Princess Mary
Princess Mary was the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. Aged 17 at the outbreak of the First World War, Princess Mary visited hospitals and welfare organisations with her mother during the first years of the war, and became very involved with charities which provided assistance to the mothers, wives and children of soldiers serving in France. She also worked in a canteen in a munitions factory in Hayes and was particularly interested in nursing, especially the work of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD). This interest led to Princess Mary taking an advanced course in nursing, which she passed with honours. Much to her regret however, she was not allowed to serve in France.

In 1918, at the age of 21, Princess Mary went to work as a VAD probationer at the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street. The announcement, made in The Times on 26 June, stated that the Princess was to work in the Alexandra Ward two days each week. Queen Mary visited her daughter at the hospital and reported on Princess Mary’s work in a letter to her son, Prince Albert (later King George VI) on 10 August 1918:

‘…This morning I went to the Great Ormond St Hospital to see Mary working in her ward. Both the Dr & Matron are much pleased with her work which she does very nicely & thoroughly. She has nice light hands for the work and takes a great deal of trouble over the children’s cases. She dressed a wound of one child; removed a needle with saline out of a baby’s side, made small incisions on another child’s arm, a test to ascertain whether the child is tuberculous or not – of course to me who knows little or nothing of such things it was a great surprise to find my daughter doing all this in the quietest, most composed manner!’…

Princess Mary left the hospital and nursing, her true vocation, in 1920. On her departure she was made President of the hospital and in 1926, she became Commandant-in-Chief of British Red Cross detachments. Princess Mary married Henry, Viscount Lascelles, in 1922

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