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The royal romance of one of Britain’s best loved kings and most popular queens

It’s not every day one gets to marry a prince. But for Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother,) it was a real-life fairytale. 

King George VI, formerly known as Prince Albert, Duke of York was the second son of King George V. When his father became king, he became second in line to the throne behind his brother, Edward, Prince of Wales. It is reported Albert proposed to Elizabeth by proxy in 1921 but she turned him down. Her reasoning was that she was afraid she would never be free to think, speak, or act like she ‘really ought to.’ For Albert, it was only her or no marriage at all. His mother, Queen Mary, stopped by Elizabeth’s home in Glamis to see for herself the girl her son wanted to marry.

Elizabeth and Albert’s paths kept crossing as she was a bridesmaid in February 1922 for Albert’s sister, Princess Mary. The next month, Albert proposed again, and once again, he was turned down. On 13 January 1923, Elizabeth finally agreed to marry Albert despite her concerns over royal life. 

The two were married on 26 April 1923 at London’s Westminster Abbey. The wedding ring was crafted from 22-carat Welsh gold from the Clogau St David’s mine in Bontddu. In the following years, it became a tradition that this type of gold was used for the wedding rings of members of the royal family. Another tradition began as Elizabeth laid her bouquet at the Tomb of The Unknown Warrior on her way into The Abbey. Ever since royal brides bouquets have traditionally been laid at the tomb although now they are laid there after the ceremony rather than before. 

The newly formed British Broadcasting Company (BBC)  wanted to record and broadcast the wedding over the radio except the Chapter vetoed the idea. Albert’s choice of Elizabeth was seen as a choice of freedom rather than a royal duty as she was not a member of a royal family. 

In 1936, Albert unexpectedly became King George VI as his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated to marry an American divorcée, Wallis Simpson. This made Elizabeth Queen Consort. Upon his death in 1952, Elizabeth became known as The Queen Mother or “The Queen Mum”.

The Queen Mother would remain close with her daughters, Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. In 2002, the Queen Mother died at the age of 101, just weeks after the death of Margaret. Today there are multiple tributes to the late King and Queen including statues of the couple overlooking The Mall in London. 

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About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.