Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood

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Princess Royal
Countess of Harewood
Formal portrait c. 1932
BornPrincess Mary of York
(1897-04-25)25 April 1897
York Cottage, Sandringham, Norfolk, England
Died28 March 1965(1965-03-28) (aged 67)
Harewood House, Yorkshire, England
Burial1 April 1965
(m. 1922; died 1947)
Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary
HouseWindsor (from 1917)
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (until 1917)
FatherGeorge V
MotherMary of Teck
SignatureMary's signature

Mary, Princess Royal (Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary; 25 April 1897 – 28 March 1965), was a member of the British royal family. She was the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, the sister of kings Edward VIII and George VI, and aunt of Elizabeth II. In the First World War, she performed charity work in support of servicemen and their families. She married Henry Lascelles, Viscount Lascelles (later the 6th Earl of Harewood), in 1922. Mary was given the title of Princess Royal in 1932. During the Second World War, she was Controller Commandant of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. The Princess Royal and the Earl of Harewood had two sons, George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, and The Honourable Gerald Lascelles.

Early life and education[edit]

Princess Mary, centre, with her five brothers
Princess Mary wearing her coronet in 1911

Princess Mary was born on 25 April 1897 at York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, during the reign of her great-grandmother Queen Victoria. She was the third child and only daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York. Her father was the only surviving son of the Prince and Princess of Wales, while her mother was the eldest child and only daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Teck. She was named Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary, after her paternal great-grandmother Queen Victoria;[1][2] her paternal grandmother, Alexandra, Princess of Wales; her maternal grandmother, Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck; and her great-aunt, Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine, with whom she shared a birthday. She was known by the last of her Christian names, Mary. She was fifth in the line of succession at the time of her birth, superseded by her grandfather, father, and elder brothers, Edward and Albert.

She was baptised at St Mary Magdalene's Church near Sandringham on 7 June 1897 by William Dalrymple Maclagan, Archbishop of York. Her godparents were: the Queen (her great-grandmother); the King of the Hellenes (her paternal great-uncle); the Dowager Empress of Russia (her paternal great-aunt); the Prince and Princess of Wales (her paternal grandparents); the Duchess of Teck (her maternal grandmother); Princess Victoria of Wales (her paternal aunt); and Prince Francis of Teck (her maternal uncle).[citation needed] Her grandfather ascended the throne in 1901 when Mary was three years old.

Princess Mary was educated by governesses, but shared some lessons with her brothers, Edward, Albert, and Henry. She became fluent in German and French, and developed a lifelong interest in horses and horse racing. Her first state appearance was at the coronation of her parents, King George V and Queen Mary at Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911.

Charity work[edit]

The Princess (right) with her mother Queen Mary during the First World War

During World War I, Princess Mary visited hospitals and welfare organisations with her mother;[3] assisting with projects to give comfort to British servicemen and assistance to their families. One of these projects was Princess Mary's Christmas Gift Fund, through which a total of £100,000 worth of gifts was sent to serving British soldiers and sailors for Christmas, 1914,[3][4] the equivalent of £10,209,900 as of 2023.[5]

She took an active role in promoting the Girl Guide movement, the VADs, and the Land Girls. In June 1918, following an announcement in The Gentlewoman, she began a nursing course at Great Ormond Street Hospital, working two days a week in the Alexandra Ward.[3][6][7]

On 20 November 1918, Princess Mary became the first member of the royal family to visit France following the Armistice. She visited centres associated with Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps or Voluntary Aid Detachment Units, and hospitals with wounded soldiers.[8]

Princess Mary's public duties reflected her concerns with nursing, the Girl Guide movement, and the Women's Services. In the period leading up to her marriage, girls and women in the British Empire named Mary or its variants (including Marie, May and Miriam) banded together to form "The Marys of the Empire," and donated money toward a wedding present.[9][10] She presented this fund to the Girl Guides Association for the purchase of the estate of Foxlease, and following the exhibition of her wedding presents, she also contributed half the proceeds to the same cause, for upkeep, a total of £10,000, which enabled the project to go ahead.[11][12]

