Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

Infobox British Royalty|majesty|consort
name =Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
title =Queen of the United Kingdom
Empress of India

imgw =200
caption =The Queen at the World's Fair, New York City, 1939.
reign =11 December 1936 – 6 February 1952
coronation =12 May 1937
spouse =George VI
issue =Elizabeth II
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
full name =Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon
titles ="HM" Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
"HM" The Queen
"HRH" The Duchess of York
"The Lady" Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
"The Hon" Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
royal house =House of Windsor
father =Claude, Earl of Strathmore
mother =Cecilia, Countess of Strathmore
date of birth =birth date|1900|8|4|df=y
place of birth =London or Hitchin
date of christening =23 September 1900
place of christening = All Saints Church, St Paul's Walden Bury
date of death =Death date and age|2002|03|30|1900|08|04|df=yes
place of death =Royal Lodge, Windsor
date of burial =9 April 2002
place of burial =St George's Chapel, Windsor|

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (Elizabeth Angela Marguerite; 4 August 1900 – 30 March 2002) was the Queen Consort of King George VI of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions from 1936 until his death in 1952. After her husband's death, she was known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, [LondonGazette|issue=55932|linkeddate=2000-08-04|startpage=8617|supp=yes|notarchive=yes] [LondonGazette|issue=56653|linkeddate=2002-08-05|startpage=1|supp=yes|notarchive=yes] [LondonGazette|issue=56969|linkeddate=2003-06-16|startpage=7439|notarchive=yes] to avoid confusion with her daughter, Elizabeth II (see queen mother). Before her husband ascended the throne, from 1923 to 1936 she was known as the Duchess of York. She was the last Queen-consort of Ireland and Empress-consort of India.

Born into a family of Scottish nobility (her father inherited the Earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorne in 1904), she came to prominence in 1923 when she married Albert, Duke of York, the second son of George V and Queen Mary. As Duchess of York, she – along with her husband and their two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret – embodied traditional ideas of family and public service. [cite book |first=Andrew |last=Roberts |coauthors=Edited by Antonia Fraser |title=The House of Windsor |publisher=Cassell and Co. |location=London |year=2000 |isbn=0-304-35406-6 |pages=pp.58–59 ] She undertook a variety of public engagements, and became known as the "Smiling Duchess" because of her consistent public expression. [cite video|people=British Screen News|title=Our Smiling Duchess|publisher=British Screen Productions|location=London|medium=film |year=1930]

In 1936, her husband unexpectedly became King when her brother-in-law, Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry his mistress, the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. As Queen Consort, Elizabeth accompanied her husband on diplomatic tours to France and North America in the run-up to World War II. During the war, her seemingly indomitable spirit provided moral support to the British public, and in recognition of her role as a propaganda tool, Adolf Hitler described her as "the most dangerous woman in Europe".citation |url=http://www.winstonchurchill.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=262 |title=The Churchill Centre |accessdate=2007-02-13 ] After the war, her husband's health deteriorated and she was widowed at the age of 51.

With her brother-in-law living abroad and her elder daughter now Queen at the age of 25, when her mother-in-law Queen Mary died in 1953 Elizabeth became the senior member of the Royal Family and assumed a position as family matriarch. In her later years, she was a consistently popular member of the Royal Family, when other members were suffering from low levels of public approval.

Only after the illness and death of her own younger daughter, Princess Margaret, did she appear to grow frail. She died seven weeks after Margaret, at the age of 101. During the year of her death in 2002, she was ranked 61st in the 100 Greatest Britons poll.

Early life

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was the youngest daughter and the ninth of ten children of Claude George Bowes-Lyon, Lord Glamis, (later 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne), and his wife, Cecilia Nina Cavendish-Bentinck. Amongst her ancestors were British Prime Minister William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, and Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley (Governor-General of India and elder brother of another Prime Minister, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington).

The location of her birth remains uncertain, but reputedly she was born either in her parents' London home at Belgrave Mansions, Grosvenor Gardens, or in a horse-drawn ambulance on the way to the hospital. [cite book |first=Alison |last=Weir |title=Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy, Revised edition |publisher=Pimlico |location=London |year=1996 |isbn=0-7126-7448-9|pages=p.330] Her birth was registered at Hitchin, Hertfordshire, [Civil Registration Indexes: Births, General Register Office, England and Wales. Jul–Sep 1900 Hitchin, vol.3a, p.667] near the Strathmores' country house, St Paul's Walden Bury, which was also given as her birthplace in the census the following year. [1901 England Census, Class RG13, Piece 1300, Folio 170, Page 5] She was christened there on 23 September 1900, in the local parish church.

