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Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother

Last modified: 2010-07-12 by rob raeside
Keywords: royal standard | lions | bowes-lyon | lyon | bows | queen elizabeth queen mother | queen mother |
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[Queen Mother's flag] by Graham Bartram

From: World Flag Database

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Description of the flag

The personal flag of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was made up of the flag of her late husband, King George VI to the hoist, and the banner of arms of her family, Bowes-Lyon to the fly.
Graham Bartram

Since Edward I it has been the custom for Queens to impale their paternal arms with the British royal arms, but I think that they were not normally made up into a banner until the right to fly the Royal Standard was withdrawn from consorts in about 1907.
David Prothero, 27 April 2002

Her family name is Bowes-Lyon, and the lions in the 1st & 4th quarters are for the Lyon family, obviously based on the Scottish arms, and the 2nd and 3rd quarters are ermine, with 3 bows (palewise) for Bowes. I believe the heraldic tradition is that the father's arms are placed in the first quarter, but Scottish / British tradition for hyphenated names puts the mother's name first. Of course this was not the Queen Mum's father and mother, but some ancestors along the line.
Dean McGee, 6 April 2002

The blue lion rampant and double-tressure on white are the arms of the Lyon family. I believe the double-tressure was granted to Sir John Lyon (1340 - 1382), Thane of Glamis by Robert II, whose daughter, Princess Joanna, John married, the blue lion being the family's original arms. In Scotland the double-tressure indicates a close connection with the King, no one else may be granted it. My great-great-great grandmother was a member of the Lyon family, and all the great families of Angus are related by marriage. For example the Lyons are related through marriage to the Grahams (Dukes of Montrose), the Keiths (Earls Marischal), the Grays (Barons Gray) and the Scrymgeours (Earls of Dundee).

In 1767, John Lyon, 10th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, married Mary Eleanor Bowes, daughter and heiress of George Bowes of Streatlam Castle and Gibside, Durham. Part of the marriage settlement was that John should adopt a new surname, Bowes Lyon, and that his children would bear the quartered arms (I believe he himself bore both arms per pale as normal for a husband and wife). The arms of the Bowes family are ermine, three bows proper per pale. Hence the Queen Mother's arms, she was the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

The Queen Mother had a Scottish version of her standard with the Scottish quartering of the Royal Arms.
Graham Bartram, 20 October 2004

Scottish Standard

[Elizabeth, Queen Mother's flag in Scotland] image by Martin Grieve, 24 April 2007
based on Graham Bartram's image from: World Flag Database

Scottish version Royal Standard and quartered Bowes-Lyon Standard impaled.
Latter is Scotland, blue on white, 1 and 4, and three long-bows proper on an ermine field, 2 and 3.

When Albert, Duke of York, became King George VI, his wife became Queen Elizabeth. She was granted a Standard in which the Royal Standard and her personal Standard as Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon were impaled.

Illustrations of this Standard in Flaggenbuch, 1939, and Campbell & Evans' "Book of Flags" all editions, have a Gaelic harp. When revisions to the Royal Standard were being discussed in 1956 this was said to be incorrect. After 1952 Queen Elizabeth was known as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
David Prothero, 24 April 2007

Display after her death

After her death, the Queen Mother's flag was flown at half staff over her residence, Clarence House, until her body was moved from the chapel Royal to the great hall at Westminster. Then her standard was lowered for the last time as the cortege passed by her residence.
Manuel L. Quezon III, 15 April 2002

I understand that Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother's standard now is permanently on display in the Castle of Mey, in northern Scotland, over which it used to fly when she was in residence. A version of her standard is also in Clarence House on The Mall, her former London residence and now the London residence and office of Prince Charles, her grandson and his two sons. It is situated in the hallway on the ground floor at the end furthest from the door, to the right of the stairs. It is not usually open to the public, but might well be on special occasions in future.
    This banner used to hang above her stall in St George's Chapel, Windsor (Castle) and I believe from my hazy two year old memory that, because of this, it must be of a different (squarer) proportions to that used for the standard which is in Scotland and that which was used to cover her coffin. I also seem to remember it was fringed, as seems to be confirmed by the excellent photographs of the banners of the present day Knights of the Order here. (The banner of the Royal Standard above The Queen's stall is also of different proportion to that used on buildings.)
    These banners, together with the sword and helmet for Knights of the Garter and crown or coronet for women appointed to the order, are removed upon the death of the person concerned. The banners of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (together with their helmets and swords) can be seen in their mausoleum at Frogmore House, Windsor, hanging high up in the ceiling, either side of their tombs. Frogmore is usually only open on the May and August UK bank holidays.
Colin Dobson, 18 October 2004