Queen Mother – steely resolve and an ocean of gin

The Singular Wit and Double Measures of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother” is the latest Royal gossip-feste, filled with fun anecdotes about the nation’s granny who had a backbone of pure titanium. Her consumption of industrial quantities of alcohol is the best antidote to medical gloom-mongering about the damaging effects of gin. She tottered on to 101 happily pickled.

  Despite her sweet smile and marshmallow outfits, “she looked everything she was not . . . Behind the veil, she schemed and vacillated, hard as nails,” according to socialite Stephen Tennant, who knew her before she was married. And apparently she possessed “an Olympian ability to hold a grudge”.

 Since her father did not register her birth until six weeks later there has always been a question mark over the data but this one seems to work well enough at 4 August 1900 maybe 12.30 am London.

  She did have a tough start with the blight of the First World War. “I think of my 20 best friends in 1914,” she reminisced, decades later. “Only five came back.” One brother died and three others came back with shell-shock. Despite ‘only’ being an earl’s daughter she was much courted, and according to the Duke of Windsor wanted to marry him. But his mother Mary of Teck decided she would do well for the insecure, stammering and nervy Bertie (King George V1) – and given Queen Mary’s formidable Saturn opposition Pluto square Mars nothing much got in her way.

  Princess Marina who married the Duke of Kent treated the Queen Mother with contempt as a “common little Scotch tart”. And she went on to have a legendary rift with Wallis Simpson who had been equally scathing about her.

  She believed in ghosts and requested exorcisms right up to her death. Her household was notorious for not only the lavish entertaining but the largely homosexual servants she employed and had a friendly relationship with. Some of the stories that emerged were wild.

  One odd rumour in this book was that she once told friends she had burnt documentary evidence of Queen Victoria not only having an affair with her Scottish servant John Brown, but also secretly married him.

  On this birth date she was a Sun Leo which fits her flamboyant outfits and sociable temperament. She had a hard-edged Mars in Gemini conjunct Neptune on one side and Pluto on the other opposition Saturn. Mars Saturn would connect to her experiences in the war which would stiffen her spine and toughen her. Mars Pluto is determined, ruthless and vengeful as indeed is her Scorpio Moon. Saturn opposition Neptune would contribute to her other-worldly ghost-sighting interests.

  The Duke of Windsor would have been a reasonable fit with her since his Cancer Sun was conjunct her Venus; his Jupiter was conjunct her Pluto and her Jupiter was conjunct her Midheaven. They would have made a formidable pair on the throne.

 Bertie (King George)  did have his Sagittarius Sun on her Descendant for a good partnership and her Saturn in the 7th always indicated a husband who would involve hard work. His Jupiter was conjunct her Sun which was fortunate and like her he had a Scorpio Moon. But it was a stressful relationship with a composite Saturn opposition Mars square Pluto – so she’d have to suppress a good deal of who she was to make it work. Though as a ‘war’ partnership it did clearly bear dividends.

  Wallis Simpson had her Gemini Sun and Venus conjunct the QM’s Neptune and Mars with Pluto hovering close by for a decades-long feud with Wallis’s Saturn Uranus in Scorpio maybe conjunct the QM’s Moon. Their relationship chart was explosive.

  What fun.  It puts the present storm in a teacup into perspective.

8 thoughts on “Queen Mother – steely resolve and an ocean of gin

  1. I read that it’s estimated she consumed roughly 70 units of alcohol a week and on occasions would have to be propped up by a lackey when out and about in her chauffeur-driven limousine. By lunchtime she was pretty much embalmed for the rest of the day.

    • Ha! well, the gin and Dubonnet seems to have worked as a preservative! My Sun Cancer grandfather lived to be a robust 95, and began every day with a large fried breakfast. At the weekend, he’d have half a glass of Guinness with that. I remember one young doctor being horrified by this regime when my grandfather was 93……

      • Jane, my paternal elderly relatives were the same – apertif before lunch or a pre-lunch beer, wine with the meal, an afternoon of brisk country walking with the dogs, tea at 5pm and then the magic hour of 7pm (when the ‘Sun has gone down over the yardarm’) and a couple of G&Ts, dinner with wine, cheese and biscuits with port. It’s a wonder any of them held down jobs but they did. Plus they made it into relative old age. They were the inter-war generation of a certain class and I wonder how much of the liberal use of alcohol was informed by the trauma of WW1, resulting in an eat, drink and be merry attitude.

