George VI. (United Kingdom)

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George VI. (official court portrait around 1940)

George VI. , born Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, Duke of York (born December 14, 1895 in York Cottage , Sandringham , Norfolk ; † February 6, 1952 in Sandringham House , Norfolk) from the House of Windsor (until 1917 House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha ) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from December 11, 1936 until his death , head of the Commonwealth of Nations and last Emperor of India until 1947 .

His successor was his eldest daughter Elizabeth II , the current queen .


Origin and youth

George V, Edward VIII, George VI, Edward VII around 1908 (from left)

Prince Albert of York was on 14 December 1895 in York Cottage , his father's estate on the royal estate Sandringham ( Norfolk born). He was the second son of Prince George, Duke of York and his wife Princess Mary of Teck . He grew up the second of six children:

On his father's side he was a great-grandson of the reigning British Queen Victoria and on the day of his birth was fourth in line to the throne behind his grandfather Albert Eduard , the father and older brother Eduard . 1898 gave Queen Victoria the descendants of the Dukes of York the salutation "Royal Highness" ( Royal Highness ).

"Bertie", as he was affectionately known in family circles, was a shy, reserved boy who constantly struggled with his poor health. Together with his three brothers, he received a strict Victorian upbringing, which was characterized by drill, rigor and discipline. Responsible for this were nannies , governesses and tutors , in whose hands the Duke and Duchess of York had placed the upbringing of their children. The mother seldom bothered with her children, while Prince Georg acted according to the maxim that his sons should be downright afraid of him, just as he had once feared his own father. Due to the extremely strict educational methods of the service staff (eg. B. Albert became a right-handed re-educated , although he was born left-handed) spent the sensitive Prince Albert a largely unhappy childhood and began to stutter . He kept this speech impediment throughout his life. The circumstances of the childhood years welded Bertie and his older brother Eduard (David) closely together and the two developed a very close relationship.

After the death of Victoria (1901) and of his grandfather Edward VII (1910), Albert's father ascended the throne on May 6, 1910 as George V. Eduard was named Prince of Wales in the same year , officially heir to the throne . For the shy Albert it was already clear at this early stage that he himself never wanted to become king.

Before the accession to the throne

Prince Albert as a naval officer

In 1909, thirteen-year-old Albert joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman and first attended the Royal Naval College in Osborne ( Isle of Wight ) and from 1911 in Dartmouth . The prince, who had grown up with his siblings in the social isolation of royal residences, now came into contact with other peers for the first time. After completing his theoretical training, Albert served the first six months of 1913 on the cadet training ship HMS Cumberland and toured the Caribbean and the Canadian east coast . In September 1913 he was assigned to the battleship HMS Collingwood and then served three months in the Mediterranean .

After the outbreak of the First World War , the HMS Collingwood was commissioned as part of the Grand Fleet to defend British territorial waters, but with the condition that Prince Albert should not be exposed to any direct danger to life or limb. Despite its limited scope of use, it took part as an observer in the sea ​​battle in Skagerrak (May 31 / June 1) in the summer of 1916 and was honored ( Mentioned in dispatches ). During the war he continued to suffer from his fragile health and had to undergo an operation in November 1917 because of chronic intestinal problems , which is why he could no longer observe any further acts of war at close range. At his own request, after his recovery in February 1918, Albert was assigned to the newly established Royal Naval Air Service and, after the founding of the Royal Air Force, was taken over by it as an independent military force . Until August 1918 he served the "Squadron of The Boy's Wings" in Cranwell , where he was the first member of the royal family to complete a pilot training course, thus establishing a tradition that the Windsor princes continue to this day. Albert spent the last weeks of the war up to November 1918 as a general staff officer at the headquarters of the Royal Air Force in Nancy, France .

