Posted by Laura Wallace on November 15, 1997 at 16:47:41:
In response to Mother dear Mother, written by Stolzi on October 24, 1997 at 13:31:40
But I did want to contribute that when I was a gel, there were three queens living: Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and the Dowager Queen Mary (widow of George V). . . I do not know if Queen Mary was known as "The Queen Mother" during the reign of her son George VI. (and the oh-so-brief reign of her older son, Edward VIII). If she was this would disprove the story of the present Queen Mother objecting to the title of Dowager Queen.
I have a detailed explanation of dowager titles, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (her official title), on my titles page at http://www.chinet.com/~laura/titles.html.
In short, there can only be one dowager at a time, so while her mother-in-law was the dowager, the Queen Mother couldn't also be called dowager.
The traditional way of distinguishing between a widowed peeress and her daughter-in-law is to say "Mary, Duchess of Cornwall" when you referred to the widow and "The Duchess of Cornwall" when you referred to the wife of the current duke. In the Queen Mother's case, this wouldn't work because then she would be "Elizabeth, the Queen" and her daughter would be "Queen Elizabeth." So they came up with the "Queen Mother."
Most 20th century peeresses have rejected the term "dowager" because of the old-dragon connotations. I do not know whether the Queen Mother dislikes the term, but if she does she's in good company.
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.