Full name: Elizabeth Angela Marguerite
Nickname: The Queen Mum
Titles: The Honourable Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon; Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon; HRH The Duchess of York; HM Queen Elizabeth; HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
Honors: Lady of The Garter, Lady of The Thistle
Reign: Consort to King George VI, 1936 – 1952
Birth/Death: August 4, 1900 – March 30, 2002
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was the youngest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. With a vibrant personality and delicate features, she caught the eye of HRH Prince Albert, the Duke of York.
Albert, also known as Bertie, was the second son of King George V. Elizabeth balked at accepting the Duke’s marriage proposals – she was initially hesitant to be kept in the “gilded cage” of royalty. Eventually, Bertie’s kindness and gentle humor won her over and they became engaged. They royal couple were married April 26th, 1923 at Westminster Abbey.
King George V and Queen Mary liked Elizabeth immensely. Bertie was overjoyed that he had Elizabeth as a wife and best friend.
The image of a cozy, earnest Royal Family was interrupted by the scandal of Bertie’s elder brother, Edward. As Prince of Wales, Edward courted Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. As King Edward VIII, he threatened to abandon the throne to marry her. It was an unmitigated disaster until Bertie stepped into the unexpected role of king. When the Duke and Duchess of York ascended the throne as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, they brought a sense of family values back to the throne. They had two small daughters, and were all very close – “Us Four”, as Bertie called his little family. They fished on the River Dee near Balmoral Castle, attended shooting parties, sang songs and played parlor games at Buckingham Palace. The difference between Bertie’s family life and Edward’s scandalous night life were like night and day.
Elizabeth, remembered today as the bejeweled, hat-wearing Queen Mum, was very strong – physically, mentally, and spiritually. These qualities helped her to reign with her husband during the dark days of World War II, earning the love of the nation. The Queen was even prepared to take down a Nazi paratrooper if she had to. She took up revolver lessons with the King – they were determined that neither England nor the monarchy would be overrun by the Nazi occupation.
After the stress of the war, the King’s health went downhill. Years of smoking and drinking had damaged his lungs and he developed arteriosclerosis. The king had surgery to remove a lung and seemed to be doing well after the operation, but eventually poor health took its toll. On February 6, 1952, George VI died at Sandringham House in Norfolk. He was buried in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Queen Elizabeth became depressed over her husband’s death, and at the same time she was furious. The queen constantly cursed the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, as Edward and his wife were now styled, for putting her husband in the position of king at such a disastrous time.
Into her eighties and nineties, The Queen Mother had two hip replacements and once suffered a broken collarbone in a fall. Still, she carried on without a backwards glance. At her grandson Edward’s wedding in 1999, she walked with the aid of two canes AND a smart pair of heels. The Queen Mum could also be seen in a chauffeured golf cart, zooming about to greet well-wishers on her birthday.
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother died peacefully in her sleep at Royal Lodge, Windsor on March 30, 2002. She had been suffering from a chest infection since Christmas of 2001, and it had grown steadily worse. Her Majesty The Queen was at the Queen Mother’s bedside when she passed away.
HRH Princess Margaret
Full name: Margaret Rose
Titles: HRH Princess Margaret of York; HRH Princess Margaret; HRH Princess Margaret, the Countess of Snowdon
Honors: Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order; recipient of the Royal Victorian Chain; Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St John of Jerusalem
Birth/Death: August 21, 1930 – February 9, 2002
The younger daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York (the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), Princess Margaret Rose was born at Glamis, the Scottish seat of her maternal grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. She was a happy, fun loving child who was close to her elder sister Elizabeth. Their mother even dressed them in the same clothes. She felt it would slightly bridge the age gap (4 years) between them.
The Princess was fully involved in the Royal family’s many public activities. A particular interest was in the field of welfare work – many of the organizations she headed dealt with activities for young people and caring for the elderly and sick. She also undertook numerous overseas visits representing The Queen on many important occasions.
As for hobbies and interests, Prince Margaret’s two great loves were ballet and music, and she became the first President of the Royal Ballet. Although introduced to horses around the same time as her sister, Margaret never took to them, and decided on a more glamorous lifestyle in the realm of theatre.
The couple had two children together, David and Sarah. Although Margaret and Tony led a jet-set life and traveled constantly, their children grew up to be stable adults. Her Majesty the Queen often looked after them, with one close to the family commenting, “the Snowdon children probably thought of the Queen as mum.”
