Born during the reign of his grandmother Queen Victoria, George was third in the line of succession behind his father, Prince Albert Edward, and his own elder brother, Prince Albert Victor. From 1877 to 1891, George served in the Royal Navy, until the unexpected death of his elder brother in early 1892 put him directly in line for the throne. On the death of his grandmother in 1901, George's father ascended the throne as Edward VII, and George was created Prince of Wales. He became king-emperor on his father's death in 1910.
George V's reign saw the rise of socialism, communism, fascism, Irish republicanism, and the Indian independence movement, all of which radically changed the political landscape. The Parliament Act 1911 established the supremacy of the elected British House of Commons over the unelected House of Lords. As a result of the First World War (1914–1918), the empires of his first cousins Nicholas II of Russia and Wilhelm II of Germany fell, while the British Empire expanded to its greatest effective extent. In 1917, George became the first monarch of the House of Windsor, which he renamed from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as a result of anti-German public sentiment. In 1924 he appointed the first Labour ministry and in 1931 the Statute of Westminster recognised the dominions of the Empire as separate, independent states within the Commonwealth of Nations. He had smoking-related health problems throughout much of his later reign and at his death was succeeded by his eldest son, Edward VIII.
George V in 1923
|King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, Emperor of India |
|Reign||6 May 1910 – 20 January 1936|
|Coronation||22 June 1911|
|Imperial Durbar||12 December 1911|
|Prime Ministers||See list|
|Born||3 June 1865|
Marlborough House, London
|Died||20 January 1936 (aged 70)|
Sandringham House, Norfolk
|Burial||28 January 1936|
Mary of Teck (m. 1893)
|Mother||Alexandra of Denmark|
|Service/|| Royal Navy|
|Years of service||1877–1892|
George was born on 3 June 1865, in Marlborough House, London. He was the second son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and Alexandra, Princess of Wales. His father was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and his mother was the eldest daughter of King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark. He was baptised at Windsor Castle on 7 July 1865 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Longley.
As a younger son of the Prince of Wales, there was little expectation that George would become king. He was third in line to the throne, after his father and elder brother, Prince Albert Victor. George was only 17 months younger than Albert Victor, and the two princes were educated together. John Neale Dalton was appointed as their tutor in 1871. Neither Albert Victor nor George excelled intellectually. As their father thought that the navy was "the very best possible training for any boy", in September 1877, when George was 12 years old, both brothers joined the cadet training ship HMS Britannia at Dartmouth, Devon.
For three years from 1879, the royal brothers served on HMS Bacchante, accompanied by Dalton. They toured the colonies of the British Empire in the Caribbean, South Africa and Australia, and visited Norfolk, Virginia, as well as South America, the Mediterranean, Egypt, and East Asia. In 1881 on a visit to Japan, George had a local artist tattoo a blue and red dragon on his arm, and was received in an audience by the Emperor Meiji; George and his brother presented Empress Haruko with two wallabies from Australia. Dalton wrote an account of their journey entitled The Cruise of HMS Bacchante. Between Melbourne and Sydney, Dalton recorded a sighting of the Flying Dutchman, a mythical ghost ship. When they returned to Britain, Queen Victoria complained that her grandsons could not speak French or German, and so they spent six months in Lausanne in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to learn another language. After Lausanne, the brothers were separated; Albert Victor attended Trinity College, Cambridge, while George continued in the Royal Navy. He travelled the world, visiting many areas of the British Empire. During his naval career he commanded Torpedo Boat 79 in home waters then HMS Thrush on the North America station, before his last active service in command of HMS Melampus in 1891–92. From then on, his naval rank was largely honorary.
As a young man destined to serve in the navy, Prince George served for many years under the command of his uncle, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, who was stationed in Malta. There, he grew close to and fell in love with his cousin, Princess Marie. His grandmother, father and uncle all approved the match, but the mothers—the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Edinburgh—opposed it. The Princess of Wales thought the family was too pro-German, and the Duchess of Edinburgh disliked England. Marie's mother was the only daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. She resented the fact that, as the wife of a younger son of the British sovereign, she had to yield precedence to George's mother, the Princess of Wales, whose father had been a minor German prince before being called unexpectedly to the throne of Denmark. Guided by her mother, Marie refused George when he proposed to her. She married Ferdinand, the future King of Romania, in 1893.
In November 1891, George's elder brother, Albert Victor, became engaged to his second cousin once removed, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, known as "May" within the family. May's father, Prince Francis, Duke of Teck, belonged to a morganatic, cadet branch of the house of Württemberg. Her mother, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, was a male-line granddaughter of King George III and a first cousin of Queen Victoria.
On 14 January 1892, six weeks after the formal engagement, Albert Victor died of pneumonia, leaving George second in line to the throne, and likely to succeed after his father. George had only just recovered from a serious illness himself, after being confined to bed for six weeks with typhoid fever, the disease that was thought to have killed his grandfather Prince Albert. Queen Victoria still regarded Princess May as a suitable match for her grandson, and George and May grew close during their shared period of mourning. A year after Albert Victor's death, George proposed to May and was accepted. They married on 6 July 1893 at the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, London. Throughout their lives, they remained devoted to each other. George was, on his own admission, unable to express his feelings easily in speech, but they often exchanged loving letters and notes of endearment.
The death of his elder brother effectively ended George's naval career, as he was now second in line to the throne, after his father. George was created Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killarney by Queen Victoria on 24 May 1892, and received lessons in constitutional history from J. R. Tanner.
