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Tuesday, August 4, 1998 Published at 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK


Grace under pressure

The Queen Mother has been a symbol of grace

The Queen Mother has lived through remarkable upheavals, both in the world and in her private life.

Two world wars, the death of her husband, the disappointment of failed marriages among younger royals, two hip replacements and a cataract operation have tested her courage.

Yet the Queen Mother has been a symbol of grace, strength and continuity in an age of upheaval.

[ image: The Queen Mother on walkabout]
The Queen Mother on walkabout
And as she edges closer to her 100th birthday, the Queen Mother seems as bright as a button

Those who meet her are struck by her interest in people, and her energy and zest for life.

The Queen Mother and husband Bertie - then the Duke and Duchess of York - were propelled into sovereignty as George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1936 after King Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson.

Together they healed the wounds caused by the traumatic events and reshaped the monarchy into a force to help Britain through the World War II and the Blitz.

Queen Mother rebuilt her life

[ image: Smiling outside hospital after the last operation]
Smiling outside hospital after the last operation
In 1952 George VI died, after 29 years of marriage.

After a prolonged period of mourning, the Queen Mother rebuilt her life and became the cornerstone of the royal family. Younger royals still turn to her for advice.

The Queen Mother's 98th year has been an eventful one.

She offered comfort and support to her great-grandchildren Prince William and Prince Harry when their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash in Paris.

She mourned with the nation at Diana's Westminster Abbey funeral service.

[ image: Still Britain's favourite]
Still Britain's favourite
In happier times, last November, the Queen Mother was at the heart of her family for the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's 50th wedding anniversary in the Abbey.

Horse racing is one of her great passions and in January, while at Sandringham Stud, in Norfolk, she fell and fractured her left hip.

A second hip replacement operation followed - her right hip had already been replaced.

But it was not long before the Queen Mother was back on her feet, on a royal walkabout.

Arthur Edwards: She always knows where the photographers are and gives them a fantastic wave
The Sun newspaper photographer Arthur Edwards said he has the highest respect for the Queen Mother - even to the extent of putting his camera down if she requests it.

He told the BBC: "She has been great to us, but we consider her age and if she does not want a picture taken, we don't take it."

He added: "She is approaching 100 years old and she still looks good. She's tremendous."

As the royal family accelerates its programme of modernisation, the Queen Mother - at 98 - is still engaged in the life of the nation and remains Britain's favourite royal.

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