In 2002 The Queen Mother passed away at the age of 102. The Royal Australian Mint commemorated her extraordinary life with the release of this silver proof five dollar piece. The reverse was designed by Stuart Devlin and features a depiction of a young Queen Mother surrounded by a floral wreath with the legend "THE QUEEN MOTHER 1900 - 2002." The obverse houses the Ian Rank-Broadley portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II with the legend "ELIZABETH II AUSTRALIA 2002" and the denomination "5 DOLLARS."
The Queen Mother was born on the 4th August 1900 as Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon. She was born into British nobility and in 1923 became the wife of Prince Albert, Duke of York who was the second son of the King at that time, King George V and his wife, Queen Mary. The couple had been married for over 10 years before somewhat unexpectedly becoming King and Queen, when his brother Edward VIII decided to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson and therefore abdicate the throne. King George VII and the Queen Mother quickly took to their new roles promoting concepts of traditional family and public service. The couple had two daughters, Princess Elizabeth (the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret. The whole family quickly became public figures and just like the Queen Mother and of course Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret is also honoured in her own coin included within this Masterpieces in Silver The Royal Ladies collection.
The Queen Mother's friendliness and personable nature that was consistently displayed during her regular public engagements won her the endearing title of the Smiling Duchess. Another description of the Queen Mother came from Adolf Hitler who called her "the most dangerous woman in Europe." This was likely as a result of her natural ability to raise morale amongst the British public and her image as an asset to Britain. It wasn't long after the war that the health of her husband King George VI deteriorated leading to his death. In 1952, the Queen aged 27 took up the position that she holds to this day as Queen Elizabeth II whilst the 51 year old widow became known as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in order to give the names of the two women some distinction. The death of the King, her beloved husband devastated the Queen Mother and she made the decision to retire from her public duties and to live in Scotland. It was a visit by then Prime Minister Winston Churchill that encouraged her to return to the public eye and her regular duties. The Queen Mother remained incredibly active until just months before her death and was a hugely popular member of the royal family throughout her life. She died at the age of 101 in 2002 after outliving her youngest daughter Princess Margaret by seven weeks. Her other daughter Queen Elizabeth II was at her bedside as she died in her sleep. On the day of her funeral, memorial services took place around the world including at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney. The Queen Mother was laid to rest beside her husband and youngest daughter in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
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