Cecilia Bowes-Lyon Countess Of Strathmore And Kinghorne

We take a closer look at the life of the Queen’s grandmother, Cecilia Bowes-Lyon Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

When thinking of famous royals, especially in this day and age, the name ‘Elizabeth’ often springs to mind.

Of course, the current Queen of England is HRH Queen Elizabeth II, yet it isn’t she whom we’re talking about today. It is, however, her maternal grandmother, the mother of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Cecilia Bowes-Lyon Countess of Strathmore, and Kinghorne.

Early life

Cecilia was born in Belgravia, Westminster on the 11th of September, 1862.

Her father was Rev. Charles Cavendish-Bentinck, the grandson of British Prime Minister William Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland. Her mother was Louisa.

She was a happy and inquisitive young child, who also happened to be very bright.

In 1881, on the 16th of July, she married Claude Bowes-Lyon, Lord Glamis. The ceremony was held at Petersham, Surrey. Together, they had 10 children in total.

Her husband Claude inherited his father’s title of Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne in 1904, and as a result, Cecilia by default became known as Cecilia Bowes-Lyon Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

Their estates were vast, consisting of two grand houses: St Paul’s Walden Bury, and Glamis Castle, as well as acres upon acres of land that they sat upon.

Who was the real Cecilia Bowes-Lyon Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne?

Cecilia Bowes-Lyon Countess Of Strathmore And Kinghorne
Portrait by Philip de László, 1931

Cecilia Bowes-Lyon Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne was a very sociable and friendly hostess who would often have friends and family around for parties and shindigs. She was also a very talented musician who played the piano exceptionally well. She would often tinkle the ivories at her parties, much to her guest’s delight.

Cecilia was also a very practical woman who was very houseproud and took great pride in keeping her properties immaculate, as well as the land they sat upon. In fact, she was responsible for designing the Italian garden located at Glamis Castle.

In her spare time, she liked to relax by herself and her family, and would often read, embroider, and spend time in her gardens. She was also very religious and dedicated a lot of her time to her religion.

Testing times

During the First World War, Glamis Castle was used as a hospital for the wounded who were recovering.

Cecilia was very hands-on and was very involved here and would often tend to the wounded until she herself became ill. Sadly, she developed cancer and became an invalid. In 1921, she had a hysterectomy, and by 1922 she was recovering well.

By 1923 she was fully recovered and celebrated the engagement of her youngest daughter Elizabeth, to the son of the king, Prince Albert, the Duke of York.

At the coronation, Cecilia and her husband were actually seated in the royal box, along with members of the immediate royal family.


Cecilia Bowes-Lyon Countess Of Strathmore And Kinghorne
Cecilia from wedding portrait of Duke and Duchess of York

Unfortunately, in April 1938, during the wedding of her granddaughter, Cecilia Bowes-Lyon Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, she suffered a heart attack and passed away 8 weeks later aged 75. She outlived 4 out of her 10 children and was buried at Glamis Castle on the 27th of June 1938.