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Old 01-10-2015, 06:28 PM
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Residences of the Queen Mother

I was reading that the Queen Mother had the use of five official residences, including Clarence House, Royal Lodge, Birkhall and the Castle of Mey. Also use of a castle in Dover?

How did she divide her time between so many homes?
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Old 01-10-2015, 08:41 PM
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She spent most of the time at CH and RL. She visited Birkhall during the Queen's summer holiday at Balmoral and some other visits were to Mey.


Dover was less frequently visited but she went there once or twice a year - particularly if there was any ceremonial event to do with her position as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. It was due to holding that title that she had the use of Walmer Castle.
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:48 AM
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One Royal Lodge house party in the 1960's was evoked by a guest, the diplomat Sir Charles Johnston, who described the fun and games after dinner, with Lord Ballantrae playing the piano while the guests danced in and out of the room led by the 'dynamic little figure' of the Queen Mother, 'arms up in Highland attitudes,' until 'we all got noisy and over-excited and the ex bish(op) of New York began to lose his collar.'
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Old 01-11-2015, 05:44 PM
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When purchased by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, the Castle of Mey was called Barrogill Castle.
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Old 01-12-2015, 05:09 AM
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The Queen had a new kitchen built at Birkhall for her mother's eightieth birthday. She and Princess Margaret were well aware that their mother's homes all became a little tired as the decades passed because she hated to spend money on furnishings, redecoration or even maintenance.

From her sixties onwards she would say "I won't be around much longer. It's not worth it". Guests enjoyed shabby lino in the bedrooms, frayed curtains and damaged lampshades in the bedrooms.

Sometimes when she was away her daughters would have chairs re-covered in identical material so that she would not notice that anything had changed. When the Queen gave her mother a new carpet for the drawing room at the Castle of Mey it had to be indistinguishable from the one it replaced.

For her eightieth birthday her friends and members of her Household decided to combine the pleasures of moor and stream and eating al fresco; they clubbed together to build her a log cabin at Polveir near Birkhall.
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Old 01-15-2015, 04:17 PM
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I wonder if she ever considered divesting herself of one of her residences in order to help reduce her overspending?
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Old 01-15-2015, 06:40 PM
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I don't think the Queen Mother ever really understood money. The Strathmores were certainly not an extravagant family, but she was an Earl's daughter and her generation of aristocratic females weren't expected to work before marriage.

After she was widowed she insisted on keeping up appearances by keeping a large staff, some of whom had been with her for years. In her eyes, as a King's widow she had to live a certain way. She maintained the Castle of Mey from her private funds.
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Old 01-15-2015, 07:01 PM
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Correct me if I'm wrong please but wasn't the Castle of Mey the only residence that the Queen Mother owned personally? If so, there would be no other properties that she could have sold off to make ends meet.
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Old 01-15-2015, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osipi View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong please but wasn't the Castle of Mey the only residence that the Queen Mother owned personally.
Yes, the Castle of Mey was the only residence that the Queen Mother owned personally.
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Old 01-15-2015, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Curryong View Post
I don't think the Queen Mother ever really understood money. The Strathmores were certainly not an extravagant family, but she was an Earl's daughter and her generation of aristocratic females weren't expected to work before marriage.

After she was widowed she insisted on keeping up appearances by keeping a large staff, some of whom had been with her for years. In her eyes, as a King's widow she had to live a certain way. She maintained the Castle of Mey from her private funds.
Shawcross covers this quite a bit in The Queen Mother, The Official Biography. Even in this official bio, she is portrayed as having little respect for debts.
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Old 01-15-2015, 08:04 PM
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I think she was from a generation that placed great importance on keeping up appearances. To be fair her debts were paid off by the Queen weren't they? Personally I don't think the Queen Mother really understood money at all.
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Old 01-15-2015, 08:53 PM
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The Empress of Extravagance: How the Queen Mother left behind more than £7m in debts | Daily Mail Online

This is true.

Quote:
By 1970, with a stable of a dozen racehorses that was costing more than £1million a year, and her Aberdeen Angus herd at the Castle of Mey, she was overspending her official income by millions and having increasingly to be bankrolled by her daughter, the Queen.
Elizabeth II, deeply concerned by the escalating cost of her mother's life, was distressed when Edward Heath's Conservative cabinet rejected a proposal from the Palace for a 100 per cent increase that would have doubled the Queen Mother's Civil List payment from £70,000 to £140,000, saying that it "might well lead to embarrassing criticism of the Royal Family."

In 1972, the Civil List payment rose to £95,000. By 1990, it was £334,400, and then rose to its final figure, £643,000, but even this was never enough, in spite of a 100 per cent tax exemption from the Treasury for many years. The wages bill at Clarence House alone was £1.5 million.

Elizabeth's undiminished regal lifestyle and chaotic personal finances resulted in a massive overdraft at Coutts, the royal bankers, causing anxiety to her financial advisers, to the Queen, who subsidised her mother to the tune of £2million annually, and to her eldest and favourite grandchild, the Prince of Wales, who also subsidised her out of his own pocket.

As the Queen Mother never carried money, and had only the haziest notion of how much anything cost, the frantic efforts of her courtiers to control her spending resulted in failure.

