Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

For other people with the same name, see Elizabeth the Queen Mother (disambiguation).
"The Queen Mother" redirects here. For the title, see Queen mother.

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
The Queen Mother

Portrait by Richard Stone, 1986
Queen consort of the United Kingdom
and the British Dominions
Empress consort of India 1936–1947
Tenure 11 December 1936 –
6 February 1952
Coronation 12 May 1937
Born (1900-08-04)4 August 1900
Hitchin or London, England
Died 30 March 2002(2002-03-30) (aged 101)
Royal Lodge, Windsor, Berkshire
Burial 9 April 2002
St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
Spouse George VI
(m. 1923; d. 1952)
Issue Elizabeth II
Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
Full name
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon[lower-alpha 1]
House Windsor (by marriage)
Father Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne
Mother Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon (4 August 1900 – 30 March 2002) was the wife of King George VI and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. She was Queen consort of the United Kingdom and the Dominions from her husband's accession in 1936 until his death in 1952, after which she was known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother,[2] to avoid confusion with her daughter. She was the last Empress consort of India.

Born into a family of British nobility as The Honourable Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, she became Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon when her father inherited the Scottish Earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorne in 1904. She came to prominence in 1923 when she married Albert, Duke of York, the second son of King George V and Queen Mary. The couple and their daughters embodied traditional ideas of family and public service.[3] She undertook a variety of public engagements and became known as the "Smiling Duchess" because of her consistent public expression.[4]

In 1936, her husband unexpectedly became King when his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth became Queen. She accompanied her husband on diplomatic tours to France and North America before the start of World War II. During the war, her seemingly indomitable spirit provided moral support to the British public. In recognition of her role as an asset to British interests, Adolf Hitler described her as "the most dangerous woman in Europe".[5] 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.

On the death of Queen Mary in 1953 and with the former King Edward VIII living abroad, Elizabeth became the most senior member of the British royal family after the sovereign, and was viewed as the family matriarch. 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.[6] She continued an active public life until just a few months before her death at the age of 101, seven weeks after the death of her younger daughter, Princess Margaret.

Early life

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon 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.[lower-alpha 2]

The location of her birth remains uncertain, but reputedly she was born either in her parents' Westminster home at Belgrave Mansions, Grosvenor Gardens, or in a horse-drawn ambulance on the way to a hospital.[9] Other possible locations include Forbes House in Ham, London, the home of her maternal grandmother, Louisa Scott.[10] Her birth was registered at Hitchin, Hertfordshire,[11] near the Strathmores' English country house, St Paul's Walden Bury, which was also given as her birthplace in the census the following year.[12] She was christened there on 23 September 1900, in the local parish church, All Saints, and her godparents included her paternal aunt Lady Maud Bowes-Lyon and cousin Venetia James.[13]

Glamis Castle, the Strathmores' Scottish home

She 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.[14] 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.[15]

On her fourteenth birthday, Britain declared war on Germany. Four of her brothers served in the army. Her elder brother, Fergus, an officer in the Black Watch Regiment, was killed in action at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Another brother, Michael, was reported missing in action on 28 April 1917.[16] Three weeks later, the family discovered he had been captured after being wounded. He 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. She was particularly instrumental in organising the rescue of the castle's contents during a serious fire on 16 September 1916.[17] One of the soldiers she treated wrote in her autograph book that she was to be "Hung, drawn, & quartered ... Hung in diamonds, drawn in a coach and four, and quartered in the best house in the land."[18]

Marriage to Prince Albert

Elizabeth (back row second from left) as a bridesmaid at the wedding of Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles, 1922

Prince Albert, Duke of York—"Bertie" to the family—was the second son of King 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".[19] 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.[20] 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.[21]

In February 1922, Elizabeth was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Albert's sister, Princess Mary, to Viscount Lascelles.[22] The following month, Albert proposed again, but she refused him once more.[23] Eventually, in January 1923, Elizabeth agreed to marry Albert, despite her misgivings about royal life.[24] 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.[25] They selected a platinum engagement ring featuring a Kashmir sapphire with two diamonds adorning its sides.[26] They married on 26 April 1923, at Westminster Abbey. Unexpectedly,[27] Elizabeth laid her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior on her way into the Abbey,[28] in memory of her brother Fergus.[29] Elizabeth became styled Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York.[30] Following a wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace prepared by chef Gabriel Tschumi, the new Duchess and her husband honeymooned at Polesden Lacey, a manor house in Surrey, and then went to Scotland, where she caught "unromantic" whooping cough.[31]

Duchess of York (1923–36)

After a successful visit to Northern Ireland in July 1924, the Labour government agreed that Albert and Elizabeth could tour East Africa from December 1924 to April 1925.[32] The Labour government was defeated by the Conservatives in a general election in November (which Elizabeth described as "marvellous" to her mother)[33] and the Governor-General of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Sir Lee Stack, was assassinated three weeks later. Despite this, the tour went ahead, and they visited Aden, Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan, but Egypt was avoided because of political tensions.[34]

