Thursday, January 12, 2012
Consort Profile: Queen Mary of Teck
As the Royal Family was in mourning, Princess Mary comforted the survivors and in so doing caught the eye of the new next-in-line Prince George. Queen Victoria, who had a very high opinion of Mary, still thought she would make an excellent consort and approved the match. So, the next year, in 1893 the two were engaged. This time it was not the result of an arrangement but a genuine connection and the two were to have a very successful and lifelong marriage. On July 6, 1893 the two were married at St James’s Palace and Princess Mary became the Duchess of York. Unlike his father (or most of the male members of his family excluding King George III) Prince George was very devoted to his wife, never took a mistress, and after their wedding, in quick order, six children were born to the happy couple. First was Prince Edward (later King Edward VIII) born in 1894, followed by Prince Albert (later King George VI) in 1895, then the Princess Royal Mary in 1897, Prince Henry in 1900, Prince George in 1902 and finally the unfortunate Prince John in 1905. Prince John was afflicted with epilepsy and only lived to the age of 13 but, despite what many today seem to believe, was much loved and closely taken care of by his mother.
King George and Queen Mary were the image of the model family; a happy couple, devoted and faithful to each other with many children who focused on doing good deeds and setting a proper example. They were the first sovereigns to celebrate their accession as Emperor and Empress of India on the subcontinent and when World War I erupted she set a magnificent example at the palace for the Royal Family being in solidarity with the British public. She saw to it that everything was rationed (as it was for the people) and even though it caused her great emotional distress she frequently visited the badly wounded troops of the BEF evacuated from the front in France and Belgium. Just before the war ended Queen Mary was devastated by the death of her ailing son Prince John; few at the time knew just how devastated. Yet, through it all, she was seen as a tower of strength at every public appearance, proper, determined and devoted to duty. She certainly was a great help to King George V who relied on her advice, emotional support and calming influence.
During World War II, as she had in the last conflict, Queen Mary visited factories serving the war effort, met with soldiers on British bases and was even known to stop and giving walking soldiers arrive when spotted on the roadside. She also helped in the nation-wide campaign to gather scrap metal and other supplies to support the war effort. Queen Mary also took an active interest in the lives of her granddaughters Elizabeth and Margaret, passing on to them her appreciation for art and culture. She out-lived her son King George VI in 1952 and saw her granddaughter succeed to the throne as Queen Elizabeth II. After that moment, for a time, Great Britain had three queens; Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II. She did not live to see the coronation though as she died on March 24, 1953 of lung cancer at the age of 85. She was buried next to her beloved husband, King George V, at Windsor Castle.