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when did king george v die?
Just before midnight on January 20, 1936, King George V died at Sandringham, in Norfolk, England. His health had gradually declined over the previous few months because of a chronic lung issue that had first appeared in 1928. He managed a last meeting with his privy council and secretary before he grew too weak to continue. He used his last words to inquire after the state of the Empire. (According to the palace, that is. A pervasive rumor holds that, after being told he could recuperate in the seaside town of Bognor Regis,
the king’s last words were “Bugger Bognor.” In a private journal,
the king’s physician wrote that George V’s last words were “God damn you.”)
As the second son of King Edward VII, George V was not next in line to inherit the throne—until his elder brother’s death in 1892. He succeeded his father in 1910 and was crowned on June 22, 1911, just over three years before the United Kingdom would enter World War I. At home, he was confronted with a divided Parliament, industrial unrest, and the task of replacing a resigning prime minister.
How did George V die?
King George V had a brush with death in 1928 when he developed septicaemia, which markedly affected his health for the rest of his life. His last years were marked not only by turmoil both domestic and foreign, but by a declining relationship with his eldest son and heir, Edward, Prince of Wales. By the beginning of the 1930s, ‘David’ had taken up with Wallis Simpson, and for the entirety of his adult life he had demonstrated a strong reluctance to take up his future role as king. George V predicted that when he was gone, his son would ‘ruin himself’ within a year. Once again, he proved astute.
In 1935, the king was stunned by the outpouring of love and affection demonstrated on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee. It reduced him to tears. The man who had been totally unprepared for his role, had become a father figure to the nation. He had gone so far, with his trusted and long-serving advisors, as to rebrand the monarchy, strengthen it and bring it into the 20th century. The blueprint he left endures to this day.
At the beginning of 1936, King George V fell ill at Sandringham. His condition worsened, and he died on 20 January, aged 70. In her diary, Queen Mary wrote: “My heart is broken.” His body was taken by train to London and 800,000 of his subjects queued upwards of nine hours through the night to witness his lying in state. King George V was laid to rest at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Britain’s George V was the grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the second son of Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark. George Frederick Ernest Albert of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was born on June 3, 1865. Starting a career in the Navy as the second royal son, George wasn’t expected to take the throne.
In his early years, he was educated alongside his older brother, Albert, by tutors and nannies. At age 12, George and Albert enrolled in the naval training academy. Afterward, Albert went on to Trinity College, and George remained in the Royal Navy, intending to make it his career. In 1892, Albert suddenly died of influenza. George assumed the role of heir-apparent and left the Royal Navy. He was given the title Duke of York, along with an education in British politics, and became a member of the House of Lords.
In 1893, George married his German cousin (and his late brother’s fiancée), Princess Victoria Mary of Teck. During their marriage they had five sons: Prince Edward, Prince Albert, Prince George, Prince Henry, Prince John and a daughter, Princess Mary. Their youngest son, Prince John, was diagnosed with epilepsy as a child and was largely kept apart from the royal family. His condition deteriorated as he aged and he died after having a seizure when he was 13.
By most accounts, George was a strict father with all his children, but was especially critical of his wayward son Edward, once saying he hoped his second son, Albert, would take the throne. His wish would be granted when Edward abdicated the throne in 1936 and Albert was crowned George VI.
The First World War
On the outbreak of the First World War, George patriotically endeavoured to boost national morale. He carried out five visits to the troops in Flanders,
during one of these he was thrown from his horse which had been alarmed by cheering soldiers, and fractured his pelvis. He and Queen Mary also tirelessly visited military hospitals, munitions factories and blitzed areas.
In 1917, concerned that his Teutonic name would alienate his subjects,
the King changed the name of his house from the German Saxe-Coburg-Gotha of Queen Victoria’s consort to Windsor. The name was suggested by his private secretary. At the same time, his Battenberg cousins were encouraged to change theirs to the Anglicised form of Mountbatten. ‘Arrived Prince Hyde, departed Lord Jekyll’ wrote the King’s cousin, Louis Mountbatten, in a visitor book at the time.
In various ways George’s role affected events as the reign continued. In 1923, partly on the advice of elder statesmen and partly through his own decision, he chose Stanley Baldwin as prime minister, passing over Lord Curzon,who had more seniority. He accepted the advent of Labour to power in 1924 as natural and their due. With the end of the general strike in 1926 his influence was important in the decision not to punish strike leaders. In the financial and constitutional crisis of 1931 the role of King George was more controversial.
The necessity of a national (nonpartisan) government, if Labour failed, was urged upon him by Sir Herbert Samuel, the Liberal leader. In the words of his private secretary, the King successfully impressed upon Ramsay MacDonald (who had been Labour prime minister) “that he was the only man to lead the country through the crisis.” MacDonald formed a national coalition. It was perhaps as much a matter of the King advising his ministers as they advising him.
As his life developed, these qualities began to be associated with George V—dignity,
frankness, occasional obstinacy and irritability, sense of duty, and fair play. His latter years were somewhat clouded by the differences with his eldest son, the Prince of Wales, who rebelled against tradition. But this did little to obscure the royal family as a symbol of British unity,
particularly evident in the ceremonies of the King’s Silver Jubilee in 1935. There was solemnity in St. Paul’s and pageantry in Westminster Hall. Huge crowds massed in the streets as the King and Queen drove through London each day,
and before Buckingham Palace as they appeared on the balcony each evening for a week.
But it soon became clear that the King’s old bronchial ailment which nearly took his life in 1929 had returned, this time fatally. After a brief illness he died on Jan. 20, 1936, at the age of 70. His tomb is in the nave of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
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 uncle’s daughter, his first cousin, Marie of Edinburgh. His grandmother, father and uncle all approved the match, but the mothers, the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Edinburgh, both opposed it. The Princess of Wales thought the family was too pro-German, and the Duchess of Edinburgh disliked England. When George proposed, Marie refused, guided by her mother. She later became Queen of Romania.
In 1891, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence became engaged to his second cousin once removed, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck (always called “May”), the only daughter of Prince Francis, Duke of Teck and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. However, Albert Victor died of pneumonia six weeks later, leaving George second in line to the throne and likely to succeed after his father. This effectively ended George’s naval career, as he was now expected to assume a more political role.
Queen Victoria still favoured Princess May as a suitable candidate to marry a future king, so she persuaded George to propose to May. George duly proposed and May accepted. The marriage was a success, and throughout their lives the couple exchanged notes of endearment and loving letters.
The marriage of George and May took place on 6 July 1893 at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace in London. The Times claimed that at the wedding, the crowd may have been confused as to who was the Duke of York
(later George V) and who was the Tsarevitch (later Nicholas II) of Russia,
because their beards and dress made them look alike superficially. However, their remaining facial features were quite different up close.
King George and Queen Mary were crowned in Westminster Abbey on 22nd June 1911. They presented new hangings for the High Altar which are still in use. The frontal is made of cream white damask silk with an embroidered Crucifixion scene in the centre flanked by angels holding shields with the Royal arms and coat of
arms of St Edward the Confessor. The dorsal, for the back of the altar, shows figures of St Edward and the
Pilgrim with kneeling images of the king and queen. This was designed by W.R. Lethaby and based on a 15th century example at Chipping Camden church.
He was much mourned at his death, on 20th January 1936. After lying in state in Westminster Hall the King was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Queen Mary is buried with him.