She became honorary president of the British Girl Guide Association in 1920, a position she held until her death.[13] She received the Silver Fish Award, Girl Guiding's highest adult honour, in recognition of her contribution to the movement. It was reported in July 2013 that British Pathé had discovered newsreel film from 1927 in which the ancestors of Catherine Middleton are, as Lord Mayors of Leeds, playing host to Princess Mary at the Young Women's Christian Association in Hunslet, Leeds; both Sir Charles Lupton and his brother Hugh Lupton, were the uncles of Olive Middleton, the Princess of Wales's great-grandmother.[14][15] In 1921, the Princess became the first patron of the Not Forgotten Association, a position she held until her death in 1965. The charity's first Christmas Tea Party was organised by Mary and held at St James's Palace in 1921 when she invited 600 wounded servicemen for afternoon tea and the event has been held annually ever since.[16] In 1926, Princess Mary became the commandant-in-chief of the British Red Cross Detachments.[17][3]

In the 1920s, she was a patron of the Leeds Triennial Musical Festival.[18] By the 1940s, Princess Mary was attending the opening nights and many of the festival's performances, as was her son, George, and his wife, the Countess of Harewood, née Marion Stein, a former concert pianist.[19][20] George was a noted music critic whose career included the role of artistic director of the Leeds Triennial Musical Festival.[21]

In 1931, she was appointed patron of the Yorkshire Ladies Council of Education.[22] She was also patron of the Girls' Patriotic Union of Day Schools.[23]

It was reported in July 1927, that at a garden party at the Headingley Cricket Ground, the Princess was served tea with members of the Middleton family, which numbers among its later members Catherine, Princess of Wales, with those present including her great-grandmother, Olive Middleton. The Princess and her son, George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, were patrons of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra which had played at soirées at their home, Harewood House. Attending these concerts was the orchestra's co-founder, Richard Noël Middleton, who was on friendly terms with the Princess. Middleton's wife, Olive, was a member of the Princess's fundraising committee for the Leeds General Infirmary.[24][25][26][27] Olive's first cousin was fellow committee member Elinor G. Lupton who reportedly launched the fund-raising appeal in 1933. The committee's vice-presidents included the Princess's sister-in-law, the Hon. Mrs Edward Lascelles, who served alongside Olive Middleton and her relative, Jessie Beatrice Kitson.[28] Princess Mary became patron of the Leeds Infirmary in 1936.[29]

Marriage and family[edit]

A 1922 wedding portrait of Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles

On 28 February 1922, Princess Mary married Viscount Lascelles,[30] the elder son of the 5th Earl of Harewood and his wife, Lady Florence Bridgeman, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Bradford of Weston Park. The bride was 24 years old, while the groom was 39.

Their wedding was held at Westminster Abbey, and attracted large crowds along the route to Buckingham Palace.[31] The ceremony was the first royal wedding to be covered in fashion magazines, including Vogue The bride's gown was designed by Messrs Raville and featured emblems of Britain and India.[32] It was the first royal occasion in which Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a friend of Princess Mary, participated, as one of the bridesmaids. She later married Mary's brother, Prince Albert, and became queen consort of the United Kingdom upon his accession in 1936.[33]

Princess Mary and Lord Lascelles had two sons:[34]

Family homes and interests[edit]

The Princess and her husband had homes in London (Chesterfield House, Westminster) and in Yorkshire (first Goldsborough Hall, and later Harewood House).[35] While at Goldsborough Hall, Princess Mary had internal alterations made by the architect Sydney Kitson, to suit the upbringing of her two children and instigated the development of formal planting of beech-hedge-lined long borders from the south terrace looking for a quarter of a mile down an avenue of lime trees. The limes were planted by her relatives as they visited the Hall throughout the 1920s, including her father, King George, and mother, Queen Mary.

