Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1900–2002)
While Victoria was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch (until Elizabeth II), the longest-lived queen was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (better known as the Queen Mother), who was 101 when she died in 2002.
Her husband, George VI, became king unexpectedly in 1936 following the abdication of his elder brother, Edward VIII. The couple proved a successful team, with Elizabeth coming into her own during the Second World War. Hitler is supposed to have called her the most dangerous woman in Europe and, from the outset, she strove to improve British morale. She refused to allow her two daughters to be evacuated, while declaring that she could “now look the East End in the face” when Buckingham Palace was bombed.
Elizabeth spent half a century as Queen Mother after her husband’s death in 1952, during which time she was arguably the most popular member of the royal family.