Mary of Teck
Wife of George V of the United Kingdom
Mary of Teck
Mary of Teck was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, as the wife of King-Emperor George V. Although technically a princess of Teck, in the Kingdom of Württemberg, she was born and brought up in the United Kingdom. Her parents were Francis, Duke of Teck, who was of German extraction, and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, a member of the British Royal Family. To her family, she was informally known as "May", after her birth month.
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  • 1953
    Mary died the next year on 24 March 1953 at the age of 85, only ten weeks before her granddaughter's coronation.
    More Details Hide Details Mary let it be known that, in the event of her death, the coronation was not to be postponed. Her remains lay in state at Westminster Hall, where large numbers of mourners filed past her coffin. She is buried beside her husband in the nave of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. But what a grand Queen." The ocean liners and the Royal Navy battlecruiser,, which was destroyed at the Battle of Jutland in 1916; Queen Mary University of London; Queen Mary Reservoir in Surrey, United Kingdom; Queen Mary College, Lahore; Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong; Queen Mary's Peak, the highest mountain in Tristan da Cunha; Queen Mary Land in Antarctica; and Queen Mary's College in Chennai, India, are named in her honour. Actresses who have portrayed Queen Mary on stage and screen include Dame Wendy Hiller (on the London stage in Crown Matrimonial), Greer Garson (in the Hallmark television production of Crown Matrimonial), Dame Flora Robson (in A King's Story), Dame Peggy Ashcroft (in Edward & Mrs. Simpson), Phyllis Calvert (in The Woman He Loved), Gaye Brown (in All the King's Men), Dame Eileen Atkins (in Bertie and Elizabeth), Miranda Richardson (in The Lost Prince), Margaret Tyzack (in Wallis & Edward), Claire Bloom (in The King's Speech) and Judy Parfitt (in W.E.).
  • 1952
    In 1952, King George VI died, the third of Queen Mary's children to predecease her; her eldest granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth, ascended the throne as Queen Elizabeth II.
    More Details Hide Details The death of a third child profoundly affected her. Mary remarked to Princess Marie Louise: "I have lost three sons through death, but I have never been privileged to be there to say a last farewell to them."
  • 1942
    In 1942, her youngest surviving son, Prince George, Duke of Kent, was killed in an air crash while on active service.
    More Details Hide Details Mary finally returned to Marlborough House in June 1945, after the war in Europe had resulted in the defeat of Nazi Germany. Mary was an eager collector of objects and pictures with a royal connection. She paid above-market estimates when purchasing jewels from the estate of Dowager Empress Marie of Russia and paid almost three times the estimate when buying the family's Cambridge Emeralds from Lady Kilmorey, the mistress of her late brother Prince Francis. In 1924, the famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens created Queen Mary's Dolls' House for her collection of miniature pieces. Indeed, she has sometimes been criticised for her aggressive acquisition of objets d'art for the Royal Collection. On several occasions, she would express to hosts, or others, that she admired something they had in their possession, in the expectation that the owner would be willing to donate it. Her extensive knowledge of, and research into, the Royal Collection helped in identifying artefacts and artwork that had gone astray over the years. The Royal Family had lent out many objects over previous generations. Once she had identified unreturned items through old inventories, she would write to the holders, requesting that they be returned.
  • 1935
    In 1935, King George V and Queen Mary celebrated their silver jubilee, with celebrations taking place throughout the British Empire.
    More Details Hide Details In his jubilee speech, George paid public tribute to his wife, having told his speechwriter, "Put that paragraph at the very end. I cannot trust myself to speak of the Queen when I think of all I owe her." George V died on 20 January 1936, after his physician, Lord Dawson of Penn, gave him an injection of morphine and cocaine that may have hastened his death. Queen Mary's eldest son, Edward, Prince of Wales, ascended the throne as Edward VIII. She was now a queen mother, though she did not use that style, and was instead known as Her Majesty Queen Mary. Within the year, Edward caused a constitutional crisis by announcing his desire to marry his twice-divorced American mistress, Wallis Simpson. Mary disapproved of divorce, which was against the teaching of the Anglican church, and thought Simpson wholly unsuitable to be the wife of a king. After receiving advice from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Stanley Baldwin, as well as the Dominion governments, that he could not remain King and marry Simpson, Edward abdicated. Though loyal and supportive of her son, Mary could not comprehend why Edward would neglect his royal duties in favour of his personal feelings. Simpson had been presented formally to both King George V and Queen Mary at court, but Mary later refused to meet her either in public or privately. She saw it as her duty to provide moral support for her second son, the reserved and stammering Prince Albert, Duke of York, who ascended the throne on Edward's abdication, taking the name George VI.
  • 1911
    Later in the year, the new King and Queen travelled to India for the Delhi Durbar held on 12 December 1911, and toured the sub-continent as Emperor and Empress of India, returning to Britain in February.