After becoming the Countess of Harewood upon the death of her father-in-law, Princess Mary moved to Harewood House, and took a keen interest in the interior decoration and renovation of the Lascelles family seat.[4][35] In farming pursuits, Princess Mary also became an expert in cattle breeding and was on the board of trustees of the Royal Agricultural Society of England of which her husband had been president.[36][37] In December 2012, some of the Princess's belongings were sold in "Harewood: Collecting in the Royal Tradition", an auction organised by Christie's.[36][38]

In the first half of the 20th century, she regularly rode with the Bramham Moor Hunt – Lord Harewood was Master of the Hunt – and entertained many horse-racing enthusiasts at Harewood house parties for the race events at Wetherby and York.[39]

Princess Royal[edit]

On 6 October 1929, Lord Lascelles, who had been created a Knight of the Garter upon his marriage, succeeded his father as 6th Earl of Harewood, Viscount Lascelles, and Baron Harewood. On 1 January 1932, George V declared that his only daughter should bear the title Princess Royal, succeeding her aunt Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife, who had died a year earlier.[40][41]

The Princess Royal was particularly close to her eldest brother, the Prince of Wales, known as David to his close family, who subsequently became Edward VIII upon the death of their father in 1936. After the abdication crisis, she and her husband went to stay with the former Edward VIII, by then created Duke of Windsor, at Enzesfeld Castle near Vienna. Later, in November 1947, she allegedly declined to attend the wedding of her niece, Princess Elizabeth, to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten as the Duke of Windsor had not been invited. She gave ill health as the official reason for her non-attendance.[42] In March 1953, she cut short her tour of the West Indies and before returning to London, made a surprise diversion to New York, where she met with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.[43] She posed for photographs with them before she and the duke boarded the ship they travelled on to visit their ailing mother, Queen Mary.[44]

The Princess Royal visiting the Royal Hospital Haslar in 1943

At the outbreak of World War II, the Princess Royal became chief controller and later controller commandant of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, renamed the Women's Royal Army Corps in 1949.[45][46] In that capacity, she travelled across the country, visiting its units, as well as wartime canteens and other welfare organisations.[45] After the death in 1942 of her younger brother, the Duke of Kent, she became the president of Papworth Hospital. The Princess Royal became air chief commandant of Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service in 1950, and received the honorary rank of general in the British Army in 1956.[45] Also, in 1949, the 10th Gurkha Rifles were renamed the 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles in her honour.[47]

After her husband's death in 1947, the Princess Royal lived at Harewood House with her elder son and his family. She became the chancellor of the University of Leeds in 1951, and continued to carry out official duties at home and abroad. She attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953, and later represented the Queen at the independence celebrations of Trinidad and Tobago in 1962, and Zambia in 1964.[48] One of her last official engagements was to represent the Queen at the funeral of Queen Louise of Sweden in early March 1965. The Princess Royal visited her brother, the Duke of Windsor, at the London Clinic in March 1965, while he recovered from recent eye surgery. The Princess also met his wife, the Duchess of Windsor, one of the Duchess's few meetings with her husband's immediate family to take place.

Death and legacy[edit]

On 28 March 1965, the Princess Royal had a fatal heart attack during a walk with her elder son, Lord Harewood, and his children in the grounds of the Harewood House estate. Mary was 67 years old. She was buried next to her husband in the Lascelles family vault at All Saints' Church, Harewood, after a private family funeral at York Minster. A memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey, London.[49] Her will was sealed in London after her death with her estate valued at £347,626 (or £4.7 million in 2022 when adjusted for inflation).[50]

Six British monarchs reigned during Princess Mary's lifetime: Victoria (her great-grandmother), Edward VII (her grandfather), George V (her father), Edward VIII and George VI (her brothers) and Elizabeth II (her niece). She is typically remembered as an uncontroversial figure of the royal family.[36] The Princess was portrayed by Kate Phillips in Downton Abbey (2019).

