Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900–2002) was the Queen consort of King George VI from 1936 until his death in 1952, after which she was known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to avoid confusion with her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. She was the last Queen consort of Ireland and Empress consort of India. Born into a family of Scottish nobility as The Honourable Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, she became Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon when her father inherited the Earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorne in 1904.
In 1923she married Albert, Duke of York, the second son of King George V and Queen Mary. She undertook a variety of public engagements, and became known as the ‘Smiling Duchess’ because of her consistent public expression. In 1936 her husband unexpectedly became King when his brother Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. As Queen consort Elizabeth accompanied her husband on diplomatic tours to France and the United States in the run-up to World War II. During the war, her seemingly indomitable spirit provided moral support to the British public. In recognition of her role as an asset to British morale, Adolf Hitler described her as ‘the most dangerous woman in Europe’.
After the war the King’s health deteriorated and she was widowed at the age of fifty-one. On the death of her mother-in-law Queen Mary in 1953, with her brother-in-law living abroad and her elder daughter Queen, Elizabeth became the senior member of the royal family and assumed a position as family matriarch.
In her later years, she was a consistently popular member of the family even when other members were suffering from low levels of public approval. She continued an active public life until just a few months before her death in 2002.
She lived through the abdication crisis in the 1930s; World War II; the end of the British Empire; and the marriage, divorce and death of Princess Diana. So it is not surprising that she has appeared as a character in a number of movies and mini-series. Nor it is surprising that the ‘likenesses’ are often unlike each other as they feature her in storylines up to sixty years apart; more surprisingly few of them seem to resemble her at any age.