Her £643,000 Civil List annuity was over-spent eight times in every year, and indeed was less than half what it cost just to employ the 60 servants at her official London residence, Clarence House.

Even in the last year of her life, when old age and infirmity curtailed the number of her engagements and public appearances, the Queen Mother managed to spend £4 million more than her official income.

The Queen paid her mother's debts and inherited her entire estate, valued at some £70million. It included the prized Monet and other valuable works of art, as well as Mrs Greville's fabulous jewels, a priceless Faberge egg collection and all her racehorses.
I don't know if this is true.

Quote:
The Queen Mother's treasurer for almost 40 years, the Old Etonian baronet Sir Ralph Anstruther, suffered a complete breakdown in health, believed by some to be the result of his increasing anxiety over the state of her finances.

And her accountant Patrick Kyle became so weary of the uphill struggle that he was repeatedly begged by his wife to retire.
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Old 01-16-2015, 05:09 AM
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Sir Ralph Anstruther certainly became ill and had to be replaced, but whether it was to do with her finances or not is unknown. He was an old man, who, like many in the Queen Mother's Household, had served her for decades. Sir Ralph apparently referred to the Tube as 'the Tubular Railway', to non-laced shoes as 'bedroom slippers' and radio as 'the wireless'.

In a way he symbolised the Queen Mother's Household, a little community out of time, still living as if it was 1928 in which servants worked for £50 a year and good champagne cost a guinea.

Elizabeth helped several old friends with cheques, insisted on many servants, most of whom had grown old in her service. Her love for horse racing and her horses was such that her daughter couldn't bear to suggest that she sell up. And so it went on until the end.
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Old 01-16-2015, 11:00 AM
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She saved money by not remodeling or redecorating her homes.

She had the same refrigerator for over 50 years.

Queen Mother’s fridge going strong after 60 years - The Scotsman
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Old 01-16-2015, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by tommy100 View Post
I think she was from a generation that placed great importance on keeping up appearances. To be fair her debts were paid off by the Queen weren't they? Personally I don't think the Queen Mother really understood money at all.
I just can't agree. I' re-reading Shawcross right now. The Queen mum, more than once as she hired someone to tend the finances, told them they would have to clean up her overspending. She told one of them that she would die bankrupt. She spoke of buying a pair of Chippendales rather than paying off the note at XYZ. She owned steeplechasers and enjoyed the track. And that's the stuff that made it into the book.
She was not stupid - in fact she had a good mind. Remember that they changed the Law so that she could serve as a Counselor of State after the King died. She actively worked through complex issues on the monarchy (the endless issue of how to deal with the Duchess of Windsor and Margaret's romantic life) with strong, cogent argument.
She understood there was a problem with her fiances but did not accept personal responsibility. It all depends on how you see it. I think it was more willful than you do. And we will never know for sure.
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Old 01-16-2015, 07:55 PM
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What was the amount of money that the Queen Mother inherited upon the demise of each of her parents?
Why was some inheritance money not used to pay her bills?
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Old 01-16-2015, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by CyrilVladisla View Post
What was the amount of money that the Queen Mother inherited upon the demise of each of her parents?
Why was some inheritance money not used to pay her bills?
Great question. And I looked for the answer in Shawcross - but there was nothing on that or on what King George VI left her.
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Old 01-16-2015, 09:46 PM
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The wills of sovereigns are never disclosed, and so we are never likely to know what the Queen Mother was left by her husband.

The Strathmores were not wealthy by the standards of many of the English aristocracy. Their holdings were mainly in Scotland and in land.

Her father, Claude, the 14th Earl, died in the latter part of World War 2, when taxes were high. From what I've read he worried about money from the time he inherited the title. He himself was one of a dozen children.

He left several sons who had to be given some income. Probably, in the custom of those days, when his daughters married they were given a small sum for their marriage jointure and that was it. Elizabeth, who married a royal Duke was probably regarded as well settled financially by her birth family.

Elizabeth's maternal grandfather was a clergyman who died young, the Rev Charles Cavendish-Bentinck. Cecilia's mother married again and owned property in Italy after she was widowed for the second time.

Her Italian villa went to one of Cecilia Strathmore's sisters. Claude Strathmore bought a villa in Italy in the 1890's which was later sold to Queen Margharita of Savoy. However, property in Italy was comparitively cheap to buy in the 19th century.

The short answer is, I believe, that the Cavendish-Bentincks, though an old family, weren't wealthy and it's doubtful that Cecilie inherited much or left much. Because of the size of his family Claude Strathmore would have left most of his estate to his heir. His daughters would have received little.
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Old 01-16-2015, 09:58 PM
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Bertie didn't a private income source like the Duchy of Cornwall until he became King so he probably didn't have a lot of his own money. He had to buy Balmoral and Sandringham from David and these estates were inherited by Elizabeth. The Queen Mum would have received jewelry and other gifts as wedding presents etc. However, she probably didn't have a lot of cash on hand.


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Old 01-17-2015, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Osipi View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong please but wasn't the Castle of Mey the only residence that the Queen Mother owned personally? If so, there would be no other properties that she could have sold off to make ends meet.
I was thinking that if she transferred either CH, RL or Birkhall to another family member it would save her having to pay for the upkeep and staff there.
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