The Queen Mother was such a well-known member of the royal family for so much of her daughter’s reign that it’s hard to believe it’s already the tenth anniversary of her death. It seems only yesterday that she was appearing on the Buckingham Palace balcony or at a royal engagement, dressed in pale blue with one of her enormous hats, and happily occupying the limelight.
Dame Margaret Helen McEwan Anderson Greville was a well-known figure in British Society until her death in 1942. She was born in 1863 and was heiress to the multi-million pound McEwan brewery fortune. In 1891 she married the Honorable Ronald Henry Fulke Greville and became a much sought-after and admired hostess at their home, Polesden Lacey, which had originally belonged to her father. It was here at this quiet estate that TRH The Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) honeymooned. The friendship between Mrs Greville and the royal couple continued, and Princess Margaret Rose was named in her honor.
The new movie The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper, an account of how Prince Albert Duke of York (later George VI and father of Elizabeth II) finally overcame a crippling speech defect with the help of the Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue and the unflagging support of his Duchess, is a fascinating look back at a period of 20th century royal history that’s usually remembered for the affairs and abdication of Edward VIII rather than the much less glamorous life of his younger brother.
The Abdication Crisis of 1936 was resolved on 10 and 11 December when Edward VIII signed the Instrument of Abdication on the evening of the 10th and it was enacted into law the following day. The British public knew nothing about the crisis, which had been going on for months, until early December when a speech by the Bishop of Bradford mentioning the king’s apparent lack of interest in religious observance gave the British press an excuse to break the story they’d agreed to suppress in the national interest. The news shocked the public, but nobody was more traumatised than the king’s younger brother Prince Albert, who would become king in his place.