Queen Mum's 100 Scottish Years
As she celebrates her 100th Birthday on 4 August, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, will no doubt look back on many aspects if her eventful life. Included in those memories will be the important role played by her Scottish roots, her childhood spent at Glamis Castle, becoming a nurse at the age of 14 to soldiers from the First World War who were convalescing at Glamis, inviting Prince Albert (later King George VI) to the castle and being asked by him to marry (and refusing twice before accepting). This short biography of her life highlights the links between this well loved monarch and the country with which she so clearly feels identified.
Ancestral Home of Glamis Castle
Glamis was originally a hunting lodge for the early kings of Scotland. In 1034 King Malcolm the II was wounded in a battle not far away and died in the castle (there is a room in the present building which is still named after him). In 1376, Sir John Lyon, whose ancestry may have originated in early Celtic times, married Princess Joanna, the widowed daughter of King Robert II. He granted the feudal barony of Glamis to his son-in-law and the Lyon family prospered over the centuries. In 1606 the family was regarded as the wealthiest in Scotland. However, the 2nd Earl helped to finance the army of the Covenanters and became impoverished as a result. The 3rd Earl recovered the family fortunes, however, and became Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne (a title which has survived to this day). In the 18th century, the 9th Earl of Strathmore married a wealthy heiress, Mary Eleanor Bowes. He later became Lord Bowes and inherited estates in England. He adopted the present name of Bowes Lyon as the family name.
Elizabeth's Early Years
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes Lyon, the ninth of ten brothers and sisters, was born on 4 August 1900, towards the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Her father, the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, was late in recording the birth at the Registry Office at Hitchin, Hertfordshire (though she was probably born in London). Elizabeth became closest to her younger brother David (born 21 months after her) and they got up to many escapades, including pouring buckets of water from the battlements of Glamis onto "invaders" below.
The relaxed attitude of Elizabeth and her brother was probably derived from their parents. Unlike the stiff aristocratic attitude of the grandees of the day, the Strathmores were much more friendly and genial towards their staff, tenants and local community.
The young Elizabeth also had a wonderfully detailed doll's house which has survived and is currently on display in Glamis Castle. The picture above is of the dining room in the doll's house which is a good representation of the real dining room in the castle, including the miniature paintings of the Earl of Strathmore and his wife (Elizabeth's parents). While much of her childhood was spent at Glamis, she also stayed at the family estates in England. While education for girls was not considered a priority in those days, she was a fluent speaker of French by the age of ten.
A touching reminder of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon's continuing connection with Glamis is in the small "Pet's Cemetery" in the grounds of the estate where the names of some of her pets are recorded.
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