'Mother of the 20th Century' Has Quite a History

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 5, 2000 | Go to article overview

'Mother of the 20th Century' Has Quite a History


Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, ninth child of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore, was born Aug. 4, 1900, near London but immediately taken to her father's home at Glamis Castle in Scotland.

Yes, that's the same haunted castle Shakespeare used as the setting for his play "Macbeth."

On her fifth birthday, Elizabeth had a guest twice her age who wore braces on his legs and stuttered because of an enforced correction of his left-handedness. His name was Albert Frederick Arthur George, the second - and therefore inconsequential - son of King George and Queen Mary of England.

Elizabeth felt so sorry for this shy and silent guest that she gave him the cherries off the top of her birthday cake. At that instant "Bertie" fell in love with her. Yet for the next few years Elizabeth refused his offer of love and marriage. Of course, she hoped to be a wife and mother someday, but the idea of living in the public glare as a member of the royal family horrified her.

But Bertie would not be put off. And after all, he had a very popular, self-satisfied brother by the name of David Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, who as the Prince of Wales held the center of worldwide attention, leaving Bertie in the shadows.

So on April 26, 1923, Elizabeth and Bertie were married in Westminster Abbey. Now as the Duke and Duchess of York, they settled down to a private life. On April 21, 1926, Elizabeth got what she always wanted - a daughter, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary - and four years later, another daughter, Margaret Rose.

But then in the late '30s, George V died. David, now Edward VIII, gave up the throne to marry twice-divorced Bessie Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson, an American.

On May 12, 1937, in Westminster Abbey, Bertie and Elizabeth were crowned King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England and the British Commonwealth of Nations. So now Elizabeth's years as a plain and private wife and mother were done. …

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