The York Children

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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.

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The Independent Beauty: Mary, Duchess of Gloucester

(c) Pembroke College, Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Like all the daughters of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Princess Mary’s life was a little bit tragic and a little bit mundane. Born in April 1776, Mary was the first of her parents’ children to arrive in the middle of the American Revolution. Ten other children preceded her in the royal nursery, but few of them would be able to match Mary in confidence or spirit, both of which may very well have stemmed from the fact she was early on considered the most attractive of her siblings.

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Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood

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If ever there was a 20th century English princess that did things “correctly,” it would be George V’s daughter, Princess Mary. I say this mainly because the extent of what we don’t know about her could fill a book. She lived a life devoted to public duty, supporting her father, her brothers, Edward VIII and George VI, and later her niece, Queen Elizabeth. Today, however, marks the anniversary of her wedding to Henry Lascelles, Earl of Harewood in 1922, and so we’ll take this opportunity to take a quick look at her life.

Mary was born on April 25, 1897 to George, Duke of York and his wife, Mary of Teck, Duchess of York at York Cottage on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. She was her parents’ third child, joining her elder brothers, Princes Edward and Albert in the York nursery. At the time of her birth her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, was still on the throne and her father was second in line to the throne, making her position mirror that of Princess Charlotte today. Notably, she was christened Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary, however Queen Victoria apparently proposed naming her “Diamond” in honor of her Diamond Jubilee which took place that year, marking her 60th year as queen.

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