Charlotte Bill

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Charlotte Bill with Prince John

Charlotte Jane "Lalla" Bill (1875–1964) was a nanny to the children of the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George V and Queen Mary. She was most closely involved with the couple's youngest child, Prince John, whom she nursed devotedly from 1905 until his death in 1919.[1]

Employment[edit]

Lalla began her employment as the under-nurse to the York children. Working under the head nurse, she was shocked at the nurse's treatment of the royal children. The nurse appeared to resent every new addition to the nursery, and neglected the second son, Bertie, later King George VI, to the point where he became ill as a result.[2] The head nurse had originally been a nursemaid to The Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, and earned a good reference. However, when Lalla expressed her concerns, it was revealed that the woman was childless after her husband deserted her, and was therefore suffering from a warped and frustrated maternal instinct.[2] She was promptly dismissed in 1897 and Lalla was appointed in her place.[2]

As the children grew up, she became especially close to the youngest child, Prince John, who suffered from epilepsy, and learning difficulties caused by possible autism.[3] Although the Prince originally stayed at York Cottage, the compact residence of his mother and father, a separate household was established for him in 1917, and they moved to nearby Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate.[3] Lalla nursed Prince John (Johnny as he was called in the family) until his death from a severe epileptic seizure on 18 January 1919, following the end of the First World War. It was Lalla who telephoned Queen Mary to inform her of his death, and she and the King traveled from Buckingham Palace to Wood Farm to see their dead son. Lalla attended his burial at Sandringham Church, where he was interred next to Prince Alexander John of Wales, the infant son of Queen Alexandra, Johnnie's grandmother.[1]

Life after Johnny[edit]

She remained devoted to the memory of the young prince right up to her own death in the 1960s when she was approaching her nineties. On one visit to her house, The Duke of Windsor noticed that the first object he saw when he walked into Lalla's house was a large photo of Johnny as a toddler on her fireplace mantel.

Legacy[edit]

Her character appears in the film The Lost Prince, where she is played by Gina McKee.[3][4]

A novel called "The Royal Nanny" by Karen Harper recounts the story of Charlotte Bill and her time with the royal children.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Van Der Kiste, p. 44
  2. ^ a b c Van Der Kiste, p. 11
  3. ^ a b c Reynolds, K. D. "Prince John (1905–1919)". Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  4. ^ [1]

Sources[edit]

  • Reynolds, K. D., ‘John, Prince (1905–1919)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 3 Feb 2008
  • Van Der Kiste, John, George V's Children (Sutton Publishing, 2001) ISBN 0-86299-816-6