The Duke (right) and Duchess of York in Queensland, 1927

Albert had a stammer, which affected his ability to deliver speeches, and after October 1925, Elizabeth assisted in helping him through the therapy devised by Lionel Logue, an episode portrayed in the 2010 film The King's Speech. In 1926, the couple had their first child, Princess Elizabeth—"Lilibet" to the family—who would later become Queen Elizabeth II. Another daughter, Princess Margaret Rose, was born four years later. Albert and Elizabeth, without their child, travelled to Australia to open Parliament House in Canberra in 1927.[35] She was, in her own words, "very miserable at leaving the baby".[36] Their journey by sea took them via Jamaica, the Panama Canal and the Pacific; Elizabeth fretted constantly over her baby back in Britain, but their journey was a public relations success.[37] She charmed the public in Fiji when shaking hands with a long line of official guests, as a stray dog walked in on the ceremony and she shook its paw as well.[38] In New Zealand she fell ill with a cold, and missed some engagements, but enjoyed the local fishing[39] in the Bay of Islands accompanied by Australian sports fisherman Harry Andreas.[40] On the return journey, via Mauritius, the Suez Canal, Malta and Gibraltar, their transport, HMS Renown, caught fire and they prepared to abandon ship before the fire was brought under control.[41]

Accession and abdication of Edward VIII

On 20 January 1936, King George V died and Albert's brother, Edward, Prince of Wales, became King Edward VIII. George had expressed private reservations about his successor, saying, "I pray God that my eldest son will never marry and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne."[42]

Just months into his reign, Edward forced a constitutional crisis by insisting on marrying the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Although legally Edward could have married Simpson, as King he was also head of the Church of England, which at that time did not allow divorced people to remarry. Edward's ministers believed that the people would never accept Simpson as Queen and advised against the marriage. As a constitutional monarch, Edward was obliged to accept ministerial advice.[43] Rather than abandon his plans to marry Simpson, he chose to abdicate in favour of Albert,[44] who reluctantly became King in his place on 11 December 1936 under the regnal name of George VI. George VI and Elizabeth were crowned King and Queen of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions, and Emperor and Empress of India on 12 May 1937, the date already nominated for the coronation of Edward VIII. Elizabeth's crown was made of platinum and was set with the Koh-i-Noor diamond.[45]

Edward and Simpson married and became the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, but while Edward was a Royal Highness, George VI withheld the style from the Duchess, a decision that Elizabeth supported.[46] Elizabeth was later quoted as referring to the Duchess as "that woman",[47] and the Duchess referred to Elizabeth as "Cookie", because of her supposed resemblance to a fat Scots cook.[6] Claims that Elizabeth remained embittered towards the Duchess were denied by her close friends; the Duke of Grafton wrote that she "never said anything nasty about the Duchess of Windsor, except to say she really hadn't got a clue what she was dealing with."[48]

Queen consort (1936–52)

State visits and royal tour

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Toronto City Hall, 1939

In summer 1938, a state visit to France by the King and Queen was postponed for three weeks because of the death of the Queen's mother, Lady Strathmore. In two weeks, Norman Hartnell created an all-white trousseau for the Queen, who could not wear colours as she was still in mourning.[49] The visit was designed to bolster Anglo-French solidarity in the face of aggression from Nazi Germany.[50] The French press praised the demeanour and charm of the royal couple during the delayed but successful visit, augmented by Hartnell's wardrobe.[51]

Nevertheless, Nazi aggression continued, and the government prepared for war. After the Munich Agreement of 1938 appeared to forestall the advent of armed conflict, the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was invited onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the King and Queen to receive acclamation from a crowd of well-wishers.[52] 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".[53] However, historians have also argued that the King only ever followed ministerial advice and acted as he was constitutionally bound to do.[54]

In June 1939, Elizabeth and her husband toured Canada from coast to coast and back, and visited the United States, spending time with President Roosevelt at the White House and his Hudson Valley estate.[55][56][57][58] U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said that Elizabeth was "perfect as a Queen, gracious, informed, saying the right thing & kind but a little self-consciously regal".[59] The tour was designed to bolster trans-Atlantic support in the event of war, and to affirm Canada's status as an independent kingdom sharing with Britain the same person as monarch.[60][61][62][63] According to an often-told story, during one of the earliest of the royal couple's repeated encounters with the crowds, a Boer War veteran asked Elizabeth, "Are you Scots or are you English?" She replied, "I am a Canadian!"[64] Their reception by the Canadian and U.S. public was extremely enthusiastic,[65] and largely dissipated any residual feeling that George and Elizabeth were a lesser substitute for Edward.[66] Elizabeth told Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, "that tour made us",[67] and she returned to Canada frequently both on official tours and privately.[68]

World War II

Portrait by Sir Gerald Kelly. Her crown is on the left.

