When HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was born, her parents were Lord and Lady Glamis. Her father, Claude, was heir to the ancient Scottish Earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Glamis Castle was, at the time, the home of Elizabeth’s grandfather, the 13th Earl.
HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was the ninth of ten children. When Elizabeth was two, her mother surprised everyone by producing David, her tenth and last child. Elizabeth and David were nicknamed ‘my two Benjamins’ – Benjamin being the name of the youngest son of Jacob in the Bible. David soon became Elizabeth’s inseparable childhood companion and they did everything together as if they were twins. When Elizabeth was four her grandfather, the 13th Earl, died and her father inherited the Earldom, and with it, Glamis Castle. Lady Elizabeth and the family thereafter divided their time between Glamis, St. Paul’s Walden Bury and Streatlam Castle in County Durham.
Elizabeth and David were full of pranks and mischief. Pouring ‘boiling oil’, which was actually icy water, from the ramparts on arriving guests was one such prank. Another was the placing of a football under the wheels of the family motorcar so that it would explode and frighten the chauffeur.
During the First World War Glamis Castle became a convalescent hospital. Lady Elizabeth’s kindness won her the hearts of many of the soldiers who passed through Glamis. On 16th September 1916 two soldiers discovered a fire in a room under the castle roof. As they ran to raise the alarm, the first person they came across was Lady Elizabeth who showed great presence of mind and immediately telephoned both the local and Dundee fire brigades. She then marshalled everyone to fight the fire, organising a chain to convey buckets of water from the river. Later, with the fire raging above them, she organised the removal of the valuables out onto the Lawn. In 1918 the armistice signalled the end of the war and the end of an era. Once the last soldier had left Glamis in 1919 Lady Elizabeth was launched into the high society of the day at her coming out party.
Whilst at a ball in London Elizabeth caught the eye of Prince Albert (Bertie) the second son of King George V.
‘Bertie’ proposed to Elizabeth in the spring of 1921 when she was twenty and he was twenty-five. When she refused him he was disconsolate although they did continue to see each other. A further proposal followed, and this time was accepted. The court circular of 13th January 1923 announced, ‘It is with the greatest pleasure that the King and Queen announce the betrothal of their beloved son the Duke of York to the Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon’. Sir Henry Chatham wrote in his diary, ‘there is not a man in England who does not envy him’.
The royal wedding took place in Westminster Abbey on 26th April 1923, the first to be held there since 1382. The royal couple spent some of their honeymoon at Glamis Castle. The Duchess soon settled into her new life and gave her husband the confidence and support he needed in the events which were soon to engulf them and bring him unexpectedly to the throne and she to the position of Queen Consort. On 21st April 1926 she gave birth, in London, to their first child Princess Elizabeth, our present Queen. Then, on a stormy August night at Glamis in 1930, Princess Margaret was born – the first royal baby born in Scotland since the year 1600.