In a letter to her mother-in-law Queen Mary, released to the public by the Palace in 2009, she wrote that the servants were “magnificent” and that everyone was “wonderfully calm”. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother is a national symbol of the Blitz spirit, as she and King George VI made the decision to stay in London despite the bombing. They often visited areas of the country, especially London, that had been badly affected by bombing.
In a fascinating letter, the Queen Mother described the bombing at the Palace and explained what happened in the aftermath.
She told Queen Mary how they had heard a “scream of a bomb” which then “exploded with a tremendous crash in the quadrangle”.
They all ducked away from the windows as a huge amount of smoke and earth was thrown up.
She then went on to praise her staff repeatedly for their conduct.
The Queen Mother claimed the servants were “marvellous”
The Queen Mother examining bomb damage at Buckingham Palace
The Queen Mother wrote: “Everybody remained wonderfully calm, and we went down to the shelter ‒ I went along to see if the housemaids were all right, and found them busy in their various shelters ‒ then came a cry for “bandages”, and the first aid party, who had been training for over a year, rose magnificently to the occasion, and treated the three poor casualties calmly and correctly.
“They, poor men, were working below the Chapel, and how they survived I don’t know ‒ their whole workshop was a shambles, for the bomb had gone bang through the floor above them.
“My knee trembled a bit a minute or two after the explosions! But we both feel quite well today, though just a bit tired.
“I was so pleased with the behaviour of our servants. They were really magnificent.”
Bomb crater outside Buckingham Palace
In particular, she picked out the reaction of the chef who, not long after the explosions, she found already bustling about.
When she asked him if he was alright, he replied with a broad smile and said it was just “un petit quelque chose”, meaning “a little something”.
She added that he was “perfectly unmoved” and instead informed the Queen that he was absolutely certain that France would rise again.
The Queen Mother, too, must have been relatively unmoved, because that very afternoon she went out on a scheduled royal tour to East and West Ham.
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Queen Mary with her husband, King George V
She described it as a “ghost town” in the letter and insisted that seeing the state of the East End was much harder for her than being bombed herself.
Indeed the Queen Mother famously said she was “glad” that Buckingham Palace was targeted because she was able to “look the East End in the eye”.
She told Queen Mary about a school which had been bombed and collapsed on top of 500 people waiting to be evacuated.
She wrote: “It does affect me seeing this terrible and senseless destruction ‒ I think that really I mind it much more than being bombed myself.
“The people were marvellous, and full of fight. One could not imagine that life could become so terrible.”
The letter also revealed how close the Queen Mother seemed to be to her mother-in-law.
She referred to her as “my darling Mama” and expressed her sadness at their having to be apart.
King George VI had insisted that his mother move out of London and she had set up residence in Badminton House, Gloucestershire with her niece, Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort.
Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) on VE Day, 1945
From here, she supported the war effort by visiting troops and factories, organising the gathering of scrap metal and even offering lifts to soldiers she spotted on roads.
Meanwhile, the King and Queen remained at Buckingham Palace as a signal to the nation that they were not going to be broken.
In her letter, the Queen Mother wrote: “Darling Mama, I do hope that you will let me come and stay a day or two later ‒ it is so sad being parted, as this War has parted families.
“With my love, and prayers for your safety, ever darling Mama, your loving daughter-in-law. Elizabeth.”
Today is the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
Published at Fri, 08 May 2020 09:08:00 +0000