The queen consort who rebuilt the monarchy from the ruins of abdication scandal

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The last queen consort to be crowned was Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother – the King’s beloved grandmother – nearly 90 years ago.

A constitutional crisis over Edward VIII’s love for American divorcee Wallis Simpson and his subsequent abdication propelled the former Duchess of York into the role of Queen at George VI’s side in 1936.

Queen Mother 100 birthday
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, waves from a horse-drawn carriage with her grandson the then-Prince of Wales on her 100th birthday (PA)

As a dowager royal matriarch, she was embraced as a much-loved great-grandmother to the nation.

Born on August 4 1900, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – daughter of the Earl of Strathmore – married “Bertie” the Duke of York in 1923, after twice rejecting his proposals over concern about the restrictions that came with royal life.

Royalty – Prince Albert, Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon Wedding – London
The Duke and Duchess of York leaving Buckingham Palace for their honeymoon in 1923 (PA)

They were watched by their daughters 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth, who would eventually become a queen regnant as Elizabeth II, and six-year-old Princess Margaret.

A new crown, now known as the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Crown, was made for the occasion and set with 2,800 diamonds, a purple velvet cap and ermine band.

King Charles III coronation
Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II), Princess Margaret and George VI on coronation day in 1937 (PA)

During the Second World War’s Blitz, the King and Queen remained in the capital and were seen as sharing in the country’s wartime hardships when Buckingham Palace was bombed.

The Queen Mother admitted she was glad the royal palace was attacked so she “could look the East End in the face”.

Royal Birthday/wellwishers
The Queen Mother talks to young wellwishers outside Clarence House in 1999 (Fiona Hanson/PA)

But she never forgave the Duke of Windsor, the former king, and his wife the Duchess, claiming the strain of the abdication contributed to her husband’s early death.

She was close to her daughter Elizabeth II, with the late Queen indulging her mother and financing her no-tomorrow spending habits.

Queen/ Queen Mother
Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother laughing together as they studied the form for the Epsom Derby in 1996 (Roberta Parkin/PA)

The Queen Mother – the longest lived queen consort in history – died at the age of 101 on March 30 2002 in her daughter’s Golden Jubilee year.

Charles said in tribute on one of her many birthdays: “Her greatest gift is to enhance life for others through her effervescent enthusiasm for life.”

Royalty – Queen Mother – Press Club, Shoe Lane, London
As part of her 80th birthday celebration, the Queen Mother visited the Press Club in London, where she tried her skill on the snooker table (PA)

The King was incredibly close to his grandmother, and the Queen Mother, in turn, was devoted to him.

Royalty – Prince Charles and Princess Anne with the Queen Mother
The Queen Mother with a young Princess Anne and Prince Charles while their parents were away on a lengthy Commonwealth tour (PA)

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