During World War II, the King and Queen became symbols of the fight against fascism.[69] 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.[70] 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 declared, "The children won't go without me. I won't leave the King. And the King will never leave."[71]

She visited troops, hospitals, factories, and parts of Britain 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,[6] in part because she wore expensive clothes that served to alienate her from people suffering the deprivations of war. 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 avoided black to represent "the rainbow of hope".[72] 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."[73]

Eleanor Roosevelt (centre), King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in London, 23 October 1942

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 (32 km) 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.[74] The windows were shattered by bomb blasts, and had to be boarded up.[75] During the "Phoney War" the Queen was given revolver training because of fears of imminent invasion.[76]

Adolf Hitler is said to have called her "the most dangerous woman in Europe" because he viewed her popularity as a threat to German interests.[5] However, before the war both she and her husband, like most of Parliament and the British public, had supported 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 suspicious of his character and motives, in due course both the King and Queen came to respect and admire him.[77][78] At the end of the war in 1945, Churchill was invited onto the balcony in a similar gesture to that given to Chamberlain.

Post-war years

In the 1945 British general election, Churchill's Conservative party was soundly defeated by the Labour party of Clement Attlee. Elizabeth's political views were rarely disclosed,[79] but a letter she wrote in 1947 described 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."[80] Woodrow Wyatt thought her "much more pro-Conservative" than other members of the royal family,[81] but she later told him, "I like the dear old Labour Party."[82] She also told the Duchess of Grafton, "I love communists".[83] After six years in office, Attlee was defeated in the 1951 British general election and Churchill returned to power.

Southern Rhodesian stamp celebrating the 1947 royal tour of Southern Africa

During the 1947 royal tour of South Africa, Elizabeth's serene public behaviour was broken, exceptionally, when she rose from the royal car to strike an admirer with her umbrella because she had mistaken his enthusiasm for hostility.[84] The 1948 royal tour of Australia and New Zealand was postponed because of the King's declining health. In March 1949, he had a successful operation to improve the circulation in his right leg.[85] In summer 1951, Queen Elizabeth and her daughters fulfilled the King's public engagements in his place.[86] In September, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.[87] After a lung resection, he appeared to recover, but the delayed trip to Australia and New Zealand was altered so that Princess Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, went in the King and Queen's place, in January 1952.[88] The King died while Princess Elizabeth and the Duke were in Kenya en route to the southern hemisphere, and they returned immediately to London as the new Queen and consort. They would not finally visit Australia and New Zealand until 1954.

Queen mother (1952–2002)


King George VI died in his sleep on 6 February 1952. Elizabeth began to be styled as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother 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.[89] Popularly, she became the "Queen Mother" or the "Queen Mum".[90]

She was devastated by the King's death and retired to Scotland. However, after a meeting with the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, she broke her retirement and resumed her public duties.[91] 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 when she visited the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland with Princess Margaret. She laid the foundation stone of the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland – the current University of Zimbabwe.[92] On her return to the region in 1957, she was inaugurated as the College's President, and attended other events that were deliberately designed to be multi-racial.[93] During her daughter's extensive tour of the Commonwealth over 1953–54, Elizabeth acted as a Counsellor of State and looked after her grandchildren, Charles and Anne.[94]

The Queen Mother at Dover Castle, by Allan Warren

She oversaw the restoration of the remote Castle of Mey, in Caithness on the north coast of Scotland, which she used to "get away from everything"[95] for three weeks in August and ten days in October each year.[96] She developed her interest in horse racing, particularly steeplechasing, which had been inspired by the amateur jockey Lord Mildmay in 1949.[97] She owned the winners of approximately 500 races. Her distinctive colours of blue with buff stripes were carried by horses such as Special Cargo, the winner of the 1984 Whitbread Gold Cup, and Devon Loch, which spectacularly halted just short of the winning post at the 1956 Grand National[98] and whose jockey Dick Francis later had a successful career as the writer of racing-themed detective stories. Peter Cazalet was her trainer for over 20 years. 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.[99] As an art collector, she purchased works by Claude Monet, Augustus John and Peter Carl Fabergé, among others.[100]

In February 1964, she had an emergency appendectomy, which led to the postponement of a planned tour of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji until 1966.[101] She recuperated during a Caribbean cruise aboard the royal yacht, Britannia.[102] In December 1966, she underwent an operation to remove a tumour after she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Contrary to rumours, she did not have a colostomy.[103][104] In 1982, she was rushed to hospital when a fish bone became stuck in her throat, and had an operation to remove it. Being a keen angler, she calmly joked afterwards, "The salmon have got their own back."[105] Similar incidents occurred at Balmoral in August 1986, when she was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary but no operation was needed,[106] and May 1993, when she was admitted to the Infirmary for surgery under general anaesthetic.[107] In 1984, she had a second operation for cancer, when a lump was removed from her breast,[108] and a second gastric obstruction in 1986 cleared without the need for an operation, but she was hospitalised overnight.[109]

In 1975, she visited Iran at the invitation of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The British ambassador and his wife, Anthony and Sheila Parsons, noted how the Iranians were bemused by her habit of speaking to everyone regardless of status or importance, and hoped the Shah's entourage would learn from the visit to pay more attention to ordinary people.[110] Four years later, the Shah was deposed. Between 1976 and 1984, she made annual summer visits to France,[111] which were among 22 private trips to continental Europe between 1963 and 1992.[112]

Queen Elizabeth—known for her personal and public charm[19]—was one of the most popular members of the royal family.[113] Her signature dress of large upturned hat with netting and dresses with draped panels of fabric became a distinctive personal style.


