Princess May of Teck was born at Kensington Palace on 26th May 1867, the daughter of Francis Paul, Duke of Teck and Mary Adelaide, formerly a princess of Cambridge. Due to her father's morganatic descent from the House of Württemberg, she was known by the title Serene Highness and was christened with the names Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes, Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) stood as godparents.
The mother of the new arrival to the Royal family was the first cousin of Queen Victoria, being the younger daughter of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, (the youngest surviving son of King George III) and Augusta of Hesse-Cassel.
Her father, considered a very handsome young man and at the time a Prince of Teck, was the son of Alexander, Duke of Württemberg, by his morganatic union with the beautiful Transylvanian countess, Claudia Rhédey de Kis-Rhéde. Later known as Countess von Hohenstein, she died tragically in 1841 at Vienna when her horse bolted whilst watching a review of troops, she was thrown and trampled to death by passing cavalry.
Her grandaughter, Queen Mary, later erected a tablet to her memory at the small church of Erdo Szent Gyorgy in Transylvania, where theCountess was buried. As a consequence of his mother not being a princess of royal blood, Prince Francis was debarred from inheriting his father's rights to the kingdom of Württemberg.
Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge was a jovial, good natured and popular member of the royal family, but due to her rapidly expanding girth, the Cambridge family had been hard pressed to find a husband for her. On a visit to Brussels with her mother in 1852, King Leopold of the Belgians reported to his niece Queen Victoria, of their encounter, "Poor Mary, such a beautiful child, is grown out of all compass, to my great regret, Leopold, who is all longitude, was her neighbour and looked quite alarmed." Prince Oscar of Sweden was dispatched to England with a view to a match being made between the pair, but left having failed to propose. "Alas!" stated an exasperated Lord Clarendon "no German Prince will venture on so vast an undertaking".
Princess Mary Adelaide remained unmarried until the age of thirty, when Prince Teck, on a visit to England, declared himself amenable and the pair were married on 12th June 1866, at Kew Church, Surrey. Four children resulted from their union, the eldest, Princess May, or Victoria Mary, was followed in succession by three brothers, Prince Adolphus of Teck (Adolphus Charles Alexander Albert Edward George Philip Louis Ladislaus )(1868-1927) later Duke of Teck and Marquess of Cambridge, Prince Francis of Teck (Francis Joseph Leopold Frederick) known as 'Frank'(1870-1910) and Prince Alexander of Teck, (Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George) known as 'Alge' to the family (1874-1957) and later created Earl of Athlone.
The young Princess May was educated at home, by a governess, the family were forced to live abroad in 1883, to economise, Mary Adelaide was hopeless with managing money and had got badly in debt. The family travelled throughout Europe, staying with various relatives and living in Florence for a spell, before returning to London in 1885, where they lived at Kensington Palace and White Lodge in Richmond Park.
Queen Victoria, although often exasperated by the unpunctual and high-spirited cousin, the Duchess of Teck, was fond of May and with her strong character and sense of duty, thought she wouldmake an admirable wife for her rather wayward grandson, Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale (1864-1892) . May accepted the proposal of Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale the eldest son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Their engagement was announced in December, 1891. It is said that Queen Victoria influenced her grandson's choice of bride. Tragically, "Eddy" as he was known in the family, developed a heavy cold whilst staying at Sandringham for the Christmas season, which developed into pnuemonia, resulting in his death at but 28 years old. Prince Albert Victor was buried in the Albert Memorial Chapel close to St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.The despondent Princess May laid her intended bridal wreath of orange blossom upon the coffin.
Prince George of Wales, the Prince of Wales second son and now created Duke of York, as well as inheriting his brother's place in the succession, took an interest in his intended bride and to the delight of her mother, Mary Adelaide, himself proposed to Princess May of Teck in May 1893, after a suitable period of mourning. Their marriage took place on 6 July 1893 at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, in London. The couple moved into the cramped York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate. Although both shy and reserved by character, they were to become deeply attached to each other, May providing the sometimes gruff and difficult Prince George with a great deal of support in his new position.
The marriage produced six children, five sons and a daughter. The couple's first born, Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, known to the family as David was born on 23 June 1894, at May's mother's home of White Lodge in Richmond Park. He succeeded to the throne as Edward VIII on the death of his father, but later abdicated to marry the American divorcee Wallis Warfield-Simpson and took the title Duke of Windsor. Their second child Albert Frederick Arthur George, Duke of York known as Bertie, was born on 14 December 1895 and succeeded his brother as King George VI after the abdication. A daughter Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary followed on 25 April 1897 she became Princess Royal and Countessof Harewood after her marriage to Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood.
A further son Henry William Frederick Albert was born on 31 March 1900.Henry became Duke of Gloucester and married Alice Christabel Montagu Douglas Scott daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry. George Edward Alexander Edmund, Duke of Kent was born on 20 December 1902, he married his second cousin Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, the daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, and a great-niece of Queen Alexandra.The Duke of Kent died at the age of 39 on board RAF Short Sunderland flying boat W4026, which crashed while on official duty, into a hillside near Dunbeath, Caithness, in Scotland while en route to Iceland on 25 August 1942. A fifth son Prince John Charles Francis was born on 2 July 1905, completing the family.
May bore the death of her mother in 1897 with typical stoicism. Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck, died on 27th October at her home at White Lodge, Richmond Park, following complications arising after an emergency operation. She was buried in the royal vault at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. The Duke of Teck, whose nerves were not strong, survived his wife by only just over two years dying on 21st January 1900, also at White Lodge. The Princess remained very close to her maternal aunt and confidante, Augusta, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who lived until 1916, having attained the age of 94, when she became the last surviving grandchild of King George III.
