The Woman Who Shaped the Windsors

Left to right: Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth (now Elizabeth II), the Dowager Queen Mary, Princess Margaret and the newly coronated King George VI

The second half of the two-part documentary “King George and Queen Mary: The Royals Who Rescued the Monarchy” was an absorbing portrait of Queen Mary. I have to admit that I was previously unaware of how important her role was in reforging the royal brand during the inter-War era, and how crucial this was to its ultimate survival thanks to the burgeoning popularity of the monarchy following the First World War. This documentary also answered a question that had always irritated me: what did the Dowager Queen get up to in her retirement after her son, George VI, had acceded to the throne? It turns out that she was looking after her granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth, and teaching her the tricks of the trade as a Queen. So it seems that Queen Mary’s know-how in the subtle adaptation of the monarchy to a modern world in her own reign had a deep and lasting influence on her granddaughter, now Elizabeth II, whose current reign has been a tour de force of monarchical modernisation.

Check out the documentary on BBC iPlayer now.