Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood

Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood
Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood
British Royalty
House of Windsor

George V
   Edward VIII
   George VI
   Mary, Princess Royal
   Henry, Duke of Gloucester
   George, Duke of Kent
   Prince John
   Elizabeth II
   Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
   William of Gloucester
   Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
   Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
   Prince Michael of Kent
   Princess Alexandra of Kent
Edward VIII
George VI
   Elizabeth II
   Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
Elizabeth II
   Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
   Princess Anne, Princess Royal
   Prince Andrew, Duke of York
   Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
   Prince William of Wales
   Prince Henry of Wales
   Princess Beatrice of York
   Princess Eugenie of York
   Lady Louise Windsor

The Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood, (Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary Lascelles, née Windsor) (25 April 189728 March 1965) was a member of the British Royal Family. She was the sixth holder of the title of Princess Royal. Mary held the title of princess with the style Highness from birth as the then great-granddaughter of the British Sovereign, and later Her Royal Highness, as the granddaughter and finally daughter of the Sovereign. After her marriage she held the title of Countess of Harewood.

Early life


Princess Mary was born on April 25, 1897 at York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England. Her father was Prince George, Duke of York (later King George V), the second eldest son of The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and The Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra). Her mother was The Duchess of York (later Queen Mary), the eldest daughter of The Duke and Duchess of Teck.

Mary was named after her paternal great-grandmother, her paternal grandmother, the then Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra), and her maternal grandmother, Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck. She was always known by the last of her Christian names, Mary. As a great-grandchild of the British monarch (Queen Victoria), she was styled Her Highness Princess Mary of York. In 1898, the Queen passed letters patent granting the children of the Duke and Duchess of York the style, Royal Highness. Mary was then styled Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of York. She was fifth in the line of succession at the time of her birth.

Her baptism took place at in St Mary Magdalene's Church near Sandringham on June 7, 1897 by William Dalrymple Maclagan, Archbishop of York. Her godparents were Queen Victoria, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the King of Greece, the Duke of Teck and Princess Victoria.


Princess Mary was educated by governesses, but shared some lessons with her brothers, Prince Edward (later Edward VIII), Prince Albert (later George VI), and Prince Henry (later Duke of Gloucester). She became fluent in German and French and developed a life-long interest in horses and horse racing. Her first state appearance was at the coronation of her parents at Westminster Abbey on 11 June 1911.

Royal duties

During World War I, Princess Mary visited hospitals and welfare organizations with her mother, 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 £100,000 worth of gifts was sent to all British soldiers and sailors for Christmas, 1914. She took an active role in promoting the Girl Guides movement, the VADs, and the "Land Girls." In 1918, she took a nursing course and went to work at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

King George V created her Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (civil division) on 3 June 1917. She received the Imperial Order of the Crown of India (CI) on 25 April 1919 and the Dame Grand Cross of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (GCStJ) on 12 May 1926. Her brother, George VI, created her Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) on 11 May 1947. She was appointed Member first class of the Royal Red Cross (RRC) in 1953. She also held the family orders of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.


On 28 February 1922, Princess Mary married Henry Charles George, Viscount Lascelles (9 September 1882-23 May 1947), the elder son of Henry Lascelles, 5th Earl of Harewood, and Lady Florence Bridgeman. Their wedding at Westminster Abbey was the first royal occasion in which Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother), a friend of Princess Mary's and one of the bridesmaids, participated. She and her husband made their home in Yorkshire, first at Goldborough House, and later at Harewood House. She took a keen interest in the interior decoration of Harewood House, the Lascelles family's seat, and in farming pursuits, becoming an expert in cattle breeding.

Princess Mary and Lord Lascelles had two sons:

Honorary Appointments

Princess Mary's public duties reflected her concerns with nursing, the Girl Guide movement, and the Women's Services.

She became honorary president of the British Girl Guide Association in 1920, a position she held until her death. In 1926, she became the commandant-in-chief of the British Red Cross Detachments. Earlier, in 1918, she became the colonel-in-chief of The Royal Scots (the Royal Regiment). In 1935, she became colonel-in-chief of the Royal Signal Corps and in 1947, she became colonel-in-chief of the West Yorkshire Regiment (later amalgamated with The East Yorkshire Regiment (The Duke of York's Own) to form the Prince of Wales' Own Yorkshire Regiment in 1958).

She also served as colonel-in-chief of the Indian Corps of Signals (1936-1950), the Royal Australian Corps of Signals (1937-65), the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's, 1930-1965), the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals (1940-1965), and several other Commonwealth regiments.

Princess Royal

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. The couple's elder son assumed courtesy title of Viscount Lascelles. On 1 January 1932, George V declared that his only daughter should bear the title Princess Royal.

The Princess Royal was particularly close to her eldest brother, the Prince of Wales and later on King Edward VIII (who was known as David to his family). After the abdication crisis, she and her husband went to stay with the former Edward VIII, by then created Duke of Windsor, at Enzenfeld Castle near Vienna. Later, in November 1947, she declined to attend the wedding of her niece, Princess Elizabeth, to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten to protest the fact that the Duke of Windsor had not been invited.

At the outbreak of World War II, the Princess Royal became chief controller and later controller commandant of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS, renamed the Women's Royal Army Corp in 1949). In that capacity she travelled Britain visiting its units, as well as wartime canteens and other welfare organizations. On the death of her younger brother, the Duke of Kent, she became the president of Papworth. 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. Also, in 1949, the 10th Gurkha Rifles were renamed the 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles in her honour.

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 Leeds University 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. One of her last official engagements was to represent the Queen at the funeral of Queen Louise of Sweden (formerly Lady Louise Mountbatten) in early March 1965.

The Princess Royal suffered a fatal heart attack during a walk with her elder son, Lord Harewood, and his children on the grounds of the Harewood House estate. She was buried at Harewood after a private family funeral at York Minster.

Titles from birth to death

Styles of
The Princess Mary
Reference style Her Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Ma'am

Born a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Mary was styled Her Highness Princess Mary of York from birth (this was later changed to "Her Royal Highness" by Queen Victoria). When her great-grandmother Queen Victoria died, for a short time she was known as HRH Princess Mary of Cornwall and York (as her father was now the heir apparent and thus Duke of Cornwall as well as Duke of York) and then HRH Princess Mary of Wales when her father was created Prince of Wales. Finally, upon her father's accession as King she was styled and titled HRH The Princess Mary. When the title Princess Royal was conferred upon her in 1932, she became known as HRH The Princess Royal (occasionally HRH The Princess Mary, Princess Royal). After her marriage her Harewood titles were affixed after her royal titles. Throughout her life and the various name changes, her signature was simply "Mary".

Princess Royal
dates they were Princess Royal in brackets

Mary Stuart (1642-1660) | Anne of Orange (1727-1759) | Charlotte (1766-1828)
Victoria (1841-1901) | Louise (1905-1931) | Mary (1932-1965) | Anne (1987-)

Preceded by:
Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire
Chancellor of the University of Leeds
Succeeded by:
Katharine, Duchess of Kent

Most of Wikipedia's text and many of its images are licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA)

Return to Main Index