In October 1919, Albert passed from active military service to the Trinity College of Cambridge University history , economics and political science to study. During his student days he became a member of the Association of Freemasons ( Navy Lodge, No. 2612 ). On June 4, 1920, his father gave him the title Duke of York , traditionally the second-born son of the British king. Along with this appointment went the assumption of official duties for the monarchy. Although Albert preferred to stay in the background and pursue private interests such as hunting , fishing or tennis , he performed his duties very dutifully and conscientiously. As President of the Industrial Welfare Society , the prince visited a variety of coal mines, factories and railways and showed genuine interest in the working conditions of the employees, which earned him the nickname "Industrial Prince" . However, Albert's demeanor and demeanor were far less impressive than those of his brother Eduard and his stuttering made public appearances or speeches a torture. After a disastrous closing speech in front of 100,000 people at Wembley Stadium on the occasion of the British Empire Exhibition (October 31, 1925), his persuaded him Wife to start therapy with the unconventional speech therapist Lionel Logue . From then on Logue regularly looked after the Duke of York and prepared him specifically for speeches as king. When Albert opened the Australian Parliament in Canberra in 1927 , his language skills had improved noticeably.

marriage and family

Wedding photo (1923)

On April 26, 1923, Prince Albert married the Scottish noblewoman Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon , the youngest daughter of Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and his wife Cecilia Nina Cavendish-Bentinck in Westminster Abbey . The couple had met in 1920, and although Lady Elizabeth was a descendant of King Henry VII (1457-1509), she was considered a commoner under the Windsors' house law. The marriage has two daughters:

Assumption of power

George VI. (1939)

Georg V died on January 20, 1936 and was followed as the eldest son by Edward VIII . Since the unmarried Edward was still without descendants, Albert rose as the Duke of York to the presumptive heir to the throne . As the year went on, it became apparent that the king was in a relationship with the American woman, Wallis Simpson , who was divorced twice . When Eduard informed Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin on November 16 that he wanted to marry the middle-class Mrs. Simpson, a constitutional crisis developed . With the British government and the governments of the self-governing Dominions not approving the marriage, the crisis shook the British monarchy to its foundations. Since the king was determined to make Wallis Simpson his wife and thus to put private needs above the interests of the monarchy, he renounced the crown on December 11, 1936 after only eleven months of reign and abdicated. With the abdication of his brother, the royal dignity fell to Albert. A day later he appeared before the Accession Council at St James's Palace , which officially proclaimed him king and took the oath of allegiance . In order to give the population a certain continuity and out of a gesture of respect for his father, Prince Albert chose the title George VI. Eduard left the country immediately after his abdication and went into exile in France , where he married Wallis Simpson in 1937. Georg gave his brother the title of Duke of Windsor , but refused his wife the title "Royal Highness" .

George VI. was on May 12, 1937 in Westminster Abbey by the Archbishop of Canterbury , Cosmo Gordon Lang , with the St Edward's Crown crowned . Contrary to tradition, his mother, Queen Mary , attended the coronation to openly show moral support for her son. Because of national tensions and aspirations for independence, George renounced an imperial coronation in British India . In addition, an expensive coronation ceremony at a durbar (court day) in Delhi would have burdened the Indian state budget.

Reigned from 1936 to 1952

George VI. with Clement Attlee , 1945

The beginning of the reign of George VI. was marked by political crises. Through the aggressive foreign and rearmament policy of the National Socialist German Reich under Adolf Hitler , Europe was heading for a new war. In addition, the reputation of the monarchy was badly damaged by the abdication crisis, also because Eduard openly sympathized with the Nazi regime . As a constitutional monarch , George was bound by the constitution of the kingdom and encouraged to support the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain , who had become Prime Minister in May 1937. After the conclusion of the Munich Agreement , Chamberlain appeared at the side of the royal couple on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and was celebrated by the population as the savior of peace. In May and June 1939, George VI went. as the first crowned British monarch, together with his wife, on an extensive trip to North America . According to the Statute of Westminster , he was King of Canada and in this capacity he endeavored to strengthen ties with one of the most important Dominions. In the USA , he tried to reduce the Americans' attempts at isolationism and to win them over as an ally in a possible conflict with the German Reich. To this end, he met with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House .

Despite all efforts for peace, the appeasement policy of the Western powers failed , and after the German invasion of Poland , France, Great Britain and the Dominions declared war on the German Reich on September 3, 1939. In a well-received radio address via the BBC, King George justified entering the war against the people of the global Empire .

The Royals appear on the balcony with Winston Churchill

Due to the emerging military defeat of the Western powers in Norway , criticism of Prime Minister Chamberlain, who submitted his resignation as a result of the Norwegian debate, grew . He was succeeded on May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill , who formed an all-party government including the Labor Party . George had preferred Lord Halifax as head of government, but after initial dismay at Churchill's appointment, an almost friendly relationship developed between the king and prime minister. Churchill met with Georg once a week during the war and informed him about the course of the war with unadorned situation reports. Also on May 10th, the attack by the German Wehrmacht began in the west and within a few weeks France had to ask for an armistice .