She spent much of her childhood at St Paul's Walden and at Glamis Castle, the Earl's ancestral home in Glamis, Angus, Scotland. Until the age of 8, she was educated at home by a governess, and was fond of field sports, ponies and dogs. [cite book |last=Vickers |first=Hugo |title=Elizabeth: The Queen Mother |publisher=Arrow Books/Random House |year=2006 |isbn=978-00994-76627 |pages=p.8] When she started school in London, she astonished her teachers by precociously starting 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 governess she passed the Oxford Local Examination with distinction aged 13. [Vickers, pp.10–14]

On her fourteenth birthday, Britain declared war on Germany. Her elder brother, Fergus, an officer in the Black Watch Regiment, was killed in action in France at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Another brother, Michael, was reported missing in action in May 1917. He had actually been captured after being wounded and remained in a prisoner of war camp for the rest of the war. Glamis was turned into a convalescent home for wounded soldiers, which Elizabeth helped to run. One of the soldiers she treated wrote in her autograph book that she was to be "Hung, drawn and...quartered...hung in diamonds, drawn in a coach, and...quartered in the best house in the land." [citation |first=Judy |last=Wade |title=The Sunday Express |date=9 October 2005]

Marriage to Prince Albert

Prince Albert – "Bertie" to the family – was the second son of George V. 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".citation|last=Ezard|first=John|title=A life of legend, duty and devotion |newspaper=The Guardian|date=1 April 2002|page=18] When he declared he would marry no other, his mother, Queen Mary, visited Glamis to see for herself the girl who had stolen her son's heart. She became convinced that Elizabeth was "the one girl who could make Bertie happy", but nevertheless refused to interfere. [cite book |last=Airlie |first=Mabell |authorlink=Mabell Ogilvy, Countess of Airlie |title=Thatched with Gold |publisher=Hutchinson |location=London |year=1962 |pages=p.167]

Eventually Elizabeth agreed to marry Albert, despite her misgivings about royal life. [cite book |last=Longford |first=Elizabeth |authorlink=Elizabeth Longford |title=The Queen Mother |publisher=Weidenfeld & Nicolson |year=1981 |pages=p.23] The engagement was announced in January 1923. Albert's freedom in choosing Elizabeth, legally a commoner 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. [Roberts, pp.57–58] They married on 26 April 1923, at Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth laid her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior on her way into the Abbey, [Vickers, p.64] a gesture which every royal bride since has copied, though subsequent brides have chosen to do this on the way back from the altar rather than to it. She became styled "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York". They honeymooned at Polesden Lacey, a manor house in Surrey, and then went to Scotland. [cite book |last=Howarth |first=Patrick |title=George VI |publisher=Century Hutchinson |year=1987 |pages=p.37–38|isbn=0-091-71000-6]

In 1926, the couple had their first child, Princess Elizabeth – "Lilibet" to the family – who would later become Queen Elizabeth II. Another daughter, Margaret Rose, was born four years later. The Duke and Duchess of York travelled to Australia to open Parliament House in Canberra in 1927. [citation|url=http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page1041.asp|title=The Official Memorial Site of the Queen Mother|accessdate=2007-02-26]

Accession and abdication of Edward VIII

On 20 January 1936, King George V died and the succession passed to Albert's brother, Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales, who became King Edward VIII. George and Mary had been forthcoming as to their reservations about their eldest child. Indeed, George had expressed the wish, "I pray God that my eldest son will never marry and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne." [cite book |last=Ziegler |first=Philip |authorlink=Philip Ziegler |title=King Edward VIII: The Official Biography |location=London |publisher=Collins |year=1990 |pages=p.199|isbn=0-002-15741-1]

As if granting his parents' wish, Edward forced a constitutional crisis by insisting on marrying the American divorcée Mrs Wallis Simpson. Although legally Edward could have married Mrs Simpson and remained king, his ministers advised him that the people would never accept her as queen and advised against the marriage. Indeed, if the King ignored their advice, they would have to resign; this would have irreparably ruined Edward's status as a constitutional monarch, obliged to accept ministerial advice. [cite book|last=Beaverbrook|first=Lord|authorlink=Max Aitken, Baron Beaverbook|title=The Abdication of King Edward VIII|publisher=Hamish Hamilton|location=London|coauthors=Edited by A. J. P. Taylor|year=1966|pages=p.57] He chose to abdicate in favour of Albert, [The Duke of Windsor, p.387] who had no desire to become king and had even less training for the role (despite his parents' aforementioned hopes for him). Albert took the regnal name George VI. He and Elizabeth were crowned King and Queen of Great Britain, Ireland and the British dominions beyond the seas, and Emperor and Empress of India on 12 May 1937, the date already nominated for the coronation of Edward VIII. [ Elizabeth's crown contained the Koh-i-Noor diamond and was heavily based on that of Queen Mary, whose crown was taken to Garrard's with "the purpose of preparing designs for a new Crown for the Queen" (See [http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page1067.asp British Royal Family website, "HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: Crown"] ). As with Queen Mary's crown, the arches are detachable, a feature which Elizabeth used in 1953 at her daughter's coronation as Queen Mary had done at the 1937 coronation of George VI and Elizabeth.]

