Lady Elizabeth was educated at home. By the age of ten she was already fluent in French. When World War I started, her family home was turned into a hospital and Lady Elizabeth proudly assisted with welfare work looking after the wounded patients in her care. Her brother, Fergus, was killed in the Battle of Loos in 1915.
As the Duke and Duchess of York, the couple made many overseas visits, attending various family events in the European Royal Families and representing the King and Britain all over Europe. Only six months after their wedding, they paid a visit to Belgrade where they both stood godparents at the christening of the future King Peter II of Yugoslavia. Their daughter, Princess Elizabeth would later be a godmother to King Peter's son, Crown Prince Aleksander.
As a result of the death of King George V in January 1936 and the unexpected abdication of King Edward VIII, the Duke of York was given the “heavy burden of responsibility” and became the new monarch of Great Britain and Emperor of India. Wanting to keep in continuity with his father, the Duke of York took his father's name and became King George VI. The Duchess of York became Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth. The coronation that should have been of King Edward VIII and was of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth took place on 12th May 1937. It was a sparkling event, with millions flocking to London to watch the procession.
Between the coronation and the beginning of World War II, two important overseas visits were made, much at the fear that a new conflict was about to break. The first, in July of 1938, to France and another, in May and June of 1939, to Canada and the United States of America. When the monarchs visited Washington, crowds of Americans cheered them on, waving Union Jack flags and President Roosevelt (who was a known admirer and fan of European monarchy: he sheltered the Norwegian royal family, sent a naval ship to retrieve the Luxembourg royals to safety and promised the Count of Barcelona to help him restore the throne of Spain) and Mrs. Roosevelt entertained them with hot dogs and cocktails at their Hyde Park home. The visit was a success and the King and Queen left America with newfound fans but most of all with the alliances made in case a new war was to break.
When World War II exploded, the British government wanted the Queen and her two daughters to go to the safety of Northern America where many of the European royals were heading. But the Queen adamantly refused and demanded she would not leave her husband nor the British people with a sentence that became famous: “The children won’t go without me. I won’t go without the King. And the King will never go.” So the government subsided in it's request. King George and Queen Elizabeth were later in Buckingham Palace when the Nazis bombed it. Through the grim years of war, Their Majesties never wavered and always stood side-by-side with their people. Queen Elizabeth was such a morale booster, that Adolf Hitler called her the most dangerous woman in Europe.
After the Allied victory, the King and Queen went fourth with their overseas visits, now to try and save the Empire of which Britain had always been so proud. Taking along their two daughters, they made a visit to South Africa in 1947. Shortly afterwards, the King had one of the most specially happy moments of his life when he conducted his eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, to the altar of Westminster Abbey, where she married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh.
In 1948 the royal couple celebrated their Silver Wedding Anniversary with a grand Thanksgiving Service in St. Paul’s Cathedral, followed by a carriage cortege through London. Later that day the King proclaimed he could not have done it without the help of his loving wife. But the King’s health started to fail and, after many health scares, when it was thought the King’s condition was improving, the King died peacefully in his sleep at Sandringham, on 6th February 1952. The Queen was now a widow and her daughter was the new monarch. Later, on 19th February, after having presided the funeral of her husband, Queen Elizabeth announced she wished to be known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Her role in the family became very special with the arrival of her grandchildren, to whom she devoted, most especially to Prince Charles and Princess Anne, for whom she watched whenever their mother, the Queen, went abroad. Her Majesty appeared extremely happy on the wedding of her youngest daughter Princess Margaret to Mr. Anthony Armstrong-Jones, a society photographer who had succeeded Captain Peter Townsend in the heart of the beautiful young princess.
The Queen Mother continued to serve Britain all through her long life, with tours of Britain and the world, to support the Queen, her daughter, in her task. Queen Elizabeth also took some time for herself after her daughter's accession and bought the Castle of Mey, in the extreme north of Scotland, which she restored and where she spent very special moments. The Queen Mother spent her time in the various residences she was entitled to, but most specially at Clarence House, to where she moved in 1952. She continued to love staying at Balmoral as well as in the Royal Lodge in Windsor, and in Sandringham.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother became a real symbol of Britain, something proved with the magnificent celebrations held in 1980 to celebrate her 80th birthday, and repeated in 2000 when thousands gathered in London to celebrate her centenary. Everyone keeps very special memories of Her Majesty, of her strenght of character, of her good humour and of her devotion to Britain. Throughout her life, the Queen Mother maintained a very special and close relationship with both her daughters, the lasting part of "us four", as the King and Queen would have called their family during war years.
Until the old age of 101, which she achieved on the 4th August 2001, the Queen Mother continued public duties, having been out of public limelight since November 2001 due to her frail condition. Her state of mind worsened in early February 2002, three days after the 50th anniversary of her husband’s death, when her youngest daughter, HRH Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, died, aged 71, after a remarkable and quick deterioration of her health.
Nevertheless, Her Majesty the Queen Mother was Patron or President of over 350 organisations and Commandant-in-Chief of each of the branches of the Armed Forces and Air Force Women's Services and Women in the Royal Navy. The Queen Mother was President of the British Red Cross Society and is Commandant-in-Chief of the Nursing division of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade. She was also Colonel-in-Chief or Honorary Chief of many UK and overseas regiments.
A link between a glorious past and a promising future, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the last Empress of India, died on the 30th March 20002, less than 2 months after the death of her younger daughter. She remained one of the most beloved members of the British Royal Family until the day of her death, over 50 years after her husband's death. Britain mourned her passing, understanding that, above all, tributes should be payed to an extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life.