In her later years, the Queen Mother became known for her longevity. Her 90th birthday—4 August 1990—was celebrated by a parade on 27 June that involved many of the 300 organisations of which she was patron.[114] In 1995, she attended events commemorating the end of the war fifty years before, and had two operations: one to remove a cataract in her left eye, and one to replace her right hip.[115] In 1998, her left hip was replaced after it was broken when she slipped and fell during a visit to Sandringham stables.[116] Her 100th 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;[117] her image appeared on a special commemorative £20 note issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland;[118] and 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.[119] In November 2000, she broke her collarbone in a fall that kept her recuperating at home over Christmas and the New Year.[120] On 1 August 2001, she had a blood transfusion for anaemia after suffering from mild heat exhaustion, though she was well enough to make her traditional appearance outside Clarence House three days later to celebrate her 101st birthday.[121][122] Her final public engagements included planting a cross at the Field of Remembrance on 8 November 2001;[123] a reception at the Guildhall, London, for the reformation of the 600 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force on 15 November;[124] and attending the re-commissioning of HMS Ark Royal on 22 November.[125]

In December 2001, aged 101, she fractured her pelvis in a fall. Even so, she insisted on standing for the National Anthem during the memorial service for her husband on 6 February the following year.[126] Just three days later, her second daughter Princess Margaret died. On 13 February 2002, the Queen Mother fell and cut her arm in her sitting room at Sandringham House; an ambulance and doctor were called, and the wound was dressed.[127] She was still determined to attend Margaret's funeral at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, two days later on the Friday of that week,[128] even though the Queen and the rest of the royal family were concerned about the journey the Queen Mother would face to get from Norfolk to Windsor;[129] she was also rumoured to be hardly eating.[130] Nevertheless, she flew to Windsor by helicopter, and so that no photographs of her in a wheelchair could be taken—she insisted that she be shielded from the press[129]—she travelled to the service in a people carrier with blacked–out windows,[131][132] which had been previously used by Margaret.[129][133] On 5 March 2002, she was present at the luncheon of the annual lawn party of the Eton Beagles, and watched the Cheltenham Races on television; however, her health began to deteriorate precipitately during her last weeks after retreating to Royal Lodge for the final time.[134]


The Queen Mother's funeral carriage. The coffin is draped with her personal standard, shown below.

On 30 March 2002, at 15:15 (GMT), the Queen Mother died in her sleep at the Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park, 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.[127] 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.

Elizabeth grew camellias in every one of her gardens, and before her flag-draped coffin was taken from Windsor to lie in state at Westminster Hall, an arrangement of camellias from her own gardens was placed on top.[135] 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, her 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—an honour bestowed only once before, at the lying in state of King George V.

On the day of her funeral, 9 April, the Governor General of Canada issued a proclamation asking Canadians to honour her memory that day.[136] In Australia, the Governor-General read the lesson at a memorial service held in St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney.[137] In London, more than a million people filled the area outside Westminster Abbey and along the 23-mile (37 km) route from central London to her final resting place beside her husband and younger daughter in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.[138] At her request, after her funeral the wreath that had lain atop her coffin was placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, in a gesture that echoed her wedding-day tribute 79 years before.[139]

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,[140][141] Elizabeth was subject to various degrees of criticism during her life.

Kitty Kelley alleged that during World War II Elizabeth did not abide by the rationing regulations.[142][143] This is contradicted by the official records,[144][145] and Eleanor Roosevelt during her wartime stay at Buckingham Palace reported expressly on the rationed food served in the Palace and the limited bathwater that was permitted.[146][147]

Further allegations that Elizabeth used racist slurs to refer to black people[142] were strongly denied by Major Colin Burgess.[148] Major Burgess was the husband of Elizabeth Burgess, a mixed-race secretary who accused members of the Prince of Wales's Household of racial abuse.[149] Queen Elizabeth made no public comments on race, but according to Robert Rhodes James in private she "abhorred racial discrimination" and decried apartheid as "dreadful".[150] 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."[151] However, she did distrust Germans; she told Woodrow Wyatt, "Never trust them, never trust them."[152] 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.[153]

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".[154] 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.[155]


Bronze Statue of Queen Elizabeth on The Mall, London, overlooked by the statue of her husband King George VI

Sir Hugh Casson said Elizabeth was 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."[156] Peter Ustinov described her during a student demonstration at the University of Dundee 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.[157]

