21 April 2011
A New Princess is Born
The 26-year-old Duchess of York may have been thinking about finding a home of her own. As she ran her hand over her swollen belly, her thoughts were almost certainly on the family she was starting with her beloved husband, Bertie. Soon, her pangs began to increase and she retired to a specially prepared room with three doctors to look after her.
As the day progressed, reporters arrived at 17 Bruton Street. They were escorted to another room where they were treated as guests while they awaited news of this interesting but not very important birth.
After all, this child would only be third in line after the 31-year-old Prince of Wales (who would certainly marry and begin a family) and his younger brother the Duke of York. This baby would likely spend its life moving further and further down the line.
This child wasn’t even the first grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary. Their daughter, the Princess Royal, had already presented them with two grandsons.
Nevertheless, throughout the day, people started gathering outside of the elegant townhouse of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. Anticipation was building on the street, but inside things were not developing smoothly. The tiny royal highness was not positioning properly and the petite duchess was facing a long struggle.
As the sun set and darkness engulfed the house, the anxious father was putting the Earl’s rugs through a real workout and burning his way through cigarette after cigarette. Despite his nervousness and his well-documented stammer, he still took time to pop in to visit with the reporters and the official government representative. In the duchess’s room, the doctors finally determined that the breech baby would not turn around. The only answer for both mother and child was caesarean section.
Finally, at 2:40 a.m. on April 21, 1926, a little princess entered the world. At four a.m., the king and queen were awakened with the happy news. That afternoon they visited their first granddaughter and the stodgy, middle-aged Queen Mary immediately fell in love with her. “Saw the baby, who is a little darling,” she gushed in her diary, marking the beginning of a close and loving relationship between the queen and the granddaughter who would grow to resemble her in appearance and temperament.
The Duke of York consulted the king about the baby’s name, as royal tradition required. Elizabeth, the duke proposed in honor of his darling wife. Alexandra in honor of the baby’s grandmother, the gorgeous Danish princess who became a beloved British queen and who had died only a few months earlier. And, Mary after the queen. The king noted that the name Victoria was not included—“I quite approve…He says nothing about Victoria. I hardly think that necessary,” George wrote.
Funny how a person’s life can take an unexpected turn. And, while Queen Elizabeth II may not have been born to inherit the throne, few would argue that she was destined to be queen.