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HSH Princess Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes; (May 26, 1867 – March 24, 1953) was technically a princess of Teck, in the Kingdom of Württemberg, yet she was born and raised in the United Kingdom. Her parents were Francis, Duke of Teck, and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge.

HM Queen Mary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Mary’s father, Francis, Duke of Teck, was born on August 26, 1837 in Esseg, Slavonia (now Osijek, Croatia), and christened Franz Paul Karl Ludwig Alexander. His father was Duke Alexander of Württemberg, the son of Duke Ludwig of Württemberg. His mother was Countess Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde. The marriage was morganatic, meaning that Francis had no succession rights to the Kingdom of Württemberg. His title at birth was Count Francis von Hohenstein, after his mother was created Countess von Hohenstein in her own right by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria. In 1863, Francis was created Prince of Teck, with the style of Serene Highness, in the Kingdom of Württemberg. He was created Duke of Teck by the King Carl I of Württemberg in 1871.

Mary’s mother, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge was born on November 27, 1833 in Hanover, Germany. Her father was Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, the youngest surviving son of George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Princess Mary Adelaide’s mother was Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel, the daughter of Prince Friedrich of Hesse-Cassel. This means Princess Mary Adelaide and Queen Victoria were first cousins.

By the age of 30, Mary Adelaide was still unmarried. Her large girth (earning her the disparaging epithet of “Fat Mary”) and lack of income were contributing factors, as was her advanced age. However, her royal rank prevented her from marrying someone not of royal blood. Her cousin, Queen Victoria, took pity on her and attempted to arrange pairings.

Eventually a suitable candidate was found in Württemberg, Prince Francis of Teck. The Prince was of lower rank than Mary Adelaide, was the product of a morganatic marriage and had no succession rights to the throne of Württemberg, but was at least of princely title and of royal blood. With no other options available, Mary Adelaide decided to marry him. The couple were married on June 12, 1866 at St. Anne’s Church, Kew, Surrey.

Duke and Duchess of Teck with Princess Victoria Mary

Princess Victoria-Mary was their first child and only daughter and she was followed by:
▪Prince Adolphus of Teck (1868–1927); later Duke of Teck and Marquess of Cambridge.
* Prince Francis of Teck (1870–1910).
* Prince Alexander of Teck (1874–1957); later Earl of Athlone.

At the age of 24, Princess Victoria-Mary of Teck was betrothed to her second cousin once removed Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark, but six weeks after the announcement of the engagement, Prince Albert Victor died unexpectedly during an influenza pandemic. The following year, she became engaged to His next surviving brother, George, who subsequently became king. Before her husband’s accession, she was successively Duchess of York, Duchess of Cornwall, and Princess of Wales.

HSH Princess Victoria Mary of Teck

As queen consort from 1910, she supported her husband through the First World War, his ill health, and major political changes arising from the aftermath of the war. After George’s death in 1936, she became queen mother when her eldest son, Edward VIII, ascended the throne, but to her dismay, he abdicated later the same year in order to marry twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. She supported her second son, George VI, until his death in 1952. She died the following year, during the reign of her granddaughter Elizabeth II, who had not yet been crowned.

Queen Mary with her granddaughters Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret of York.

Queen Mary has become the symbol of austerity and dignified royal demeanour, her eldest surviving son was not among the admirers.

“Upon her death from lung cancer in 1953, her son, David, Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII, remarked:

I somehow feel that the fluids in her veins must always have been as icy-cold as they now are in death.

(Brendon, Piers and Whitehead, Phillip. The Windsors: A Dynasty Revealed. (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1994)”