    More Details Hide Details The beginning of Mary's period as consort brought her into conflict with her mother-in-law, Queen Alexandra. Although the two were on friendly terms, Alexandra could be stubborn; she demanded precedence over Mary at the funeral of Edward VII, was slow in leaving Buckingham Palace, and kept some of the royal jewels that should have been passed to the new Queen. During the First World War, Queen Mary instituted an austerity drive at the palace, where she rationed food, and visited wounded and dying servicemen in hospital, which caused her great emotional strain. After three years of war against Germany, and with anti-German feeling in Britain running high, the Russian Imperial Family, which had been deposed by a revolutionary government, was refused asylum, possibly in part because the Tsar's wife was German-born. News of the Tsar's abdication provided a boost to those in Britain who wished to replace their own monarchy with a republic. After republicans used the couple's German heritage as an argument for reform, George abandoned his German titles and renamed the royal house from the German "Saxe-Coburg and Gotha" to the British "Windsor". Other royals anglicised their names; the Battenbergs became the Mountbattens, for example. The Queen's relatives also abandoned their German titles, and adopted the British surname of Cambridge (derived from the dukedom held by Queen Mary's British grandfather). The war ended in 1918 with the defeat of Germany and the abdication and exile of the Kaiser.
    Queen Mary was crowned with the King on 22 June 1911 at Westminster Abbey.
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  • 1904
    As Princess of Wales, May accompanied her husband on trips to Austria-Hungary and Württemberg in 1904.
    More Details Hide Details The following year, she gave birth to her last child, John. It was a difficult labour, and although May recovered quickly, her newborn son suffered respiratory problems. From October 1905 the Prince and Princess of Wales undertook another eight-month tour, this time of India, and the children were once again left in the care of their grandparents. They passed through Egypt both ways and on the way back stopped in Greece. The tour was almost immediately followed by a trip to Spain for the wedding of King Alfonso XIII to Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, at which the bride and groom narrowly avoided assassination. Only a week after returning to Britain, May and George went to Norway for the coronation of George's brother-in-law and sister, King Haakon VII and Queen Maud. On 6 May 1910, Edward VII died. Mary's husband ascended the throne as King George V, and she became queen consort. When her husband asked her to drop one of her two official names, Victoria Mary, she chose to be called Mary, preferring not to take the name of her husband's grandmother, Queen Victoria.
  • 1901
    On 9 November 1901, nine days after arriving back in Britain and on the King's sixtieth birthday, George was created Prince of Wales.
    More Details Hide Details The family moved their London residence from St James's Palace to Marlborough House.
    On 22 January 1901, Queen Victoria died, and May's father-in-law ascended the throne as King Edward VII.
    More Details Hide Details For most of the rest of that year, George and May were known as the "Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York". For eight months they toured the British Empire, visiting Gibraltar, Malta, Egypt, Ceylon, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius, South Africa and Canada. No royal had undertaken such an ambitious tour before. She broke down in tears at the thought of leaving her children, who were to be left in the care of their grandparents, for such a long time.
  • 1897
    As Duke and Duchess of York, George and May carried out a variety of public duties. In 1897, she became the patron of the London Needlework Guild in succession to her mother.
    More Details Hide Details The guild, initially established as The London Guild in 1882, was renamed several times, and was named after May between 1914 and 2010. Samples of her own embroidery range from chair seats to tea cosies.
  • 1893
    May married Prince George, Duke of York, in London on 6 July 1893 at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace.
    More Details Hide Details The new Duke and Duchess of York lived in York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, and in apartments in St James's Palace. York Cottage was a modest house for royalty, but it was a favourite of George, who liked a relatively simple life. They had six children: Edward, Albert, Mary, Henry, George, and John. The Duchess loved her children, but she put them in the care of a nanny, as was usual in upper-class families at the time. The first nanny was dismissed for insolence and the second for abusing the children. This second woman, anxious to suggest that the children preferred her to anyone else, would pinch Edward and Albert whenever they were about to be presented to their parents, so that they would start crying and be speedily returned to her. On discovery, she was replaced by her effective and much-loved assistant, Charlotte Bill.
  • 1891
    In December 1891, May was engaged to her second cousin once removed, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.
    More Details Hide Details The choice of May as bride for the Duke owed much to Queen Victoria's fondness for her, as well as to her strong character and sense of duty. However, Albert Victor died six weeks later, in a recurrence of the worldwide 1889–90 influenza pandemic. Albert Victor's brother, Prince George, Duke of York, now second in line to the throne, evidently became close to May during their shared period of mourning, and Queen Victoria still favoured May as a suitable candidate to marry a future king. In May 1893, George proposed, and May accepted. They were soon deeply in love, and their marriage was a success. George wrote to May every day they were apart and, unlike his father, never took a mistress.
  • 1867
    She was baptised in the Chapel Royal of Kensington Palace on 27 July 1867 by Charles Thomas Longley, Archbishop of Canterbury.
    More Details Hide Details Before she became Queen, she was known to her family, friends and the public by the diminutive name of "May", after her birth month. May's upbringing was "merry but fairly strict". She was the eldest of four children, the only girl, and "learned to exercise her native discretion, firmness and tact" by resolving her three younger brothers' petty boyhood squabbles. They played with their cousins, the children of the Prince of Wales, who were similar in age. May was educated at home by her mother and governess (as were her brothers until they were sent to boarding schools). The Duchess of Teck spent an unusually long time with her children for a lady of her time and class, and enlisted May in various charitable endeavours, which included visiting the tenements of the poor. Although her mother was a grandchild of King George III, May was only a minor member of the British Royal Family. Her father, the Duke of Teck, had no inheritance or wealth, and carried the lower royal style of Serene Highness because his parents' marriage was morganatic. However, the Duchess of Teck was granted a parliamentary annuity of £5,000, and received about £4,000 a year from her mother, the Duchess of Cambridge. Despite this, the family was deeply in debt and lived abroad from 1883, in order to economise. The Tecks travelled throughout Europe, visiting their various relations.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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