Forth­right Aussie worked for royal fam­ily

The Southland Times - - OBITUARIES -

Within weeks of Ge­of­frey Craw­ford join­ing the royal house­hold as as­sis­tant press sec­re­tary in 1992, the Bri­tish monar­chy en­tered its dark­est pe­riod since the ab­di­ca­tion cri­sis in 1936.

Dur­ing what the Queen later called her ‘‘an­nus hor­ri­bilis’’, he found him­self deal­ing not only with the mar­riage break­downs of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of York, but also with a dra­matic fire at Wind­sor Cas­tle.

Five years later, as the Queen’s press sec­re­tary, he was to help Her Majesty through the af­ter­math of Princess Diana’s death.

It was a dif­fi­cult pe­riod for him, made more so be­cause he had been a close ad­viser to the princess, and had lived with his own young fam­ily in an apart­ment not far from hers.

Hun­dreds of weep­ing mourn­ers left pic­tures, notes, can­dles and flow­ers piled so high that his chil­dren could scarcely see out of their win­dows.

He made head­lines him­self when the princess kept him in the dark about her 1995 Panorama in­ter­view, in which she caused a sen­sa­tion by claim­ing ‘‘there were three of us in this mar­riage’’.

Craw­ford was in Ar­gentina pre­par­ing for her of­fi­cial visit when it was broad­cast.

He flew home at once to re­sign from her staff. De­spite the pro­fes­sional hu­mil­i­a­tion, he re­mained fond of her, say­ing: ‘‘When the princess is out work­ing, meet­ing peo­ple, she is quite some­thing.’’

One of four sib­lings, Ge­of­frey Dou­glas Craw­ford was born in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia, in 1950.

His fa­ther, Dou­glas, was a rec­tor and his mother, Edna, had been a nurse.

He went to the King’s School in Par­ra­matta, and later took a de­gree in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at the Univer­sity of Syd­ney.

Re­cruited to the depart­ment of for­eign af­fairs in Can­berra in 1974, he was posted to Pa­pua New Guinea and then Cairo, where he be­came flu­ent in Ara­bic and met his fu­ture wife, El­iz­a­beth Wheatcroft, who was work­ing in the Bri­tish em­bassy.

They mar­ried in July 1980 in Lon­don and had three chil­dren: Alexan­dra, Ni­cholas and Sarah.

In 1987, he was rec­om­mended for sec­ond­ment to Buck­ing­ham Palace and, af­ter a short pe­riod, was of­fered a per­ma­nent po­si­tion in the Queen’s house­hold.

Af­ter his mar­riage fell apart in 1998, he be­gan a re­la­tion­ship with an old friend, Cate, who be­came his sec­ond wife.

He re­turned to Aus­tralia and be­came di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate af­fairs at the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion.

The Times, Lon­don

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