The Duke and Duchess of York lived mainly at York Cottage, a relatively small house in Sandringham, Norfolk, where their way of life mirrored that of a comfortable middle-class family rather than royalty. George preferred a simple, almost quiet, life, in marked contrast to the lively social life pursued by his father. His official biographer, Harold Nicolson, later despaired of George's time as Duke of York, writing: "He may be all right as a young midshipman and a wise old king, but when he was Duke of York ... he did nothing at all but kill [i.e. shoot] animals and stick in stamps." George was an avid stamp collector, which Nicolson disparaged, but George played a large role in building the Royal Philatelic Collection into the most comprehensive collection of United Kingdom and Commonwealth stamps in the world, in some cases setting record purchase prices for items.
George and May had five sons and a daughter. Randolph Churchill claimed that George was a strict father, to the extent that his children were terrified of him, and that George had remarked to the Earl of Derby: "My father was frightened of his mother, I was frightened of my father, and I am damned well going to see to it that my children are frightened of me." In reality, there is no direct source for the quotation and it is likely that George's parenting style was little different from that adopted by most people at the time. Whether this was the case or not, George's children did seem to resent his strict nature, Prince Henry going as far as to describe him as a "terrible father" in later years.
In October 1894, George's uncle Alexander III of Russia died. At the request of his father, "out of respect for poor dear Uncle Sasha's memory", George joined his parents in St Petersburg for the funeral. George remained in Russia for the wedding a week later of the new Russian emperor, his cousin Nicholas II, to another one of George's first cousins, Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, who had once been considered as a potential bride for George's elder brother.
As Duke and Duchess of York, George and May carried out a wide variety of public duties. On the death of Queen Victoria on 22 January 1901, George's father ascended the throne as King Edward VII. George inherited the title of Duke of Cornwall, and for much of the rest of that year, he was known as the Duke of Cornwall and York.
In 1901, George and May toured the British Empire. Their tour included Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Aden, Ceylon, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius, South Africa, Canada, and the Colony of Newfoundland. The tour was designed by Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain with the support of Prime Minister Lord Salisbury to reward the Dominions for their participation in the South African War of 1899–1902. George presented thousands of specially designed South African War medals to colonial troops. In South Africa, the royal party met civic leaders, African leaders, and Boer prisoners, and was greeted by elaborate decorations, expensive gifts, and fireworks displays. Despite this, not all residents responded favourably to the tour. Many white Cape Afrikaners resented the display and expense, the war having weakened their capacity to reconcile their Afrikaner-Dutch culture with their status as British subjects. Critics in the English-language press decried the enormous cost at a time when families faced severe hardship.
In Australia, the Duke opened the first session of the Australian Parliament upon the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia. In New Zealand, he praised the military values, bravery, loyalty, and obedience to duty of New Zealanders, and the tour gave New Zealand a chance to show off its progress, especially in its adoption of up-to-date British standards in communications and the processing industries. The implicit goal was to advertise New Zealand's attractiveness to tourists and potential immigrants, while avoiding news of growing social tensions, by focusing the attention of the British press on a land few knew about. On his return to Britain, in a speech at London's Guildhall, George warned of "the impression which seemed to prevail among [our] brethren across the seas, that the Old Country must wake up if she intends to maintain her old position of pre-eminence in her colonial trade against foreign competitors."
On 9 November 1901, George was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. King Edward wished to prepare his son for his future role as king. In contrast to Edward himself, whom Queen Victoria had deliberately excluded from state affairs, George was given wide access to state documents by his father. George in turn allowed his wife access to his papers, as he valued her counsel and she often helped write her husband's speeches. As Prince of Wales, George supported reforms in naval training, including cadets being enrolled at the ages of twelve and thirteen, and receiving the same education, whatever their class and eventual assignments. The reforms were implemented by the then Second (later First) Sea Lord, Jacky Fisher.
From November 1905 to March 1906, George and May toured British India, where he was disgusted by racial discrimination and campaigned for greater involvement of Indians in the government of the country. The tour was almost immediately followed by a trip to Spain for the wedding of King Alfonso XIII to Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, a first cousin of George, at which the bride and groom narrowly avoided assassination. A week after returning to Britain, George and May travelled to Norway for the coronation of King Haakon VII, George's cousin and brother-in-law, and Queen Maud, George's sister.
On 6 May 1910, Edward VII died, and George became king. He wrote in his diary,
I have lost my best friend and the best of fathers ... I never had a [cross] word with him in my life. I am heart-broken and overwhelmed with grief but God will help me in my responsibilities and darling May will be my comfort as she has always been. May God give me strength and guidance in the heavy task which has fallen on me
George had never liked his wife's habit of signing official documents and letters as "Victoria Mary" and insisted she drop one of those names. They both thought she should not be called Queen Victoria, and so she became Queen Mary. Later that year, a radical propagandist, Edward Mylius, published a lie that George had secretly married in Malta as a young man, and that consequently his marriage to Queen Mary was bigamous. The lie had first surfaced in print in 1893, but George had shrugged it off as a joke. In an effort to kill off rumours, Mylius was arrested, tried and found guilty of criminal libel, and was sentenced to a year in prison.
George objected to the anti-Catholic wording of the Accession Declaration that he would be required to make at the opening of his first parliament. He made it known that he would refuse to open parliament unless it was changed. As a result, the Accession Declaration Act 1910 shortened the declaration and removed the most offensive phrases.
