King George VI was a man with a reserved nature and a deep religious belief. Born as the second son of King George V, he was not expected to ascend to the British throne. During his childhood he lived in the shadow of his elder brother Prince Edward (later King Edward VIII), who had been raised with the expectation of becoming King.
Known from birth as Prince Albert, Albert being his first name, he was named Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, and Baron Killarney on June 4th 1920. He used the name “King George VI” to emphasise continuity with his father and to restore confidence in the monarchy.
King George VI’s reign included the time of the Second World War. King George VI and wife, Queen Elizabeth, resolved to stay in London during the German bombing raids. Two German bombs exploded in a Buckingham Palace courtyard whilst they were in the palace.
King George VI ascended the throne on December 11th 1936 when King Edward VIII abdicated, so he could marry the American socialite Mrs. Wallis Simpson. King George VI’s coronation was held on May 12th 1937, the date originally chosen for King Edward VIII’s coronation.
King George VI was the third UK Monarch from the House of Windsor, formed in 1917 by his father, King George V.
Birth and Parents
King George VI was born December 14th 1895 at York Cottage, on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, the second child of Prince George, Duke of York (later to become King George V), and his wife Mary, Duchess of York (later to become Queen Mary). King George VI, who was christened Albert Frederick Arthur George, was known as Prince Albert until he ascended the throne.
At the time of his birth during the reign of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert was fourth in line of succession to throne, behind his grandfather, Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII), his father, Prince George (later King George V), and his brother Prince Edward (later King Edward VIII).
King George VI spent his early years at St. James’s Palace, before his father King George V became the Prince of Wales on November 9th 1901, when the family moved to Marlborough House.
Wedding to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
King George VI married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the youngest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, on April 26th 1923 in Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth became The Duchess of York when the couple married, Queen Elizabeth when her husband ascended the throne, and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, after his death when Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne.
Children of King George VI
King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, had two children:
- Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born on April 21st 1926, later to be Queen Elizabeth II
- Princess Margaret Rose, born on October 30th 1930
Death of King George VI
King George VI fought a long battle with lung cancer and other ailments, and died on February 6th 1952 from a coronary thrombosis in his sleep at Sandringham House in Norfolk. The King’s daughter Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, returned from Kenya, where they were en route to an official visit to Australia on the King’s behalf.
King George VI’s funeral was help on February 15th 1952 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, after his body had lain in state at Westminster Hall. He was interred in the Royal vault, before being transferred to the King George VI Memorial Chapel inside St. George’s Chapel on March 26th 1969.
The body of the King’s widow, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, and the ashes of his daughter, Princess Margaret, were interred in the same chapel in 2002.
Speech Impediment: A Stammer
King George VI suffered from a stammer, particularly when he was forced to make public speeches. With the help of an Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue, he overcame the afflication sufficently well to make a powerful, and famous, radio address to the nation after his coronation.
The King’s Speech
The 2010 film The King’s Speech documents the struggles of Prince Albert, later King George VI, to overcome his stammer.
Colin Firth stars as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who helped him battle his affliction. Helen Bonham Carter plays the King’s wife, Queen Elizabeth, who became known as Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother after the King’s death in 1952.
Colin Firth won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role as King George VI, at the 83rd Academy Awards. The King’s Speech also won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director for Tom Hooper, and Best Original Screenplay for David Seidler
The Official Website of the British Monarchy
King George VI