King George VI
George VI, whose full name was Albert Frederick Arthur George, was born in 1895 and died in 1952. He was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last Emperor of India, and the first Head of the Commonwealth.
He was the second son of king George V so he was not expected to ascend to the throne. Rather it was his older brother Edward VIII who ascended to the throne on the death of George V in 1936. However, later that year Edward abdicated the throne since he wanted to marry an American socialite, his mistress Wallis Simpson and politically that was not feasible.
King George VI was the second son of King George V and Victoria May, the Duchess of York (Mary of Teck). His youth was not easy. Though affectionate with his mother, affection was not always returned, and his father was harsh and critical. His tutors forced him to write with his right hand, though he was naturally left handed. He developed a stammer around age 8, and suffered the indignity of wearing leg braces to correct his knock knees. Often ill and easily frightened, George VI was somewhat prone to tears and tantrums—traits that he carried throughout much of his adult life.
World War II
Despite intense German bombing raids, the royal couple stayed at Buckingham palace. King George and Queen Elizabeth then undertook many morale-boosting visits to Britain’s bombed-out cities, touring hospitals and visiting with wounded troops. In 1943, the king visited British troops in North Africa. He later visited troops at Malta, bestowing on the entire island the honor of the George Cross, instituted by King George VI to honor exceptional acts of bravery by civilians. In June 1944, 10 days after the D-Day invasion, the king visited the troops in Normandy. He also suffered personal tragedy during the war when both his wife’s nephew and his youngest brother were killed.
King George VI was not enamored with the selection of Winston Churchill as prime minister after Neville Chamberlain’s resignation. Nevertheless, focused on a common goal, the two men quickly developed a strong working relationship and deep respect for each other.
The second world war took a toll on George VIth's health as he was under stress for a long period of time. In 1949, arterial blockage caused the postponement of a planned tour of Australia and New Zealand. In 1951, following years of heavy smoking, King George was diagnosed with lung cancer and arteriosclerosis. As a result of this, his left lung had to be removed in 1951.
On the morning of February 6, 1952, at the age of 56, George VI was discovered dead in bed. It was later determined that he had died of a coronary thrombosis. After his death, George VI's daughter, Princess Elizabeth, took the throne, becoming Queen Elizabeth II; the king's wife, Queen Elizabeth, so as not to be confused with her daughter, took on the name "Queen Mother."