George VI

King-Emperor George VI

George VI 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. 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.
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    FIFTIES
  • 1952
    Age 55
    On 31 January 1952, despite advice from those close to him, the King went to London Airport to see off Princess Elizabeth, who was going on her tour of Australia via Kenya.
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  • 1951
    Age 54
    His Christmas broadcast of 1951 was recorded in sections, and then edited together.
    The King was well enough to open the Festival of Britain in May 1951, but on 23 September 1951, his left lung was removed by Clement Price Thomas after a malignant tumour was found.
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  • 1949
    Age 52
    The stress of the war had taken its toll on the King's health, exacerbated by his heavy smoking and subsequent development of lung cancer among other ailments, including arteriosclerosis and thromboangiitis obliterans. A planned tour of Australia and New Zealand was postponed after the King suffered an arterial blockage in his right leg, which threatened the loss of the leg and was treated with a right lumbar sympathectomy in March 1949.
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  • 1947
    Age 50
    In 1947, the King and his family toured Southern Africa.
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  • FORTIES
  • 1945
    Age 48
    In 1945, crowds shouted "We want the King!" in front of Buckingham Palace during the Victory in Europe Day celebrations.
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  • 1944
    Age 47
    At a social function in 1944, Chief of the Imperial General Staff Sir Alan Brooke, revealed that every time he met Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery he thought he was after his job.
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  • 1942
    Age 45
    In August 1942, the King's brother, Prince George, Duke of Kent, was killed on active service.
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  • 1940
    Age 43
    The first German raid on London, on 7 September 1940, killed about one thousand civilians, mostly in the East End.
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  • 1939
    Age 42
    Throughout the war, the King and Queen provided morale-boosting visits throughout the United Kingdom, visiting bomb sites, munitions factories, and troops. The King visited military forces abroad in France in December 1939, North Africa and Malta in June 1943, Normandy in June 1944, southern Italy in July 1944, and the Low Countries in October 1944.
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    They visited the 1939 New York World's Fair and stayed with President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House and at his private estate at Hyde Park, New York.
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    In May and June 1939, the King and Queen toured Canada and the United States.
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  • 1938
    Age 41
    The growing likelihood of war in Europe dominated the early reign of George VI. The King was constitutionally bound to support Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler. However, when the King and Queen greeted Chamberlain on his return from negotiating the Munich Agreement in 1938, they invited him to appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with them.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1936
    Age 39
    In the words of Labour Member of Parliament George Hardie, the abdication crisis of 1936 did "more for republicanism than fifty years of propaganda".
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    As Edward was unmarried and had no children, Albert was the heir presumptive to the throne. Less than a year later, on 11 December 1936, Edward abdicated in order to marry his mistress, Wallis Simpson, who was divorced from her first husband and divorcing her second.
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    King George V had severe reservations about Prince Edward, saying, "I pray God that my eldest son will never marry and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne." On 20 January 1936, George V died and Edward ascended the throne as King Edward VIII.
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  • 1927
    Age 30
    With his delivery improved, the Duke opened the new Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, during a tour of the empire in 1927.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1925
    Age 28
    Because of his stammer, Albert dreaded public speaking. After his closing speech at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley on 31 October 1925, one which was an ordeal for both him and his listeners, he began to see Lionel Logue, an Australian-born speech therapist.
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  • 1923
    Age 26
    He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923 and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret.
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  • 1921
    Age 24
    She rejected his proposal twice, in 1921 and 1922, reportedly because she was reluctant to make the sacrifices necessary to become a member of the royal family. In the words of Lady Elizabeth's mother, Albert would be "made or marred" by his choice of wife. After a protracted courtship, Elizabeth agreed to marry him. They were married on 26 April 1923 in Westminster Abbey.
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  • 1920
    Age 23
    On 4 June 1920, he was created Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killarney.
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    In a time when royalty were expected to marry fellow royalty, it was unusual that Albert had a great deal of freedom in choosing a prospective wife. An infatuation with the already-married Australian socialite Sheila, Lady Loughborough, came to an end in April 1920 when the King, with the promise of the dukedom of York, persuaded Albert to stop seeing her.
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  • 1918
    Age 21
    Following the disbanding of the Independent Air Force in November 1918, he remained on the Continent for two months as a staff officer with the Royal Air Force until posted back to Britain.
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    He was appointed Officer Commanding Number 4 Squadron of the Boys' Wing at Cranwell until August 1918, before reporting to the RAF's Cadet School at St Leonards-on-Sea where he completed a fortnight's training and took command of a squadron on the Cadet Wing.
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    In February 1918, he was appointed Officer in Charge of Boys at the Royal Naval Air Service's training establishment at Cranwell.
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  • 1917
    Age 20
    He did not see further combat, largely because of ill health caused by a duodenal ulcer, for which he had an operation in November 1917.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1913
    Age 16
    He was rated as a midshipman aboard on 15 September 1913, and spent three months in the Mediterranean.
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  • 1910
    Age 13
    When his grandfather, Edward VII, died in 1910, Albert's father became King George V. Prince Edward was created Prince of Wales, and Albert was second in line to the throne.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1901
    Age 4
    Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901, and the Prince of Wales succeeded her as King Edward VII.
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  • OTHER
  • 1895
    Age -2
    Born on December 14, 1895.
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