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Mary of Teck

From Academic Kids

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HSH Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, image by Lafayette of Bond Street, London. Copyright V&A Museum

Queen Mary (n饠Her Serene Highness Princess Victoria Mary of Teck), (Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes) (26 May, 186724 March, 1953) was the Queen consort of George V of the United Kingdom. Queen Mary was also the Empress of India and Queen of Ireland. Prior to her accession, she was also Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of York. In her own right she held the title of a Princess of Teck in the Kingdom of W?berg with the style Her Serene Highness. To her family, she was known as May.

During her time, Queen Mary was known for setting the tone of the British Royal Family, as the model of regal formality and propriety, especially during State occasions. She was the first Queen consort to attend the coronation of her successors. Known for the way she superbly bejeweled herself for formal events, Queen Mary's valuable collection of jewels built up over her years as queen are now priceless.


Contents

Early life

Princess Victoria Mary of Teck was born on May 26, 1867, at Kensington Palace, London. Her father was His Serene Highness Prince Francis, Duke of Teck, the son of Duke Alexander of W?berg by his morganatic wife, Countess Claudine Rh餥y de Kis-Rh餥 (created Countess von Hohenstein in the Empire of Austria). Through the House of W?berg, Mary was distantly descended from the Habsburgs, the once powerful ruling family of Austria.(Cite Almanach de Gotha). Her mother was Her Royal Highness Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, the third child and the younger daughter of HRH Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge.

Although her mother was a grandchild of King George III of the United Kingdom, Princess May was only a minor member of the British Royal Family. Her father, the Duke of Teck, was the product of morganatic marriage, had no inheritance or wealth, and carried the lower royal style of Serene Highness. The Duchess of Teck was however granted a Parliamentary Annuity of ?4000 plus ?4000 from her mother, the Duchess of Cambridge. Despite this, the family was deep in debt and had to flee abroad to avoid their creditors in 1883. The Tecks travelled throughout Europe, visiting their various relatives and staying in Florence, Italy, for a time. There Princess May enjoyed visiting the art galleries, churches and museums.

In 1885, the Tecks returned to London and were given use of White Lodge in Windsor as a residence. Princess May was close to her mother and acted as an unofficial secretary, helping to organise parties and social events. May was also close to her aunt, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (n饠Princess Augusta of Cambridge). May wrote to her aunt every week without fail. During World War I, the Swiss Embassy helped pass letters from Mary to her aunt, who lived in Germany.

Engagement

In 1891, Princess May was engaged to His Royal Highness Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, the eldest son of Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales. Princess May was chosen as a bride for Albert Victor, due mainly to Queen Victoria's fondness of May, as well as her strong character and sense of duty. Albert Victor was Princess May's first cousin once removed; May was the daughter of HRH Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, whose father, HRH The Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, was a brother of HRH The Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, the father of Queen Victoria, who was Albert Victor's grandmother. However, Prince Albert Victor died of pneumonia six weeks later.

Despite this setback, Queen Victoria still favoured Princess May as a suitable candidate to marry a future King, so she persuaded Albert Victor's brother, His Royal Highness Prince George, Duke of York, to propose to May. George duly proposed and May accepted. Despite its being an arranged marriage, May and George soon were deeply in love. George never took a mistress and wrote to May every day.

Their marriage took place on July 6, 1893, at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, in London. The couple had six children in total, listed below.

NameBirthDeathNotes.


King Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor, 23 June 189428 May 1972 married Wallis Simpson (19 June 189624 April 1986); no issue.
King George VI 14 December 18956 February 1952 married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (4 August 190030 March 2002); and had issue.
Mary, Princess Royal 25 April 1897 28 March 1965 married Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood (9 September 188223 May 1947); and had issue.
Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester 31 March 1900 10 June 1974 married Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott (25 December 190129 October 2004); and had issue.
Prince George, Duke of Kent 20 December 1902 25 August 1942 married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark (13 December 190627 August 1968); and had issue.
Prince John 12 July 1905 18 January 1919 suffered from epilepsy, raised apart from his royal siblings, and died young.

Duchess of York

After her marriage, Princess May was now styled Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York. The Duke and Duchess of York lived in York Cottage, a small house on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. They also had apartments in St. James's Palace, London. York Cottage was a modest house for royalty, but was a favourite of George, who liked a simple life.

The Duchess of York was not considered to be emotionally attached to her children. The royal nanny looking after Princes Edward and Albert was found to be abusing the children. The nanny would pinch Edward before he was to be presented to the Duke and Duchess, causing them to dismiss him. Albert was generally ignored, and he turned into a shy, stammering man as a result.

As Duke and Duchess of York, George and May carried out a variety of public duties. In 1900, they toured the British Empire. Visiting Australia, the Duke and Duchess opened the first session of the Australian Parliament, when the Commonwealth of Australia was created.

