The relationship between Edward VIII and his mother, Mary of Teck, is perfectly illustrative of not only the significance of a generational gap, but of how differing views on duty and happiness can be enough to drive a wedge between parent and child. In the case of Edward VIII, or “David” as he was known to his family, and Mary, their relationship was complicated by how each viewed the function of the monarchy itself. Theirs is hardly the first unhappy parent-child relationship in the Royal Family’s history, but it is one that feels more poignant thanks to how recently it unfolded, how much more we know about it and the fact that it was not devoid of natural affection.
We’ve discussed before the strange tradition of strife between sovereign and heir that George I brought with him to Britain when the House of Hanover was established in 1714. It’s a pattern that has carried through subsequent generations in some form or another, though mercifully today it looks quite different than it did in centuries past. As of when the future George V began his family with Mary of Teck in the 1890s, family dynamics were certainly not as political or dire as they were when George II was waging war against his father as Prince of Wales or his son as king, but they also weren’t particularly warm and fuzzy. Indeed, George and Mary were tough parents and the patterns set out in the formative years of their children, two of whom would become kings, dictated how the monarchy unfolded through the 20th century.
Back in August we covered the premature death of Prince George, the Duke of Kent in 1942 while flying an airplane during World War II, but today we’re going to cover a slightly happier time in his life: his marriage to Princess Marina of Greece. Marina’s introduction to the House of Windsor in 1934 and her continued residence in England with her children during her widowhood meant that when Prince Philip married the future Queen Elizabeth in 1947, there was yet another senior member of the Royal Family with strong ties to the Greek Royal Family.
Glamorous, strong-willed and loyal, Marina was a popular figure in her day, residing in Kensington Palace and carrying out engagements on behalf of the monarch. In her time, she saw four reigns and represented one of the last matches between two “royals” the Windsors saw.
It’s fitting to acknowledge Maud of Wales this winter as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge prepare to visit Oslo for the first two days of February. The Norwegian Royal Family is an interesting one, and while we’ve acknowledged them in passing here on this site, we’ll follow up with a more in-depth look later this month in preparation of the tour. In the meantime, it’s worth taking a look at the familial ties between Norway and Britain thanks to the marriage of Edward VII’s youngest daughter.
George V ascended the throne following the death of his father, Edward VII, on May 6, 1910. Though the royal house was still branded “Saxe-Coburg-Gotha” and not yet Windsor, his reign was a remarkable step towards modernity and away from the stifling Victorian atmosphere that had so defined his grandmother’s reign. George and his wife, Mary of Teck, had long established themselves as not only reliable members of the Royal Family, but two who didn’t put much stock in formality or ceremony. While Edward VII had never allowed guests to sit while he was standing or retire to bed before he and his wife, Alexandra, George quickly did away with such practices, instilling a more “country home” environment into his residences.
And while his father had always kept a close eye on the machinations of Western Europe, tied so tightly to the family thanks to the intermarrying of cousins, George was more concerned with the longevity and health of the British Empire. It was from these instincts that he hashed out a plan to follow up his coronation in Westminster Abbey with one in Delhi and a royal tour to each of his dominions. As Prince of Wales, he had conducted a successful tour of India in 1904, while his father had made a similar trek in the 19th century. Indeed, it was only Queen Victoria, the first British Empress of India, who never made the journey.
Eighty-one years ago today King Edward VIII signed an instrument of abdication to step down from the throne, an act witnessed by his three younger brothers. On December 10, 1936, Edward had been on the throne for less than 11 months following the death of his father, George V, and his time in the top job had been a series of actions that lost him the trust of much of his government, horrified his family and broken any number of traditions that had once been taken for granted. His last task would come the next day when he issued royal assent for the declaration of abdication.
The brief relationship between Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Mary of Teck is a nice little tale of what could have been, except that how events unfolded was better for all. Albert Victor was the eldest son of the Prince and Princess of Wales, and, as such, second-in-line to the throne on which his grandmother, Queen Victoria, sat. Born two months prematurely on January 8, 1864, he grew into a young man of questionable virtue and value, a fact which opened the opportunity for a penniless young woman with fading ties to the British monarchy to find herself primed to become the UK’s next queen consort.
[Note: This post was up on the site for a couple hours on Monday morning, but after all the activity surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement, I yanked it to save for another day. So, for those of you who already read it, surprise! Here it is again on a calmer day :)]
Mary Adelaide of Cambridge is a bit of a forgotten figure within the British Royal Family, but she was an interesting character in her day and dynastically important. She was Queen Mary’s mother and, as such, a direct ancestor of the current Queen and her descendants. In many ways she’s an interesting parallel to her first cousin, Queen Victoria – both came about from the royal marriage push after Princess Charlotte of Wales’s death, both battled very Hanoverian appearances and both became matriarchs of their own branches of the family.
Fun fact: It took George VI three tries to get the Queen Mother to accept his marriage proposal. Decades before the Queen Mother became synonymous with royal duty and the House of Windsor’s matriarch, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was a 20-something and unsure about a life in the spotlight.
Elizabeth first met the future king when he was still Prince Albert, Duke of York in June 1920. They met at a dinner party in London also attended by Queen Mary, Princess Mary and Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester on Derby Night, while George V hosted a lavish celebratory supper at Buckingham Palace. Later that evening, a ball was held with the same party and Albert went up to fellow attendee James Stuart and asked, “Who was that lovely girl you were talking to? Introduce me to her.”
Ninety-nine years ago today, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, alongside his wife and four children, was brutally executed at Ekaterinburg in the midst of the Russian Revolution and before the close of World War I. The extermination of the Romanov line impacted not only the course of Russian history, but that of Western Europe and Great Britain, in particular, with whom the two ruling families were closely tied.
Personally, it was would deeply affect George V who had been forced to deny his cousins refuge in England out of political necessity.