George and Mary's coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911, and was celebrated by the Festival of Empire in London. In July, the King and Queen visited Ireland for five days; they received a warm welcome, with thousands of people lining the route of their procession to cheer. Later in 1911, the King and Queen travelled to India for the Delhi Durbar, where they were presented to an assembled audience of Indian dignitaries and princes as the Emperor and Empress of India on 12 December 1911. George wore the newly created Imperial Crown of India at the ceremony, and declared the shifting of the Indian capital from Calcutta to Delhi. He was the only Emperor of India to be present at his own Delhi Durbar. They travelled throughout the sub-continent, and George took the opportunity to indulge in big game hunting in Nepal, shooting 21 tigers, 8 rhinoceroses and a bear over 10 days. He was a keen and expert marksman. On 18 December 1913, he shot over a thousand pheasants in six hours at Hall Barn, the home of Lord Burnham, although even George had to acknowledge that "we went a little too far" that day.
George inherited the throne at a politically turbulent time. Lloyd George's People's Budget had been rejected the previous year by the Conservative and Unionist-dominated House of Lords, contrary to the normal convention that the Lords did not veto money bills. Liberal Prime Minister H. H. Asquith had asked the previous king to give an undertaking that he would create sufficient Liberal peers to force the budget through the House. Edward had reluctantly agreed, provided the Lords rejected the budget after two successive general elections. After a general election in January 1910, the Conservative peers allowed the budget, for which the government now had an electoral mandate, to pass without a vote.
Asquith attempted to curtail the power of the Lords through constitutional reforms, which were again blocked by the Upper House. A constitutional conference on the reforms broke down in November 1910 after 21 meetings. Asquith and Lord Crewe, Liberal leader in the Lords, asked George to grant a dissolution, leading to a second general election, and to promise to create sufficient Liberal peers if the Lords blocked the legislation again. If George refused, the Liberal government would otherwise resign, which would have given the appearance that the monarch was taking sides—with "the peers against the people"—in party politics. The King's two private secretaries, Lords Knollys and Stamfordham, gave George conflicting advice. Knollys, who was Liberal, advised George to accept the Cabinet's demands, while Stamfordham, who was Unionist, advised George to accept the resignation. Like his father, George reluctantly agreed to the dissolution and creation of peers, although he felt his ministers had taken advantage of his inexperience to browbeat him. After the December 1910 election, the Lords let the bill pass on hearing of the threat to swamp the house with new peers. The subsequent Parliament Act 1911 permanently removed—with a few exceptions—the power of the Lords to veto bills. The King later came to feel that Knollys had withheld information from him about the willingness of the opposition to form a government if the Liberals had resigned.
The 1910 general elections had left the Liberals as a minority government dependent upon the support of Irish Nationalists. As desired by the Nationalists, Asquith introduced legislation that would give Ireland Home Rule, but the Conservatives and Unionists opposed it. As tempers rose over the Home Rule Bill, which would never have been possible without the Parliament Act, relations between the elderly Knollys and the Conservatives became poor, and he was pushed into retirement. Desperate to avoid the prospect of civil war in Ireland between Unionists and Nationalists, George called a meeting of all parties at Buckingham Palace in July 1914 in an attempt to negotiate a settlement. After four days the conference ended without an agreement. Political developments in Britain and Ireland were overtaken by events in Europe, and the issue of Irish Home Rule was shelved.
On 4 August 1914 the King wrote in his diary, "I held a council at 10.45 to declare war with Germany. It is a terrible catastrophe but it is not our fault. ... Please to God it may soon be over." From 1914 to 1918, Britain and its allies were at war with the Central Powers, led by the German Empire. The German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who for the British public came to symbolise all the horrors of the war, was the King's first cousin. The King's paternal grandfather was Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; consequently, the King and his children bore the titles Prince and Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duke and Duchess of Saxony. Queen Mary, although British like her mother, was the daughter of the Duke of Teck, a descendant of the German Dukes of Württemberg. The King had brothers-in-law and cousins who were British subjects but who bore German titles such as Duke and Duchess of Teck, Prince and Princess of Battenberg, and Prince and Princess of Schleswig-Holstein. When H. G. Wells wrote about Britain's "alien and uninspiring court", George famously replied: "I may be uninspiring, but I'll be damned if I'm alien."
On 17 July 1917, George appeased British nationalist feelings by issuing a royal proclamation that changed the name of the British royal house from the German-sounding House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor. He and all his British relatives relinquished their German titles and styles, and adopted British-sounding surnames. George compensated his male relatives by creating them British peers. His cousin, Prince Louis of Battenberg, who earlier in the war had been forced to resign as First Sea Lord through anti-German feeling, became Louis Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, while Queen Mary's brothers became Adolphus Cambridge, 1st Marquess of Cambridge, and Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone.
In letters patent gazetted on 11 December 1917 the King restricted the style of "Royal Highness" and the titular dignity of "Prince (or Princess) of Great Britain and Ireland" to the children of the Sovereign, the children of the sons of the Sovereign and the eldest living son of the eldest living son of a Prince of Wales. The letters patent also stated that "the titles of Royal Highness, Highness or Serene Highness, and the titular dignity of Prince and Princess shall cease except those titles already granted and remaining unrevoked". George's relatives who fought on the German side, such as Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover, and Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, had their British peerages suspended by a 1919 Order in Council under the provisions of the Titles Deprivation Act 1917. Under pressure from his mother, Queen Alexandra, the King also removed the Garter flags of his German relations from St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
When Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, George's first cousin, was overthrown in the Russian Revolution of 1917, the British government offered political asylum to the Tsar and his family, but worsening conditions for the British people, and fears that revolution might come to the British Isles, led George to think that the presence of the Romanovs would be seen as inappropriate. Despite the later claims of Lord Mountbatten of Burma that Prime Minister Lloyd George was opposed to the rescue of the Russian imperial family, the letters of Lord Stamfordham suggest that it was George V who opposed the idea against the advice of the government. Advance planning for a rescue was undertaken by MI1, a branch of the British secret service, but because of the strengthening position of the Bolshevik revolutionaries and wider difficulties with the conduct of the war, the plan was never put into operation. The Tsar and his immediate family remained in Russia, where they were killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. George wrote in his diary: "It was a foul murder. I was devoted to Nicky, who was the kindest of men and thorough gentleman: loved his country and people." The following year, Nicholas's mother Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark) and other members of the extended Russian imperial family were rescued from Crimea by a British warship.