        I learned about the QM’s drinking habits from the book about William Tallon, or ‘Backstairs Billy’ as he was known who was her faithful and somewhat outrageous and flamboyant favourite retainer. And like Queen Victoria’s favourite, John Brown he was not popular with other members of the Royal household. His was a rags to riches story, and his passion for the QM was deep, as was his propensity for casual encounters with attractive young men. He was a Scorpio.

        • Yes I forgot to mention all the walking. My grandfather was still walking for miles in his late 80’s. And the teas! The Queen loved her teatime too, jam sandwiches and cake every day apparently. But they didn’t have huge portions, compared with modern portions. And as I’ve noticed, they may have had doctors, but no NHS until later years. So you had to be pretty tough to survive childhood. So many families – almost all – lost babies and young children in those days. Women, including the Queen Mother, usually gave birth at home too. Imagine a member of the RF giving birth at home now!
          I enjoyed that book by Backstairs Billy too. There’s much suppressed eccentricity in the RF, which is a shame really. A more gently eccentric society might be healthier for us all!

  2. The Queen Mother was faithfully potrayed along with the NHS in Brittania Hospital the third part after If and Oh Lucky Man of the brilliant satiric trilogy by Lindsay Anderson.
    I recommend them all as an iconic blistering critique of Britain and our relationship to the class system. Relevant then, relevant now. And Oh Lucky Man is terrifying.
    And I expect Lindsay Anderson and his work to be re discovered [and pilfered] when Pluto moves into Aquarius and UKs fith house.

  3. Lovely article, thanks Marjorie.

    I notice her Part of Fortune is in Pisces, a sign which seems to illude me constantly.

    When I started working at Equitable Life, after all the problems and loss of money for high net-worth clients, one of my first thoughts was “well, this will be interesting for an Astrologer!” Checking on the birth dates of a great many of them, I found that Sun Pisces individuals were some of their wealthier clients, but still didn’t escape the Neptune deception. In fact, so many of them were Pisces it gave me a whole new perspective on wealth and wealth creation. I was privileged to read about their backgrounds, and many were ‘self-made millionnaires’.

    I don’t know what impact the ‘Part of Fortune’ had on her chart, it’s not an area that is discussed in any great detail.

    Neptune and Pisces is often associated with alcoholism, so maybe that’s the key.

    • She evidently was profligate with money, buying exactly the same outfits every year from couturiers and the Queen had to reputedly pay off her multi million pound bank overdraft frequently. A Leo to the end.

  4. Oh, what fabulous entertainment! Thanks Marjorie, just what’s required right now. The Queen Mother’s childhood alone is fascinating – and its where her belief in the supernatural comes from. Part of her childhood was in deeply spooky Glamis Castle, ancestral seat of the Earls of Strathmore, and where I think she gave birth to Princess Margaret. Endless ghost stories are attached to it, secret rooms, an ancestor burned (false accusation) as a witch, another ancestor walled up for life – the “Monster” of Glamis – and on and on. Her grandfather is quoted as saying:

    “If you could even guess the nature of this castle’s secret,” said Claude Bowes-Lyon, 13th Earl of Strathmore, “you would get down on your knees and thank God it was not yours.”

    Possibly her Saturn Mars Neptune hints at some ancestral scandals, ghosts, and secrets?

    I did come across a diary once online, describing a visit to Glamis and how the Earl and his children (including the future QM) would enjoy seeing guests’ reactions to the ghosts, the doors that suddenly would not open, or would open on their own, and so on. I cannot find it at the moment. However, a most gothic childhood in a most gothic setting – this must have had a profound effect on her I suspect.

    Part of the lifelong feud between the QM and Wallis Simpson is said to be Wallis’ belief in the rumour that the QM was in fact the daughter of a French cook and the Earl. The nickname ‘Cookie’ was used to taunt the QM with this ‘fact’, which was never proven of course. More Neptune at play perhaps.

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