Forthright Aussie worked for royal family
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