If you’re not one of the billion+ dollars worth of people that have seeen Skyfall at this point, then I’d suggest stepping out before a fairly major event in the film is inadvertantly spoiled. I’d also implore you to get on it, as it’s a damn fine entry in the series.
In any event, the moment above is a key emotional payoff in the film, in which a surviving James Bond is presented with a gift on behalf of his departed boss. Inside is a Royal Dalton Bulldog, which Bond gives M shit about earlier in the film (and you can buy from us!). Well apparently ComingSoon.com got a closer look at the embroidered box in which the bulldog sits during a meeting with the film’s prop masters. Turns out someone in the prop department included an interesting detail…
As we looked at the porcelain bulldog M bequeaths Bond, the archive assistant read the inscription on the box it is presented to him in – “Olivia Mansfield bequeaths James Bond.” We’ve searched around, and as far as we can see this is the first and only time anyone’s ever revealed M’s ‘real name.’
Now the Dench-esque M character from the books did have a name, Barbara Mawdsley, which appeared in an official Bond novel from author Raymond Benson. That was often assumed to be the name of M in the Brosnan films, though I also can’t find evidence that it was ever included in any specific or official way. It’s also unclear who exactly came up with M’s name, and if they ran that by anyone who would theoretically make such a decision. Still, it’s been on screen, so canon it may be considered.
Naturally the Bondinuity enthusiasts will have a blast working this into their pet theories concerning whether or not the Craig films are a reboot, sequels, meta-prequels, proof of Bond as a code name, etc. and all the more power to them.
I’d encourage you to check out the ComingSoon report, as it has lots of interesting bits about Skyfall props and the detail going into them, such as the field readiness report (seen to the right) that a section of the film revolves around.