PRINCESS MARY VISITS MALTON (1928) film no: 142
This film documents the visit of Princess Mary to Malton in 1928, an event for which most of the town has turned out to greet her. Her visit includes the inspection of the Red Cross and Ambulance Brigade as well as the opening of the British Legion Club.
The film opens with an explanatory sub-title page:
Opening of the British Legion Club, Malton, by H.R.H. Princess Mary Viscountess Lascelles, Sept. 6th, 1928.
A brass band is playing and processing down a crowded street. Following the band are war veterans and British Legion members. All the men are wearing hats and displaying their medals on their lapels.
Title: ' Arrival of H.R.H. Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles'
A procession of three cars arrive led by two men on horseback. Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles step out to the waving crowds and are initially met by the local dignitaries.
Title: 'Inspection of the Red Cross Detachments, Ambulance Brigade, and British Legion'
Red Cross Nurses are lined up for the arrival, and one nurse curtseys upon meeting the Princess. Princess Mary then continues the inspection moving onto the war veterans of the British Legion. She also stops occasionally to speak to a few of the veterans. She is followed closely by Viscount Lascelles and the other local dignitaries.
Title: 'Civic Welcome by H. Gillespie, Esq. J.P., Chairman of the Urban Council'
On stage, Princess Mary, Viscount Lascelles, and the other dignitaries sit facing the crowd. They are smiling during the Chairman’s opening remarks.
Title: ' Presentation of the Imperial Service Medal to Mr. Arthur Stockdale'
Mr. Stockdale arrives on stage with another man who is holding a box containing the medal. The Princess then presents and pins the medal onto Mr. Stockdale.
Title: 'Address by Lord Middleton'
Title: 'Vote of thanks: Col. W.H. Diggle, D.S.O.'
Title: 'Reply to vote of thanks: Viscount Lascelles, K.G., D.S.O.'
These title scenes are intercut with each of the men mentioned making their appropriate remarks. After which, all the dignitaries leave the stage. It is only then the filmmaker shows the huge crowd that has turned out for the event. All of audience are seated in chairs placed into rows at this outside venue.
Title: 'Inspection of the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts.'
Here Princess Mary meets the girl guides, again stopping to talk occasionally to a few members of the group.
Title: 'The Kiddies'
The younger children of Malton have all lined up to meet the Princess. They are dressed in their best clothing, and many of them have Union Jack flags which they wave for the camera. Here, the film ends abruptly.
This film is one of many made in Yorkshire to commemorate and record local Royal visits and engagements. Always a highlight for any town or city, these occasions would often be filmed, usually through a commission from the local parish council. Princess Mary's visits takes on special interest because, after her marriage in 1924, she came to live in Yorkshire, first at Goldborough, and later at Harewood House. It was in the grounds of the Harewood House Estate that Princess Mary was to suffer a fatal heart attack whilst out with her elder son, Lord Harewood, and his children in 1965; and it is here too that she is buried.
The YFA has several other similar films of Princess Mary's visiting in Yorkshire: to the Newland Estate in 1949; to Castleford in 1929 to unveil the War memorial, open the Maternity home at Normanton and District Cottage Hospital, and open Castleford Public market; and, with her husband Viscount Lascelles, to Halifax in 1925. The films have an interest in comparing the manner of the visits with those of today. It is interesting, for example, that there are no police around when the Princess when she arrives to a large crowd, unusual even in those times. It might also be noted how the Princess is fairly informally dressed and stops occasionally to chat with the people she is inspecting, perhaps here providing a model for future similar royal visits.
Princess Mary was the only daughter of George V and Queen Mary. After King George V changed the Royal name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor (after the Castle of the same name) in 1917, Princess Mary was also known as Mary Windsor – not to be confused with the future Queen Mary. From 1932 she also had the title of the Princess Royal. Princess Mary's older brothers were Edward, the Duke of Windsor (becoming King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936) and George VI, the present Queen's father. In February 1922, at the age of 25, Mary married Viscount Henry Lascelles, later the Earl of Harewood, and settled to live in Harewood House, the Lascelles’ residence outside Leeds. On marriage Viscount Lascelles became a Knight of the Garter and the 6th Earl of Harewood (and a Baron) in 1929. A film of their wedding can be seen at the British Film Institutes Screenonline.
