A Bouquet of Flowers

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

The Wedding of Lady Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon

That dear lady, the late Queen Mother was married to the Duke of York, later King George VI, at Westminster Abbey April 26, 1923. As she entered the Abbey she quite unexpectedly laid her bouquet of flowers at the tomb of the British Unknown Warrior. Her act becoming a tradition for newlywed British Royals who, unlike the Queen Mother, have left their bouquets after the wedding service and most recently repeated by Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Elizabeth turned 14 years of age when war was declared, August 4, 1914 and her family home, Glamis Castle, beside the village of Glamis, Scotland, became a convalescent home for wounded soldiers. Helping to care for the wounded, who nicknamed her “Princess”, she helped as best she could, trying to keep them entertained and keeping their spirits from falling. However, the war was indiscriminate in the targets it claimed, taking both the titled and the untitled. Although the Bowes-Lyon family were direct descendants of the Kings of Scotland, they were legally classed as commoners, despite being sons and daughters of a peer.

In her simple gesture prior to her wedding, Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, gave tribute to her late brother Fergus, who was killed during the Great War and, at the time, having no known grave was commemorated upon the Loos Memorial. Married to Lady Christian Norah Dawson-Damer shortly after the Great War commenced, Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon was killed, two months after the birth of his daughter, Rosemary, one of many children who would learn of their fathers through the stories they were told.

Fergus Bowes-Lyon

On September 27, 1915, Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon of the 8th Battalion, Black Watch, was severely wounded during the Battle of Loos, having had a leg blown away during a German artillery barrage. Falling back into the arms of his Sergeant the Captain died on the field of battle when bullets struck him in the chest and shoulder. In 2012, after providing proof of their relative’s original burial site a special marker at Quarry Cemetery, Vermelles, France records Fergus Bowes-Lyon’s burial as “Buried Near This Spot”. His name will be removed from the Loos Memorial when the panel is next replaced.

Lady Elizabeth’s war continued with three of her brothers also serving in the fields of France and Flanders. John “Jock” and Patrick (15th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne) also served with the Black Watch. Both Patrick and a third brother Michael, of the Scots Guards, were wounded during the war, Michael, initially thought to have been killed, becoming a prisoner of war. Lady Elizabeth’s extended family included others who were lost to them.

Charles Lindsay Claude Bowes-Lyon

A cousin, Lieutenant Charles Lindsay Claude Bowes-Lyon lost his life while attached to the 1st Battalion, Black Watch, October 23, 1914 and is buried at New Irish Farm, Cemetery, Belgium. Another cousin, Lieutenant Gavin Patrick Bowes-Lyon of the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards was killed November 27, 1917 and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, France. In more recent times, the Bowes-Lyon family lost another one of their loved ones during the Second World War, when Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin, the Honorable John Patrick Bowes-Lyon, a Lieutenant in the Scots Guards was killed either September 18 – 19, 1941. He is buried at Halfaya Sollum War Cemetery, Egypt.

The Bowes-Lyon family, like so many families, was marked by the tragedies of war. In placing a bouquet of flowers at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior, Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) began a form of remembrance, one of love and warmth equally shared by so many families of the fallen. With every visit to the battlefields, memorials and cemeteries of the Great War, every flower flutters in the wind, a gentle bouquet of love, warmth and remembrance.

Flowers at Villers Station Cemetery, France.

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests was a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, Paul believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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