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Queen Mary of Teck: A history


While royal schedules remain paused indefinitely, I will continue to post on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays (perhaps with a surprise post or two should inspiration strike) but for now will be continuing to cover brief histories of some of the women in the British Royal Family.

Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes better known as Queen Mary of Teck was married to King George V (Queen Elizabeth II's grandfather) and served as Queen Consort of the United Kingdom from 1910 until her husband's death in 1936. As the wife of King George V, she became the first Queen in the Royal House of Windsor after her husband changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor in 1917 due to growing anti-german sentiment in England during World War I.

Royal Collections Trust

Princess Mary was born in Kensington Palace London in 1867 in the same room that Queen Victoria had been born in nearly fifty years earlier. Both of her parents had ties to the British Royal family, her father's grandmother was a great-granddaughter of King George II while her mother was a granddaughter of King George III.

She grew up as the oldest of four siblings and was the only daughter. She lived in Florence Italy for a time while her family travelled across Europe visiting various relations before they returned back to London in 1885. In 1886, Mary was introduced at court and her status made her a suitable match for Prince Albert Victor who, at the time, was second in line for the throne as the grandson of Queen Victoria.

Prince Albert Victor proposed marriage to her, reportedly much influenced by Queen Victoria's own fondness for Princess Mary. However, Albert Victor passed six weeks after the engagement was announced due to influenza. During this period of mourning, Mary grew close with her late fiance's little brother, Prince George who now replaced his brother as second in line to the throne.

Queen Victoria evidently blessed the match as the pair married in 1893. Princess Mary became the Duchess of York upon her marriage and the couple had six children, Edward, Albert, Mary, Henry, George and John. Like most upper-class families, their children were put into the care of nannies. The first two of her children's nannies were dismissed for insolence and abuse respectively. But the families third nanny was much loved and devoted to their children, specifically Prince John who suffered from epilepsy and passed away in 1919 at fourteen years old.

The Royal Collections Trust

At the death of Queen Victoria, Princess Mary became the Princess of Wales where she served for nine years until her husband became ascended to the throne in 1910. She was crowned Queen Consort in 1911 and chose to be styled as Queen Mary, rather than keeping her husbands grandmothers name Victoria.

Queen Mary found ways to serve her people during World War I which included instituting an austerity drive at Buckingham Palace where she rationed food as well as visiting wounded soldiers. She lost her youngest son after the war and shared her grief in a diary that has been published since her death where she said;

"...our poor darling little Johnnie had passed away suddenly...The first break in the family circle is hard to bear but people have been so kind & sympathetic & this has helped us [the King and me] much."

-Queen Mary of Teck

After the death of her son, she committed herself to the King fully, advising him on speeches and matters that affected his reign. She always maintained a sense of self-assured calm during a fairly tumultuous period in British history marked by Irish Independence and Indian Nationalism.

As King George V's health declined, Mary paid particular attention to his care and the pair celebrated their silver jubilee in 1935. The occasion was marked with special events throughout the British Empire including a special tribute paid to the Queen by the King himself.

Royal Collections Trust

She would take her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Mary to art galleries and museums in London as she took a particular interest in their upbringing. During the Second World War she evacuated to Gloucestershire where she stayed with her niece. Despite not being in London, she nonetheless contributed to the war effort by visiting troops and factories, even offering lifts to soldiers she would see on the road.

In 1942, Queen Mary lost her youngest surviving son, Prince George, when he was killed in an air crash on active duty. She returned to London in 1945 after the defeat of Nazi Germany. She spent much of her later years collecting objects and pictures with royal history, including tracing down items that had been lent out over many generations.

In 1952, King George VI passed away in his sleep, her third son to predeceased her. Just over a year after her son Albert's death, Queen Mary passed away in her sleep at the age of 85. She is buried next to her husband at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. Queen Mary was the first of the three Windsor Queens and passed down her calm and collected nature of reassurance as well as the reminder that the crown must always come first if the House of Windsor is to survive. xx

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