Elizabeth supported George VI's decision to withhold the style of Royal Highness from the ex-King Edward's wife and any of his children. [Letter from George VI to Winston Churchill in which the King says his family shared his view, quoted by Howarth, p.143] When Edward and Wallis Simpson married, Mrs Simpson became the Duchess of Windsor, but not a Royal Highness. Elizabeth was later quoted as referring to the Duchess as "that woman". [Michie, Alan A. (17 March 1941) "Life Magazine", quoted by Vickers, p.224] [According to Lady Mosley, who knew both the future Queen Mother and the Duchess of Windsor, the Queen's antipathy toward her sister-in-law may have had a deeper source. As Lady Mosley wrote, "probably the theory of their [the Windsors'] contemporaries that Cake [a Mitford nickname for the Queen Mother, derived from her fashion sense] was rather in love with him [the Duke] (as a girl) & took second best, may account for much." Letter from Lady Mosley to her sister the Duchess of Devonshire, 5 June 1972, quoted in Mosley, Charlotte, editor (2007). "The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters", London: Fourth Estate, p.582] For her part, the Duchess referred to Elizabeth as "Cookie". [Hogg, James; Mortimer, Michael (2002). The Queen Mother Remembered. BBC books, pp.84–85. ISBN 0-563-36214-6]

Queen consort to George VI (1936–1952)

Royal tour of Canada and the United States in 1939

In June 1939, Elizabeth's husband became the first reigning King of Canada to tour the country, as well as the United States. [According to the official Royal Tour historian Gustave Lanctot, George VI was to be present in Canada as a living example the fact of Canada's status as an independent kingdom. During the tour of the United States, the King and Queen were accompanied by Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, as the sole Minister in Attendance, rather than by a British minister, by way of reinforcing that their visit to the United States was a visit from Canada. Source: citation|url=http://www.parl.gc.ca/Infoparl/english/issue.htm?param=130&art=820|last=Galbraith|first=William|journal=Canadian Parliamentary Review|title=Fiftieth Anniversary of the 1939 Royal Visit|volume=12|issue=3|year=1989] [citation|url=http://www.collectionscanada.ca/05/0532/053201/053201130206_e.html |title=The Royal Tour of 1939|publisher=Library and Archives Canada|accessdate=2007-03-14] The extensive tour took them across Canada from coast to coast and back, with a brief detour into the United States, where they visited the Roosevelts in the White House and at their Hudson Valley estate. The royal couple's reception by the Canadian and U.S. public was extremely enthusiastic, [Vickers, p.187] dissipating in large measure any residual feeling that George and Elizabeth were in any way a lesser substitute for Edward. [cite book |last=Bradford |first=Sarah |title=The Reluctant King: The Life and Reign of George VI |publisher=St Martin's |location=New York |year=1989 |pages=pp.298–299] Elizabeth told Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister, "that tour made us", [Bradford, p.281] and she returned to Canada frequently both on official tours and privately. [citation|url=http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page1049.asp|title=Overseas Visits as Queen Mother|publisher=Memorial Site of the Queen Mother|accessdate=2007-02-26]

In Canada she was quoted throughout her life as to her reported immediate response on landing in 1939: a World War I veteran asked, during one of the earliest of the royal couple's repeated encounters with the crowds, "Are you Scots or English?" She replied, "I'm Canadian!" [citation |url=http://www.pch.gc.ca/royalvisit2005/speech_7oct2002_e.cfm |title=Speech Delivered by Her Majesty the Queen at the Fairmont Hotel, Vancouver, Monday, 7th October 2002 |publisher=Canadian Heritage |accessdate=2007-02-13 ]

World War II

During World War II, the King and Queen became symbols of the nation's resistance. Shortly after the declaration of war, The Queen's Book of the Red Cross was conceived. Fifty authors and artists contributed to the book, which was fronted by Cecil Beaton's portrait of the Queen and was sold in aid of the Red Cross. [Vickers, p.205] Elizabeth publicly refused to leave London or send the children to Canada, even during the Blitz, when she was advised by the Cabinet to do so. She said, "The children won't go without me. I won't leave the King. And the King will never leave." [citation |url=http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page1043.asp |title=The Official Web-site of the British Monarchy |accessdate=2007-05-14]

She often made visits to parts of London that were targeted by the German Luftwaffe, in particular the East End, near London's docks. Her visits initially provoked hostility. Rubbish was thrown at her and the crowds jeered, in part because she dressed in expensive clothing which served to alienate her from those suffering the privations caused by the war. [citation |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/queenmother/article/0,,676855,00.html |first=Lucy |last=Moore |title=A wicked twinkle and a streak of steel |journal=The Guardian |date=31 March 2002 |accessdate=2007-02-13] She explained that if the public came to see her they would wear their best clothes, so she should reciprocate in kind; Norman Hartnell dressed her in gentle colours and never black, in order to represent "the rainbow of hope". [Vickers, p.219] When Buckingham Palace itself took several hits during the height of the bombing, Elizabeth was able to say, "I'm glad we've been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face." [citation |url=http://www.britainexpress.com/royals/queen-mother.htm |title=BritainExpress |accessdate=2007-02-13] [citation |url=http://www.onwar.com/articles/0205.htm |title=On War |accessdate=2007-02-13]