Elizabeth 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."[105] Accompanied by the gay writer 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."[158] 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".[158] 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."[159] Emine Saner of The Guardian suggests that with a gin and Dubonnet at noon, red wine with lunch, a port and martini at 6 pm and two glasses of champagne at dinner, "a conservative estimate puts the number of alcohol units she drank at 70 a week".[160] Her extravagant lifestyle amused journalists, particularly when it was revealed she had a multi-million pound overdraft with Coutts Bank.[161]

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. She was portrayed by Juliet Aubrey in Bertie and Elizabeth, Sylvia Syms in The Queen, Natalie Dormer in W.E., Olivia Colman in Hyde Park on Hudson, Victoria Hamilton in The Crown, and in The King's Speech by Helena Bonham Carter, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and won a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal.

The Queen Elizabeth Way Monument, near Toronto, with a bas-relief of Queen Elizabeth and King George VI

The Cunard White Star Line's RMS Queen Elizabeth was named after her. She launched the ship on 27 September 1938 in Clydebank, Scotland. Supposedly, the liner started to slide into the water before Elizabeth could officially launch her, and acting sharply, she managed to smash a bottle of Australian red over the liner's bow just before it slid out of reach.[162] In 1954, Queen Elizabeth sailed to New York on her namesake.[163]

A statue of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother by sculptor Philip Jackson was unveiled in front of the George VI Memorial, off The Mall, London, on 24 February 2009, creating the George VI and Queen Elizabeth Memorial.[164]

In March 2011, her eclectic musical taste was revealed when details of her small record collection kept at the Castle of Mey were made public. Her records included ska, local folk, Scottish reels and the musicals Oklahoma! and The King and I, and artists such as yodeller Montana Slim, Tony Hancock, The Goons and Noël Coward.[165]

Eight years before her death, she had reportedly placed two-thirds of her money into trusts, for the benefit of her great-grandchildren. She left the bulk of her estate, estimated to be worth £70 million, including paintings, Fabergé eggs, jewellery, and horses, to her surviving daughter, Queen Elizabeth II.[166] As property passing from monarch to monarch is exempt from Inheritance Tax, as is property passing from the consort of a former monarch to the current monarch, a tax liability estimated at £28 million (40 percent of the value of the estate) was not incurred.[167] The most important pieces of art were transferred to the Royal Collection by Elizabeth II.[166]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Coat of arms of Queen Elizabeth
(except in Scotland)

Titles and styles


Queen Elizabeth's coat of arms was 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).[168] The shield is surmounted by the imperial crown, and supported by the crowned lion of England and a lion rampant per fess Or and Gules.[169]


Name Birth Marriage Their children Their grandchildren
Date Spouse
Elizabeth II 21 April 1926 20 November 1947 Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark Prince Charles, Prince of Wales Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Prince Harry
Princess Anne, Princess Royal Peter Phillips
Zara Tindall
Prince Andrew, Duke of York Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Eugenie of York
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex James, Viscount Severn
Lady Louise Windsor
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon 21 August 1930
Died 9 February 2002
6 May 1960
Divorced 11 July 1978
Antony Armstrong-Jones David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley Charles Armstrong-Jones
Margarita Armstrong-Jones
Lady Sarah Chatto Samuel Chatto
Arthur Chatto



  1. The hyphenated version of the surname was used in official documents at the time of her marriage, but the family itself tends to omit the hyphen.[1]
  2. Lady Colin Campbell claims Elizabeth's biological mother was the family cook, Marguerite Rodiere, by means of a surrogacy arrangement that was not uncommon in aristocratic families at the time. This theory is dismissed by royal biographers such as Michael Thornton and Hugo Vickers.[7] In an earlier allegation, published by Kitty Kelley in 1997, Elizabeth's mother is said to have been a Welsh maid.[8]