As a result of this marriage she inherited the acquired titles Viscountess of Lascelles and Countess of Harewood. The couple had two sons: George Lascelles, the seventh Earl of Harewood, who was born in 1923, and Gerald Lascelles, who was born 1924. In November 1947 she declined to attend the wedding of her niece, the future Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, to protest the fact that the Duke of Windsor had not been invited. In 1951 she became the chancellor of Leeds University.
Princess Mary is perhaps best known for her instigation of the Princess Mary's Gift Box. This was a special Christmas gift fund launched during the First World War. The Princess intended to pay for a gift for each soldier and sailor from her own personal allowance; however this was not practicable and, instead, the Princess gave her name to the fund.
Her engagements often reflected Princess Mary’s concerns. During World War One, Princess Mary visited hospitals and welfare organizations with her mother, assisting with projects to comfort British servicemen and give assistance to their families. She also took an active role in promoting the Girl Guides, becoming honorary President of the British Girl Guide Association in 1920, a position she held until her death. The Girl Guides grew out of the Scouts in 1910, when Baden-Powell’s sister, Agnes, wrote How Girls Can Help to Build Up the Empire, and went on to become the President of the new organisation.
An interest in nursing led to her taking a nursing course in 1918, before doing work at Great Ormond Street Hospital. It is no coincidence then that Princess Mary is opening the British Legion Club, or inspecting the Red Cross and the St John Ambulance Brigade. All three organisations have interesting histories and are still going strong today.
The British Legion was formed against a background of dissatisfaction and unrest among ex-Servicemen at the end of the First World War, with rioting of British troops in Calais and 3,000 marching on Whitehall. In response to this the British Legion was formed July 1921, uniting the four national organisations of ex-Servicemen. By 1925 it had 2,500 branches and 145,000 members.
The Red Cross originated somewhat earlier, in 1863, inspired by a Swiss businessman, Henry Dunant, who was horrified by the number of wounded on the battlefield of Solferino in 1859, part of the Italian War of Independence. The Red Cross flag is an inversion of the Swiss national flag in homage to Dunant. The following year, 1864, Dunant was also instrumental in establishing the Geneva Convention. The British Red Cross Society wasn’t formed until 1905, coming out of the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War, which was set up in 1870. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was founded in 1919 in Paris, when it widened its aims to include, "the improvement of health, the prevention of disease, and the mitigation of suffering throughout the world".
The St John Ambulance Brigade can trace its history back to Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in 1113. In 1887 trained volunteers were organised into a uniformed Brigade to provide a first aid and ambulance service at public events. It carried out the first blood transfusions in 1921.
In many parts of Britain, St John was the first and only provider of an ambulance service right up to 1948 when the National Health Service was founded. Although set up more to help with injuries in peacetime, in times of war it works together with the Red Cross.
Although seemingly a long time ago, the film opens up issues that have great contemporary relevance, especially with the recent upsurge in interest in the history of slavery and its ramifications. The family that Princess Mary married into, and her new Yorkshire home of Harewood House, are a part of this history.
The Lascelles originally arrived with the Norman Conquest in 1066, from the village of Lascelle in the French region of Orne. Henry, although at the age of forty 18 years Princess Mary’s senior, was considered to be a suitable husband for Mary because of his wealth. The Lascelles family fortune derived mainly from Henry Lascelles (1690-1753), who made his money from his position as a Barbadian customs collector and merchant, leaving net-assets of over £400,000 (approximately £52 million in today’s prices) on his death. It was this money that enabled his son Edwin to have Harewood House built between 1759-71. Through defaults and property repossession between 1773 and 1787, Edwin then acquired some 22 working plantations on the islands of Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, and Tobago and 2,947 slaves, worth £293,000 (about £28.3 million in today’s prices). This was then inherited by Edward Lascelles who was made Baron Harewood in 1796, and given an earldom in 1812. After the abolition of slavery in 1833, the 2nd Earl of Harewood received £23,309 (approximately £1.9 million in today’s money) in compensation for the loss of his slaves.
Many of the slaves who worked for the Lascelles were named Harewood, after the project they were helping finance. Some of their descendents now live in Leeds. One descendent, the actor David Harewood – who starred in the film Blood Diamond, and a number of TV series including Silent Witness, The Ruby In The Smoke, Babyfather and Fat Friends – recently, in 2007, engaged the present Viscount Lascelles about this shameful history. Afterwards he told the BBC, "We can look forward to a time when the name Harewood does not necessarily stand for something which is dark and murky."
This film is an extract. To access the complete film please contact the Yorkshire Film Archive