20 julio, 2024

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon: biography of the Queen Mother of England

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900-2002) was consort of King George VI and Queen of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions from 1936 to 1952. She is also referred to as Duchess of York, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mother, once her daughter assumed the throne.

She is often recognized for her contribution to the stability of the monarchy during moments of crisis such as the abdication of her husband’s brother, Edward VIII, World War II, and the death of Princess Diana. In addition, it is considered that she helped consolidate the image of her husband as an English monarch.



In August 1900 Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon (original name in English) was born in the renowned family country house St. Paul’s Walden Bury, located in the city of Hitchin, county of Hertfordshire, England. She was the ninth of ten children born to Claude George Bowes-Lyon and his wife Nina Cecilia (Celia).

The family was a descendant of the Royal House of Scotland, one of their ancestors being Sir John Lyon, who was Thane of Glamisen, one of the most prominent noble titles that could be received in the fourteenth century.

childhood and youth

Isabel was educated at home by private tutors. Since she was five years old, she was in the care of Mlle (Madé) Lang, her beloved French governess who allowed her to master the language when she barely reached the age of 10. She then had a second governess of German origin, Fräulein Kuebler, with whom she did not have such a close or successful relationship.

Her attendance at Birtwhistle Girls’ School in Sloane Street, at the age of 12, was a temporary situation. When the First World War began, at the age of 14, she helped with the work of social assistance to patients, since the Glamis Castle where she lived became a hospital center

As Elizabeth and her 3 other sisters were friends with the children of the Prince and Princess of Wales, some apocryphal versions claim that she met her future husband when they were children at a children’s party. But the official story indicates that the first meeting was during the wedding of Princess Maria and Viscount Lascelles, at which she was a maid of honor.

Upon the third marriage proposal from the young Duke of York, Albert Frederick Arthur George, Lady Elizabeth agreed to be married in April 1923 at Westminster Abbey.

Marriage and reign

Their first years of marriage were spent between public engagements, official visits and tours. At that time, it is said that Duchess Isabel suggested to her husband that she receive speech therapy to overcome a stuttering problem, which would later help her to assume the new challenges that fate proposed to her.

In April 1926, Elizabeth delivered her first child by caesarean section, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. And in 1930, four years later, she gave birth to the second Royal Infanta, Princess Margaret Rose.

At the end of the same year that King George V died, in 1936, his eldest son Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced woman of American origin. Unexpectedly, Albert, his younger brother and young Duke of York, was appointed as the leader of the English monarchy.

In this way, Elizabeth went from being a duchess to the first queen consort of British origin since the Tudor Dynasty. In May 1937 George VI and Elizabeth I were crowned the new Kings of Great Britain and Ireland.

It is said that the queen never forgave her brother-in-law and made sure that he remained in exile with his new wife, so that they would never receive the title of Her Royal Highness.

war experiences

During the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Queen Elizabeth refused to leave England with her daughters, for whom they suffered the attacks of the enemies, even resisted the bombing of Buckingham Palace, where the royal family resided.

This served as an inspiration for the entire nation, who witnessed the support that their kings offered them in the most difficult moments, when visiting the affected areas, hospitals and troops after the German attacks. The Palace dressed in austerity in these years.

One of the most iconic scenes of support for the monarchy was recorded when the end of the war came in May 1945. The kings, their daughters and Winston Churchill were on the balcony of the palace in front of the cheers of the crowds, for the that they had to reappear another eight times in total to greet those who were posted on the outskirts.

Queen Mother, her last years

In mid-1951 the king’s health began to fail, so tour trips and appearances at public ceremonies were dwindling. Following the death of King George VI in 1952, his first daughter became Queen Elizabeth II and his mother became known as the Queen Mother.

During these years she continued her public duties in the UK, serving as Chair of some 350 organizations and making over 40 official visits abroad.

She even maintained her popularity during scandals involving her grandson Prince Charles with Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson, as well as her daughter Margaret’s affair with a divorced commoner, Captain Peter Townsend.

In March 2002, shortly before her 102nd birthday, the Queen Mother passed away in her sleep at Windsor Castle. Since the death of her daughter Margarita de ella by a stroke, months before her, her health had been deteriorating. Despite having lived for over 100 years, she was only queen for 16.

In 2009 a controversial biography was published, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth II, to the historian William Shawcross. on the job Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: The Official Biography His admiration for Minister Margaret Thatcher is reported, as opposed to the feeling of rejection that his daughter is known to have had.

In addition to making it known that in 1966 the Queen Mother underwent surgery in London for colon cancer, it shows how her life had been founded on obligation, discretion and restriction. In her text it is related how she hated scandals, first from her brother-in-law and then from her grandson.


«Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900—).» Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Retrieved from Encyclopedia.com
Tikkanen, A. & Encyclopædia Britannica (2019, July 31) elizabeth. Recovered from britannica.com
Goldman, L. (2009, 08 October). elizabeth [née Lady Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon] (1900–2002). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Recovered from oxforddnb.com
Goodey, E. (2015, December 21). Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Recovered from royal.uk
Lewis, JJ (2019, 07 April). Facts about the Mother of Queen Elizabeth II. Retrieved from thoughtco.com
Plus, EP (2002, March 31). England’s Queen Mother dies at 101. Recovered from elpais.com
The nation. (2009, September 17). They publish a controversial book about the former Queen of England. Recovered from lanacion.com.ar

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