Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, Glamis Castle, King George VI of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, The Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon (August 4, 1900 – March 30, 2002) was Queen of the United Kingdom 1936 to 1952 as the wife of King George VI. She was the last Empress of India from 1936 until India gained independence from Britain in 1947. After her husband died, she was known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to avoid confusion with her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II.
Born into a family of British nobility, Elizabeth was the youngest daughter and the ninth of ten children of Claude Bowes-Lyon, Lord Glamis (later the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne in the Peerage of Scotland), and his wife, Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck. Her mother was descended from British Prime Minister William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, and Governor-General of India Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, who was the elder brother of another prime minister, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.
Elizabeth spent much of her childhood at St Paul’s Walden and at Glamis Castle, the Earl’s ancestral home in Scotland. She was educated at home by a governess until the age of eight, and was fond of field sports, ponies and dogs. When she started school in London, she astonished her teachers by precociously beginning an essay with two Greek words from Xenophon’s Anabasis. Her best subjects were literature and scripture. After returning to private education under a German Jewish governess, Käthe Kübler, she passed the Oxford Local Examination with distinction at age thirteen.
Prince Albert, Duke of York—”Bertie” to the family—was the second son of King George V and Mary of Teck. He initially proposed to Elizabeth in 1921, but she turned him down, being “afraid never, never again to be free to think, speak and act as I feel I really ought to”. At the same time, Elizabeth was courted by James Stuart, Albert’s equerry, until he left the Prince’s service for a better-paid job in the American oil business.
In February 1922, Elizabeth was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Albert’s sister, Princess Mary, to Viscount Lascelles. The following month, Albert proposed again, but she refused him once more. Eventually, in January 1923, Elizabeth agreed to marry Albert, despite her misgivings about royal life. Albert’s freedom in choosing Elizabeth, not a member of a royal family, though the daughter of a peer, was considered a gesture in favour of political modernisation; previously, princes were expected to marry princesses from other royal families.
They married on April 26, 1923, at Westminster Abbey. Unexpectedly, Elizabeth laid her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior on her way into the abbey, in memory of her brother Fergus. Elizabeth became styled Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York.
The couple and their daughters Elizabeth in 1926 and Margaret in 1930 and embodied traditional ideas of family and public service. The Duchess undertook a variety of public engagements and became known for her consistently cheerful countenance.
In 1936, King George VI died and within the year Elizabeth’s husband unexpectedly became king when his older brother, Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth then became queen.
The Duke of York reigned as King George VI and his wife,, now Queen Elizabeth, accompanied her husband on diplomatic tours to France and North America before the start of the Second World War. During the war, her seemingly indomitable spirit provided moral support to the British public. After the war, her husband’s health deteriorated, and she was widowed at the age of 51. Her elder daughter, aged 25, became the new queen, Elizabeth II.
During her husband’s reign she was known simply as “Her Majesty’ the Queen.” Once her daughter came to the throne has Queen Elizabeth II, her daughter became known as “Her Majesty’ the Queen” since she was the reigning monarch. The normal style for the widow of a king, “Queen Elizabeth”, would have been too similar to the style of her elder daughter, now Queen Elizabeth II. Another title which many widowed Queens are known by, Dowager Queen, did not suit Elizabeth and her bright and jovial personality. Therefore she was offically known as Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Popularly, she became the “Queen Mother” or the “Queen Mum”.
After the death of Queen Mary in 1953, Elizabeth was viewed as the matriarch of the British royal family. In her later years, she was a consistently popular member of the family, even when other members were suffering from low levels of public approval.
Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, continued an active public life until just a few months before her death at the age of 101 years, 238 days, which was seven weeks after the death of her younger daughter, Princess Margaret. She was one of the longest-lived members of any royal family.