Two months after the end of the war, the King's youngest son, John, died at the age of 13 after a lifetime of ill health. George was informed of his death by Queen Mary, who wrote, "[John] had been a great anxiety to us for many years ... The first break in the family circle is hard to bear but people have been so kind & sympathetic & this has helped us much."
In May 1922, the King toured Belgium and northern France, visiting the First World War cemeteries and memorials being constructed by the Imperial War Graves Commission. The event was described in a poem, The King's Pilgrimage by Rudyard Kipling. The tour, and one short visit to Italy in 1923, were the only times George agreed to leave the United Kingdom on official business after the end of the war.
Before the First World War, most of Europe was ruled by monarchs related to George, but during and after the war, the monarchies of Austria, Germany, Greece, and Spain, like Russia, fell to revolution and war. In March 1919, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lisle Strutt was dispatched on the personal authority of the King to escort the former Emperor Charles I of Austria and his family to safety in Switzerland. In 1922, a Royal Navy ship was sent to Greece to rescue his cousins, Prince and Princess Andrew.
Political turmoil in Ireland continued as the Nationalists fought for independence; George expressed his horror at government-sanctioned killings and reprisals to Prime Minister David Lloyd George. At the opening session of the Parliament of Northern Ireland on 22 June 1921, the King appealed for conciliation in a speech part drafted by General Jan Smuts and approved by Lloyd George. A few weeks later, a truce was agreed. Negotiations between Britain and the Irish secessionists led to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. By the end of 1922, Ireland was partitioned, the Irish Free State was established, and Lloyd George was out of office.
The King and his advisers were concerned about the rise of socialism and the growing labour movement, which they mistakenly associated with republicanism. The socialists no longer believed in their anti-monarchical slogans and were ready to come to terms with the monarchy if it took the first step. George adopted a more democratic, inclusive stance that crossed class lines and brought the monarchy closer to the public and the working class—a dramatic change for the King, who was most comfortable with naval officers and landed gentry. He cultivated friendly relations with moderate Labour party politicians and trade union officials. His abandonment of social aloofness conditioned the royal family's behaviour and enhanced its popularity during the economic crises of the 1920s and for over two generations thereafter.
The years between 1922 and 1929 saw frequent changes in government. In 1924, George appointed the first Labour Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, in the absence of a clear majority for any one of the three major parties. George's tactful and understanding reception of the first Labour government (which lasted less than a year) allayed the suspicions of the party's sympathisers. During the General Strike of 1926 the King advised the government of Conservative Stanley Baldwin against taking inflammatory action, and took exception to suggestions that the strikers were "revolutionaries" saying, "Try living on their wages before you judge them."
In 1926, George hosted an Imperial Conference in London at which the Balfour Declaration accepted the growth of the British Dominions into self-governing "autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another". In 1931, the Statute of Westminster formalised the Dominion's legislative independence and established that the succession to the throne could not be changed unless all the Parliaments of the Dominions as well as the Parliament at Westminster agreed. The Statute's preamble described the monarch as "the symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations", who were "united by a common allegiance".
In the wake of a world financial crisis, the King encouraged the formation of a National Government in 1931 led by MacDonald and Baldwin, and volunteered to reduce the civil list to help balance the budget. He was concerned by the rise to power in Germany of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. In 1934, the King bluntly told the German ambassador Leopold von Hoesch that Germany was now the peril of the world, and that there was bound to be a war within ten years if she went on at the present rate; he warned the British ambassador in Berlin Eric Phipps to be suspicious of the Nazis.
In 1932, George agreed to deliver a Royal Christmas speech on the radio, an event that became annual thereafter. He was not in favour of the innovation originally but was persuaded by the argument that it was what his people wanted. By the silver jubilee of his reign in 1935, he had become a well-loved king, saying in response to the crowd's adulation, "I cannot understand it, after all I am only a very ordinary sort of fellow."
George's relationship with his eldest son and heir, Edward, deteriorated in these later years. George was disappointed in Edward's failure to settle down in life and appalled by his many affairs with married women. In contrast, he was fond of his second son, Prince Albert (later George VI), and doted on his eldest granddaughter, Princess Elizabeth; he nicknamed her "Lilibet", and she affectionately called him "Grandpa England". In 1935, George said of his son Edward: "After I am dead, the boy will ruin himself within 12 months", and of Albert and Elizabeth: "I pray to God my eldest son will never marry and have children, and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne."
The First World War took a toll on George's health: he was seriously injured on 28 October 1915 when thrown by his horse at a troop review in France, and his heavy smoking exacerbated recurring breathing problems. He suffered from chronic bronchitis. In 1925, on the instruction of his doctors, he was reluctantly sent on a recuperative private cruise in the Mediterranean; it was his third trip abroad since the war, and his last. In November 1928, he fell seriously ill with septicaemia, and for the next two years his son Edward took over many of his duties. In 1929, the suggestion of a further rest abroad was rejected by the King "in rather strong language". Instead, he retired for three months to Craigweil House, Aldwick, in the seaside resort of Bognor, Sussex. As a result of his stay, the town acquired the suffix "Regis", which is Latin for "of the King". A myth later grew that his last words, upon being told that he would soon be well enough to revisit the town, were "Bugger Bognor!"
