So as a New Year begins, so too does a new series on Royal Central. 2015 marks 115 years since the birth of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and what better way to remember that milestone than by looking back at The Queen Mother’s incredible life in a series of articles. A series which will see each contributor take a decade of Queen Elizabeth’s life and remember her in their own unique way. From childhood years to war years, from widowhood to the turbulent 1990’s, each decade of The Queen Mother’s life will be covered and we want you to join us as we celebrate a life in decades.
As the series starts, we begin with the 1900s.
It may have been the turn of a century but the United Kingdom was still embracing the Victorian era though little did anyone know that on the 4th August 1900 a baby girl would be born who would go on to be one of the country’s most beloved Queens. Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was the youngest daughter of Claude Bowes-Lyon, Lord Glamis and Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck and it is believed that she was born at her parents Westminster home at Belgrave Mansions. Elizabeth was christened on 23rd September 1900 at her parent’s English country house, St Paul’s Walden Bury, which strangely in the 1901 census was named as Elizabeth’s birthplace and not the Belgrave Mansions in Westminster, though we will never be sure as to where the future Consort was actually born. Her godparents included her paternal aunt Lady Maud Bowes-Lyon and her cousin Venetia James.
Elizabeth was the ninth of ten children and as mentioned the youngest daughter of Claude and Cecelia. The first-born of the Strathmores’ children, Violet Hyacinth, sadly died in 1893, aged eleven, from a heart problem caused by diphtheria. Elizabeth, born in 1900, never got to meet her eldest sister and consequently her sister never got to see her sibling become Queen or be the nation’s figure of strength during the darkest days of the Second World War. At the time of Elizabeth’ s birth the age range of her other siblings ranged from seventeen all the way down to seven and in 1902, Elizabeth’s mother surprised everyone by giving birth to David Bowes-Lyon, her tenth and final child and Elizabeth’s younger brother.
The birth of David and the closeness in age saw the development of a childhood companion for Elizabeth, the pair did everything together and became inseparable, as though they were twins. As the duo got older they began to be known for their pranks and for the mischief they got themselves in to, one such prank was to pour icy water on arriving guests. Elizabeth and David became known by their mother as “my two Benjamins”, Benjamin being the name of the youngestson of Jacob in the bible. Here we had a twosome who were not just siblings, they were also, above all, best friends.
When Elizabeth was just four years old her grandfather, also Claude Bowes-Lyon, the 13th Earl of Strathmore died and her father inherited the Earldom, as well as Glamis Castle. For a child of such a young age, these developments bought a lot of change to Elizabeth’s life none more so than she was now styled ‘Lady Elizabeth’ and that Glamis Castle is now where she would call home. The family would however divide their time between Glamis, St Paul’s Walden Bury and Sreatlam Castle in County Durham.
So they were the childhood years of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and they were moments that even when she reached her final years, Queen Elizabeth would never forget. Elizabeth would often mention her “delightful childhood days” at Glamis Castle and recall how she and David would play in the gardens, ride her pony in the fields and explore the nearby woods and riverbanks. Even though she was a ‘Lady’, Elizabeth would not be confined to the Castle grounds, she would often wander up the Castle Drive to the village of Glamis where she would buy sweets from the local Post Office.
The 1900s saw momentous change in the United Kingdom, from the conclusion of the Victorian
Era to the beginning and end of a decade of Edwardian reign though this was just the beginning of a life that would not only see a new century dawn, but also a new millennium. As the 1900s drew to a close, the 1910s would turn out to be quite a momentous decade for the country and little did Elizabeth (or anyone) know, the First World War was just around the corner, a war that would change lives forever.
But that is another story and another decade, be sure to check back for the next instalment in Lady Elizabeth’s life.
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