Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – From Duchess to Queen (Part 2)




(public domain)

Read part one here.

Read part three here.

Read part four here.

On her first day as Duchess of York, Elizabeth awoke at 11 o’clock and had breakfast in bed. She was exhausted by all the events of the previous months.1 They honeymooned in Scotland where Elizabeth fell ill. She was still ill when they returned to London. It was the whooping cough.2 In early June, the newlyweds moved into White Lodge, and they also had rooms at Buckingham Palace. They did not like White Lodge and tried to find a new house in London. Life as a member of the royal family had begun, and she began to undertake duties.

In late 1924, the couple departed for a tour of East Africa, and Elizabeth had some misgivings about the trip, as she had never been out of Europe. “I am feeling slightly mingled feelings about going to Africa, as I hate discomfort, and am so afraid that I shall not like the heat, or that mosquitoes will bite my eyelids & the tip of my nose, or that I shall not be able to have baths often enough, or that I shall hate the people. On the other hand, I think it is good for one to go away and see a little LIFE, and then think how pleased I shall be to get home again.”3 Nevertheless, the visit was a great success.

At the end of 1925, it became clear that Elizabeth was pregnant. “Bertie and I are so pleased and excited about it all and talk endlessly on the subjects, which is perhaps a little bit previous!”4 As the pregnancy neared its end, the family moved into 17 Bruton Street, which was owned by Elizabeth’s parents. The future Queen Elizabeth II was born in the early morning of 21 April. It had been a difficult labour and doctors decided to perform a cesarean section. Queen Mary noted in her journal, “Saw the baby who is a little darling with a lovely complexion and pretty fair hair.”5

A tour of Australia meant that Elizabeth would need to leave behind her young daughter for six months and she was dismayed. As an added pressure, her husband, who suffered from a speech impediment, dreaded the tour. Around this time, he began sessions with a speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Upon their departure, she wrote, “Feel very miserable at leaving the baby. Went up and played with her and she was so sweet. Luckily she doesn’t realise anything.”6 In early 1930, Elizabeth was again pregnant, and Princess Margaret was born on 21 August 1930.

In early 1936, life began to change for the Yorks. On 20 January, King George V died and was succeeded by her husband’s elder brother, now King Edward VIII. Edward, known as David in the family, was unmarried as yet and preferred to marry the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson. He had already made up his mind; if he couldn’t marry as King, he would abdicate. Queen Mary wrote to Elizabeth, “What a mess to have got into and for such an unworthy person too!”7 On 17 November Edward informed his brother, and he was shocked. Elizabeth wrote to Queen Mary, “Bertie has just told me of what happened, and I feel quite overcome with horror and emotion. My first thought was of you and your note, just arrived as I was starting to write to you, was very helpful. One feels so helpless against such obstinacy…God help us all to be calm and wise.”8

On 9 December, there was no way back. The draft Instrument of Abdication was shown to them and Elizabeth’s husband “broke down and sobbed like a child.”9 The next morning, David signed the Instrument of Abdication in the presence of his brothers. The abdication was announced the following day. Elizabeth’s husband was now King George VI and Elizabeth his Queen Consort. Elizabeth wrote an affectionate letter of farewell to David. “Darling David, I am so miserable that I cannot come down to Royal Lodge owing to being ill in bed, as I wanted so much to see you before you go and say “God bless you” from my heart. We are all overcome with misery, and can only pray that you will find happiness in your new life. I often think of the old days and how you helped Bertie and I in the first years of our marriage. I shall always mention you in my prayers and bless you, Elizabeth.”10

On 12 May 1937, Elizabeth and her husband were crowned together at Westminster Abbey.

  1.  Shawcross, William (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography p.181
  2.  Shawcross, William (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography p.185
  3.  Shawcross, William (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography p.220
  4.  Shawcross, William (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography p.249
  5.  Shawcross, William (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography p.252
  6.  Shawcross, William (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography p.264
  7.  Shawcross, William (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography p.373
  8.  Shawcross, William (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography p.373
  9.  Shawcross, William (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography p.380
  10.  Shawcross, William (2009), Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother: The Official Biography p.383






About Moniek 1276 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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