George never fully recovered. In his final year, he was occasionally administered oxygen. The death of his favourite sister, Victoria, in December 1935 depressed him deeply. On the evening of 15 January 1936, the King took to his bedroom at Sandringham House complaining of a cold; he remained in the room until his death. He became gradually weaker, drifting in and out of consciousness. Prime Minister Baldwin later said:
each time he became conscious it was some kind inquiry or kind observation of someone, some words of gratitude for kindness shown. But he did say to his secretary when he sent for him: "How is the Empire?" An unusual phrase in that form, and the secretary said: "All is well, sir, with the Empire", and the King gave him a smile and relapsed once more into unconsciousness.
By 20 January, he was close to death. His physicians, led by Lord Dawson of Penn, issued a bulletin with words that became famous: "The King's life is moving peacefully towards its close." Dawson's private diary, unearthed after his death and made public in 1986, reveals that the King's last words, a mumbled "God damn you!", were addressed to his nurse, Catherine Black, when she gave him a sedative that night. Dawson, who supported the "gentle growth of euthanasia", admitted in the diary that he hastened the King's death by injecting him, after 11.00 p.m., with two consecutive lethal injections: 3/4 gr. morphine followed by 1 gr. cocaine shortly afterwards. Dawson wrote that he acted to preserve the King's dignity, to prevent further strain on the family, and so that the King's death at 11:55 p.m. could be announced in the morning edition of The Times newspaper rather than "less appropriate ... evening journals". Neither Queen Mary, who was intensely religious and might not have sanctioned euthanasia, nor the Prince of Wales was consulted. The royal family did not want the King to endure pain and suffering and did not want his life prolonged artificially but nor did they approve Dawson's actions. British Pathé announced the King's death the following day, in which he was described as "more than a King, a father of a great family".
The German composer Paul Hindemith went to a BBC studio on the morning after the King's death and in six hours wrote Trauermusik (Mourning Music). It was performed that same evening in a live broadcast by the BBC, with Adrian Boult conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the composer as soloist.
At the procession to George's lying in state in Westminster Hall part of the Imperial State Crown fell from on top of the coffin and landed in the gutter as the cortège turned into New Palace Yard. The new king, Edward VIII, saw it fall and wondered whether it was a bad omen for his new reign. As a mark of respect to their father, George's four surviving sons, Edward, Albert, Henry, and George, mounted the guard, known as the Vigil of the Princes, at the catafalque on the night before the funeral. The vigil was not repeated until the death of George's daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, in 2002. George V was interred at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 28 January 1936. Edward abdicated before the year was out, leaving Albert to ascend the throne as George VI.
George V disliked sitting for portraits and despised modern art; he was so displeased by one portrait by Charles Sims that he ordered it to be burned. He did admire sculptor Bertram Mackennal, who created statues of George for display in Madras and Delhi, and William Reid Dick, whose statue of George V stands outside Westminster Abbey, London.
George preferred to stay at home pursuing his hobbies of stamp collecting and game shooting, and he lived a life that later biographers considered dull because of its conventionality. He was not an intellectual; on returning from one evening at the opera, he wrote in his journal, "Went to Covent Garden and saw Fidelio and damned dull it was." Nonetheless, he was earnestly devoted to Britain and its Commonwealth. He explained, "it has always been my dream to identify myself with the great idea of Empire." He appeared hard-working and became widely admired by the people of Britain and the Empire, as well as "the Establishment". In the words of historian David Cannadine, King George V and Queen Mary were an "inseparably devoted couple" who upheld "character" and "family values". George established a standard of conduct for British royalty that reflected the values and virtues of the upper middle-class rather than upper-class lifestyles or vices. He was by temperament a traditionalist who never fully appreciated or approved the revolutionary changes under way in British society. Nevertheless, he invariably wielded his influence as a force of neutrality and moderation, seeing his role as mediator rather than final decision-maker.
His full style as king was "George V, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India" until the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927, when it changed to "George V, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India".
After his accession to the throne in 1910, George became sovereign of all the orders awarded by the British Empire and (later) Commonwealth, including those awarded him prior to his accession.
As Duke of York, George's arms were the royal arms, with an inescutcheon of the arms of Saxony, all differenced with a label of three points argent, the centre point bearing an anchor azure. The anchor was removed from his coat of arms as the Prince of Wales. As King, he bore the royal arms. In 1917, he removed, by warrant, the Saxony inescutcheon from the arms of all male-line descendants of the Prince Consort domiciled in the United Kingdom (although the royal arms themselves had never borne the shield).
|Coat of arms as Duke of York||Coat of arms as Prince of Wales||Coat of arms as King the United Kingdom (except Scotland)||Coat of arms as King in Scotland|
Later Duke of Windsor
|23 June 1894||28 May 1972||Wallis Simpson||None|
|George VI||14 December 1895||6 February 1952||Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon||Elizabeth II|
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
|Mary, Princess Royal||25 April 1897||28 March 1965||Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood||George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood|
The Honourable Gerald Lascelles
|Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester||31 March 1900||10 June 1974||Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott||Prince William of Gloucester|
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
|Prince George, Duke of Kent||20 December 1902||25 August 1942||Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark||Prince Edward, Duke of Kent|
Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy
Prince Michael of Kent
|Prince John||12 July 1905||18 January 1919||Never married||None|
Cadet branch of the House of WettinBorn: 3 June 1865 Died: 20 January 1936
| King of the United Kingdom
and the British Dominions,
Emperor of India
6 May 1910 – 20 January 1936
Prince Albert Edward
later became King Edward VII
| Prince of Wales
Duke of Cornwall
Duke of Rothesay
later became King Edward VIII
Prince George, Duke of Cambridge
| Grand Master of the Order of
St Michael and St George
Title next held byEdward, Prince of Wales
The Lord Curzon of Kedleston
| Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
The Earl Brassey
The British royal family comprises Queen Elizabeth II and her close relations. There is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the British royal family.
