One of the many paradoxes of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother’s personality, according to Lady Colin Campbell’s recent biography of her, was that she fancied herself a romantic heroine while being fundamentally asexual. King George Vl, who was perhaps the greatest masochist among the sons of George V, seems to have only become more slavishly devoted to his frigid wife for that reason. After a honeymoon in which Elizabeth feigned illness most of the time to avoid engaging in conjugal relations with her husband, the Duke and Duchess of York, as they were then known, settled into a mostly chaste marriage in which Prince Albert, with his wife’s apparent blessing, sought sexual fulfillment first with actress Evelyn Laye, and later with others. This was not an ideal setup for the production of heirs to the throne; for although Albert was second in line, he was still expected to provide children to take their place in the line of succession just in case his older brother were to fail in that task. History, of course, was to prove that the then Prince of Wales, later Edward Vlll, did precisely that. In order to solve this dynastic dilemma Elizabeth embarked on a plan of action that, among the aristocracy, was to become one of the most notorious, and open, secrets of the Royal Family in the 20th century.
Lady Campbell cites several sources for this story including the Duke of Windsor, Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, Lord Beaverbrook’s granddaughter Lady Jean Campbell and the Marquesa de Casa Maury, formerly Edward, Prince of Wales’ married mistress Freda Dudley Ward. In July of 1925 the Duchess of York visited the London clinic of Dr. Walter Jagger where she was artificially inseminated with her husband’s sperm. She duly became pregnant, and the future Queen Elizabeth ll was delivered by Caesarian section the following April. In 1929 a still passionless Elizabeth repeated this procedure, this time with Sir Henry Simson, and in August 1930 gave birth to Princess Margaret.
Of course, the then Duchess of York’s decisive action would prove prescient when Elizabeth became directly involved in the plot that forced her brother-in-law to abdicate and placed her husband on the throne. The pretty little daughters that Elizabeth in essence manufactured were vital to their father’s ascendence: providing the necessary component to the ideal family man image that trumped many a government minister’s misgivings about passing the crown along to the speech impediment suffering Duke of York whom they assumed was mentally backward. The role, according to many, that the future Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother played in King Edward Vlll’s usurpation will be the subject of a forthcoming post.