Royal history unravelled: Tradition Queen Mother began that united Kate and Meghan
Queen Mother 'clashed with Margaret over royalty' says expert
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The Queen Mother’s life will be placed under the microscope once more this evening as a documentary airs regarding the life of the woman originally born Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon. For more than a century, she graced the UK, helping the nation through some of its most testing times, including World War 2, as firstly Queen consort to King George VI, and then as the helpful parent to her daughters Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. Her influence was so seismic, particularly as Nazi Germany attacked, that its leader Adolf Hitler even described the Queen Mother as the “dangerous woman in Europe”.
Despite sadly passing away at the age of 101 in 2002, just after her daughter Margaret, the Queen Mother’s influence over the Royal Family has remained.
This includes the precedent she set on her wedding day nearly 100 years ago, that is still observed by women on their wedding day.
In 1923, the Queen Mother married George during a service at Westminster Abbey, but made the unique decision to place her bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
The reason behind this was because she was paying tribute to her brother Fergus, who died at the Battle of Loos in 1915.
This gesture has since been observed at the weddings of royals, including the unions between Kate and Prince William, and Meghan and Prince Harry.
Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice also followed suit at their respective marriages, and on Remembrance Sunday last year the sisters shared photographs of their wedding bouquets on the tomb.
Beatrice tweeted: “Today we remember and honour all those who sacrificed so much for us. We shall never forget!”
Eugenie added in a separate message: “Today on Remembrance Day we remember all those who have given their lives in wars so bravely.
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“The Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey honours all those. As with tradition, my bouquet was laid on there.”
The Queen Mother’s marriage to George VI continued until he passed away after World War 2, marking the beginning of her eldest daughter Elizabeth’s reign as monarch.
In modern times, broadcasters such as the BBC have opted to show live programmes to mark royal weddings, a tradition began by Margaret in 1960.
And although the Queen Mother was well known for her engaging and enchanting personality, it would appear that her warmth didn’t always extend to the common-person.
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Ahead of their marriage, reports from the Amazon Prime documentary Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother: A Woman of Her Century claimed that the BBC had been put in line to record and broadcast her union with George VI.
But on the plea of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the couple scrapped these plans, over fears a common person may listen to the event.
Speaking on the documentary, narrator Michael Dean said: “It was a chance meeting with the Duke of York, the second son of King George VI, that transformed her life.
“The Duke first met her in 1905, at a children’s Christmas party, and next at a ball in 1920. Thanks to that encounter, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the youngest daughter and ninth child of 14th Earl of Strathmore, was wooed and eventually wed by George, Duke of York.
“The marriage ceremony was to have been broadcast on the fledgling BBC wireless service.
“But the plans were abandoned on the grounds that among the listeners might be vulgar people – men in public houses, wearing cloth caps.”
He added: “In 1923, royalty and aristocracy still inhabited a close knit and privileged world – so when it came to the splendour of the royal wedding, Elizabeth was not unaccustomed to pomp and ceremony.
“She slipped easily into the royal lifestyle of cheering crowds.”
Reports from the time show that George VI, who was also known to those he was closest to as Bertie, he had to pluck up the courage to propose to the Queen Mother three times before she accepted.
It is unclear why she turned down his proposals, but in one confession before he tried a third time, Bertie said: “This is the last time I’m going to propose to her. It’s the third time and it’s going to be the last.”
His father, George V, was a huge admirer of the Queen Mother, even telling his son how he’d “be a lucky fellow if she accepts you”.
Then one Sunday, Bertie and the Queen Mother walked close to the Bowes-Lyon home at St Paul’s, Walden Bury where she finally accepted his proposal.
Queen Mary wrote in her diary a few days later, once the couple had visited, “We are delighted and he looks beaming.”
The Queen Mother airs tonight on Channel 5 from 9pm.
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