- NAME: George VI
- OCCUPATION: King
- BIRTH DATE: December 14, 1895
- DEATH DATE: February 06, 1952
- EDUCATION: Royal Naval Academy at Osborne, Royal Navy Academy at Dartmouth
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Norfolk, England, United Kingdom
- PLACE OF DEATH: Norfolk, England, United Kingdom
- AKA: Duke of Saxony
- Nickname: Bertie
- AKA: King George VI
- AKA: Prince Albert of York
- Originally: Albert Frederick Arthur George
- AKA: Albert Frederick Arthur George Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
- AKA: Duke of York
- AKA: Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George
Best Known For
George VI served as king of the United Kingdom during World War II and was an important symbolic leader. He was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth II, in 1952.
George VI - Visiting FDR (0:42)
George VI - Lady Elizabeth (1:20)
George VI - King's Speech (1:21)
George VI - Becoming King (1:32)
King George VI was the first ruling British Monarch to ever visit the United States. On his trip they had one agenda, to win the hearts of the American people.
Born Elizabeth Angela Martuerite Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother Elizabeth was one of the most popular debutantes of her time. And as such caught the eye of King George VI, then the Duke of York.
As a boy, King George VI had a rough relationship with his father, King George V. The strain on their relationship as father and son has been seen as a cause of King George VI's stammer.
King George VI faced many personal challenges as King of England, including his now famous stutter. But his wife, the Duchess of York was a key figure in his life that helped him overcome the challenges.
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He once said, "I pray God that my eldest son will never marry and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet [Albert’s daughter] and the throne." On January 20, 1936, King George V died, and Edward ascended to the throne as King Edward VIII. In less than a year, he abdicated the throne so that he could marry his mistress, Wallis Simpson,
an American socialite. Albert was coronated on May 12, 1937, and took on the name George VI to emphasize continuity with his father and restore confidence in the monarchy.
In the 1930s, King George VI, a strong supporter of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, hoped that Chamberlain would be able to stave off a war with Nazi Germany. In 1938, Chamberlain met with German Fuehrer Adolph Hitler and signed the Munich Agreement. Though Chamberlain's efforts were criticized as a "policy of appeasement" by the opposition party in Parliament, King George supported his prime minister. He and Chamberlain appeared together on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet the crowds after the agreement’s announcement, a tradition normally restricted to royal family members.
Hitler ignored the agreement and continued his aggressive actions in Europe. Feeling war was a possibility, King George and Queen Elizabeth visited the United States in June 1939, and forged a strong friendship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The royals were also well received by the American public. In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, violating the Munich Agreement, and war was declared. With the help of his speech therapist and his wife, King George successfully made one of the most important speeches of his life, announcing to the citizens of Britain that the country was at war—an event depicted in the 2010 film The King’s Speech.
The royal couple were resolved to stay in London at Buckingham Palace, despite intense German bombing raids. 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. During the victory celebration at the end of the war in Europe, the king invited Prime Minister Churchill to appear with him on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, just as he had done with Neville Chamberlain.
During the post-war years, the stress of war began to catch up with King George VI and his health began to deteriorate rapidly.
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