Though the King and Queen spent the working day at Buckingham Palace, partly for security and family reasons they stayed at night at Windsor Castle (about 20 miles [35 kilometres] west of central London) with the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. The Palace had lost much of its staff to the army, and most of the rooms were shut. [Vickers, p.229] Due to fears of imminent invasion during the "Phony War" the Queen was given revolver training. [Bradford, p.321]

Because of her effect on British morale, Adolf Hitler is said to have called her "the most dangerous woman in Europe". However, prior to the war both she and her husband, like most of Parliament and the British public, had been supporters of appeasement and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, believing after the experience of the First World War that war had to be avoided at all costs. After the resignation of Chamberlain, the King asked Winston Churchill to form a government. Although the King was initially reluctant to support Churchill, in due course both the King and Queen came to respect and admire him for what they perceived to be his courage and solidarity. [citation |first=H. C. G. |last=Matthew |title=George VI (1895–1952) |journal=Oxford Dictionary of National Biography |publisher=Oxford University Press |year=2004] [Vickers, pp.210–211]

Queen Mother (1952–2002)

New role in widowhood

On 6 February 1952, King George VI died of lung cancer. Shortly afterward, Elizabeth began to be styled "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother". This style was adopted because 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. [citation|publisher=CBC News|last=McCluskey|first=Peter|title=Elizabeth: The Queen Mother|url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/obit/queenmother/|accessdate=2007-02-28] Popularly, she simply became "the Queen Mother" or "the Queen Mum".

She was devastated by the King's death and retired to Scotland; however, after a meeting with Prime Minister Winston Churchill, she broke her retirement and resumed her public duties. [Hogg and Mortimer, p.161] Eventually she became just as busy as Queen Mother as she had been as Queen. In July 1953, she undertook her first overseas visit since the funeral, laying the foundation stone in Mount Pleasant of the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland – the current University of Zimbabwe. [citation|url=http://www.uz.ac.zw/information/uz.html|title=University of Zimbabwe Department of Information|accessdate=2007-02-10]

The widowed queen also oversaw the restoration of the remote Castle of Mey on the Caithness coast of Scotland, which she used to "get away from everything" [Vickers, p.314] for three weeks in August and ten days in October each year. [citation|url=http://www.castleofmey.org.uk/castle-ownership.html|title=The Queen Elizabeth Castle Of Mey Trust|accessdate=2007-02-23] Inspired by the amateur jockey Lord Mildmay, [Rowe, David (31 March 2002). "Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother 1900-2002: The Racegoer" "The Sunday Mirror"
*citation|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/horse_racing/1902845.stm|title='First Lady of the Turf' mourned|publisher=BBC|date=30 March 2002|accessdate=2007-09-28
] she developed an interest in horse racing that continued for the rest of her life, owning the winners of approximately 500 races. Her distinctive light blue colours were carried by horses such as Special Cargo, the winner of the 1984 Whitbread Gold Cup and The Argonaut. Although (contrary to rumour) she never placed bets, she did have the racing commentaries piped direct to her London residence, Clarence House, so she could follow the races. [Vickers, p.458]

Before the marriage of Lady Diana Spencer to her grandson Prince Charles, and after Diana's death, the Queen Mother – known for her personal and public charm – was by far the most popular member of the British Royal Family. Her signature dress of large upturned hat with netting and dresses with draped panels of fabric became a distinctive personal style. The Queen Mother had a discerning love of the arts, and purchased works by Claude Monet, Augustus John and Peter Carl Fabergé, among others.


In her later years, the Queen Mother became known for her longevity. Her hundredth birthday was celebrated in a number of ways: a parade that celebrated the highlights of her life included contributions from Norman Wisdom and John Mills. [citation|publisher=BBC|title=Birthday pageant for Queen Mother|date=19 July 2000|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/841740.stm|accessdate=2007-02-23] She attended a lunch at the Guildhall, London, at which George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, accidentally attempted to drink her glass of wine. Her quick admonition of "That's mine!" caused widespread amusement. [Vickers, p.490]

In December 2001, the Queen Mother had a fall in which she fractured her pelvis. Even so, she insisted on standing for the National Anthem during the memorial service for her husband on 6 February the following year. [Vickers, p.495] Just three days later, her second daughter Princess Margaret died. On 13 February 2002, at Sandringham House, the Queen Mother fell and cut her arm. A doctor and an ambulance with a resuscitation unit (the latter only being there as a precaution) were called to Sandringham, where the wound on the Queen Mother's arm was dressed.citation|publisher=BBC|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1818165.stm|title=Queen Mother hurt in minor fall|date=13 February 2002|accessdate=2007-02-23] Despite this fall, the Queen Mother was still keen to attend Margaret's funeral at St George's Chapel, Windsor, two days later on Friday of that week. The Queen and the rest of the royal family were greatly concerned about the journey the Queen Mother was facing to get from Norfolk to Windsor.Vickers, pp.497–498] Nevertheless, she made the journey but insisted that she be shielded from the press, so that no photographs of her in a wheelchair could be taken.


