Early lifeElizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was the youngest daughter and the ninth of ten children of Claude Bowes-Lyon, (later the 14th in the ), and his wife, . Her mother was descended from 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. The location of her birth remains uncertain, but reputedly she was born either in her parents' Westminster home at Grosvenor Gardens House, Belgrave Mansions, Grosvenor Gardens, London, Grosvenor Gardens, or in a horse-drawn ambulance on the way to a hospital. Other possible locations include Forbes House in Ham, London, the home of her maternal grandmother, Louisa Cavendish-Bentinck, Louisa Scott. Her birth was registered at Hitchin, Hertfordshire, near the Strathmores' English country house, St Paul's Walden Bury, which was also given as her birthplace in the United Kingdom Census 1901, census the following year. 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. 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. When she started school in London, she astonished her teachers by precociously beginning an essay with two Greek language, Greek words from Xenophon's ''Anabasis (Xenophon), Anabasis''. Her best subjects were literature and scripture. After returning to private education under a German Jewish governess, Käthe Kübler, she passed the OCR (examination board), Oxford Local Examination with distinction at age thirteen. On her fourteenth birthday, Britain World War I, declared war on German Empire, Germany. Four of her brothers served in the army. Her elder brother, Fergus Bowes-Lyon, 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. 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. 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."
Marriage to Prince AlbertPrince Albert, Duke of York—"Bertie" to the family—was the second son of George V, 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". 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. At the same time, Elizabeth was courted by James Stuart, 1st Viscount Stuart of Findhorn, James Stuart, Albert's equerry, until he left the Prince's service for a better-paid job in the American oil business. In February 1922, Elizabeth was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Albert's sister, Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood, Princess Mary, to Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, Viscount Lascelles. The following month, Albert proposed again, but she refused him once more. Eventually, in January 1923, Elizabeth agreed to marry Albert, despite her misgivings about royal life. Albert's freedom in choosing Elizabeth, not a member of a royal family, though the daughter of a peer, was considered a gesture in favour of political modernisation; previously, princes were expected to marry princesses from other royal families. They selected a platinum engagement ring featuring a Kashmir sapphire with two diamonds adorning its sides. They married on 26 April 1923, at Westminster Abbey. Unexpectedly, Elizabeth laid her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior on her way into the abbey, in memory of her brother Fergus. Elizabeth became styled ''Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York''. 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.
Duchess of York (1923–1936)After a successful visit to Northern Ireland in July 1924, the Labour Party (UK), Labour government agreed that Albert and Elizabeth could tour East Africa from December 1924 to April 1925. The Labour government was defeated by the Conservative Party (UK), Conservatives in a 1924 United Kingdom general election, general election in November (which Elizabeth described as "marvellous" to her mother) 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 Protectorate, Aden, Kenya Colony, Kenya, Uganda Protectorate, Uganda, and Sudan, but Egypt was avoided because of political tensions. 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 . Albert and Elizabeth, without their child, Royal visits to Australia, travelled to Australia to open Old Parliament House, Canberra, Parliament House in Canberra in 1927. She was, in her own words, "very miserable at leaving the baby". 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. She charmed the public in Fiji when, shaking hands with a long line of official guests, a stray dog walked in on the ceremony and she shook its paw as well. In New Zealand she fell ill with a cold and missed some engagements, but enjoyed the local fishing in the Bay of Islands accompanied by Australian sports fisherman Harry Andreas. On the return journey, via Mauritius, the Suez Canal, Malta and Gibraltar, their transport, , caught fire and they prepared to abandon ship before the fire was brought under control. Her second daughter, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, Princess Margaret Rose, was born at Glamis in 1930.
Accession and abdication of Edward VIIIOn 20 January 1936, George V, King George V died and Albert's brother, Edward, Prince of Wales, became Edward VIII, 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." Just months into Edward's reign, his decision to marry the American divorcée caused a Edward VIII abdication crisis, constitutional crisis. 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 monarchy, constitutional monarch, Edward was obliged to follow ministerial advice. Rather than abandon his plans to marry Simpson, he chose to abdicate in favour of Albert, who reluctantly became King in his place on 11 December 1936 under the regnal name of George VI. George VI and Elizabeth were Coronation of George VI and Elizabeth, crowned King and Queen of Great Britain, Ireland and the Dominion, British Dominions, and Emperor of India, Emperor and Empress of British Raj, India in Westminster Abbey on 12 May 1937, the date previously scheduled for Edward VIII. Crown of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Elizabeth's crown was made of platinum and was set with the Koh-i-Noor diamond. 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. Elizabeth was later quoted as referring to the Duchess as "that woman", and the Duchess referred to Elizabeth as "Cookie", because of her supposed resemblance to a fat Scots cook. Claims that Elizabeth remained embittered towards the Duchess were denied by her close friends; the Hugh FitzRoy, 11th Duke of Grafton, 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."