Margaret and Tony’s marriage was dissolved in May 1978, after years of bitter fighting. The princess was extremely unhappy. She had been denied a marriage to Peter Townsend, an equerry to her father George VI, because he was a divorced man. Now Margaret was divorced herself, and back at square one. She took to drinking and smoking excessively.
Peter Townsend was her first true love, and although he was many years older than she (by about fourteen years), they seemed to connect. Margaret did not care that he had been married once before, as it had been a marriage of war-time haste anyway. That did not satisfy her parents or the courtiers, and they kept Margaret and Peter from becoming too serious.
Peter and his wife had two sons, but the couple eventually grew apart. Rosemary herself looked elsewhere, and for Peter there was Princess Margaret, then in her early twenties. Believing the marriage to be over, he filed for divorce on the grounds of his wife’s adultery. He then moved on to try to win Margaret’s love.
They seemed to genuinely be in love; at least Margaret did. And she certainly wanted to marry him. The divorce factor seemed to weigh heavily upon the relationship, however she was told to wait a couple of years until she came of age. By then, she would not need the Queen’s permission to marry.
Even though he was the technically innocent party in the divorce, it did not matter to the Palace. He was seen as bad news for the young princess. The establishment put pressure on the Queen to get Townsend out of Margaret’s life, and unfortunately she did so. Not having been long on the throne, and raised in a world where divorce was unthinkable, Elizabeth allowed the courtiers to send Peter away as an air attache to Brussels.
The Princess was furious with the senior courtiers who had told her to wait, thinking that the relationship stood a chance. She had been badly deceived, and did not know what to do. Peter knew it was most certainly over, and decided to draft Margaret’s letter of renunciation to the public himself.
Already crushed, Margaret was given a further jolt when Peter wrote to her from Brussels a few years later saying he was marrying a twenty-year-old Belgian heiress. That evening, she accepted Tony Armstrong-Jones’ proposal.
Although it may have seemed like a rebound, Margaret really did adore Tony in the beginning, and thought it would be a perfect way to get Townsend out of her mind forever. He was petite, energetic, flamboyant and as glamorous as she was, and it seemed a perfect match. The Queen Mum highly approved, and the Queen herself was relieved that her sister seemed to finally find happiness.
Diana, Princess of Wales
Full name: Diana Frances
Titles: The Honourable Diana Spencer; The Lady Diana Spencer; HRH The Princess of Wales; Diana, Princess of Wales
Birth/Death: July 1st, 1961 – August 31st, 1997
Lady Diana Spencer was the youngest daughter of Edward John “Johnnie” Spencer and Frances Roche. She was one of four surviving children: Sarah, Jane, and younger brother Charles. John, who was born a year before Diana, died within hours of his birth.
The Spencers are one of the oldest and most distinguished families in Britain. They have always been close to the royal family, and Diana’s father, Johnnie, was an equerry to George VI and the Queen herself.
Before Johnnie inherited the title of Earl Spencer, he was known as Viscount Althorp and lived with his family in Park House. This grand home was located within the grounds of the Sandringham Estate (royal property), where Diana would play with her future brothers-in-law, Andrew and Edward.
Knowing that he would eventually inherit the title of Earl Spencer, Johnnie was extremely anxious to have a son and heir. After three daughters and the death of his infant son, coupled with his drinking, the Spencer marriage became unbearably strained. Eventually, Frances gave birth to Charles, the long awaited heir.
After several years of Johnnie’s drinking and the strain of having to produce a boy, Frances left Park House for the last time and began divorce proceedings. She was fed up, but also spurred on by her involvement with a man named Peter Shand-Kydd.
Frances wanted the children to come with her, but her mother, Lady Ruth Fermoy, testified against her in court. Lady Fermoy referred to Frances as a “bolter” for leaving her husband for a lover, and claimed she had abandoned her family. To Ruth Fermoy, appearances and social standing were everything. Leaving one’s noble husband – for a commoner! – and not taking one’s place as a future Countess was abhorrent to Ruth. Custody went to Earl Spencer.
When Johnnie became Earl Spencer, the family moved to Althorp house. The large, rambling Althorp was a stately home in Northamptonshire, the ancestral home of the Spencer family since the 16th century. It was, as Diana would later describe in her memoirs, a “wrench” having to leave Park House.