During the British Mandate of Palestine, a major street in Jerusalem next to the Old City was called Princess Mary Street.[51] After the creation of Israel, the street name was changed to "Queen Shlomzion Street", to commemorate the Jewish queen.

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

Mary was known as "Princess Mary of York" at birth.[52] Mary was not styled "Her Royal Highness" from birth, only gaining that style in 1898 by letters patent granted by her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.[53] After Victoria's death in January 1901 Mary was known as Princess Mary of Cornwall and York, until her father's creation as Prince of Wales in November of that year, when she assumed the title "Princess Mary of Wales".[54]

Upon her father's accession as George V in 1910, Mary assumed the style of "Her Royal Highness The Princess Mary".[a] In 1922, Mary married Viscount Lascelles and began using the title "Her Royal Highness The Princess Mary, Viscountess Lascelles". When her husband succeeded as Earl of Harewood in 1929, Mary became known as "Her Royal Highness The Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood".[59][b] In 1932, her father gave her the title Princess Royal, which had previously belonged to her aunt Louise until her death the year prior. For the rest of her life, Mary was known as "Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal".[63]


British, British Empire and Commonwealth


Freedom of the City

Honorary military appointments[edit]


Military ranks[edit]


Plaque in the cloister of St Bartholomew-the-Great, London, marking the opening of five new bays by Viscountess Lascelles in 1928. It depicts the arms of the Viscount and Viscountess, along with Viscount Lascelles' motto, Ung roy, ung foy, ung loy — from his de Burgh ancestors, "one king, one faith, one law."[74]

In 1931, Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood, was awarded her own personal arms, being the royal arms, differenced by a label argent of three points, each bearing a cross gules.[75]

Princess Mary's coat of arms
Mary's banner of arms
Mary's banner of arms in Scotland



  1. ^ As a daughter of the sovereign, Mary was entitled to use the definite article before her name. Though it was often omitted in other prints, it was used in official reports in The London Gazette.[55][56][57][58]
  2. ^ Mary was generally referred to officially with the definite article.[60][61][62]


