Very few people can remember who was instrumental in the young Lilibet’s upbringing when she was a child. This is because the Queen of Great Britain has dominated the country for the past 70 years. It might be possible to create a very lengthy and interesting television series based on the life of Mary of Teck, who was Elizabeth II’s grandmother. She had a difficult fate, as she was put through a series of ordeals and required to demonstrate that she deserved to be the queen consort of her husband. Nevertheless, it would appear that some higher powers were involved in Mary of Teck’s life on more than one occasion.
She was born in 1867 to Franz, Duke of Teck and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. As everyone called her, the godparents of the little Princess Mary were Queen Victoria and Edward, Prince of Wales. May and her three younger brothers were considered members of the British royal family and were raised alongside the heirs to the throne. At the same time, the life of Mary of Teck was completely different from that of the princesses.
It is worth saying that her mother, who was engaged in raising children, was rather strict and cold. Mary didn’t know what motherly caresses, bedtime stories, or parental kisses meant. But she learned early on that she has a duty and responsibilities. The visiting teachers treated the pupil how her parents demanded, that is, with all severity. Already at the age of 16, she began to fulfil the duties of her mother’s secretary. Before that, she accompanied her more than once on official trips and also helped in organizing receptions.
It cannot be said that Mary Adelaide of Cambridge did not appreciate everything that her daughter did; she simply believed that she was accustoming Mary to a difficult future life. However, Mary of Teck herself did not complain at all; she did everything that was entrusted to her with great diligence. And, as you know, it is not customary to talk about what was going on in her soul and heart in the families of aristocrats. When Mary grew up, her restraint and strong character became noticeable.
Suitable bride for a prince
Queen Victoria openly sympathized with her goddaughter, and afterwards, she chose Prince Albert Victor of Wales as her bride. True, the role was originally intended for Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, the same Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstadt, who was destined to become the wife of Nicholas II. She categorically refused to marry Prince Albert as she had already fallen in love with the future Russian Emperor.
It must be said that Albert, despite his high position, was not at all an enviable groom. Even his relatives often marvelled at his ignorance and lack of education. He did not know languages or seek to learn them, nor did he know geography or history. Prince Albert’s circle of interests was extremely narrow; he was obsessed solely with his romantic conquests. They made him a frequent hero of the scandalous chronicle. Tired of the heir’s shenanigans, Queen Victoria decided to marry him.
Albert showed little enthusiasm, but neither did he refuse. But there wasn’t a girl who wanted to be his wife. Mary seemed to be the last on Queen Victoria’s list of brides. She was considered a very good girl, but her background was unsuitable for the queen’s son. But there was no way out, especially since May did not refuse the prospect of marriage to a young man of very dubious reputation.
A happy marriage without love
But a higher power seemed to shield Mary of Teck from this marriage. The influenza virus raging in Europe at the time took Prince Albert’s life just two months before the wedding. Mary truly grieved for him, she wore mourning for a long time, and no one could have suspected her of insincerity. The days of mourning were not yet over, and Mary of Teck was proposed to by Queen Victoria’s youngest son George. Evil tongues argued that there was no love on his part; he followed his mother’s orders, unable to resist her onslaught.
But the story was a little different. While Mary was mourning her prematurely deceased fiancé, she became close to George. They spent a lot of time together, and when Victoria advised her son to look at Maria not as a friend but as a future wife, George could appreciate both the girl’s decency and her restraint and good manners. In general, if there was no love between young people, certainly there was sympathy. By the way, Maria rejected George’s first proposal, and only the second she received later agreed.
On July 6, 1893, they were married. By the way, 130 years have passed since then, and the bride’s attire and jewellery are still topics for discussion by fashion designers and designers. Mary of Teck was beautiful on her wedding day, and the marriage was a rare success. Mary and George took great care of each other and showed complete understanding of many issues. In addition, they became the parents of six children, one of whom would later abdicate the throne, and the other would become King of Great Britain. The throne would be inherited after him by his daughter Elizabeth, granddaughter of Mary of Teck.
Mary of Teck has been called by everyone a rather cold mother. She never showed much affection for her children or hugged or kissed the little ones. Probably, it was her childhood, deprived of her mother’s affection. Mary tutored her children and taught them music and history herself, but she did not know how to show her love. But she was able to teach her granddaughter Elizabeth, who was destined to ascend the throne, a great deal.
She helped Lilibeth hone her manners, insisted that she study history and geography seriously, and forced her to study British culture. It was from her grandmother that the future queen received her first lessons in etiquette. Mary of Teck taught her granddaughter to hold her posture and gesticulate correctly; at her command, all Elizabeth’s pockets were sewn up so that she kept her hands in the right position.
It is said that it was from her grandmother that Elizabeth II inherited her fierce temper, but she also learned a great deal from her. Mary of Teck was traditionally strict with her granddaughter but infinitely patient and wise. Some experts believe that it was thanks to the efforts of Mary of Teck that Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne at the age of less than 26, became the monarch that Great Britain is proud of.
Mary of Teck lived a long and undoubtedly happy life. She may not have had room for ardent passion, mad romances and explosions of emotion. But she had everything she loved: a position in society, royal luxury, national respect, and a dignified old age surrounded by loved ones. Mary of Teck had her oddities; even her children tried unsuccessfully to deal with them. For example, she had been collecting historical, cultural or family items for years. True, she was said to have often forgotten to pay for her purchases, which even gave rise to unsubstantiated rumours of Mary of Teck’s kleptomania.
This amazing woman, in fact, devoted her whole life to strengthening the authority of the monarchy and managed to bring up a worthy queen of Great Britain. Mary of Teck lived to see Elizabeth become queen and passed away just a month and a half after her granddaughter inherited the throne.