When Edward VII ascended the throne at the death of his mother in 1901, the Duke and Duchess of York were created Prince and Princess of Wales. On the death of his father on 6th May, 1910, George Duke of York ascended the throne as King George V, whilst his consort Princess May took on the title of Queen Mary. They were crowned at a magnificent ceremony at Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911. The new Queen's Aunt Augusta, who incredibly, had witnessed the coronation of King William IV in 1831, was able to offer advice on etiquette and attire, however, old age prevented her from attending the event in person. The new Queen, due to her shyness, often come across as rather unsmiling and austere, leading the couple to be referred to by the less reverential as George and the Dragon.
On the outbreak of the First World War, King George (pictured left) and Queen Mary patriotically endeavoured to boost national morale and tirelessly visited military hospitals, munitions factories and blitzed areas. The King carried out five visits to the troops in Flanders.
In 1917, concerned that his own teutonic name would alienate his subjects, the King changed the name of his house from the German Saxe-Coburg-Gotha of Queen Victoria's consort to Windsor. The name was suggested by his private secretary. At the same time his Battenberg cousins were encouraged to change theirs to the Anglicised form of Mountbatten. 'Arrived Prince Hyde, departed Lord Jekyll' wrote the King's cousin, Louis Mountbatten, in a visitor book at the time. Queen Mary's Teck brothers Adolphus and Alexander (Prince Francis of Teck, who turned out to be something of a royal rebel had died in 1910) were similarly granted the anglisized titles of created Marquess of Cambridge and Earl of Athlone respectively.
Queen Mary's youngest child, Prince John, suffered from epilepsy and was segregated from the rest of the family, he led an isolated life at Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate in the care of his nanny, Charlotte Bill, known in the family as "Lalla." Just after the end of the First World War John died unexpectedly in the early hours of the morning of 18th January 1919 at the age of thirteen and was buried at Sandringham Church.
The king, a heavy smoker, developed serious bronchial health problems in the late 1920's and although the couple celebrated their silver jubilee in 1935, King George continued to suffer ill health and in the last year of his life his bronchial problems became so severe that had to be administered oxygen. The king died at 11.55 p.m on 20th January 1936, after his physician, Lord Dawson of Penn, administered a lethal injection of cocaine and morphine to the already comatose monarch , to enable his death to be announced in the morning edition of The Times newspaper. He was suceeded by his eldest son, David, Prince of Wales, who ascended the throne as King Edward VIII.
When Edward VIII announced his desire to marry the twice-divorced American, Wallis Warfield-Simpson, he caused a constitutional crisis, which led to his abdication in favour of his brother, Albert, Duke of York, who took the throne as George VI. Queen Mary refused to meet her new daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Windsor, whom she termed "an adventuress", she strongly disapproved of her eldest son's actions and the consequential tarnishing of the crown. George VI, or "Bertie" as he was known in the family, although initially reluctant to assume the positon, made an admirable constitutional monarch. He was ably supported by his consort, the new Queen Elizabeth and together with their two young daughters, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, they presented an image of respectable family life which did much to restore lustre to the crown. Queen Mary shared a close relationship with her elder, granddaughter, Elizabeth, the heiress to the crown, who was said to strongly resemble her.
Queen Mary was an ardent collector of objects d'art and pictures which had royal connections.During the Second World War she was evacuated to Badminton House in Gloucestershire, then owned by her niece, Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort, the daughter of her eldest brother, Adolphus. 1942 witnessed the death of her youngest surviving son, George, Duke of Kent, who was killed in an RAF training exercise in Scotland. The stress of the war had taken a heavy toll on King George VI, a concientious man, a worrier and a heavy smoker, he developed lung cancer and died in his sleep at Sandringham on 6th February, 1952, of coronary thrombosis, becoming the third of Queen Mary's sons to predecease her, he was suceeded by his daughter, Elizabeth II.
Queen Mary lived on until until the following year, she failed to see the coronation of her granddaughter, as she died at her London home of Marlborough House, of lung cancer on 24 March, 1953, aged 85. She was buried with King George V at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.
|Mary of Teck||Father:
Francis Duke of Teck
Duke Alexander of Württemberg
Duke Louis of Württemberg
Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg
Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde
Count László Rhédy de Kis-Rhéde
Countess Ágnes Inczédy de Nagy-Várad
Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge
Adolphus Duke of Cambridge
George III of Great Britain
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Prince Frederick of Hesse
Caroline Polyxene of Nassau-Usingen
*Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, (1894-1972) later Prince of Wales, Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor. married Wallis Warfield Simpson.
*Albert Frederick Arthur George (1895 - 1952) later Duke of York and George VI married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
(i) Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Elizabeth II (born 21 April 1926)
(ii) Margaret Rose, later Countess of Snowdon (21 August 1930 - 9 February 2002)
*Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary (1897-1865) later Princess Royal, married Henry Lascelles, Earl of Harewood.
(i) George Henry Hubert Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, KBE AM (7 February 1923 - 11 July 2011)
(ii) Gerald David Lascelles (21 August 1924 - 27 February 1998)
*Henry William Frederick Albert (1900-1974) later Duke of Gloucester, married Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott.
(ii) William Henry Andrew Frederick; (18 December 1941 - 28 August 1972)
(ii) Richard Alexander Walter George, Duke of Gloucester (born 26 August 1944)
George Edward Alexander Edmund (1902-1942) later Duke of Kent, married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark.
(i) Edward George Nicholas Paul Patrick, Duke of Kent, (born 9 October 1935)
(ii) Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel, Lady Ogilvy (born 25 December 1936)
(iii) Michael George Charles Franklin (born 4 July 1942)
*John Charles Francis (1905-1919)