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  2. ^ The Times, 29 March 1965
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  13. ^ Basford, Elisabeth (August 2020). Seward, Ingrid (ed.). "A Quiet Devotion to Duty". Majesty. Cliff Moulder. 41 (8). Retrieved 30 September 2020. The princess maintained her interest with the Girl Guide Association throughout her life, serving as president from 1920 until her death.
  14. ^ "Ancestors of Kate Middleton found on film - greeting Princess Mary". British Pathe. Retrieved 17 October 2015. Another film called 'Princess Mary' is from 1927 and it shows Kate Middleton's great-great-great uncle the Lord Mayor of Leeds Hugh Lupton and his wife Lady Mayoress Isabella Lupton greeting Princess Mary who had arrived in Leeds to inaugurate the Girls Week Campaign of Hunslet Young Women's Christian Association. Princess Mary was King George VI's sister and therefore is Prince William's great-great-aunt.
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  17. ^ Allison, Ronald (1991). Allison, Ronald; Riddell, Sarah (eds.). The Royal Encyclopedia. Macmillan Press. ISBN 978-0333538104. (After her marriage in 1922) Princess Mary became the commandant-in-chief of the British Red Cross Detachments.
  18. ^ Lucas, J. (2008). Thomas Beecham: An Obsession with Music. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 183. ISBN 9781843834021. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  19. ^ "Several well-known Leeds musical authorities tell of the opportunities afforded them to talk things musical to her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal". Yorkshire Evening Post. West Yorkshire, England. 10 January 1949. Retrieved 20 September 2015. ...(Princess Mary) was concert-going in Leeds as recently as this week-end when (she) attended the concert. The Princess Royal is a patron of the Leeds Triennial Musical Festival. During the last series in October, 1947, she attended most...
  20. ^ "Hoping for a Boy". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill. 6 September 1950. Retrieved 20 September 2015 – via Trove. ...the Countess plans to attend every night of the Leeds Triennial Musical Festival...
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  24. ^ Tominey, Camilla (19 August 2022). "Duchess of Cambridge's great-great aunt was a mental asylum patient - just like Prince William's great-grandmother". UK Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 July 2022. ...Gertrude was the wealthy sister of the Duchess of Cambridge's great-grandfather [Richard] Noël Middleton, a solicitor, director of the family's textile firm and - through his founding of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra and his directorship of the Leeds Music Festival - on friendly terms with the Queen's aunt, Princess Mary
  25. ^ "COST OF £20.000". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. Yorkshire, England. 28 July 1927. Retrieved 2 June 2021. Mr. Sutherland and his wife had the honour of being presented to the Princess, also the Deputy Lady Mayoress (Mrs Owen), the Misses Airey, Sir Charles and Lady Wilson, the Vicar of Leeds and Mrs. Elliott, Miss Lupton, Mr. H. C. Emhleton, Mrs. Ostler...served tea...beautiful programme of music...[Also, Leeds Mercury, 28 July 1927 ...presented [to the Princess] were Sir Charles and Lady Wilson, the Rev. W. Thompson Elliott and Mrs. Elliott, the Rev. and Mrs. J. G. Sutherland, Mr. C. Embleton (the founder of the Leeds Choral Union), Lady Coward, Lady Clarke...Mrs Ostler, Alderman and Mrs. Ratcliffe, Miss Owen..]
  26. ^ "Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood". National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 16 May 2021. On 27th July 1927, at the Headingley Cricket Ground, near Leeds, Princess Mary was photographed as guest of honour at a garden party...Their niece, Olive Middleton (nee Lupton) was also photographed as one of the dignitaries in the procession walking behind Princess Mary. Olive had been on the Princess's fundraising committee for the Leeds Infirmary and her husband, Noel Middleton, had co-founded the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra with both the Princess and her son George Lascelles as patrons...Noel Middleton had attended soirees at Harewood House...
  27. ^ "Garden Party, Headingley Cricket Ground". Leodis - Leeds City council. Retrieved 19 May 2021. The Princess carries an impressive bouquet of carnations and trailing fern and is escorted by former Leeds Lord Mayor Sir Edwin Airey, of the building company, William Airey and Son Leeds Ltd. The Lady Mayoress, Isabella Lupton escorts the Princess's husband, Viscount Lascelles, who is behind his wife. The Lord Mayor, Alderman Hugh Lupton, Lady Clarke and Mrs R.X. [N.] Middleton bring up the rear of the procession.
  28. ^ "The Infirmary Appeal: Princess Royal's Support of Scheme". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 1 December 1933. p. 3. Retrieved 31 October 2019. The committee was launched by Miss E.G. was announced that the Princess Royal had agreed to become Patron of the whole Appeal... Vice-Presidents are:-... Lady Irwin, Lady Bingley, Lady Moynihan,... Lady Burton.. the Hon. Mrs Edward Lascelles...serving on the Committee are...Lady Burton,...Miss Elinor Lupton... Mrs Noel Middleton...Miss J.B. Kitson...
  29. ^ Anning, S. (1966). The General Infirmary at Leeds. E. and S. Livingston. ISBN 9780598254436. Retrieved 1 November 2019. PREFACE - THIS book was dedicated with her gracious permission to Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal who became Patron of the Infirmary in 1936 under the new Charter of Incorporation. Her sudden death on March 28th, 1965 was....
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External links[edit]

Media related to Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood at Wikimedia Commons

Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood
Cadet branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Born: 25 April 1897 Died: 28 March 1965
British royalty
Title last held by
Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife
Princess Royal
Title next held by
Princess Anne
Academic offices
Preceded by Chancellor of the University of Leeds
Succeeded by