Those who at the time are entitled to the style His or Her Royal Highness (HRH), and any styled His or Her Majesty (HM), are normally considered members, including those so styled before the beginning of the current monarch's reign. By this criterion, a list of the current royal family will usually include the monarch, the children and male-line grandchildren of the monarch and previous monarchs, the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, and all their current or widowed spouses.
Some members of the royal family have official residences named as the places from which announcements are made in the Court Circular about official engagements they have carried out. The state duties and staff of some members of the royal family are funded from a parliamentary annuity, the amount of which is fully refunded by the Queen to the Treasury.Since 1917, when King George V changed the name of the royal house from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, members of the royal family have belonged, either by birth or by marriage, to the House of Windsor. Senior titled members of the royal family do not usually use a surname, although since 1960 Mountbatten-Windsor, incorporating Prince Philip's adopted surname of Mountbatten, has been prescribed as a surname for Elizabeth II's direct descendants who do not have royal styles and titles, and it has sometimes been used when required for those who do have such titles. The royal family are regarded as British cultural icons, with young adults from abroad naming the family among a group of people that they most associated with UK culture.Delhi Durbar
The Delhi Durbar (meaning "Court of Delhi") was an Indian imperial style mass assembly organised by the British at Coronation Park, Delhi, India, to mark the succession of an Emperor or Empress of India. Also known as the Imperial Durbar, it was held three times, in 1877, 1903, and 1911, at the height of the British Empire. The 1911 Durbar was the only one that a sovereign, George V, attended. The term was derived from the common Mughal term durbar.Edward VII
Edward VII (Albert Edward; 9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910.
The eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Edward was related to royalty throughout Europe. He was heir apparent to the British throne and held the title of Prince of Wales for longer than any of his predecessors. He was heir presumptive to the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha until before his marriage he renounced his right to the duchy, which then devolved to his younger brother Alfred. During the long reign of his mother, he was largely excluded from political power, and came to personify the fashionable, leisured elite. He travelled throughout Britain performing ceremonial public duties, and represented Britain on visits abroad. His tours of North America in 1860 and the Indian subcontinent in 1875 were popular successes, but despite public approval his reputation as a playboy prince soured his relationship with his mother.
As king, Edward played a role in the modernisation of the British Home Fleet and the reorganisation of the British Army after the Second Boer War. He reinstituted traditional ceremonies as public displays and broadened the range of people with whom royalty socialised. He fostered good relations between Britain and other European countries, especially France, for which he was popularly called "Peacemaker", but his relationship with his nephew, the German Emperor Wilhelm II, was poor. The Edwardian era, which covered Edward's reign and was named after him, coincided with the start of a new century and heralded significant changes in technology and society, including steam turbine propulsion and the rise of socialism. He died in 1910 in the midst of a constitutional crisis that was resolved the following year by the Parliament Act 1911, which restricted the power of the unelected House of Lords.Edward VIII
Edward VIII (Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David; 23 June 1894 – 28 May 1972) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire, and Emperor of India, from 20 January 1936 until his abdication on 11 December the same year, after which he became the Duke of Windsor.
Edward was the eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary. He was created Prince of Wales on his sixteenth birthday, nine weeks after his father succeeded as king. As a young man, he served in the British Army during the First World War and undertook several overseas tours on behalf of his father.
Edward became king on his father's death in early 1936. However, he showed impatience with court protocol, and caused concern among politicians by his apparent disregard for established constitutional conventions. Only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis by proposing to Wallis Simpson, an American who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second. The prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the Dominions opposed the marriage, arguing a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands was politically and socially unacceptable as a prospective queen consort. Additionally, such a marriage would have conflicted with Edward's status as the titular head of the Church of England, which at the time disapproved of remarriage after divorce if a former spouse was still alive. Edward knew the British government, led by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, would resign if the marriage went ahead, which could have forced a general election and would ruin his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch. When it became apparent he could not marry Wallis and remain on the throne, Edward abdicated. He was succeeded by his younger brother, George VI. With a reign of 326 days, Edward is one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British history.
After his abdication, he was created Duke of Windsor. He married Wallis in France on 3 June 1937, after her second divorce became final. Later that year, the couple toured Germany. During the Second World War, he was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France, but after private accusations that he held Nazi sympathies he was appointed Governor of the Bahamas. After the war, Edward spent the rest of his life in retirement in France. Edward and Wallis remained married until his death in 1972.George VI
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 on 6 February 1952. He was the last Emperor of India and the first Head of the Commonwealth.
Known publicly as Albert until his accession, and "Bertie" among his family and close friends, George VI was born in the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria, and was named after his great-grandfather Albert, Prince Consort. As the second son of King George V, he was not expected to inherit the throne and spent his early life in the shadow of his elder brother, Edward. He 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 had speech therapy for a stammer, which he never fully overcame.
George's elder brother ascended the throne as Edward VIII upon the death of their father in 1936. However, later that year Edward revealed his desire to marry divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. British prime minister Stanley Baldwin advised Edward that for political and religious reasons he could not marry a divorced woman and remain king. Edward abdicated to marry Simpson, and George ascended the throne as the third monarch of the House of Windsor.