  1. Shawcross, p. 8
  2. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 55932. p. 8617. 4 August 2000. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56653. p. 1. 5 August 2002. The London Gazette: no. 56969. p. 7439. 16 June 2003.
  3. Roberts, pp. 58–59
  4. British Screen News (1930), Our Smiling Duchess, London: British Screen Productions
  5. 1 2 Langworth, Richard M. (Spring 2002), HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother 1900–2002, The Churchill Centre, retrieved 1 May 2010
  6. 1 2 3 Moore, Lucy (31 March 2002), "A wicked twinkle and a streak of steel", The Guardian, retrieved 1 May 2009
  7. "Queen Mother was daughter of French cook, biography claims". The Telegraph. 31 March 2012.
  8. Seamark, Michael; English, Rebecca; Bates, Daniel (30 March 2012). "Fury over book's claim that Queen Mother and her brother were born to family's French cook". Mail Online.
  9. Weir, Alison (1996), Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy, Revised edition, London: Pimlico, p. 330, ISBN 0-7126-7448-9
  10. Shawcross, p. 15
  11. Civil Registration Indexes: Births, General Register Office, England and Wales. Jul–Sep 1900 Hitchin, vol. 3a, p. 667
  12. 1901 England Census, Class RG13, piece 1300, folio 170, p. 5
  13. Demoskoff, Yvonne (27 December 2005), Yvonne's Royalty Home Page
  14. Vickers, p. 8
  15. Vickers, pp. 10–14
  16. Shawcross, p. 85
  17. Shawcross, pp. 79–80
  18. Forbes, p. 74
  19. 1 2 Ezard, John (1 April 2002), "A life of legend, duty and devotion", The Guardian, p. 18
  20. Airlie, Mabell (1962), Thatched with Gold, London: Hutchinson, p. 167
  21. Shawcross, pp. 133–135
  22. Shawcross, pp. 135–136
  23. Shawcross, p. 136
  24. Longford, p. 23
  25. Roberts, pp. 57–58; Shawcross, p. 113
  26. "Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon's Engagement Ring". Vintage Royal Wedding. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  27. Shawcross, p. 177
  28. Vickers, p. 64
  29. Rayment, Sean (1 May 2011). "Royal wedding: Kate Middleton's bridal bouquet placed at Grave of Unknown Warrior". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  30. Shawcross, p. 168
  31. Letter from Albert to Queen Mary, 25 May 1923, quoted in Shawcross, p. 185
  32. Shawcross, pp. 218–219
  33. Letter from Elizabeth to Lady Strathmore, 1 November 1924, quoted in Shawcross, p. 217
  34. Shawcross, pp. 221–240
  35. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother > Royal tours, Official web site of the British monarchy, retrieved 1 May 2009
  36. Elizabeth's diary, 6 January 1927, quoted in Shawcross, p. 264
  37. Shawcross, pp. 266–296
  38. Shawcross, p. 277
  39. Shawcross, pp. 281–282
  40. "Royal anglers". The Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 25 February 1927. p. 9. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  41. Shawcross, pp. 294–296
  42. Ziegler, Philip (1990), King Edward VIII: The Official Biography, London: Collins, p. 199, ISBN 0-00-215741-1
  43. Beaverbrook, Lord (1966), Taylor, A. J. P., ed., The Abdication of King Edward VIII, London: Hamish Hamilton, p. 57
  44. The Duke of Windsor (1951). A King's Story. London: Cassell and Co., p. 387
  45. Shawcross, p. 397
  46. Letter from George VI to Winston Churchill in which the King says his family shared his view, quoted by Howarth, p. 143
  47. Michie, Alan A. (17 March 1941) Life Magazine, quoted by Vickers, p. 224
  48. Hogg and Mortimer, pp. 84–85
  49. Shawcross, pp. 430–433
  50. Shawcross, p. 430
  51. Shawcross, pp. 434–436
  52. Shawcross, pp. 438–443
  53. Hitchens, Christopher (1 April 2002), "Mourning will be brief", The Guardian, retrieved on 1 May 2009
  54. Sinclair, David (1988), Two Georges: the Making of the Modern Monarchy, Hodder and Stoughton, p. 230, ISBN 0-340-33240-9
  55. Bell, Peter (October 2002), "The Foreign Office and the 1939 Royal Visit to America: Courting the USA in an Era of Isolationism", Journal of Contemporary History, 37 (4): 599–616, doi:10.1177/00220094020370040601, JSTOR 3180762
  56. Rhodes, Benjamin D. (2001), United States foreign policy in the interwar period, 1918–1941, Greenwood, p. 153, ISBN 0-275-94825-0
  57. Reynolds, David (August 1983), "FDR's Foreign Policy and the British Royal Visit to the U.S.A., 1939", Historian, 45 (4): 461–472, doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.1983.tb01576.x
  58. Rhodes, Benjamin D. (April 1978), "The British Royal Visit of 1939 and the "Psychological Approach" to the United States", Diplomatic History, 2 (2): 197–211, doi:10.1111/j.1467-7709.1978.tb00431.x
  59. Shawcross, p. 479
  60. Galbraith, William (1989), "Fiftieth Anniversary of the 1939 Royal Visit" (PDF), Canadian Parliamentary Review, Ottawa: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, 12 (3): 7–8, retrieved 14 December 2009
