Queen Mary - A Right Royal Magpie
Mary of Teck (1867 - 1953) was the mother of two Kings and grandmother to our present day monarch Queen Elizabeth II. She was born at Kensington Palace, granddaughter of George III and named Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes. Her father was Francis, Duke of Teck (a German aristocrat of little worth who married Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge) and her grandfather was the Duke of Wutternberg. During her youth Mary with her parents and siblings became disgraced when their family had to sell their valuables in order to pay debt collectors. She travelled Europe and was a cultured young Victorian lady. She needed to marry well to redeem her family's reputation but her German heritage put her in an odd position of being too royal to marry into the British aristocracy but not royal enough for the grand royal houses of Europe.
Queen Victoria played a key role in determining her future. Mary was not destined to marry for love, she married for status and solved the very delicate issue of being a suitable wife for Victoria's errant grandson and heir to the throne, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. They were engaged in 1891. Unfortunately, Albert died of influenza and after short period of mourning, Queen Victoria engineered it that Mary was to marry Albert's brother Prince George who was second in line to the throne and they were wed in 1893.
George V became King in 1910 and Mary became Queen consort.They toured India in 1911 as Emperor and Empress of India and were crowned during the Delhi Durbar. She had six children, was an engaged mother and dedicated wife who's extensive knowledge of history and royalty was a great asset on matters of the crown and King George greatly appreciated her discretion, intelligence and judgement. Mary supported the King through the difficult years of World War I. Her German ancestry was problematic during this period leading in 1917 to her brothers renouncing their German titles and changing their name, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.
Queen Mary often performed her own official events which brought out people's love for her and the British monarchy She was a staunch and respectable figure in whom the British people trusted and found hope in.
Queen Mary gave tokens of her appreciation to staff and people she met and we have been donated two signed portraits: one a print after the portrait by Sir William Samuel Henry Llewellyn featuring the Queen inn Garter robes, signed and dated 1917 and an original pen and watercolour drawing by Alec Hughes dated from 1920 both will be going into an Autographs & Memorabilia auction on 17th October at Chiswick Auctions.
Sir Henry Channon wrote that Mary was "above politics, magnificent, humorous, wordly in fact nearly sublime, though cold and hard. But what a grand queen."
Queen Mary was an avid collector of jewellery and other fine pieces. Her jewellery represents some of the finest jewels in the Royal Collection. She received many as gifts but also wore them in her unique style, enjoying altering them and redesigning them to suit. She was known to pay over the odds for the jewels of the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia and for the Cambridge Emeralds from Lady Kilmorey.
It is said that Queen Mary had an 'emotional lurch' of the heart when she saw beautiful jewels. She particularly loved to visit India where the Maharaja handed them out like sweets.
She was known for wearing several dazzling pieces all at one time, necklaces, brooches, stomachers, bracelets, rings and crowns mixing them all up. It may have been seen as excessive to some but she took her style notes from her mother-in-law (seen above on the left) Queen Alexandra who was married to Edward VII who used jewellery to hide scars on her neck. In the early 20th century wearing expensive jewellery was a way of defining status and Queen Mary was all about the status.
FARA has been donated some stunning Edwardian jewellery created at the time Mary became Queen consort. These are all individually boxed and will be going under the hammer on Monday 12the August at Hansons Auctioneers, London Fine Art & Antiques Auction.
There are five lots in total (85, 184, 203, 217, 232) and a beautiful Suffragette pendant (LOT 160) that can be viewed in Hanson's online catalogue or you can link into the live auction via The Saleroom live webcast auction on Monday if you can't make it to the Normansfield Theatre, 2A Langdon Park, Teddington, TW11 9PS.
Above is one of Queen Mary's most recognisable pieces, the Lover's Knot tiara which worn by four generations of royal women. Queen Mary had it made in 1913 - it transcends the style of the last one hundred years and is a timeless favourite in the Royal Collection. If it hadn't have been for Queen Mary (and her magpie tendencies) the Royal family would quite literally have lost some of its sparkle to this day!