Friday, April 24, 2009

Lady Elizabeth prepares for wedding

April 23, 1923

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon is an "unassuming Scottish girl" is the "most talked about girl in Europe," as she prepares for her upcoming wedding, where she will marry the Duke of York and become the fourth lady of the land.

With a "girlish candor," Lady Elizabeth, who is the youngest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore, has given an exclusive interview to Jean Victor Bates. The future Duchess of York is "awed by the great position which is soon to be hers." She knows that once she becomes a member of the British Royal Family, she will not be able to indulge with such candor as "she told of her hopes of serving her country and ultimately solving some of its industrial problems by co-operating in the welfare work for the toilers of Britain to which her fiance, ever since the end of the war, has devoted a considerable part of his time and energy."

In a rather naive manner, Lady Elizabeth "talked of her already daughter-like relations with Queen Mary, of her wedding dress and wedding plans."

It was due to a personal acquaintance with Lord Strathmore, that Bates was able to obtain a pre-wedding interview with the bride-to-be at her family home in Bruton Street, London.

The floor and sofa were covered with cases of wedding presents that were to be transferred to Buckingham Palace, where the gifts would be displayed after the wedding.

"This room certainly looks a bit of a shop, doesn't it, with all these boxes about.Yes we are receiving many presents. Best of all, I like the useful ones. We have to start from the very beginning, you know, to furnish our house, and a house cannot be comfortable done with just ornaments and silver, can it? I don't really know half the people who are sending me things. I am simply thrilled with gratitude. And antiques, which I could never really afford to collect -- my friends, who know, are sending me such rare and lovely ones."

Lady Elizabeth was asked about her future title. "You will be Princess Elizabeth after your marriage, will you not?"

"I really do not know. I believe I shall be a Royal Highness, but personally, I don't mind what I am called."

When asked if she would have a lady-in-waiting," Lady Elizabeth answered: "Oh, I suppose I shall have someone with me at big ceremonies, but not always I fancy. Do you know, it is awfully embarrassing to prophesy about myself, and it is difficult to say just what I like to do, definitely mentioning my taste in books, arts and sports. Interviews quite frighten me.

"The day of my engagement sixteen journalists rushed into the hall of this house and demanded news. I thought it very nice of them to be be interested, and all I could say was: 'I am very happy and I want to make others happy.' But that was not enough. They wanted to know when the duke proposed to me: how often he proposed to me: what I sis when he proposed, and so on!"

She was asked if she found it difficult to be the fiancee of a royal. "Difficult, yes."
"You refused to marry the Duke of York several times?"

Lady Elizabeth's response was a "girlish honesty." "I said to him I was afraid. It seemed too big a thing to decide -- as a royalty never, never again to be free to think or speak, or act as I really feel I ought to think, or speak, or act. I really do want to help him. He is so keen on his welfare work, you know. He does so love the men and women who work. He is trying to find out just how he can make their lives and happier. When I marry him, I hope to begin the work too. I might help the working women and together we may do a lot. You see, the duke feels that he must first really understand all about the industrial problem, for one can never do any good unless one understand things; and, unless one is practical, talk can do nothing. So he reads omnivorously on the subject, especially books that explain the workers point of view.

"He studies hard, goes to meetings down at the factories, and everywhere, just to learn at first hand, and I mean to do the same thing, because I think these industrial problems and puzzles have to be solved. If we make up our minds to try and solve them in good friendship and out of love for one another and for our country, we will -- somehow and sometime -- I think get things right."
Bates notes that "something about Lady Elizabeth that hints at strange and beautiful possibilities." She is "small and almost fragile in figure, with tiny feet and tiny hands, she is possessed with a wonderful girlish air of dignity -- and her face -- looking at her one realizes why ancient writers of austere temperament so frequently warned men to beware of the Celtic women, who more than others, are gifted with the power of beguilement."

Lady Elizabeth talked about her childhood at Glamis Castle in Scotland, and her closeness to her younger brother, David. "We used to wander about, play with our dogs and our rabbits, and pets, fish with the clansmen; do a little shooting; and just muck about generally."

Lady Elizabeth and the Hon. David were "inseparable," until David was sent off to school, and Elizabeth "had governesses. I have never really been finished."
Family holidays were spent in Italy, "which we spent sometime with our grandmother." Most of the time was spent in Florence, "where we were taught much by visits to the galleries. It was there I learned to love pictures."

Lady Elizabeth has also provided details about her wedding gown. "My wedding dress is to be a copy of an old Florentine picture, with the graceful flowing lines, something like the robe of Dante's Beatrice.I am too small to wear anything heavy or elaborate, so the dress has been made as simply as possible, introducing some ancestral lace, including a bit worn by one of my very great-grandmothers at a ball given by Bonnie Prince Charlie. The sleeves are of Nottingham, as a tribute to a British industry on which I am very keen; and Queen Alexandra has given me the bit to be appliqued to my long tulle veil."

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, 22 years old, will marry the Duke of York on April 26 at Westminster Abbey.


Bev Stephans said...

I understand that Lady Elizabeth caught a lot of hell from the Royal Family for this interview and never gave another interview in her life.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

the one and only interview!