History Rewind: Queen Mary dies after illness

24 March 2014 - 01:00am
Edited by Cindy Stockman - Spotted an Error?


Queen Mary

Today in 1953 Queen Mary, The Queen’s grandmother, died peacefully in her sleep. She was 85 years old. At 11:15pm an announcement was posted outside Marlborough House announcing her death. According to The Yorkshire Post from 25 March 1953: “While sleeping peacefully, Queen Mary died at twenty minutes past ten o’clock.”

BBC broke into programming 11:25pm to break the news of her death. All programming was ceased except for the news and weather reports.

Reports at the time suggested the Royal had been suffering a return of the gastric illness that had been burdening her for some time. Further study throughout the years revel it was lung cancer that was the final cause of death.

Several members of the Royal Family convened at Marlborough House all through the day. The Duke of Windsor visited his mother three times during the day, the third time he arrived a mere 10 minutes after she had died. The Princess Royal was with Queen Mary when she died. Earlier in the day Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Margaret spent time with the ailing Royal.


During the course of the day, three bulletins were posted outside Marlborough House. The first warned of here grave condition which caused many to panic. The second bulletin a few hours later altered that the Royals condition became worse. The third bulletin released suggested that Queen Mary was perhaps in her final hours.

A crowd started to gather when the first bulletin was posted, and many stayed throughout the course of the day. When the fourth and final notice declaring death spread through the crowd, women were brought to tears and men removed their hats in respect.

Soon thereafter, Queen Mary’s personal standard which was flying above Marlborough House, was lowered.

Wife of George V and mother to Edward VIII and George VI, Queen Mary outlived three of her six children as well as her husband her died 17 years prior to her death. She lived to witness not only her husband become King George V, but her sons become King Edward VIII and King George VI. She did witness her granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II ascend to the throne but sadly died three months before her coronation.

Queen Mary is buried alongside King George V at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.

photo credit: Boston Public Library via photopin cc

  • Ricky

    I recognize Prince George, Duke of Kent in the picture with Queen Mary, but does anyone know who the woman is? It might be Mary, the Princess Royal but I’m not sure.

  • Jim Hall

    Queen Mary did not die of a “gastric illness”. She, her late husband, and her sons were chain smokers. She died of lung cancer, a fact hidden from the public.

    • Cindy Stockman

      Yes she indeed did, I chose to write from what the reports that were given from the time period.

    • Bella

      On another blog post about her, it says that she died of lung cancer too. I think it was Mary Queen of Hearts.

  • Anglogeek

    The article has been updated to reflect both schools of thought on the reason for her death.

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