Queen consort (1936–1952)
State visits and royal tourIn 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#White mourning, mourning. The visit was designed to bolster Anglo-French solidarity in the face of aggression from Nazi Germany. The French press praised the demeanour and charm of the royal couple during the delayed but successful visit, augmented by Hartnell's wardrobe. 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. While broadly popular among the general public, Appeasement, Chamberlain's policy towards Hitler was the subject of some opposition in the British House of Commons, House of Commons, which led historian John Grigg (writer), 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". However, historians argue that the King only ever followed ministerial advice and acted as he was constitutionally bound to do. In May and June 1939, Elizabeth and her husband 1939 royal tour of Canada, toured Canada from coast to coast and back, and visited the United States, spending time with Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Roosevelt at the White House and his Hudson Valley Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, estate. First Lady of the United States, 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". 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. According to an often-told story, during one of the earliest of the royal couple's repeated encounters with the crowds, a Second Boer War, Boer War veteran asked Elizabeth, "Are you Scottish people, Scots or are you English?" She replied, "I am a Canadian!" Their reception by the Canadian and U.S. public was extremely enthusiastic, and largely dissipated any residual feeling that George and Elizabeth were a lesser substitute for Edward. Elizabeth told Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, "that tour made us", and she Royal tours of Canada#Other royal family members, returned to Canada frequently both on official tours and privately.
Second World WarDuring the , the King and Queen became symbols of the fight against fascism. 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. Elizabeth publicly refused to leave London or send the children to Canada, even during the Blitz, when she was advised by Cabinet of the United Kingdom, 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." Elizabeth visited troops, hospitals, factories, and parts of Britain that were targeted by the Nazi Germany, German Luftwaffe, in particular the East End of London, East End near London Docklands, London's docks. Her visits initially provoked hostility; rubbish was thrown at her and the crowds jeered, 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". 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." 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 west of central London with the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. The Palace had lost much of its staff to the British Army, army, and most of the rooms were shut. The windows were shattered by bomb blasts, and had to be boarded up. During the "Phoney War" the Queen was given revolver training because of fears of imminent invasion. 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. However, before the war both she and her husband, like most of Parliament of the United Kingdom, 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 Churchill's character and motives, in due course both the King and Queen came to respect and admire him.
Post-war yearsIn the 1945 United Kingdom general election, 1945 British general election, Churchill's Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party was soundly defeated by the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party of Clement Attlee. Elizabeth's political views were rarely disclosed, 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." Woodrow Wyatt thought her "much more pro-Conservative" than other members of the royal family, but she later told him, "I like the dear old Labour Party." She also told the Fortune FitzRoy, Duchess of Grafton, Duchess of Grafton, "I love communists." During the 1947 royal tour of Union of South Africa, 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. 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. In summer 1951, Elizabeth and her daughters fulfilled the King's public engagements in his place. In September, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. 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 Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Duke of Edinburgh, went in the King and Queen's place, in January 1952. The King died in his sleep on 6 February 1952 while Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were in Kenya en route to the southern hemisphere, and they returned immediately to London, as queen and prince consort.
Queen mother (1952–2002)
WidowhoodShortly after George VI's death, 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. Popularly, she became the "Queen Mother" or the "Queen Mum". She was devastated by her husband'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. Eventually she became just as busy as queen mother as she had been as queen consort. 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 of Zimbabwe, University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland—the current University of Zimbabwe. Upon her return to the region in 1957, Elizabeth was inaugurated as the College's President, and attended other events that were deliberately designed to be multi-racial. 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, Prince of Wales, Charles and Anne, Princess Royal, Anne. In February 1959, she visited Kenya and Uganda. Elizabeth oversaw the restoration of the remote Castle of Mey, on the north coast of Scotland, which she used to "get away from everything" for three weeks in August and ten days in October each year. She developed her interest in horse racing, particularly Steeplechase (horse racing), steeplechasing, which had been inspired by the amateur jockey Anthony Bingham Mildmay, 2nd Baron Mildmay of Flete, Lord Mildmay in 1949. 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 Bet365 Gold Cup, Whitbread Gold Cup, and Devon Loch, which spectacularly halted just short of the winning post at the 1956 Grand National and whose jockey Dick Francis later had a successful career as the writer of racing-themed detective stories. Peter Cazalet (racehorse trainer), Peter Cazalet was her Horse training, 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. As an art collector, she purchased works by Claude Monet, Augustus John and Peter Carl Fabergé, among others. In February 1964, Elizabeth had an emergency appendectomy, which led to the postponement of a planned tour of Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji until 1966. She recuperated during a Caribbean cruise aboard the royal yacht, HMY Britannia, ''Britannia''. 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. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984 and a lump was removed from her breast. Her bouts with cancer were never made public during her lifetime. In 1975, Elizabeth 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. Between 1976 and 1984, she made annual summer visits to France, which were among 22 private trips to continental Europe between 1963 and 1992. In 1982, Elizabeth was rushed to hospital when a fish bone became stuck in her throat, and had an operation to remove it. Being a keen angling, angler, she calmly joked afterwards, "The salmon have got their own back." Similar incidents occurred at Balmoral Castle, Balmoral in August 1986, when she was hospitalised at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary overnight but no operation was needed, and May 1993, when she was admitted to the Infirmary for surgery under general anaesthetic. In 1987, Elizabeth was criticised when it emerged that two of her nieces, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, Katherine and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, had both been committed to the Royal Earlswood Asylum for Mental Defectives, a psychiatric hospital in Redhill, Surrey, because they had severe learning disabilities. However, ''Burke's Peerage'' had listed the sisters as dead, apparently because their mother, Fenella (Elizabeth'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". When Nerissa died in 1986, her grave was originally marked with a plastic tag and a serial number. Elizabeth said that the news of their institutionalisation came as a surprise to her.
CentenarianIn her later years, Elizabeth 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 a patron. 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. In 1998, her left hip was replaced after it was broken when she slipped and fell during a visit to Sandringham House, Sandringham stables. Elizabeth's 100th birthday was celebrated in a number of ways: a parade that celebrated the highlights of her life included contributions from Sir Norman Wisdom and Sir John Mills; her image appeared on a special commemorative £20 note issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland; 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. In November 2000, she broke her collarbone in a fall that kept her recuperating at home over Christmas and the New Year. On 1 August 2001, Elizabeth 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. Her final public engagements included planting a cross at the Field of Remembrance on 8 November 2001; a reception at the Guildhall, London, for the reformation of the No. 600 Squadron RAF, 600 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force on 15 November; and attending the re-commissioning of on 22 November. In December 2001, aged 101, Elizabeth fractured her Human pelvis, 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. Just three days later, her second daughter Princess Margaret died. On 13 February 2002, Elizabeth fell and cut her arm in her sitting room at Sandringham House; an ambulance and doctor were called, and the wound was dressed. 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, 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;Vickers, pp. 497–498 she was also rumoured to be hardly eating. 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—she travelled to the service in a people carrier with blacked-out windows, which had been previously used by Margaret. On 5 March 2002, Elizabeth 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 precipitously during her last weeks after retreating to Royal Lodge for the final time.
DeathOn 30 March 2002, at 15:15 (GMT), Elizabeth 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 previous four months. At 101 years and 238 days old she was the longest-lived member of the royal family in British history. Her last surviving sister-in-law, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, exceeded that, dying 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 Lying in state, lie in state at Westminster Hall, an arrangement of camellias from her own gardens was placed on top. An estimated 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 Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward and David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley, Viscount Linley mounted the guard as a mark of respect—an honour similar to the Vigil of the Princes at the lying in state of George V, King George V. On the day of her funeral, 9 April, the Governor General of Canada issued a proclamation asking Canadians to honour Elizabeth's memory that day. In Australia, the Governor-General of Australia, Governor-General read the lesson at a memorial service held in St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney. In London, more than a million people filled the area outside Westminster Abbey and along the route from central London to Elizabeth's final resting place beside her husband and younger daughter in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. 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.
LegacyElizabeth—known for her personal and public charm—was one of the most popular members of the British royal family, royal family, and helped to stabilise the popularity of the British monarchy, monarchy as a whole.Lawrence Goldman, Goldman, Lawrence (May 2006
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles* 1900–1904: ''The Honourable'' Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon * 1904–1923: Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon * 1923–1936: ''Her Royal Highness'' The Duchess of York * 1936–1952: ''Her Majesty'' The Queen * 1952–2002: ''Her Majesty'' Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
ArmsElizabeth's coat of arms was the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom (in either the English or the Scottish version) impalement (heraldry), impaled with the canting arms of her father, the Earl of Strathmore; the latter being: 1st and 4th Quartering (heraldry), quarters, Argent, a lion rampant Azure (heraldry), Azure, armed and langued Gules, within a double tressure flory-counter-flory of the second (Lyon); 2nd and 3rd quarters, Ermine (heraldry), Ermine, three bows stringed Pale (heraldry), paleways proper (Bowes). The shield is surmounted by the imperial crown, and supported by the crowned lion of England and a lion rampant per fess Or (heraldry), Or and Gules.
Bibliography* * * * * Lawrence Goldman, Goldman, Lawrence (May 2006
External links* *