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Mary of Teck

Mary of Teck (1867–1953), queen of George V. Mary of Teck, known before her marriage as Princess May, had a difficult task as queen in following Alexandra, who had been extremely popular. But her natural dignity, verging on stiffness, and a strong sense of duty, made her fill the role well. She dressed all her life as an Edwardian lady, which her husband liked, and as the decades unfolded seemed increasingly like a visitor from a bygone age. She was the only daughter of the duke of Teck, her mother being a granddaughter of George III and first cousin to Queen Victoria. By royal standards the family was not wealthy and faced a certain amount of condescension. At the age of 25 she was engaged to Albert Victor, duke of Clarence (‘Eddie’), and after his sudden death married in 1893 his younger brother George, created duke of York. Their preference was for a quiet life at Sandringham: Mary was not boisterous, and took no interest in shooting and hunting, preferring reading and the collection of antiques and objets d'art. Despite a natural reserve, she took an active part in public visiting with her husband and, assisted by photography and later film, became a familiar and reassuring figure. During her long widowhood, she continued to appear in public while in no way overshadowing George VI or his wife Elizabeth.

J. A. Cannon

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