THE last queen consort to be crowned before Queen Camilla was Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother – the King’s beloved grandmother – nearly 90 years ago.

A constitutional crisis over Edward VIII’s love for American divorcee Wallis Simpson and his subsequent abdication propelled the former Duchess of York into the role of Queen at George VI’s side in 1936.

She went on to rebuild the monarchy from the ruins of the scandal and became the cornerstone of the House of Windsor, supporting her shy husband who never desired, nor expected, to be king.

As a dowager royal matriarch she was embraced as a much-loved great-grandmother to the nation.

Born on August 4, 1900, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – daughter of the Earl of Strathmore – had especially close connections to Teesdale where her family had, for six centuries, owned Streatlam Castle on the eastern outskirts of Barnard Castle. Elizabeth had fond memories of holidaying there as a youngster as it was the home of her eldest brother, Patrick. However, the family finances forced its sale in 1922 – those finances cannot have been helped by her impending expensive marriage to Prince Albert, or 'Bertie', the Duke of York.

Although Elizabeth twice rejected his proposals over concern about the restrictions that came with royal life, the couple married in 1923, and in 1937 she was crowned alongside George VI in Westminster Abbey.

They were watched by their daughters 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth, who would eventually become a queen regnant as Elizabeth II, and six-year-old Princess Margaret.

A new crown, now known as the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Crown, was made for the occasion and set with 2,800 diamonds, a purple velvet cap and ermine band. The front cross holds the controversial Koh-i-noor diamond, which was seized by the East India Company and given to Queen Victoria in the 1840s.

During the Second World War’s Blitz, the King and Queen remained in the capital and were seen as sharing in the country’s wartime hardships when Buckingham Palace was bombed.

The Queen Mother admitted she was glad the royal palace was attacked so she “could look the East End in the face”.

Charismatic and determined, the diminutive royal, widowed at the age of just 51, became known for her warmth, optimism and sense of royal duty – but she never forgave the Duke of Windsor, the former king, and his wife the Duchess, claiming the strain of the abdication contributed to her husband’s early death.

The Queen Mother was close to her daughter Elizabeth II, with the late Queen indulging her mother and financing her no-tomorrow spending habits.

They shared a passion for everything equestrian and enjoyed talking about the turf.

The Queen Mother – the longest lived queen consort in history – died at the age of 101 on March 30, 2002, her daughter’s Golden Jubilee year.

Charles said in tribute on one of her many birthdays: “Her greatest gift is to enhance life for others through her effervescent enthusiasm for life".

“She has always been one of those extraordinary people whose touch can turn everything to gold – whether it be putting people at their ease, turning something dull into something amusing, bringing happiness and comfort to people, or making any house she lives in a unique haven of cosiness and character,” he added.

The King was incredibly close to his grandmother, and the Queen Mother, in turn, was devoted to him.

She offered support and encouragement to the sensitive young prince whose mother was often busy with state duties or away on lengthy royal tours, and the pair forged a strong, enduring bond.

She remained closely attached to Teesdale, too, and especially the Bowes Museum which had been founded by her great-grandfather's brother's illegitimate son, John Bowes. She helped when it faced severe financial difficulties in 1956 and remained in close touch throughout her long life.

The Queen Consorts of Britain

1727: Queen Caroline, wife of King George II

1761: Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III

1821: Queen Caroline, wife of King George IV

Caroline officially became the queen consort in 1820 when her husband acceded to the throne, but they were estranged. She was very popular with the people, and refused her husband a divorce. He banned her from his coronation, so she was never crowned, and she died three weeks later

1831: Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV

1902: Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII

1911: Queen Mary, wife of King George V

1937: Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI