Mary was now the wife of the heir apparent and a change of name came with that. Her husband automatically inherited the Dukedom of Cornwall, and for most of 1901, they were known as the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York. They also moved into Marlborough House after Buckingham Palace was renovated for the new King and Queen. They spent the better part of the year on a trip to Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Shortly after their return, George was proclaimed Prince of Wales and Mary became known as the Princess of Wales. The following year, Mary was expecting their fifth child. On 20 December 1902, she gave birth to a son named George. A sixth child, another son, named John, was born on 12 July 1905. Their family was now complete.
Just a few months after John’s birth, Mary and George went on a state visit to India and were away for six months. Mary fell in love with India and vividly described everything she saw in her regular letters to her aunt Augusta. On their way back to England, they attended the wedding of King Alfonso XIII to Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg and witnessed how the bride and groom narrowly avoided assassination. The ever calm Mary wrote to her aunt, “Well we have been thro’ a most unpleasant experience & we can only thank God that the anarchist did not get into the church in which case we must all have been blown up! Nothing could have been braver than the young couple were, but what a beginning for her… I saw the coach one day, still with blood on the wheels & behind where the footmen were standing – apart from the horror of this awful attempt the visit to Madrid was most interesting but oh! the heat was nearly as bad as India & made one feel quite exhausted…”
Just one week after their return from Madrid, George and Mary headed to Norway for the coronation of George’s brother-in-law and sister, King Haakon VII and Queen Maud (born Maud of Wales, daughter of King Edward VII). Augusta did not like Mary and George attending the coronation and wrote, “Too horrible for an English Princess to sit upon a revolutionary throne! So Maud is sitting on her very unsafe throne – to say the least of it, he making speeches, poor fellow, thanking the revolutionary Norwegians for having elected him! No really, it is all too odd!” Despite this, Mary liked Norway and thought it was a beautiful country.
On 4 May 1910, Mary recorded her first anxiety about the King’s health. “We felt very much worried about Papa.” King Edward VII died on 6 May and George, now King George V, recorded, “I have lost my best friend & the best of fathers. I never had a word with him in my life. I am heartbroken and overwhelmed with grief but God will help me in my great responsibilities & darling May will be my comfort as she has always been.” Mary had become Queen at last. She wrote to Aunt Augusta, “Yes, I regret the quieter, easier time we had, everything will be more difficult now & more ceremonious & I dread leaving this beautiful old house which I love. I do truly regret your not being able to come to England now, there is so much we could talk over together. I am sorry you have gumboil.”
The move to Buckingham Palace was hard for her as she found the distances tiring, but the rooms were nice. After a few months, she began to feel more at home. The coronation was soon upon them, and Mary wrote, “It will be a great ordeal & we are dreading it as you can imagine.” She was relieved when it was over. Shortly after the coronation, their eldest son was created Prince of Wales. At the end of the year, George and Mary travelled to India for the Imperial Coronation Durbar as George was also Emperor of India. The following years, just before the First World War, she went on several visits to industrial areas and Mary also finally saw her beloved aunt Augusta again when she visited Strelitz. It would be the last time they saw each other in person.
On 28 June 1914, news reached Mary and George of the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne and his wife. Mary wrote, “The horrible tragedy to the poor Archduke & his wife came as a great shock to us, particularly as they had been our guests so very recently, and we were really quite attached to them both. Poor Emperor, nothing is he spared, he also sent us such a nice telegram. I think it is a great blessing that husband & wife died together, making the future less complicated with regard to the position of their children.” Not much later, Germany declared war on England. Mary threw herself into war work and just hours after the declaration of war she wrote, “Very busy seeing people about various relief schemes.”
In the middle of the awful war years, Mary’s beloved aunt Augusta died. She wrote, “I heard that my most beloved aunt Augusta died yesterday morning after a month’s illness which I had known of. She suffered little pain, only great weakness and slept much. A great grief to me, having been devoted to each other.” The length of the war was also getting to Mary but she continued her charity work and became interested in the plight of the permanently disabled. When the war finally came to an end, Mary wrote, “The greatest day in the world’s history. The armistice was signed at 5 a.m. and fighting ceased at 11. […] A day full of emotion & thankfulness – tinged with regret at the many lives who have fallen in this ghastly war.”1