The Queen would tackle the Queen Mother’s spending with ‘Oh mummy, grow up’

·3-min read

The Queen Mother’s death left her devastated, but friends acknowledged that in the years that followed the Queen “came into her own”.

The Queen’s relationship with her mother, whom she called “Mummy”, helped fashion the monarchy.

She remained close to her surviving parent and they exchanged regular telephone calls.

The Queen and the Queen Mother
The Queen and the Queen Mother leave church by horse drawn carriage on the Sandringham Estate, Norfolk in 2000 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

At first, the Queen seemed to favour doing things the way they were done during the reign of George VI.

The Queen Mother’s influence over her nervous and unsure husband had been strong and supportive, and the dowager royal matriarch continued to exert power over her daughter.

Elizabeth indulged her mother, helped to finance her and, on occasions, stepped aside to allow her to take centre stage.

In the early years of the Queen's reign
The Queen and the Queen Mother in 1954 – in the early years of the Queen’s reign (PA)

Biographer Ben Pimlott said there was humour in the way the two women related.

“Oh, Mummy, grow up,” the Queen was apt to say about her mother’s no-tomorrow spending habits.

They shared a passion for everything equestrian and enjoyed talking about the turf.

Watching the races
The Queen and Queen Mother watch the Derby at Epsom in 1994 (Martin Keene/PA)

The Queen’s cousin Margaret Rhodes described how the monarch blossomed in later years.

“I think in a funny way, perhaps, you know the death of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had quite a huge effect on the Queen,” she said.

“Not only of sadness but in a way that she could come into her own as the head of the family and as the most senior royal lady.”

The third member of the powerful royal triumvirate was the Queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret; it had been “upset one and upset all three of them”.

The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and the Queen
The Queen Mother celebrating her 100th birthday at the ballet joined in the Royal Box by her daughters Princess Margaret and the Queen (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Margaret was an entirely different character from her older sibling.

As a child, she was extrovert, wilful, attention-seeking and naughty, while Elizabeth was charming, unselfish and sensible.

Elizabeth was protective of her sister and the relationship nurtured in the nursery, as well as the personality traits, continued into later life.

In 1955, she saw her sister make the difficult choice to give up divorced Group Captain Peter Townsend in favour of keeping her place in the royal family.

The Queen, it is said, felt at the time that it was up to Margaret to decide for herself what she wanted to do.

In 2002, in her Golden Jubilee year, the Queen lost the two women who knew her best.

Her sister and her mother died within weeks of one another.

The Queen Mother's funeral
The Queen and the Prince of Wales walk behind the Queen Mother’s coffin following her funeral at Westminster Abbey (PA)

Margaret, aged 71, suffered a stroke and had been ill for a number of years. The Queen Mother was 101.

“I count myself fortunate that my mother was blessed with a long and happy life,” the Queen said as she addressed the nation in tribute to her mother.

“She had an infectious zest for living, and this remained with her until the very end.”