Later Reign

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.

when did king george v die
when did king george v die

Later Reign

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.

when did king george v die
when did king george v die


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.