  61. Bousfield, Arthur; Toffoli, Garry (1989), Royal Spring: The Royal Tour of 1939 and the Queen Mother in Canada, Toronto: Dundurn Press, pp. 65–66, ISBN 1-55002-065-X
  62. Lanctot, Gustave (1964), Royal Tour of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Canada and the United States of America 1939, Toronto: E. P. Taylor Foundation
  63. Library and Archives Canada, The Royal Tour of 1939, Queen's Printer for Canada, retrieved 12 December 2009
  64. Speech delivered by Her Majesty the Queen at the Fairmont Hotel, Vancouver, Monday, 7 October 2002 as reported in e.g. Joyce, Greg (8 October 2002) "Queen plays tribute to Canada, thanks citizens for their support", The Canadian Press
  65. Shawcross, pp. 457–461; Vickers, p. 187
  66. Bradford, pp. 298–299
  67. Bradford, p.281
  68. Royal Tours of Canada, Government of Canada, retrieved 6 March 2013
  69. Shawcross, p. 515
  70. Vickers, p. 205
  71. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother > Activities as Queen, Official web site of the British monarchy, retrieved 1 May 2009
  72. Hartnell, Norman (1955), Silver and Gold, Evans Bros., pp. 101–102, quoted in Shawcross, p. 526 and Vickers, p. 219
  73. Wheeler-Bennett, Sir John (1958), King George VI: His Life and Reign, New York: Macmillan
  74. Vickers, p. 229
  75. Shawcross, p. 528
  76. Bradford, p. 321; Shawcross, p. 516
  77. Matthew, H. C. G. (2004), "George VI (1895–1952)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press
  78. Vickers, pp. 210–211
  79. Shawcross, p. 412
  80. Pierce, Andrew (13 May 2006), "What Queen Mother really thought of Attlee's socialist 'heaven on earth'", The Times, London, retrieved 1 May 2009
  81. Wyatt, Woodrow (1998), Curtis, Sarah, ed., The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt: Volume I, London: Macmillan, p. 255, ISBN 0-333-74166-8
  82. Wyatt, Volume I p. 309
  83. Hogg and Mortimer, p. 89
  84. Bradford, p. 391; Shawcross, p. 618
  85. Shawcross, pp. 637–640
  86. Shawcross, pp. 645–646
  87. Shawcross, p. 647
  88. Shawcross, p. 651
  89. McCluskey, Peter, Elizabeth: The Queen Mother, CBC News, archived from the original on 29 April 2009, retrieved 1 May 2009. Archived 28 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  90. ELIZABETH, QUEEN CONSORT, 1900–2002: A Mum for All Seasons: – TIME
  91. Hogg and Mortimer, p. 161
  92. Shawcross, pp. 686–688; Vickers, p. 324
  93. Shawcross, pp. 710–713
  94. Shawcross, pp. 689–690
  95. Vickers, p. 314
  96. The Queen Elizabeth Castle Of Mey Trust, retrieved 6 March 2013
  97. Shawcross, pp. 703–704
  98. Shawcross, p. 790
  99. Vickers, p. 458
  100. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, The Royal Collection, retrieved 31 October 2009
  101. Shawcross, p. 806
  102. Shawcross, p. 807
  103. Queen Mother 'had colon cancer', BBC, 17 September 2009, retrieved 22 September 2009
  104. Shawcross, p. 817
  105. 1 2 "Queen of Quips", The Straits Times, Singapore, 7 August 2000
  106. Vickers, p. 449
  107. "Queen Mother recovers after operation", BBC News, 25 January 1999, retrieved 8 August 2013
  108. Shawcross, p. 875
  109. Shawcross, p. 878
  110. Shawcross, pp. 822–823
  111. Shawcross, pp. 827–831
  112. Shawcross, p. 835
  113. Monarchy/Royal Family Trends – Most Liked Members of the Royal Family, Ipsos MORI, 19 November 2012, retrieved 9 May 2015
  114. Shawcross, pp. 732, 882
  115. Shawcross, pp. 903–904
  116. Shawcross, p. 912
  117. Birthday pageant for Queen Mother, BBC, 19 July 2000, retrieved 1 May 2009
  118. Commemorative Bank Note for 100th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Rampant Scotland, retrieved 1 May 2009
  119. Vickers, p. 490
  120. Shawcross, p. 925
  121. Queen Mother leaves hospital, BBC, 2 August 2001, retrieved 28 August 2013
  122. Queen Mother's 101st birthday, BBC, 4 August 2001, retrieved 28 August 2013
  123. Queen Mother attends memorial event, BBC, 8 November 2001, retrieved 15 September 2013
  124. Pictures of the decade: the Royal family, The Telegraph, retrieved 15 September 2013
  125. Queen Mother 'better all the time', BBC, 27 January 2002, retrieved 1 May 2009
  126. Vickers, p. 495
  127. 1 2 Queen Mother hurt in minor fall, BBC, 13 February 2002, retrieved 1 May 2009
  128. Shawcross, p. 930; Vickers, pp. 497–498
  129. 1 2 3 Vickers, pp. 497–498
  130. Barton, Fiona (3 February 2002), Queen Mother too ill to visit her husband's grave, Mail on Sunday, retrieved 30 August 2013
  131. BBC News bulletin after Queen Mother dies, YouTube, 30 March 2002, retrieved 1 May 2009
  132. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: Frailty fails to dim devotion to duty; Reaching old age., The Birmingham Post, 1 April 2002, retrieved 30 August 2013
  133. "Bell tolls for Margaret's final journey", The Telegraph, 16 February 2002, retrieved 22 September 2013
  134. Vickers, pp. 498–499