On 30 March 2002, at 3:15pm, the Queen Mother died peacefully in her sleep at the Royal Lodge, Windsor, with her surviving daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, at her bedside. She had been suffering from a cold for the last four months of her life. She was 101 years old, and at the time of her death was the longest-lived member of the royal family in British history. This record was broken on 24 July 2003, by her last surviving sister-in-law Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, who died aged 102 on 29 October 2004.

She grew camellias in every one of her gardens, and as her body was taken from the Royal Lodge, Windsor to lie in state at Westminster Hall, camellias from her own gardens were placed on top of the flag-draped coffin. [citation|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/queenmother/article/0,,678048,00.html|journal=The Guardian|first=Stephen|last=Bates|accessdate=2007-02-26|date=3 April 2002|title=Piper's farewell for Queen Mother ] More than 200,000 people over three days filed past as she lay in state in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster. Members of the household cavalry and other branches of the armed forces stood guard at the four corners of the catafalque. At one point, the Queen Mother's four grandsons Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Viscount Linley mounted the guard as a mark of respect known as the Vigil of the Princes—a very high honour only bestowed once before at King George V's lying in state.

On the day of the Queen Mother's funeral, 9 April, more than a million people filled the area outside Westminster Abbey and along the convert|23|mi|km|sing=on route from central London to her final resting place beside her husband and younger daughter in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. [citation|publisher=CNN|title=Queues at Queen Mother vault |url=http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/europe/04/10/uk.queenmum/index.html |accessdate=2007-02-26|date=10 April 2002] At her request, after her funeral the wreath that had lain atop her coffin was placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, a gesture that echoed her wedding-day tribute. [citation|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1920360.stm |publisher=BBC|date=10 April 2002|accessdate=2007-02-26|title=Mourners visit Queen Mother's vault]

Public perception

Despite being regarded as one of the most popular members of the Royal Family in recent times who helped to stabilise the popularity of the monarchy as a whole,citation|first=Lawrence |last=Goldman|title=Elizabeth (1900–2002) |journal=Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|publisher=Oxford University Press|date=May 2006 |url=http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/76927 |accessdate=2007-02-23|doi=10.1093/ref:odnb/76927 ] Elizabeth was subject to various degrees of criticism during her life. Among the most serious relates to perceived partiality in relation to the appeasement debate in the 1930s. Upon Neville Chamberlain's return from Munich in 1938, he was invited onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace to receive acclamation from a crowd of well-wishers. While broadly popular among the general public, Chamberlain's policy towards Hitler was the subject of some opposition in the House of Commons, which led historian John Grigg to describe the King's behaviour in associating himself so prominently with a politician as "the most unconstitutional act by a British sovereign in the present century". [Hitchens, Christopher (1 April 2002). [http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,677098,00.html "Mourning will be brief"] . "The Guardian". Retrieved on 3 April 2008] However, historians have also argued that the King only ever followed ministerial advice and acted as he was constitutionally bound to do. [cite book|last=Sinclair|first=David|title=Two Georges: the Making of the Modern Monarchy|publisher=Hodder and Staughton|year=1988|pages=p.230|isbn=0-340-33240-9] In 1945, Churchill was invited onto the balcony in a similar gesture.

During the 1939 Royal Tour of North America, U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said that Elizabeth was "a little self-consciously regal". [cite book |first=Joseph P. |last=Lash |title=Eleanor and Franklin |publisher=Norton |location=New York |year=1971 |pages=p.582] During a visit to London in 1948 she observed, " [Elizabeth and her family] are nice people but so far removed from real life, it seems." [cite book |first=Joseph P. |last=Lash |title=Eleanor: The Years Alone |publisher=Norton |location=New York |year=1972 |pages=p.47]

Kitty Kelley, a controversial writer, and others have alleged that during World War II Elizabeth did not abide by the rationing regulations to which the rest of the population was subject.cite book |first=Kitty |last=Kelley |title=The Royals |publisher=Time Warner |location=New York |year=1977] [cite book |last=Picknett |first=Lynn|coauthors=Prince, Clive; Prior, Stephen; & Brydon, Robert |title=War of the Windsors: A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy |publisher=Mainstream Publishing |year=2002 |isbn=1-84018-631-3 |pages=p.161] However, this point is contradicted by the official records; [The memoirs of the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Woolton C.H., P.C., D.L., LL.D. (1959) London: Cassell] [Roberts, p.67] and Eleanor Roosevelt during her stay at Buckingham Palace during the war reported expressly on the rationed food served in the Palace and the limited bathwater that was permitted. [cite book |last=Goodwin |first=Doris Kearns |authorlink=Doris Kearns Goodwin |title=No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II |publisher=Simon & Schuster |location=New York |year=1995 |pages=p.380]

