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Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

Updated on August 9, 2015
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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

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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

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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

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In her own words...

Counting One's Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
Counting One's Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

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.

Her style

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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.

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Vigil of the Princes

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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.

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    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Brite-Ideas: Thank you - she was incredibly special.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ecogranny: That is so very moving, isn't it?

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @David Stone1: I agree so much, Dave. I was surprised to see that there is a book out about her that can only be described as a hatchet job. I've written about it but I have no doubt that the 'revelations' are groundless.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Lorelei Cohen: That must have been really something.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Although I didn't know much about her life, I always thought she was such a class act - wonderful tribute here :)

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      4 years ago from San Francisco

      I had no idea, until the movie "The King's Speech," that she was so feisty and outspoken. You've written a wonderful tribute here. The story of her grandsons taking the honor guard moved me to tears.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      I always thought the Queen Mum was the most interesting of all the otherwise vanilla-flavored royals. Her courage in World War II will always be remembered.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 years ago from Canada

      My mom so deeply loved and admired the royal family. Her greatest pride was in having been present when Queen Elizabeth visited our community.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      This was such a sweet read. She seems like she would have been a lovely person, and a lovely person to know. I can see why everyone loved her! Very enjoyable read!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @lollyj lm: She was very much loved worldwide.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      4 years ago from Washington KS

      Loved this lens. I've never been to England but the Queen Mum was one of my favorite people.

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 

      4 years ago

      I always enjoy reading about The Queen Mum I found her not only eccentric but very real in a way that I never found the Queen or her husband and Prince Charles. I find Prince William and Harry like their Great Grandmother. I really enjoyed reading more about The Queen Mum.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @StrongMay: Now that is downright bizarre :)

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @StrongMay: She was a fascinating lady - and what a long life. She was very much loved, too.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @SusanAston: Thank you - it was fun to write.

    • profile image

      StrongMay 

      5 years ago

      Funny the security word for my last comment was "leader"!

    • profile image

      StrongMay 

      5 years ago

      Unfortunately I didn't know very much about the Queen Mother. I'm glad I found this lens. thanks, I learned a lot and enjoyed it.

    • SusanAston profile image

      SusanAston 

      5 years ago

      Very interesting bio.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Carol Houle: Good spot - thanks!

    • Carol Houle profile image

      Carol Houle 

      5 years ago from Montreal

      "her his brother" This lens needs a little editing, otherwise it's just lovely. Thanks

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ChristyZ: Thank you so much, Christy! I wasn't really interested in the royal family when I lived in the UK but now I find them fascinating - especially the history.

    • profile image

      ChristyZ 

      5 years ago

      She was so beautiful, up until this morning I had never seen a photo of her in her younger years. It's interesting to find out more about the Queen Mom. If I remember correctly my cousin met her once while she was at the horse races, his father is a horse trainer at the racetrack and he had told me how beautiful and nice she was. I'm really enjoying your royal family articles!

    • profile image

      linsm76 

      5 years ago

      Dressed like a flapper? Was that proper English lady dress then! I kind of chuckled at that one. Never expected to see her dressed like that at all! She is an icon for sure.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @flinnie lm: She was such a lovely lady - the Princess Diana of her day, people loved her.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      5 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi this was a good read on the Queen Mum, it was nice learning more about her.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: Aw! What a lovely story! (It really is 'mum' and not 'mom' :)) My granddaughter was told that I am 'grandmother'. Her baby version of this was 'mummum'. She's eight now and that's what she still calls me. That makes me so happy!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      When my boy was just little and was learning how to spell, he wrote 'MUM' I never corrected him telling him that it really is spelled 'MOM'... I liked the spelling, and I myself growing up thought that MOM was spelled wrong!Someone one day told him at school in grade 1 that he was spelling MOM wrong...he said no, you sound it out...it's MUM...not M'O'M --- so I smile every time I see or read anything about the Queen Mum... It makes me feel special. lol...Great article on the Mum.

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Monica Ranstrom: Thank you for visiting! She really was amazing and lived to a great old age.

    • Monica Ranstrom profile image

      Monica Ranstrom 

      5 years ago

      I really love her. Anything I've read about her makes her sound like such an amazing person. Thanks for the great lens!

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @shay-marie: Apparently she did :) I've done a few British Royalty articles and am planning another right now!

    • shay-marie profile image

      Shay Marie 

      5 years ago from Southern California

      I love reading about the British Royal family - I have been known to spend hours devouring information on it online. Thank you for this interesting lens! (PS: The Queen Mum liked ska??)

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Fit And Fab: Thanks so much for visiting. The Queen Mum certainly followed her own path!

    • Fit And Fab profile image

      Fit And Fab 

      5 years ago

      What a great lens. I enjoyed the read. We all should break rules to make new, more wonderful ones. :-)

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @flycatcherrr: I only remember her as an older lady so it's fascinating to learn more about her when she was younger, too.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 

      5 years ago

      I loved the Queen Mum... who could not?

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