The Royal Family in 1913From left to right, King George V, Princess Mary, Prince Edward (future Edward VIII) and Queen Mary</div>
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The Royal Family in 1913
From left to right, King George V, Princess Mary,
Prince Edward (future Edward VIII) and Queen Mary
</div>


Princess of Wales

On January 22, 1901, Queen Victoria died, and the Duchess of York's father-in-law, Albert Edward, ascended the throne as King Edward VII. For the rest of that year, May was styled Duchess of Cornwall and York, until November 9, 1901, when George was created Prince of Wales, and she was then styled Princess of Wales.

King Edward VII wished his son to be more prepared for the role of King, given Queen Victoria's exclusion of Edward from state affairs. However, the Prince of Wales was not of the highest intellect, and May was required to help him read and understand the state papers sent by the King.

Queen Mary

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George V and Queen Mary in their coronation robes

On May 6, 1910, King Edward VII died, and the Prince and Princess of Wales ascended the throne. May choose the regal name of Mary for her reign. George and Mary's coronation at Westminster Abbey took place on June 22, 1911. They later travelled to India for the Delhi Durbar on December 11,1911. The King and Queen toured the country visiting their new subjects as their Emperor and Empress.

The beginning of Mary's reign as Queen Consort saw her come into conflict with the new dowager Queen Alexandra. Although the two Queens were friendly and close, Alexandra was stubborn in many ways. She demanded precedence over Mary at the funeral of Edward VII, was slow in leaving Buckingham Palace, and kept some of the royal jewels that should have been passed to the new Queen.

Queen Mary's staunch support of her husband become stronger during his reign. She advised him on speeches, and used her extensive knowledge of history and royalty to advise him on matters of state.

History remembers Mary as an inattentive mother. She failed to notice the neglect of a nanny of the young Princes Edward and Albert, and her youngest son Prince John was kept away on the Sandringham Estate so the public would not see his epilepsy. However, Mary was a caring mother in many respects and taught her children history and music. Edward, in his memoirs, wrote of the fondness and kindness of Mary as a mother.

In 1935, George V and Queen Mary celebrated their silver jubilee, with celebrations taking place throughout the British Empire. However, George was now very ill, leaving Mary to nurse the ailing King.

Dowager Queen

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Standard of HM Queen Mary

King George V died on January 20, 1936, and Mary's son Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, ascended the throne as King Edward VIII. Although loyal and supportive to her son, she could not understand why Edward would neglect his position in order to marry Wallis Simpson. Mary refused to meet or acknowledge Wallis either in public or private. When Edward decided to abdicate, Mary provided moral support for the shy and stammering Prince Albert, Duke of York, now expected to ascend the throne in Edward's place. With Albert on the throne as George VI, Mary provided support to the new King and Queen, even attending their coronation, the first dowager Queen to do so.

She was now Queen Mother, though she did not use that title in shorthand, instead being known as Her Majesty Queen Mary.

During World War II, George VI wished his mother to evacuate London, although she was reluctant to do so. She decided to go live with her niece, Mary, Duchess of Beaufort, the daughter of her brother Adolphus, at Badminton House. There Queen Mary supported the war effort by visiting troops and factories and helping to gather scrap materials. She was known to offer lifts to soldiers she spotted on the roads and caused her niece some annoyance by having the ancient ivy torn from the walls of Badminton House (the Queen considered it a hazard as well as unattractive). The Queen was also something of an opportunistic kleptomaniac, making it very clear to hosts and others that she wanted a treasure of theirs by admiring it repeatedly and extravagantly until said treasure was, regretfully, packed up and given to the Queen.

In 1952, Mary's son George VI died, and her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth, ascended the throne. Since her daughter-in-law Queen Elizabeth was now Queen Mother, Mary became the Dowager Queen Mother, though she still did not use that in her shorthand title. Mary died the next year, before having the chance to see Elizabeth II's coronation. Her dying wish was that the coronation not be postponed and that it go ahead as planned. After her death, Queen Mary lay in state at Westminster Hall, where crowds of mourners filed past her coffin. She is buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

Legacy

The cruise ship, RMS Queen Mary, was named in her honour, as was the Royal Navy Battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary.

The Queen Mary's dollshouse was created for her in 1926.

Titles from birth to death

  • Her Serene Highness Princess Victoria Mary of Teck (May 26, 1867 to July 6, 1893)
  • Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York (July 6, 1893 to January 22, 1901)
  • Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and York (January 22-November 9, 1901)
  • Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales (November 9, 1901 to May 6, 1910)
  • Her Majesty The Queen (May 6, 1910 to January 20, 1936)
  • Her Majesty Queen Mary (January 20, 1936 to March 24, 1953)

Honourary military appointments


Preceded by:
Alexandra of Denmark
Princess of Wales Followed by:
Diana Spencer


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