Ah, the British. It’s all about a good match.
Her Royal Stuffiness, Queen Victoria, decided most of the matches of her children and grand-children. They must marry, and they must marry well. The marriages were usually to cousins, third or fourth, or in some cases, much closer.
Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes, Her Serene Highness, Princess of Teck, was the great-granddaughter of King George III.
Queen Victoria was the granddaughter of the same King through a different son, so they were first cousins once or twice removed, I think. It’s all so confusing. At any rate, they were related and they were as German in ancestry as schnitzel and kraut! Yet, they were English.
She was famous at the time for her ample bosom and her tiny waste, and her influence on fashion rivaled that of Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Victoria had chosen Princess “May”, as she was called for her grandson, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence. May was considered ‘a very good candidate for marraige’, so, May was engaged to her second cousin once removed.
The Queen was very fond of May and thought her to be of ‘strong character’. She was, as we shall see.
Prince Albert Victor died in the influenza pandemic of 1891-1892, just a mere six weeks after the engagement.
Not wanting this wonderful prize to go to waste, the Queen quietly pushed for a marriage between the pretty princess and her second son, Prince George, the Duke of York, now second in line to the throne.
She really didn’t have to push. George and May became close during the official period of mourning for her late fiance.
Aptly, in May of 1893, The Duke of York proposed. They married in July of the same year.
By all accounts, they were very much in love. George, unlike his father, The Prince of Wales, never took a mistress. Daddy had been a bad example, with 55 official mistresses…Daddy was a playah!
Victoria died, her playboy son, Bertie, became King Edward VII, and The Duke of York became the Prince of Wales, first in line for the throne.
The suitable candidate for marriage became Her Majesty, Queen Mary, aptly, in May of 1910. May, her birth month and nickname seemed to bring her good.
She was a great Queen Consort, and is generally credited for saving the British Monarchy when crowned heads were falling all over Europe.
The Hapsburgs, Hohenzollerns, and Bourbons were drummed out of the palace in the Great War, but the British Monarchy, changed its German name of Saxe-Cobourg- Gotha to Windsor, and became as British as scones.
Most of it was May’s doing.
The distant mother of six children left most of the child rearing to nannies and nursery workers. Oh, there was an hour each evening when the Queen read and played with her brood, but most of the tales are of an icy formal woman who valued the monarchy above all else.
She guided her husband through World War I, strikes, the rise of socialism, Home Rule for Ireland, and an international monetary crisis never before seen.
The King drew his last in 1936 after what was surely a lethal injection of cocaine and morphine from his doctor. Her Majesty The Queen was now officially “The Queen Mother”, a title she hated and refused to use.
Her eldest son, the man who gave UP the throne for Wallis, King Edward VIII, gave conflicting reports.
He is quoted as saying, “Her soft voice, her cultivated mind, the cosy room overflowing with personal treasures were all inseparable ingredients of the happiness associated with the last hour of a child’s day…Such was my mothers’ pride in her children that everything that happened to each one of us was of the utmost importance to her.”
After his abdication, he was far less kind. In letters to the infamous Wallis, whom The Queen despised, he said, “My sadness was mixed with incredulity that any mother could have been so hard and cruel towards her eldest son for so many years and yet so demanding at the end without relenting a scrap. I’m afraid the fluids in her veins have always been as icy cold as they are now in death.”
Hallmark did not pick that UP for Mother’s Day.
Loving and doting Mother may be in question, but some things are not.
She loved her husband, steered him in the right direction during stormy seas, she shaped her family, and she shaped the monarchy for generations to come.
She was, as Victoria knew, a good candidate for marriage.