On this day in 1953, the public mourned the death of a much-loved and respected member of the British royal family – Queen Mary.
Who was Queen Mary and why was she such an important royal?
Born Princess Mary of Teck on May 26, 1867 at Kensington Palace in London, her mother Princess Adelaide of Cambridge was a granddaughter of King George III and a cousin of Queen Victoria. Her father Duke Francis of Teck was the son of Duke Alexander of Württemberg, an area which is now called Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany.
Mary wed Queen Victoria’s grandson Prince George, Duke of York in 1893 at the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace, the first royal wedding to take place at the chapel since the death of Prince Albert in 1861, which saw Victoria go into mourning.
Known for her love of art and culture and her dedication to her role as queen consort, Mary oversaw some of the biggest upheavals in the history of the royal family, including the abdication of her son Edward VIII who, much to her disapproval gave up the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. It was that decision that led to Queen Elizabeth‘s father King George VI becoming King and ultimately her current role as Queen.
During and after her husband’s reign (he died 17 years before her), Mary remained committed to her role, outliving three of her six children. She also became the first Queen to see a grandchild ascend to the throne when Elizabeth was announced Queen after her father died. However, Mary sadly died before the Coronation took place.
Dying peacefully in her sleep at her home at Marlborough House at age 85 after suffering from a reoccurring gastric illness, Mary’s glamorous presence is still felt at royal engagements today. Many of her jewelry pieces (she had a vast collection) have since been passed down to the Queen, who loaned them out to everyone from Princess Diana to Meghan Markle.
Accessorizing her understated Givenchy wedding dress, Meghan wore the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau tiara at her and Prince Harry’s wedding in May 2018. The art-deco piece was first created for Queen Mary back in 1932 to incorporate a brooch given to her by the Count of Lincoln on her marriage to George V.
Kate Middleton‘s go-to tiara is also from Mary’s collection. The Lover’s Knot tiara, often referred to as the Cambridge Lover’s Knot, has become a favorite of Kate’s over the years. With pearls hanging from pretzel-shaped knots, it was also a favorite of Diana’s, who wore it numerous times during her life.
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Kate is also fond of a bracelet that once belonged to Mary, often wearing the Queen Mary Chain-Link Bracelet for formal occasions. Made by Garrard & Co. in 1932, the bracelet was originally a choker before being turned into a bracelet by the late Queen Mother and has been seen on Kate’s wrist several times, including at the Buckingham Palace state banquet for China’s president in 2015.