Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother - British Royalty
Queen Elizabeth, the mother of the current Queen, was affectionately known in Britain as the Queen Mum.
Actually, she was everyone's mum or favorite grandmother-figure. When I was growing up she had already been a widow for several years and she gave the monarchy a personal touch that wasn't always present in those days with other members of the Royal Family.
She was, in her own way, a true English eccentric and people loved her for her pithy comments and down to earth ways. Elizabeth was born in 1900 and incredibly lived to be a hundred and one years old. She was only twenty when her Royal Prince proposed to her but she turned him down, saying that becoming a member of the royal family would mean that she wouldn't be able to be herself.
Ultimately though, after several more proposals, she accepted but throughout her life remained true to herself and her own personality. In her early days she was a true girl of the age, dressing in modern, 1920s flapper style with cloche hats, drop-waist dresses and long rows of pearls.
Creating her own traditions
After her marriage, she started a Royal Wedding tradition when she had the coach stop at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier so she could lay her wedding bouquet there. Her elder brother had been killed in World War One and she herself had started nursing wounded troops when she was just fourteen years old.
Breaking ground and breaking rules
Of course, she never imagined that one day her husband would be the king.
It was only the abdication of his brother that thrust her into the role. But it was a role that she performed admirably.
She initiated the now-usual habit of mixing with, and talking to the general public during Royal tours. Until that time, the Royal Family only mingled with dignitaries on these occasions.
In later years, Diana, Princess of Wales became known as 'the people's princess' but the Queen Mum was certainly the 'people's queen'. Famously, during the Blitz in the Second World War, she was advised to go and live in Scotland with her daughters but remarked that the little princesses wouldn't go without her, that she wouldn't leave her husband and that her husband would never leave London in its hour of need.
The photograph above is typical of her style in mingling with the people. Until that time, it would have been unthinkable for a member of the Royal Family to enter a food truck. Elizabeth broke ground.
Europe's most dangerous woman
In her own words...
This is an amazing collection of her letters. It received huge critical acclaim when it was released and it reveals the personality, wit and warmth of this remarkable lady.
She became remarkably popular during the war because of her refusal to leave London and also because of the work she did.
Buckingham Palace was hit by bombs several times during the Blitz.
The Queen Mother, then Queen Elizabeth, claimed to be pleased because she could now identify with other people whose homes had been damaged.
But European powers knew only too well that she was a force to be reckoned with.
In fact, at one time Hitler referred to her as 'the most dangerous woman in Europe'.
This is because he recognized her popularity and the power it afforded her with the British people.
In later years, she was to remark that the people who had caused her the most trouble in her longlife were Wallis Simpson and Hitler.
Only a few years after the war, her beloved husband, the King, died aged only fifty six. Their daughter Elizabeth became the monarch.
Normally, widowed queens retain their title but that would have caused confusion so it was determined that her title should be Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
It's true that everyone loved her. When I was growing up, the Royal Family's popularity was in decline but I don't remember there being any criticism, in the newspapers are otherwise, about the 'good old Queen Mum'.Since becoming a widow, she had continued with public duties and also pursued her hobbies, an eclectic mix of watching horse racing, dancing in Scottish country style and angling.
I remember well that she was once taken to hospital with a fish bone stuck in her throat and afterwards remarked that it was the salmon getting their revenge. Her musical tastes ranged from ska to Broadway hit shows.
Vigil of the Princes
The Queen Mum continued to be her herself right until the end of her life.
She fell and broke her pelvis a few months before she died but nevertheless insisted on standing for the National Anthem when it was played during a memorial service for her late husband.
She spent a short time in a wheelchair put refused to be photographed or seen in public using it.
When she died, the national understandably mourned its much-loved favorite grandmother-figure. When her body was lying in state, four bodyguards were appointed to stand - one on each corner of the dais - from her own regiment and the general public filed past to pay their last respects.
On the final day before her funeral the passing mourners were astonished when four of the her grandsons did something that had only happened once before in history; the Vigil of the Princes.
Grandsons Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Viscount Linley entered the room in Westminster Hall where the body was laying in state. Prince Charles and Prince Edward were in their full military uniforms; the other two in formal mourning clothes.
They approached the four guardsmen and silently took their places as the guardsmen slipped away. They stood in place of the guards. When they were relieved, and the Changing of the Guards took place,
Charles' sons Prince William and Prince Harry and other members of the Royal Family were also present. They mingled with the crowd and thanked them for coming to say goodbye - a habit that had been started many years before by the Queen Mother herself.Many of the younger Royals paid tribute to her but I think that the one I like best came from young William and Harry who said that their great-grandmother had a wonderful sense of humor, even to the extent of performing private impersonations of Ali G.
Conflict between her and the Duke Of Edinburgh
This is the first part of a British documentary and is interesting for several reasons.
It describes how the Queen Mother had helped so much to establish the monarchy and how she objected to the new ways of her son-in-law, Prince Philip.
Something I love here is that she wasn't alone - evidently the stately old Queen Mary referred to him as 'that damned fool Edinburgh'.However, I love to see her as a young woman - what a great figure - and it was so interesting to learn that in her day she was a fashion icon as became her daughter Princess Elizabeth. The pair were the forerunners of Diana Princess of Wales and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge in that department.