47 Facts About George VI


George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death in 1952.


George VI was the last emperor of India from 1936 until the British Raj was dissolved in August 1947, and the first Head of the Commonwealth following the London Declaration of 1949.


The future George VI was born in the reign of his great-grandmother Victoria; he was named Albert at birth after his great-grandfather Albert, Prince Consort, and was known as "Bertie" to his family and close friends.


George VI's father ascended the throne as George V in 1910.


George VI spent his early life in the shadow of his elder brother, Prince Edward, the heir apparent.


George VI married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret.


George VI was seen as sharing the hardships of the common people and his popularity soared.

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George VI relinquished the title of Emperor of India in June 1948 and instead adopted the new title of Head of the Commonwealth.


George VI was beset by smoking-related health problems in the later years of his reign and died of a coronary thrombosis, aged 56 at Sandringham House, in 1952.


George VI was succeeded by his elder daughter, Elizabeth II.


George VI's father was Prince George, Duke of York, the second and only surviving son of the Prince and Princess of Wales.


George VI's parents were generally removed from their children's day-to-day upbringing, as was the norm in aristocratic families of that era.


George VI had a stutter that lasted for many years.


George VI had chronic stomach problems as well as knock knees, for which he was forced to wear painful corrective splints.


George VI spent three months in the Mediterranean, but never overcame his seasickness.


George VI was mentioned in dispatches for his actions as a turret officer aboard Collingwood in the Battle of Jutland, the great naval battle of the war.


George VI did not see further combat, largely because of ill health caused by a duodenal ulcer, for which he had an operation in November 1917.


George VI served as Officer Commanding Number 4 Squadron of the Boys' Wing at Cranwell until August 1918, before reporting for duty on the staff of the RAF's Cadet Brigade at St Leonards-on-Sea and then at Shorncliffe.


George VI completed a fortnight's training and took command of a squadron on the Cadet Wing.


George VI was the first member of the British royal family to be certified as a fully qualified pilot.


George VI represented his father and toured coal mines, factories, and railyards.


George VI played at Wimbledon in the Men's Doubles with Louis Greig in 1926, losing in the first round.


George VI developed an interest in working conditions, and was president of the Industrial Welfare Society.


George VI abdicated and Albert, though he had been reluctant to accept the throne, became king.


The beginning of George VI's reign was taken up by questions surrounding his predecessor and brother, whose titles, style and position were uncertain.

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George VI had been introduced as "His Royal Highness Prince Edward" for the abdication broadcast, but George VI felt that by abdicating and renouncing the succession, Edward had lost the right to bear royal titles, including "Royal Highness".


In settling the issue, George VI's first act as king was to confer upon his brother the title "Duke of Windsor" with the style "Royal Highness", but the letters patent creating the dukedom prevented any wife or children from bearing royal styles.


George VI was forced to buy from Edward the royal residences of Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, as these were private properties and did not pass to him automatically.


In May and June 1939, the King and Queen toured Canada and the United States; it was the first visit of a reigning British monarch to North America, although George VI had been to Canada prior to his accession.


The official royal tour historian, Gustave Lanctot, wrote "the Statute of Westminster had assumed full reality" and George VI gave a speech emphasising "the free and equal association of the nations of the Commonwealth".


The fear that George VI would be compared unfavourably to his predecessor was dispelled.


In 1940, Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister, though personally George VI would have preferred to appoint Lord Halifax.


George VI related much of what the two discussed in his diary, which is the only extant first-hand account of these conversations.


In January 1946, George VI addressed the United Nations at its first assembly, which was held in London, and reaffirmed "our faith in the equal rights of men and women and of nations great and small".


George VI's reign saw the acceleration of the dissolution of the British Empire.


George VI relinquished the title of Emperor of India, and became King of India and King of Pakistan instead.


George VI was appalled when instructed by the South African government to shake hands only with whites, and referred to his South African bodyguards as "the Gestapo".


George VI was well enough to open the Festival of Britain in May 1951, but on 4 June it was announced that he would need immediate and complete rest for the next four weeks, despite the arrival of Haakon VII of Norway the following afternoon for an official visit.


On 31 January 1952, despite advice from those close to him, George VI went to London Airport to see Elizabeth and Philip off on their tour to Australia via Kenya.


George VI had died in the night from a coronary thrombosis at the age of 56.


George VI's daughter flew back to Britain from Kenya as Queen Elizabeth II.


George VI's funeral took place at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, on the 15th.


George VI was interred initially in the Royal Vault until he was transferred to the King George VI Memorial Chapel inside St George's on 26 March 1969.


George VI wrote to his brother Edward that in the aftermath of the abdication he had reluctantly assumed "a rocking throne" and tried "to make it steady again".


George VI became king at a point when public faith in the monarchy was at a low ebb.

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George VI bestowed the George Cross on the entire "island fortress of Malta" in 1943.


George VI was posthumously awarded the Order of Liberation by the French government in 1960, one of only two people to be awarded the medal after 1946.