Birthday girl Meghan Markle shares her special day with another prominent member of the royal family today, as August 4 was also the Queen Mother’s birthday.
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother would have celebrated her 121st birthday today.
She died in her sleep at the age of 101 in 2002. And the nation gathered to mourn the woman who was widely regarded as the best-loved member of the royal family.
So why was the Queen Mother so special?
Here, on her 121st birthday, we look at a few of the many reasons why the nation took her to its heart.
The Queen Mother’s birthday: She’d celebrate with a tipple
A woman after our own heart, the Queen Mum loved a tipple.
In fact, she once paid a visit to an East End pub and pulled her own pint. And, upon taking a sip, she famously declared it was better than champagne.
Not only that, but on a royal visit to Derby in 1977, police officers tasked with looking after the royal “lost” her.
Police officer Ian Parker’s daughter Jane Hart revealed: “It was a big occasion, and I remember him feeling very proud and privileged to be taking part. They were leading her around, and they were proud to have her come to the city. But they couldn’t find her.
“He told the story to me, and you could tell he was still feeling nervous about telling it years on because of what they must have gone through.
“I think quite a few officers were sent to find her, and my dad found her in the bar having a drink,” she quipped.
She lived each day as it were her last
The Queen Mother lived to the ripe old age of 101, and she made the most of every day.
Sharing her philosophy on life, she once said: “Wouldn’t it be terrible if you’d spent all your life doing everything you were supposed to do – didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t eat things, took lots of exercise and suddenly, one day, you were run over by a big red bus.
“And, as the wheels were crunching into you, you’d say: ‘Oh my God, I could have got so drunk last night.’
“That’s the way you should live your life, as if tomorrow you’ll be run over by a big red bus.”
She was loyal to King and country
Married to George VI, Queen Elizabeth sat beside her husband on the throne from 1936 till his death in 1952.
As a result, she was a prominent figurehead during World War II, with the nation looking to her to lead by example.
And, despite being able to leave London as the bombs fell, she stayed at Buckingham Palace with daughters Elizabeth and Margaret.
When asked if she planned on leaving the capital, she said: “The children will not leave unless I do. I shall not leave unless their father does, and the King will not leave the country in any circumstances whatever.”
Down-to-earth as ever, she also revealed she was “glad” when Buckingham Palace was bombed.
“I’m glad we’ve been bombed,” she said.
“It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face.”
The Queen Mother’s birthday: Her wicked sense of humour
Never one to let protestors get her down, the Queen Mother once shared a witty comeback with a protestor who’d thrown a roll of toilet paper at her.
“Was this yours?” she asked.
“Oh, could you take it?” she asked them, offering it back.
Behind every good man…
King George VI was never born to sit on the throne – that honour went to his brother, King Edward VIII. However, after falling in love with Wallis Simpson, Edward abdicated.
And that meant George – and Elizabeth – had to step up.
Elizabeth became the strength behind the throne, helping to transform him from a stammering, insecure second son into a loved and respected monarch.
She forced Bertie – as she knew him – to seek treatment for his “affliction”.
And, not only that, she accompanied him as he visited a Harley Street doctor to seek treatment almost every day for two and a half months.
His official biographer Sir John Wheeler-Bennett said the marriage was very much what Bertie needed.
”It brought him much for which he had long craved in deprivation – love, understanding, sympathy, support.
”All these things were now his in generous abundance, and his whole conspectus of life changed accordingly.”
The nation’s favourite great-grandmother
Widely regarded as the nation’s favourite great-grandmother, the Queen Mother helped to make the royal family more secure in the nation’s affections than it had been at any other time in history.
She was a symbol of strength and courage during the toughest times the nation has ever been through, including WWII and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Queen Mother’s birthday: She gave us the Queen
A dedicated mother, Elizabeth was reportedly reluctant to leave her new baby and head off on royal tours with her husband.
When Princess Elizabeth was just a baby, her parents headed off on a royal tour of Australia.
However, the Queen Mother was said to be “very miserable at leaving the baby” and fretted constantly about getting home to the young princess.
Mother to the world’s longest-serving monarch, the trip was one of many examples where the Queen Mother instilled her strong work ethic in her eldest daughter.
Leading by example, she worked until she was in her nineties, much like her daughter is doing now.
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