  135. Bates, Stephen (3 April 2002), "Piper's farewell for Queen Mother", The Guardian, retrieved 1 May 2009
  136. Government of Canada Publications, Publication Information > Proclamation Requesting that the People of Canada Set Aside April 9, 2002, as the Day on Which They Honour the Memory of Our Dearly Beloved Mother, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Who Passed Away on March 30, 2002, Queen's Printer for Canada, retrieved 4 October 2010
  137. Memorial Service for HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, Sydney Anglicans, 9 April 2002, retrieved 2 March 2011
  138. Queues at Queen Mother vault, CNN, 10 April 2002, retrieved 1 May 2009
  139. Mourners visit Queen Mother's vault, BBC, 10 April 2002, retrieved 1 May 2009
  140. Goldman, Lawrence (May 2006) "Elizabeth (1900–2002)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/76927, retrieved 1 May 2009 (Subscription required)
  141. Shawcross, p. 942
  142. 1 2 Kelley, Kitty (1977), The Royals, New York: Time Warner
  143. Picknett, Lynn; Prince, Clive; Prior, Stephen; Brydon, Robert (2002), War of the Windsors: A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy, Mainstream Publishing, p. 161, ISBN 1-84018-631-3
  144. The memoirs of the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Woolton C.H., P.C., D.L., LL.D. (1959) London: Cassell
  145. Roberts, p. 67
  146. Goodwin, Doris Kearns (1995), No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 380
  147. Shawcross, pp. 556–557
  148. Burgess, Major Colin (2006), Behind Palace Doors: My Service as the Queen Mother's Equerry, John Blake Publishing, p. 233
  149. Royal secretary loses race bias case, BBC, 7 December 2001, retrieved 1 May 2009
  150. Rhodes James, Robert (1998), A Spirit Undaunted: The Political Role of George VI, London: Little, Brown and Co, p. 296, ISBN 0-316-64765-9
  151. Wyatt, Woodrow (1999), Curtis, Sarah, ed., The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt: Volume II, London: Macmillan, p. 547, ISBN 0-333-77405-1
  152. Wyatt, Volume II, p. 608
  153. Bates, Stephen (1 April 2002), "Enigmatic and elusive, she lent a mystique to upper-class strengths and failings", The Guardian, retrieved on 1 May 2009
  154. MacKay, Neil (7 April 2002), "Nieces abandoned in state-run mental asylum and declared dead to avoid public shame", The Sunday Herald, retrieved 13 February 2007
  155. Summerskill, Ben (23 July 2000), "Princess the palace hides away", The Guardian, retrieved 1 May 2009
  156. Hogg and Mortimer, p. 122
  157. Hogg and Mortimer, pp. 212–213
  158. 1 2 Blaikie, Thomas (2002), You look awfully like the Queen: Wit and Wisdom from the House of Windsor, London: HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-714874-7
  159. Taylor, Graham (2002), Elizabeth: The Woman and the Queen, Telegraph Books, p. 93
  160. Saner, Emine (25 July 2006), "Bring back the magic hour", The Guardian, retrieved 24 March 2011
  161. Morgan, Christopher (14 March 1999), The Sunday Times
  162. Hutchings, David F. (2003) Pride of the North Atlantic. A Maritime Trilogy, Waterfront.
  163. Harvey, Clive (25 October 2008) RMS "Queen Elizabeth": The Ultimate Ship, Carmania Press.
  164. Prince hails Queen Mother tribute, BBC, 24 February 2009, retrieved 6 March 2013
  165. "The Queen Mother's regal taste in music", The Telegraph, 14 March 2011, retrieved 6 March 2013
  166. 1 2 "Queen Inherits Queen Mother's Estate", BBC News, 17 May 2002, retrieved 1 May 2009
  167. Chamberlain, Gethin (7 May 2002), "Queen to escape £28 million inheritance tax", The Scotsman
  168. Brooke-Little, J.P., FSA (1978) [1950], Boutell's Heraldry (Revised ed.), London: Frederick Warne, p. 220, ISBN 0-7232-2096-4
  169. Pinches, John Harvey; Pinches, Rosemary (1974), The Royal Heraldry of England, Heraldry Today, Slough, Buckinghamshire: Hollen Street Press, p. 267, ISBN 0-900455-25-X


Wikiquote has quotations related to: Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
British royalty
Title last held by
Mary of Teck
Queen consort of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
as consort
Empress consort of India
Title abandoned on 22 June 19481
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
Visitor of Girton College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
The Baroness Hale of Richmond
Preceded by
The Earl of Athlone
Chancellor of the University of London
Succeeded by
The Princess Anne
New institution Chancellor of the University of Dundee
Succeeded by
The Earl of Dalhousie
Honorary titles
New title Grand Master of the Royal Victorian Order
Succeeded by
The Princess Royal
Preceded by
Sir Robert Menzies
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Succeeded by
The Lord Boyce
Notes and references
1. The London Gazette: no. 38330. p. 3647. 22 June 1948.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/18/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.