Kelley also alleged that Elizabeth used racist slurs to refer to black people, a claim strongly denied by Major Colin Burgess. [cite book |first=Major Colin |last=Burgess |title=Behind Palace Doors: My Service as the Queen Mother's Equerry |publisher=John Blake Publishing |year=2006 |pages=p.233] Major Burgess was the husband of Elizabeth Burgess, the mixed-race secretary who accused members of the Prince of Wales's Household of racial abuse. [citation|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1697526.stm|title=Royal secretary loses race bias case|publisher=BBC|date=7 December 2001|accessdate=2007-06-27] Queen Elizabeth made no racist public comments. Woodrow Wyatt records in his diary that when he expressed the view that non-white countries have nothing in common with "us", she told him, "I am very keen on the Commonwealth. They're all like us." [cite book|author=Wyatt, Woodrow|authorlink=Woodrow Wyatt|coauthors=Edited by Sarah Curtis|title=The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt: Volume II|year=1999|publisher=Macmillan|location=London|pages=p.547|isbn=0-333-77405-1] However, she did distrust Germans; she told Woodrow Wyatt, "Never trust them, never trust them." [Wyatt, "Volume II" p.608] While she may have held such views, it has been argued that they were normal for British people of her generation and upbringing, who had experienced two vicious wars with Germany. [Bates, Stephen (1 April 2002). [http://www.guardian.co.uk/queenmother/article/0,,677159,00.html "Enigmatic and elusive, she lent a mystique to upper-class strengths and failings"] . "The Guardian". Retrieved on 3 April 2008]

Her political views were never publicly disclosed, though a letter she wrote in 1947 described Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee's "high hopes of a socialist heaven on earth" as fading and presumably describes those who voted for him as "poor people, so many half-educated and bemused. I do love them." [citation|first=Andrew|last=Pierce|title=What Queen Mother really thought of Attlee's socialist 'heaven on earth'|journal=The Times|date=13 May 2006|url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2178089,00.html|accessdate=2007-06-27] She told the Duchess of Grafton, "I love communists". [Hogg and Mortimer, p.89] Woodrow Wyatt thought her "much more pro Conservative than the Queen or the Prince of Wales" [cite book|author=Wyatt, Woodrow|authorlink=Woodrow Wyatt|coauthors=Edited by Sarah Curtis|title=The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt: Volume I|year=1998|publisher=Macmillan|location=London|pages=p.255|isbn=0-333-74166-8] but she later told him, "I like the dear old Labour Party." [Wyatt, "Volume I" p.309]

In 1987, she was criticised when it emerged that two of her nieces, Katherine Bowes-Lyon and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, had both been committed to a psychiatric hospital because they were severely handicapped. However, Burke's Peerage had listed the sisters as dead, apparently because their mother, Fenella (the Queen Mother's sister-in-law), "was 'extremely vague' when it came to filling in forms and might not have completed the paperwork for the family entry correctly". [citation | url= |first=Neil |last=MacKay |title=Nieces abandoned in state-run mental asylum and declared dead to avoid public shame |journal=The Sunday Herald |date=7 April 2002 |accessdate=2007-02-13] When Nerissa had died the year before, her grave was originally marked with a plastic tag and a serial number. The Queen Mother claimed that the news of their institutionalisation came as a surprise to her. [citation |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2000/jul/23/queenmother.monarchy |first=Ben |last=Summerskill |title=The Princess the palace hides away |journal=The Guardian |date=23 July 2000 |accessdate=2007-02-13]


Sir Hugh Casson described her vividly as like "a wave breaking on a rock, because although she is sweet and pretty and charming, she also has a basic streak of toughness and tenacity. … when a wave breaks on a rock, it showers and sparkles with a brilliant play of foam and droplets in the sun, yet beneath is really hard, tough rock, fused, in her case, from strong principles, physical courage and a sense of duty." [Hogg and Mortimer, p.122] Peter Ustinov described her during a student demonstration in 1968, "As we arrived in a solemn procession the students pelted us with toilet rolls. They kept hold of one end, like streamers at a ball, and threw the other end. The Queen Mother stopped and picked these up as though somebody had misplaced them. [Returning them to the students she said,] 'Was this yours? Oh, could you take it?' And it was her sang-froid and her absolute refusal to be shocked by this, which immediately silenced all the students. She knows instinctively what to do on those occasions. She doesn't rise to being heckled at all; she just pretends it must be an oversight on the part of the people doing it. The way she reacted not only showed her presence of mind, but was so charming and so disarming, even to the most rabid element, that she brought peace to troubled waters." [Hogg and Mortimer, pp.212–213]

