10 moments when armed forces women became stars of Country Life

Our famous Frontispiece – aka the 'girls in pearls' page – hasn't always featured pearls.

We’ve gone through the Country Life Picture Library archives to bring you this magnificent selection of armed forces personnel starring on the most famous page in British magazines.

The Marchioness of Londonderry – January 17, 1920

Born Edith Helen Chaplin in Blankney, Lincolnshire, The Marchioness of Londonderry was appointed as Colonel-in-Chief of the Women’s Volunteer Reserve (WVR) during the First World War. She also became the first woman to be awarded the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Military Division, after transforming her Mayfair townhouse into an Officers’ Hospital.

Mrs. Laughton Mathews, M.B.E., and the Marchioness of Cholmondeley – April 26, 1941

Mrs Laughton Mathews served as Director of the Women’s Royal Naval Service from April 1939 to November 1946, and was largely responsible for the Wrens’ successful re-establishment. Both she and Lady Cholmondeley, who was Staff Officer, were Unit Officers of the W.R.N.S. during the First World War.

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Miss Jocelyn Mary Hope – September 17, 1943

Miss Hope, born on July 15, 1922, was the only daughter of Captain Laurence Nugent Hope of the Welsh Guards. During the Second World War she served with the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

Lady Anne Spencer – October 29, 1943

Married at Westminster Abbey in 1944 to the then Lt Christopher Baldwin Hughes Wake-Walker, the paternal aunt to Diana, Princess of Wales. Lady Anne Spencer served as Third Officer of the Women’s Royal Naval Service during the Second World War.

Miss Sheila Parish – May 4, 1945

Sheila Parish, great-granddaughter of Prime Minister William Gladstone, was a driver for the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (F.A.N.Y) during the Second World War. She was stationed at Plymouth during Dunkirk and drove ambulances to meet the survivors of the HMS Arcadia, which had been sunk by a German U-boat.

 H.R.H Princess Elizabeth, A.T.S – July 27, 1945


Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II has ruled over the United Kingdom since February 1952, however, during the Second World War she took on the role of truck mechanic No. 230873 in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. Achieving the rank of honorary Junior Commander within five months of joining, she learnt to rebuild engines, change a wheel, and drive ambulances.

Flight Officer Constance Babington Smith, M.B.E – November 16, 1945

Previously a journalist for The Aeroplane magazine, Smith’s knowledge of aircraft meant she was naturally suited to the Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force. She joined at the onset of the Second World War, working in Air Intelligence and is widely credited with discovering the V1 flying bomb in a reconnaissance photograph of Peenemünde, Germany. Constance was subsequently awarded an MBE, in 1945.

Lieutenant Emma Spilsbury – April 13, 2010

Emma Spilsbury left the army in 2014 after eight years. She now works for Goldman Sachs.

Miss Cordelia Stirling-Aird – May 15, 2013

Cordelia Pollock (neé Stirling-Aird) currently works for a content company called Thought Spark, and is an emergency response volunteer.

Flight Lieutenant Felicity Price – November 12, 2014

Flight Lieutenant Felicity Price married her fellow RAF office Alastair Jamison in 2015 in a full military wedding with a guard of honour. The couple went on honeymoon in Borneo.