Emperor of India, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, King George V of the United Kingdom, King George VI of the United Kingdom, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Queen Mary, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, The Duke of Windsor, The Princess Elizabeth
George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death in 1952. He was concurrently the last Emperor of India until August 1947, when the British Raj was dissolved.
The future George VI was born at York Cottage, on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, during the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria. His father was Prince George, Duke of York (later King George V), the second and only surviving son of the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra).
His mother, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, the Duchess of York (later Queen Mary), was the eldest child and only daughter of Francis, Duke of Teck, and Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, Duchess of Teck.
His Maternal grandmother, Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, was the daughter of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, and Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel.
Prince Adolphus was the seventh son of King George III and Queen Charlotte.
His birthday, December 14, 1895, was the 34th anniversary of the death of his great-grandfather Albert, Prince Consort. Uncertain of how the Prince Consort’s widow, Queen Victoria, would take the news of the birth, the Prince of Wales wrote to the Duke of York that the Queen had been “rather distressed”. Two days later, he wrote again: “I really think it would gratify her if you yourself proposed the name Albert to her.”
The Queen was mollified by the proposal to name the new baby Albert, and wrote to the Duchess of York: “I am all impatience to see the new one, born on such a sad day but rather more dear to me, especially as he will be called by that dear name which is a byword for all that is great and good.”
Consequently, he was baptised “Albert Frederick Arthur George” at St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham on February 17, 1896. Formally he was His Highness Prince Albert of York; within the family he was known informally as “Bertie”. The Duchess of Teck did not like the first name her grandson had been given, and she wrote prophetically that she hoped the last name “may supplant the less favoured one”. Albert was fourth in line to the throne at birth, after his grandfather, father and elder brother, Edward.
Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901, and the Prince of Wales succeeded her as King Edward VII. Prince Albert moved up to third in line to the throne, after his father and elder brother.
King Edward VII reigned for 9 years and died on May 6, 1910. Prince Albert’s father ascended the throne as George V. As the second son of the king, Albert was not expected to inherit the throne. He spent his early life in the shadow of his elder brother, Prince Edward, the heir apparent.
Albert attended naval college as a teenager and served in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force during the First World War. In 1920, he was made Duke of York. He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. In the mid-1920s, he engaged speech therapist Lionel Logue to treat his stammer, which he learned to manage to some degree.
His elder brother ascended the throne as Edward VIII after their father died in 1936, but Edward abdicated later that year to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. As heir presumptive to Edward VIII, Albert thereby became the third monarch of the House of Windsor, taking the regnal name George VI.
In September 1939, the British Empire and most Commonwealth countries—but not Ireland—declared war on Nazi Germany. War with the Kingdom of Italy and the Empire of Japan followed in 1940 and 1941, respectively.
George VI was seen as sharing the hardships of the common people and his popularity soared. Buckingham Palace was bombed during the Blitz while the King and Queen were there, and his younger brother, Prince George, the Duke of Kent was killed on active service.
King George VI became known as a symbol of British determination to win the war. Britain and its allies were victorious in 1945, but the British Empire declined. Ireland had largely broken away, followed by the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. George relinquished the title of Emperor of India in June 1948 and instead adopted the new title of Head of the Commonwealth.
He was beset by smoking-related health problems in the later years of his reign and died of a coronary thrombosis in 1952. He was succeeded by his elder daughter, Queen Elizabeth II.