Queen Mum's 100 Scottish Years (Page 2)
First World War
The First World War broke out on Elizabeth's 14th birthday. As the war did not end by Christmas, as everyone had expected, and as casualties mounted, Lady Strathmore decided to turn the banqueting hall at Glamis Castle into a convalescent home for wounded soldiers. Elizabeth helped to look after the patients and showed a gift for caring and communication. Although the patients were all officers, it was probably the first time that the young Elizabeth had met a wider cross-section of British society. The experience of caring for these wounded soldiers, a task she continued until 1919, undoubtedly had an impact on the young girl. One soldier wrote "For all her 15 years she was very womanly, kind-hearted and sympathetic." During the war, tragedy struck the Strathmores when one of Elizabeth's brothers was killed at the Battle of Loos. During a visit to an older sister in Suffolk, the two girls overheard a dentist, who lived next door, plying sailors with drink and quizzing them about ship movements. They reported the dentist to the police and he was arrested as a spy. King George heard of the incident but the girls modestly declined the offer of a medal!
Marriage to a Future King
After the war, if life never quite got back to "normal", it nevertheless became more relaxed for those in high society, with parties and social events. In those days, at society balls, both men and women had "dance cards" and the young girls would write in the names of the young men who had asked them for a particular dance during the evening. Elizabeth was extremely popular and some of her cards which have survived show that she danced all evening! She was described by one observer as "She makes every man feel chivalrous and gallant towards her."
One particular favourite was Jamie Stuart, third son of the Earl of Moray who had earned a Military Cross with the Royal Scots during the war and was now an equerry to Prince Albert, the King's second son. Both young men attended a ball on 20 May 1920. Prince Albert spotted Elizabeth Bowes Lyon and immediately asked Jamie to introduce him to her. By the end of the evening he had fallen for the beautiful and charming Scots girl. But it was not mutual! Prince Albert was a shy young man who suffered from a dreadful stammer but "Bertie" was not to be denied. Prompted by his new title of Duke of York, he was invited to Glamis by the Strathmores and he continued to pursue Elizabeth. Over the next two years he twice proposed marriage (through intermediaries, as protocol demanded) and was refused on both occasions. On the third time, early in 1923, acting on the advice of a friend, he ignored protocol; he asked her face to face and she accepted.
Later that year they married in Westminster Abbey. In an unrehearsed gesture, Elizabeth placed her wedding bouquet on the tomb of the unknown soldier. The Queen Mother still has her wedding dress in her home at Clarence House. A request by the BBC to broadcast the wedding ceremony was turned down - due to concern that working men might listen to it with a glass in their hand and might not doff their caps at the National Anthem. Changed days.
Part of the Royal couple's honeymoon was spent at Glamis Castle. Unfortunately, she went down with whooping cough, which she later described as "not very romantic."
On 21 April 1926, the Duke and Duchess of York had their first child - Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (now Queen Elizabeth II). Later, in 1930, Princess Margaret Rose was born at Glamis Castle, the first royal baby in direct line to the throne to have been born in Scotland for 300 years. Protocol demands that the Home Secretary must be present at such a birth so he had to travel from London for the event!
In 1927 The Duke and Duchess went on a tour of Australia and New Zealand. Her people skills turned the tour into a triumph.
Life for the Duke and Duchess changed dramatically, however, following the death of King George V in 1936. Albert's brother, King Edward VIII, decided that he wanted to marry the woman he loved, the twice divorced Wallis Simpson and he abdicated. The Duke and Duchess of York suddenly became King and Queen (Albert deciding to take the title King George VI). Their coronation was on 12 May 1937, the date on which Edward should have been crowned.
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