Elizabeth maintained a serene image throughout her public engagements, except once, during the 1947 Royal Tour of South Africa, when she rose from the royal carriage to beat an admirer about the head with her umbrella, having mistaken enthusiasm for hostility. [Bradford, p.391] Being a keen angler, she once calmly joked, after being rushed to hospital when a fish bone stuck in her throat, "The salmon have got their own back."citation |title=Queen of Quips |journal=The Straits Times (Singapore) |date=7 August 2000]

She was well-known for her dry witticisms. On hearing that Edwina Mountbatten was buried at sea, she said: "Dear Edwina, she always liked to make a splash." Accompanied by the gay writer and wit Sir Noël Coward at a gala, she mounted a staircase lined with Guards. Noticing Coward's eyes flicker momentarily across the soldiers, she murmured to him: "I wouldn't if I were you, Noël; they count them before they put them out."cite book |first=Thomas |last=Blaikie |title=You look awfully like the Queen: Wit and Wisdom from the House of Windsor |publisher=HarperCollins |location=London |year=2002 |isbn=0-00-714874-7] After being advised by a Conservative Minister in the 1970s not to employ homosexuals, the Queen Mother observed that without them, "we'd have to go self-service". On the fate of a gift of a nebuchadnezzar of champagne (20 bottles' worth) even if her family didn't come for the holidays, she said, "I'll polish it off myself." [cite book |first=Graham |last=Taylor |title=Elizabeth: The Woman and the Queen |publisher=Telegraph Books |year=2002 |pages=p.93] Her extravagant lifestyle amused journalists, particularly when it was revealed she had a multi-million pound overdraft with Coutts Bank. [citation |first=Christopher |last=Morgan |title=The Sunday Times |date=14 March 1999] Her habits were often parodied (with relative affection) by the satirical 1980s television programme "Spitting Image" – which portrayed her with a Birmingham accent and an ever-present copy of the "Racing Post".

The Queen Mother left her entire estate to the Queen, except for some bequests to members of her staff. Her estate was estimated to be worth £70 million, including paintings, Fabergé eggs, jewellery, and horses. Eight years before her death, she had reportedly placed two-thirds of her money into trusts, for the benefit of her great-grandchildren. The Queen Mother's most important pieces of art were transferred to the Royal Collection by the Queen. [citation|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1993665.stm|title=Queen Inherits Queen Mother's Estate|publisher=BBC News|date=17 May 2002|accessdate=2008-05-24]

It was announced in 2007 that planning permission had been granted for an overhaul of the site of the George VI Memorial, off The Mall, to facilitate the addition of a similarly-styled statue of Queen Elizabeth, at a similar age to the King, in Garter robes. The project is due for completion during the winter of 2008/2009. [citation|url=http://www.qmmemorial.gov.uk/output/Page5996.asp|work=News and Press Releases|title=Planning permission granted|date=15 June 2007|publisher=Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Memorial Project|accessdate=2008-08-19]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

infobox consortstyles

royal name=Queen Elizabeth
dipstyle=Her Majesty
offstyle=Your Majesty

*4 August 1900 – 16 February 1904: "The Honourable" Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
*16 February 1904 – 26 April 1923: "The Lady" Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
*26 April 1923 – 11 December 1936: "Her Royal Highness" The Duchess of York
*11 December 1936 – 6 February 1952: "Her Majesty" The Queen
**"alternatively, especially in regards to British India": "Her Imperial Majesty" The Queen-Empress
*6 February 1952 – 30 March 2002: "Her Majesty" Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother


The Queen Mother's British honours were read out at her funeral, held in the United Kingdom, as follows: "Thus it hath pleased Almighty God to take out of this transitory life unto His Divine Mercy the late Most High, Most Mighty and Most Excellent Princess Elizabeth, Queen Dowager and Queen Mother, Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Lady of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Lady of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India, Grand Master and Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order upon whom had been conferred the Royal Victorian Chain, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Dame Grand Cross of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, Relict of His Majesty King George the Sixth and Mother of Her Most Excellent Majesty Elizabeth The Second by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Sovereign of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, whom may God preserve and bless with long life, health and honour and all worldly happiness." [citation|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/obituaries/queen_mother/funeral_procession/service.stm|publisher=BBC|title=The Order of Service at Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother's Funeral, Tuesday 9 April 2002, Westminster Abbey|accessdate=2007-02-23]

In the memorial service held in Canada, her Canadian honours, the Canadian Forces Decoration and Order of Canada, were read out.