Diana was painfully upset by her parents’ divorce, when she was aged only six, and distressed over having to leave Park House. The eldest children, Jane and Sarah, were able to escape some of the stress by living at boarding school. Charles, the youngest, often missed Frances and wondered where she had gone. Nannies that entered their home were looked upon with suspicion by all Spencer children, who assumed that they were usurpers of their mother’s position.
Soon, Sarah and Jane found love interests that distracted them from their new stepmother. The Spencers were drawn into the public eye over Sarah’s relationship with Prince Charles, the Queen’s eldest son. Sarah seemed happy with her relationship, as did Charles, but her willingness to give interviews to the media soon became an issue. Dazzled by all the attention, Lady Sarah inadvertently put an end to her relationship with the Prince of Wales. He was unimpressed by her flushed, excitable willingness to tell all about herself.
As the hoopla died down, Jane met and married Robert Fellowes, then an Assistant Private Secretary to the Queen, in 1978. He was an “Old Etonian” who rose through the ranks to become Deputy and subsequently Private Secretary to the Queen.
Through it all, the quiet Diana had been dazzled by the attention paid to her by Prince Charles. The first meeting between Diana and her future husband had been during a shooting party, where she lent him a sympathetic ear over the death of his uncle Mountbatten a few years before. Soon, Diana herself was vaulted to worldwide fame when she was discovered to be dating Prince Charles in 1980.
The prince was 13 years Diana’s senior. When they married on July 29th, 1981, Diana had just turned twenty on July 1st. Charles would celebrate his 33rd birthday that November.
After the birth of their two children, Prince William (1982) and Prince Harry (1984), the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales broke down. They were each doing their part to fulfill royal duties, but their private lives were a shambles. Diana was concerned that Charles still harbored feelings for his ex-girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles, and she herself took several lovers. Charles was frustrated and didn’t understand the public’s admiration of Diana, and Diana didn’t understand his buttoned-down ways and intellectual pursuits.
Diana became a high-fashion, high-profile princess with legions of fans all over the globe, which perplexed the more laid-back, dutiful Windsors. The Queen and Prince Philip were especially distressed when the breakdown of the Wales marriage went public, but did their best to keep the peace and carry on.
By the early 1990s, Diana and Charles were more than ready to divorce. The proceedings went ahead after a “cooling” period, or trial separation. The divorce became final in August 1996.
Almost one year later, Diana was fatally injured in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France. Her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul, were killed on impact.
The princess predeceased her two sisters, Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale; her brother, Charles Spencer, the present Earl; and her two sons, Princes William and Harry of Wales. Her mother, Frances Shand-Kydd, died in 2004.
Sir Angus Ogilvy
[BBC] The 76-year-old passed away at Kingston Hospital, south west London, near his home at Richmond Park, after a long illness. Buckingham Palace said that the Queen had expressed “great sorrow” when she learned of his death on Boxing Day morning.
Sir Angus, who married Princess Alexandra in 1963, battled with cancer and recently suffered pneumonia. The Rev Jonathan Riviere, rector of Sandringham, said prayers for him during a service attended by the royal family at St Mary Magdalen Church on the royal Norfolk estate near Kings Lynn.
During his life, Sir Angus turned down grace-and-favor accommodation and a peerage offered by the Queen on his marriage, and insisted on paying his own way. He maintained a delicate balancing act between loyal royal consort and sometimes beleaguered businessman.
Educated at Eton and Oxford, his work in the City proved lucrative. His success continued when entrepreneur Harley Drayton took him under his wing at the fledgling company Lonrho.
By 1973, Lonrho’s trade record and practices were criticized and the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, called the Lonhro affair the “unacceptable face of capitalism”.
Sir Angus resigned that same year and a government report in 1976 accused him of being severely “negligent in his duties”. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to corporate work, including his position of “roving ambassador” for Sotheby’s. The spotlight fell on his family again in 1989, the same year as Angus received his knighthood.
His unmarried daughter Marina, 24th in line to the throne and defiantly independent, announced her intention to have a child. In the press, she portrayed her parents as disapproving figures from the Victorian era. Her fiance Paul Mowatt accused them of snobbery and the Ogilvys felt compelled to issue a statement, expressing concern for their daughter and their wish to be reconciled with her.
Back to Biographies