, as well as for other informal meetings such as picnics and cinema evenings.
Alathea died in 2001, but the rights to the diary were acquired directly from her family.
The full book will be published on October 8, under the title ‘The Windsor Diaries: A Childhood With The Princesses’.
Alathea left her personal archives to friend Isabella Naylor-Leyland, who edited The Windsor Diaries.
Speaking about the book, Mrs Naylor-Leyland said: “The diaries are full of details of life with the princesses at Windsor but also tell Alathea’s own story, which can be both harrowing and occasionally very funny.
“The diaries were her refuge and show that she loved writing.
“I hope that by publishing I am honouring her wish.”
Published at Tue, 22 Sep 2020 12:39:00 +0000