During George's reign, the break-up of the British Empire and its transition into the Commonwealth of Nations accelerated. The parliament of the Irish Free State removed direct mention of the monarch from the country's constitution on the day of his accession. The following year, a new Irish constitution changed the name of the state to Ireland and established the office of President. From 1939, the Empire and Commonwealth – except Ireland – was at war with Nazi Germany. War with Italy and Japan followed in 1940 and 1941, respectively. Though Britain and its allies were ultimately victorious in 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union rose as pre-eminent world powers and the British Empire declined. After the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, George remained king of both countries, but relinquished the title of Emperor of India in June 1948. Ireland formally declared itself a republic and left the Commonwealth in 1949, and India became a republic within the Commonwealth the following year. George adopted the new title of Head of the Commonwealth. He was beset by smoking-related health problems in the later years of his reign. He was succeeded by his elder daughter, Elizabeth II.George V Land
George V Land is a segment of Antarctica part of the land claimed as part of the Australian Antarctic Territory, inland from the George V Coast. As with other segments of Antarctica, it is defined by two lines of longitude, 142°02' E and 153°45' E, and by the 60°S parallel. This region was first explored by members of the Main Base party of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-14) under Douglas Mawson, who named this feature for King George V of the United Kingdom.George V of Hanover
George V (George Frederick Alexander Charles Ernest Augustus; German: Georg Friedrich Alexander Karl Ernst August; 27 May 1819 – 12 June 1878) was the last king of Hanover, the only child and successor of King Ernest Augustus. George V's reign was ended during the Unification of Germany.House of Hanover
The House of Hanover (German: Haus Hannover), whose members are known as Hanoverians (), is a German royal house that ruled Hanover, Great Britain, and Ireland at various times during the 17th through 20th centuries. The house originated in 1635 as a cadet branch of the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg, growing in prestige until Hanover became an Electorate in 1692. George I became the first Hanoverian monarch of Great Britain and Ireland in 1714. At Victoria's death in 1901, the throne of the United Kingdom passed to her eldest son Edward VII, a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The last reigning members of the House lost the Duchy of Brunswick in 1918 when Germany became a republic.
The formal name of the house was the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Hanover line. The senior line of Brunswick-Lüneburg, which ruled Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, became extinct in 1884. The House of Hanover is now the only surviving branch of the House of Welf, which is the senior branch of the House of Este. The current head of the House of Hanover is Ernst August, Prince of Hanover.House of Windsor
The House of Windsor is the reigning royal house of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. The dynasty is originally of German paternal descent and was a branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, itself derived from the House of Wettin, which succeeded the House of Hanover to the British monarchy following the death of Queen Victoria, wife of Albert, Prince Consort.
The name was changed from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor (from "Windsor Castle") in 1917 because of anti-German sentiment in the British Empire during World War I. There have been four British monarchs of the house of Windsor to date: three kings and the present queen, Elizabeth II. During the reign of the Windsors, major changes took place in British society. The British Empire participated in the First and Second World Wars, ending up on the winning side both times, but subsequently lost its status as a superpower during decolonisation. Much of Ireland broke with the United Kingdom and the remnants of the Empire became the Commonwealth of Nations.
The current head of the house is monarch of sixteen sovereign states. These are the United Kingdom (where they are based), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. As well as these separate monarchies, there are also three Crown dependencies, fourteen British Overseas Territories and two associated states of New Zealand.Jana Gana Mana
Jana Gana Mana (Hindi: [dʒənə gəɳə mənə]) is the national anthem of India. It was originally composed as Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata in Bengali by poet Rabindranath Tagore. The first stanza of the song Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India as the National Anthem on 24 January 1950. A formal rendition of the national anthem takes approximately fifty-two seconds. A shortened version consisting of the first and last lines (and taking about 20 seconds to play) is also staged occasionally. It was first publicly sung on 27 December 1911 at the Calcutta (now, Kolkata) Session of the Indian National Congress.King George V-class battleship (1939)
The King George V-class battleships were the most modern British battleships in commission during World War II. Five ships of this class were built: HMS King George V (1940), HMS Prince of Wales (1941), HMS Duke of York (1941), HMS Howe (1942) and HMS Anson (1942).
The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 limited all of the number, displacement, and armament of warships built following its ratification, and this was extended by the First London Naval Treaty but these treaties were due to expire in 1936. With increased tension between Britain, the United States, Japan, France and Italy, it was supposed by the designers of these battleships that the treaty might not be renewed and the ships of the King George V class were designed with this possibility in mind.
All five ships saw combat during World War II, with King George V and Prince of Wales being involved in the action on 24 May to 27 May 1941 that resulted in the German battleship Bismarck being sunk. Following this on 25 October 1941, Prince of Wales was sent to Singapore arriving on 2 December and becoming the flagship of Force Z. On 10 December, Prince of Wales was attacked by Japanese bombers and sank with the loss of 327 of its men. In the aftermath of the sinking, King George V, Duke of York, Howe and Anson provided escort duty to convoys bound for Russia. On 1 May 1942, King George V collided with the destroyer HMS Punjabi, resulting in King George V being sent to Gladstone docks for repairs on 9 May, before returning to escort duty on 1 July 1942. In October 1942 Duke of York was sent to Gibraltar as the new flagship of Force H and supported the Allied landings in North Africa in November. Anson and Howe would also provide cover for multiple convoys bound for Russia from late 1942 until 1 March 1943, when Howe provided convoy cover for the last time. In May 1943 King George V and Howe were moved to Gibraltar in preparation for Operation Husky. The two ships bombarded Trapani naval base and Favignana on 11–12 July and also provided cover for Operation Avalanche on 7 September to 14 September. During this time Duke of York and Anson participated in Operation Gearbox, which was designed to draw attention away from Operation Husky. Duke of York was also instrumental in sinking the German battleship Scharnhorst on 25 December 1943. This battle was also the last time that British and German capital ships fought each other.
