King George and Queen Mary: The Royals Who Rescued the Monarchy

King George and Queen Mary: The Royals Who Rescued the Monarchy

Sun, 02/10/2013 - 8:00pm

Pictured: King George and Queen Mary

Credit: BBC

This two-part portrait of Elizabeth II's grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, examines the lasting legacy of the couple who rescued the monarchy from potential disaster.

King George and Queen Mary: The Royals Who Rescued the Monarchy airs Sundays, February 10 and 17, 2013 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT 21.1/cable 1011 and 11). George V could not have been a more unlikely modernizer. Born and brought up in the Victorian age he was conservative to his fingertips and an unsuccessful parent who bullied his children. His wife Queen Mary revered the monarchy, obeyed her husband in all things – even on the length of her dresses – and always put duty and service first. Yet in the face of unstoppable social change after the First World War George V turned out to be a remarkable innovator, creating the House of Windsor, embracing democratic reform, and reinventing many of the royal traditions that we know today. And when the abdication crisis threatened the future of the House of Windsor, Queen Mary was the rock to which the nation turned as a symbol of stability and continuity.

Episode 1, airing February 10, focuses on King George V. George could not have been a more unlikely modernizer. Born and brought up in the Victorian age he was conservative to his fingertips. yet in the face of unstoppable social change after the First World War he turned out to be a remarkable innovator, creating the House of Windsor, embracing democratic reform, and reinventing many of the royal traditions that we know today. When he celebrated his silver jubilee in 1935 the monarchy was more popular than ever. But as a parent King George V was far less successful - he bullied his children and alienated his eldest son and heir, Prince Edward. As one courtier remarked at the time, ‘the royal family are like ducks, they sit on their children’. By contrast, King George had a loving relationship with his granddaughter, and much of Queen Elizabeth’s style and commitment to duty can be traced back to this early influence.

Episode 2, airing February 17focuses on Queen Mary, who came from a relatively humble royal background, but was picked as a future queen consort by Queen Victoria. at first she was betrothed to Prince Eddy, heir to the throne. But when eddy died she was unceremoniously passed to his brother George. Despite the arranged marriage, King George and Queen Mary had a loving relationship. Mary revered the monarchy and obeyed her husband in all things - even the length of her dresses. She always put duty and service first. But when King George died in 1936, this once rigidly formal character emerged as a determined if eccentric royal matriarch with a mind of her own. When the abdication crisis threatened the future of the House of Windsor she was the rock to which the nation turned as a symbol of stability and continuity. Queen Mary died in 1953, having lived to see her granddaughter, elizabeth, ascend to the throne.

share