The Queen Mother's coat of arms were the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (in either the English or the Scottish version) impaled with the arms of her father, the Earl of Strathmore; the latter being "1st and 4th quarters, argent, a lion rampant Azure, armed and langued gules, within a double tressure flory-counter-flory of the second (Lyon), 2nd and 3rd quarters, ermine three bows, stringed paleways proper (Bowes)." Supporters: "Dexter, a lion Or armed and langued Gules imperially crowned proper; Sinister, a lion per fesse or and gules." The shield is surrounded by the Garter, or (in Scotland) the collar of the Thistle. [cite book |last=Brooke-Little |first=J.P., FSA |authorlink=John Brooke-Little |title=Boutell's Heraldry |origyear=1950 |edition=Revised Edition |year=1978 |publisher=Frederick Warne LTD |location=London |isbn= 0-7232-2096-4 |pages=p.220]

The Queen Mother was entitled to grant a Royal Warrant to suppliers of goods or services, who would display her arms on their premises, stationery and packaging. The Queen Mother's arms were displayed by warrant holders until 2007, when they automatically expired.


style=font-size: 90%; line-height: 110%;
boxstyle=padding-top: 0; padding-bottom: 0;
boxstyle_1=background-color: #fcc;
boxstyle_2=background-color: #fb9;
boxstyle_3=background-color: #ffc;
boxstyle_4=background-color: #bfc;
boxstyle_5=background-color: #9fe;
1= 1. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
2= 2. Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne
3= 3. Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck
4= 4. Claude Bowes-Lyon, 13th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne
5= 5. Frances Dora Smith
6= 6. Charles William Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck
7= 7. Caroline Louisa Burnaby
8= 8. Thomas George Lyon-Bowes, Lord Glamis
9= 9. Charlotte Grimstead
10= 10. Oswald Smith
11= 11. Henrietta Hodgson
12= 12. Lord William Charles Augustus Cavendish-Bentinck
13= 13. Anne Wellesley
14= 14. Edwyn Burnaby
15= 15. Anne Caroline Salisbury
16= 16. Thomas Lyon-Bowes, 11th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne
17= 17. Mary Elizabeth Louisa Carpenter
18= 18. Joseph Valentine Grimstead
19= 19. Charlotte Sarah Jane Walsh
20= 20. George Smith
21= 21. Frances Mary Mosley
22= 22. Robert Hodgson, Dean of Carlisle
23= 23. Mary Tucker
24= 24. William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland
25= 25. Dorothy Cavendish
26= 26. Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley
27= 27. Hyacinthe-Gabrielle Roland
28= 28. Edwyn Andrew Burnaby
29= 29. Mary Browne
30= 30. Thomas Salisbury
31= 31. Frances Webb

Footnotes and sources


*cite book |last=Bradford |first=Sarah |title=The Reluctant King: The Life and Reign of George VI |publisher=St Martin's |location=New York |year=1989
*cite book |first=James |last=Hogg |coauthors=Mortimer, Michael (eds.) |title=The Queen Mother Remembered |publisher=BBC Books |year=2002 |isbn=0-563-36214-6
*cite book |last=Howarth |first=Patrick |title=George VI |publisher=Century Hutchinson |year=1987 |isbn=0-091-71000-6
*citation|first=Lawrence|last=Goldman|authorlink=Lawrence Goldman|title=Elizabeth (1900–2002)|journal=Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|publisher=Oxford University Press|date=May 2006|url=http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/76927|accessdate=2007-02-23|doi=10.1093/ref:odnb/76927
*cite book |last=Longford |first=Elizabeth |authorlink=Elizabeth Longford |title=The Queen Mother |publisher=Weidenfeld & Nicolson |year=1981
*cite book|first=Andrew|last=Roberts|authorlink=Andrew Roberts|coauthors=Edited by Antonia Fraser|title=The House of Windsor |publisher=Cassell and Co.|location=London|year=2000|isbn=0-304-35406-6
*cite book |last=Vickers |first=Hugo |title=Elizabeth: The Queen Mother |publisher=Arrow Books/Random House |year=2006 |isbn=978-00994-76627

External links

* [http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page1011.asp Official memorial site for HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/obituaries/queen_mother/funeral_procession/poet.stm Remember This—An Elegy on the death of HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother] by Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate, at the BBC
* [http://www.gg.ca/media/doc.asp?lang=e&DocID=320 Order of Canada Citation]
* [http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/04/01/ncent01.xml&sSheet=/news/2002/04/01/ixnewstop.html Telegraph.co.uk - Timeline of the Queen Mother's Life]
* [http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-69-2367/life_society/royal_tour/ CBC Digital Archives - Their Majesties in Canada: The 1939 Royal Tour]
* [http://www.qmmemorial.gov.uk/output/Page4536.asp Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Memorial Project: Official Website]
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6300546 Queen Mother Memorial Page on FindaGrave]
* [http://youtube.com/watch?v=tvglWKl6b1A The Queen Mother's Wedding] on The Royal Channel on YouTube.com

s-ttl|title=Queen consort of the United Kingdom
years=1936 – 1952

-s-ttl|title=Empress consort of India
years=1936 – 1948


NAME=Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
DATE OF BIRTH=4 August 1900
DATE OF DEATH=30 March 2002
PLACE OF DEATH=Royal Lodge, Windsor, Berkshire

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