It is the exhilaration of others that keeps me going. Quite simply, it is the people who keep me up
As the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore, Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon moved in very smart circles, but perhaps didn’t anticipate becoming Queen.
The vivacious Elizabeth had a number of admirers and fielded several marriage proposals, twice rejecting offers from Prince Albert, Duke of York, before in 1923, consenting to become his bride.
If becoming a member of the Royal Family was a daunting prospect, the new Duchess of York did not show it and took the couple’s first Royal Tour – to East Africa – in her stride. Then, in 1926, the couple’s first daughter, Elizabeth was born, followed by Margaret Rose in 1930.
The family’s life was turned upside down in 1936 when, after the death of King George V, her brother-in-law Edward VIII announced that he was abdicating the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth’s husband, a shy man afflicted by a debilitating stammer, became King George VI.
As his Queen, Elizabeth stepped up to the fore, supporting him throughout his reign and through the war years. Famously refusing to leave London during the Blitz – “I'm glad . . . it makes me feel I can look the East End in the face,” she said, when Buckingham Palace was hit by a bomb.
As the Queen consort and, when she was widowed in 1952, Queen Mother, Elizabeth brought the Royal Family closer to the people, charming people on tours and walkabouts.
Her sweet smile belied her indomitable spirit and a mischievous wit, while her widely reported love of a flutter on the races and tipple or two endeared her to many.
More than a million people lined the streets of London on the day of her funeral. Her coffin wreath was placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey, where, almost 80 years earlier, she had laid her bridal bouquet.