In late March 1945, King George V and Howe were sent to the Pacific with other Royal Navy vessels as a separate group to function with the U.S. Navy's Task Force 57. On 4 May 1945, King George V and Howe led a forty-five-minute bombardment of Japanese air facilities in the Ryukyu Islands. King George V fired her guns in anger for the last time in a night bombardment of Hamamatsu on 29 July and 30 July 1945. Duke of York and Anson were also dispatched to the Pacific, but arrived too late to participate in hostilities. On 15 August Duke of York and Anson accepted the surrender of Japanese forces occupying Hong Kong and along with King George V were present for the official Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. Following the end of World War II, the ships were phased out of service and by 1957 all of the ships had been sold off for scrap, a process that was completed by 1958.King George V Silver Jubilee Medal
The King George V Silver Jubilee Medal is a commemorative medal, instituted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the accession of King George V.List of British monarchs
There have been 12 monarchs of the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom (see Monarchy of the United Kingdom) since the merger of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland on 1 May 1707. England and Scotland had been in personal union under the House of Stuart since 24 March 1603.
On 1 January 1801, Great Britain merged with the Kingdom of Ireland (also previously in personal union with Great Britain) to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. After most of Ireland left the union on 6 December 1922, its name was amended on 12 April 1927 to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.List of Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the head of the Government of the United Kingdom, and chairs Cabinet meetings. There is no specific date for when the office of Prime Minister first appeared, as the role was not created but rather evolved over a period of time through a merger of duties. The term had been used in the House of Commons as early as 1805, and it was certainly in parliamentary use by the 1880s. In 1905 the post of Prime Minister was officially given recognition in the order of precedence. Modern historians generally consider Sir Robert Walpole, who led the government of Great Britain for over twenty years from 1721, as the first Prime Minister. Walpole is also the longest-serving British prime minister by this definition. However, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the first and Margaret Thatcher the longest-serving Prime Minister officially referred to as such in the order of precedence. The first to officially use the title was Benjamin Disraeli, who signed the Treaty of Berlin as "Prime Minister of her Britannic Majesty" in 1878.Strictly, the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Ireland) was William Pitt the Younger. The first Prime Minister of the current United Kingdom, i.e. the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was Bonar Law, although the country was not renamed officially until 1927, when Stanley Baldwin was the serving Prime Minister.Due to the gradual evolution of the post of Prime Minister, the title is applied to early prime ministers only retrospectively; this has sometimes given rise to academic dispute. Lord Bath and Lord Waldegrave are sometimes listed as prime ministers. Bath was invited to form a ministry by George II when Henry Pelham resigned in 1746, as was Waldegrave in 1757 after the dismissal of William Pitt the Elder, who dominated the affairs of government during the Seven Years' War. Neither was able to command sufficient parliamentary support to form a government; Bath stepped down after two days, and Waldegrave after three. Modern academic consensus does not consider either man to have held office as Prime Minister, and they are therefore not listed.Mary of Teck
Mary of Teck (Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes; 26 May 1867 – 24 March 1953) was Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Empress of India as the wife of King George V.
Although technically a princess of Teck, in the Kingdom of Württemberg, she was born and raised in England. Her parents were Francis, Duke of Teck, who was of German extraction, and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, who was a granddaughter of King George III. She was informally known as "May", after her birth month.
At the age of 24, she was betrothed to her second cousin once removed Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, but six weeks after the announcement of the engagement, he died unexpectedly during an influenza pandemic. The following year, she became engaged to Albert Victor's next surviving brother, George, who subsequently became king. Before her husband's accession, she was successively Duchess of York, Duchess of Cornwall, and Princess of Wales.
As queen consort from 1910, she supported her husband through the First World War, his ill health, and major political changes arising from the aftermath of the war. After George's death in 1936, she became queen mother when her eldest son, Edward VIII, ascended the throne, but to her dismay, he abdicated later the same year in order to marry twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. She supported her second son, George VI, until his death in 1952. She died the following year, during the reign of her granddaughter Elizabeth II, who had not yet been crowned.Mertz Glacier
Mertz Glacier (67°30′S 144°45′E) is a heavily crevassed glacier in George V Coast of East Antarctica. It is the source of a glacial prominence that historically has extended northward into the Southern Ocean, the Mertz Glacial Tongue. It is named in honor of the Swiss explorer Xavier Mertz.
The Mertz-Ninnis Valley (67°25′S 146°0′E) is an undersea valley named in association with the Mertz Glacier and the Ninnis Glacier.Ninnis Glacier
Ninnis Glacier (68°22′S 147°0′E) is a large, heavily hummocked and crevassed glacier descending steeply from the high interior to the sea in a broad valley, on George V Coast in Antarctica. It was discovered by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911–14) under Douglas Mawson, who named it for Lieutenant B. E. S. Ninnis, who lost his life on the far east sledge journey of the expedition on 14 December 1912 through falling into the Black Crevasse in the glacier.
The seawards extension of the glacier is the broad Ninnis Glacier Tongue (68°5′S 147°45′E). It was recorded (1962) as projecting seaward about 30 miles (50 km).Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations,
and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.
Recommendations for appointments to the Order of the British Empire were originally made on the nomination of the United Kingdom, the self-governing Dominions of the Empire (later Commonwealth) and the Viceroy of India. Nominations continue today from Commonwealth countries that participate in recommending British (Imperial) honours. Most Commonwealth countries ceased recommendations for appointments to the Order of the British Empire when they created their own honours.Statue of George V, Westminster
The statue of George V in Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London, is a sculpture of George V, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India. The statue was sculpted prior to the Second World War and was hidden in a quarry during the war years. Other locations were suggested for the statue, including Parliament Square, but it was unveiled opposite the House of Lords in 1947.
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