Delhi Durbar, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, King George V of the United Kingdom, King Haakon VII of Norway, Princess Mary of the United Kingdom, Queen Mary, Victoria Mary (May) of Teck, World War I
From October 1905 the Prince and Princess of Wales undertook another eight-month tour, this time of India, and the children were once again left in the care of their grandparents. They passed through Egypt both ways and on the way back stopped in Greece. The tour was almost immediately followed by a trip to Spain for the wedding of King Alfonso XIII to Victoria-Eugenie of Battenberg, at which the bride and groom narrowly avoided assassination. Only a week after returning to Britain, May and George went to Norway for the coronation of George’s brother-in-law and sister, King Haakon VII and Queen Maud.
On May 6, 1910, Edward VII died. Victoria-Mary’s husband ascended the throne and she became queen consort. He husband disliked double names and asked her to drop one of her two official names, Victoria-Mary, she chose to be called Mary, preferring not to be known by the same style as her husband’s grandmother, Queen Victoria. Queen Mary was crowned with the King on June 22, 1911 at Westminster Abbey. Later in the year, the new King and Queen travelled to India for the Delhi Durbar held on December 12, 1911, and toured the sub-continent as Emperor and Empress of India, returning to Britain in February.
The beginning of Mary’s period as consort brought her into conflict with her mother-in-law, Queen Alexandra. Although the two were on friendly terms, Alexandra could be stubborn; she demanded precedence over Mary at the funeral of Edward VII, was slow in leaving Buckingham Palace, and kept some of the royal jewels that should have been passed to the new queen.
During the First World War, Queen Mary instituted an austerity drive at the palace, where she rationed food, and visited wounded and dying servicemen in hospital, which caused her great emotional strain. After three years of war against Germany, and with anti-German feeling in Britain running high, the Russian Imperial Family, which had been deposed by a revolutionary government, was refused asylum, possibly in part because the Russian Emperor’s wife was German-born.
Queen Mary, her daughter the Princess Mary as a nurse during World War I.
Though born as a Princess of Hesse and By Rhine the Empress of Russia was also a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. News of the Emperor Nicholas II’s abdication provided a boost to those in Britain who wished to replace their own monarchy with a republic.The war ended in 1918 with the defeat of Germany and the abdication and exile of Emperor Wilhelm II along with the rest of the German monarchs.
Two months after the end of the war, Queen Mary’s youngest son, John, died at the age of thirteen. She described her shock and sorrow in her diary and letters, extracts of which were published after her death: “our poor darling little Johnnie had passed away suddenly … The first break in the family circle is hard to bear but people have been so kind & sympathetic & this has helped us [the King and me] much.”
Her staunch support of her husband continued during the later half of his reign. She advised him on speeches and used her extensive knowledge of history and royalty to advise him on matters affecting his position. He appreciated her discretion, intelligence, and judgement.
She maintained an air of self-assured calm throughout all her public engagements in the years after the war, a period marked by civil unrest over social conditions, Irish independence, and Indian nationalism.
King George V and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom
In the late 1920s, George V became increasingly ill with lung problems, exacerbated by his heavy smoking. Queen Mary paid particular attention to his care. During his illness in 1928, one of his doctors, Sir Farquhar Buzzard, was asked who had saved the King’s life. He replied, “The Queen”.
In 1935, King George V and Queen Mary celebrated their silver jubilee, with celebrations taking place throughout the British Empire. In his jubilee speech, George paid public tribute to his wife, having told his speechwriter, “Put that paragraph at the very end. I cannot trust myself to speak of the Queen when I think of all I owe her.”
George V died on January 20, 1936, after his physician, Lord Dawson of Penn, gave him an injection of morphine and cocaine that may have hastened his death. Queen Mary’s eldest son ascended the throne as Edward VIII. She was now the queen mother, though she did not use that style, and was instead known as Her Majesty Queen Mary.