During the Second World War , the royal family shared the hardships of the common people and, for example, lived only on food rations. Georg stayed in London despite German bombing and even damage to Buckingham Palace. After German air raids ( see the Battle of Britain ), they visited the affected districts, gave consolation and took an intensive part in the suffering of the civilian population and soldiers. The royal family was not spared from losses: In August 1942, Prince Georg, Duke of Kent , a younger brother of the king, was killed in a plane crash. Georg was nominally commander in chief of the armed forces , but he did not have any influence on the war. Rather, he devoted himself intensively to his representative duties and encouraged the workers on numerous visits to armaments companies . Troop visits were also made on the fronts: France (December 1939), North Africa and Malta (June 1943), Normandy (June 1944), southern Italy (July 1944) and the Benelux countries (October 1944). Through their tireless efforts and determination, the members of the Royal Family became symbols of the British resistance to fascism . When, after the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht on May 8, 1945 ( VE Day ), a cheering crowd in front of Buckingham Palace chanted “We want the King!” , George VI was there. at the height of its popularity. Together with his family and Winston Churchill, he was celebrated on the balcony of the palace.

Great Britain emerged from the Second World War as a victorious power , but had to pay dearly for military victory and therefore experienced an extremely tough post-war period . Due to the enormous costs, there was a threat of national bankruptcy, and the British economy was in ruins. In world politics, Great Britain only played a minor role behind the new world powers USA and the Soviet Union . The war had accelerated the drive for national independence in the British Dominions and Colonies, which is why the new Prime Minister Clement Attlee pushed for the transformation of the Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations . On August 15, 1947, British India was divided into the independent states of India and Pakistan , but both countries initially remained linked to the Commonwealth as Dominions. Georg laid the Indian imperial title on June 22, 1948 and in 1949 he accepted the title of "Head of the Commonwealth" (about: 'Head of the Commonwealth').


The stresses and strains of the war years had taken their toll on the king and made him a sick man. Georg was a chain smoker all his life and was diagnosed with lung cancer and arteriosclerosis . After an artery operation on his right leg in March 1949, his health was so bad that he had to cancel a planned overseas trip to Australia and New Zealand and Crown Princess Elisabeth had to replace him more and more frequently at public appearances. When, on January 31, 1952, against the advice of the doctors, the King said goodbye to Princess Elisabeth and her husband at London Airport on a tour of Africa and Australia, public concern about the terminally ill George was great.

A few days later, on February 6, 1952, King George VI died. at the age of 56 from arterial thrombosis in his country estate at Sandringham House in Norfolk. After being laid out in St Magdalene Church in Sandringham and Westminster Hall in London , he was buried on February 15 in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle .

Princess Elisabeth succeeded him on the throne and has ruled since 1952. His widow took the title Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (popularly Queen Mum ) and outlived George by fifty years. She died on March 30, 2002 at the age of 101 and was buried at her husband's side.

After George VI. is the name of the George VI Sound and the George VI Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The names go back to the Australian polar explorer John Rymill .

Title and coat of arms

  • December 14, 1895 to May 28, 1898: His Highness Prince Albert of York
  • May 28, 1898 to January 22, 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Albert of York
  • January 22 to November 9, 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Cornwall and York
  • November 9, 1901 to May 6, 1910: His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Wales
  • May 6, 1910 to June 3, 1920: His Royal Highness The Prince Albert
  • June 3, 1920 to December 11, 1936: His Royal Highness The Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, Baron Killarney
  • December 11, 1936 to February 6, 1952: His Majesty George the Sixth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith (Emperor of India, only until 1947)


Pedigree of King George VI.

Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
⚭ 1817
Luise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg

Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
⚭ 1818
Victoire von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld

Friedrich Wilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
⚭ 1810
Luise Karoline of Hessen-Kassel

Wilhelm von Hessen -Kassel
⚭ 1810
Louise Charlotte of Denmark

Ludwig von Württemberg
⚭ 1797
Henriette von Nassau-Weilburg

László Rhédey of Kis-Rhéde

Agnes Inczédy de Nagy-Várad

Tudor Crown (Heraldry) .svg
George III of Great Britain and Ireland
⚭ 1761
Sophie Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Friedrich von Hessen-Kassel
⚭ 1777
Karoline Polyxene

of Nassau-Usingen

Great grandparents

Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1819–1861)
⚭ 1840 Queen Victoria (1819–1901)
Tudor Crown (Heraldry) .svg

Christian IX of Denmark (1818–1906)
⚭ 1842
Louise of Hesse (1817–1898)

Alexander von Württemberg (1804–1885)
⚭ 1835
Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde (1812–1841)

Adolphus Frederick, 1st Duke of Cambridge (1774–1850)
⚭ 1818
Auguste von Hessen (1797–1889)


Tudor Crown (Heraldry) .svg
King Edward VII (1841–1910)

Alexandra of Denmark (1844–1925)

Franz von Teck (1837–1900)

Mary Adelaide of Great Britain and Ireland (1833–1897)


Tudor Crown (Heraldry) .svg
King George V (1865–1936)

Mary von Teck (1867–1953)

Tudor Crown (Heraldry) .svg
King George VI. (1895–1952)

See also the family tree of the rulers of Great Britain .


Descendants of George VI.

Crown of Saint Edward (Heraldry) .svg
Queen Elizabeth II (* 1926)
⚭ 1947
Philip Mountbatten (* 1921)

Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (1930–2002)
⚭ 1960–1978
Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon (1930–2017)


Charles (* 1948)
(1) ⚭ 1981–1996
Diana Spencer (1961–1997)
(2) ⚭ 2005
Camilla Shand (* 1947)

Anne (* 1950)
(1) ⚭ 1973–1992
Mark Phillips (* 1948)
(2) ⚭ 1992
Timothy Laurence (* 1955)

Andrew (* 1960)
⚭ 1986–1996
Sarah Ferguson (* 1959)

Edward (* 1964)
⚭ 1999
Sophie Rhys-Jones (* 1965)

David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley (* 1961)
⚭ 1993
Serena Stanhope (* 1970)

Sarah Armstrong-Jones (* 1964)
⚭ 1994
Daniel Chatto (* 1957)


(from 1) William (* 1982) ⚭ 2011
Catherine Middleton (* 1982)

(from 1) Harry (* 1984) ⚭ 2018
Meghan Markle (* 1981)

(from 1) Peter Phillips (* 1977)
⚭ 2008
Autumn Kelly (* 1978)

(from 1) Zara Phillips (* 1981) ⚭ 2011
Mike Tindall (* 1978)

Beatrice (* 1988)

Eugenie (* 1990) ⚭ 2018
Jack Brooksbank (* 1986)

Louise (* 2003)

James (* 2007)

Charles Armstrong-Jones (* 1999)

Margarita Armstrong-Jones (* 2002)

Samuel Chatto (* 1996)

Arthur Chatto (* 1999)


George (* 2013)

Charlotte (* 2015)

Louis (* 2018)

Archie (* 2019)

Savannah Phillips (* 2010)

Isla Elizabeth Phillips (* 2012)

Mia Grace Tindall (* 2014)

Film adaptations

  • 2010: The film The King's Speech by Tom Hooper processes the career of George VI. from the self-doubting stutterer to the dignified head of state who had to encourage Great Britain and the former colonies during the Second World War. Colin Firth plays the role of George VI. The film shows, among other things, the radio address from September 3, 1939 on the British Empire's entry into the war and its prehistory. The King's Speech was nominated for twelve Oscars and was named “Best Picture” at the Academy Awards on February 27, 2011. Colin Firth received the Oscar for "Best Actor," and the film also won the Academy Awards for "Best Director" (Tom Hooper) and "Best Original Screenplay".
  • 2012: In the film Hyde Park on Hudson by Roger Michell shows how George VI. Visited Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 , where he sought to win the United States as an ally in the looming conflict with the German Reich. The role of King George VI. plays Samuel West .
  • 2016: In the Netflix series The Crown , George VI. Portrayed by Jared Harris .
  • 2017: In the film The Darkest Hour , George VI. played by Ben Mendelsohn .


  • Keith Middlemas: The Life and Times of George VI. Introduction by Antonia Fraser , Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1974.

Individual evidence

  1. Military Masons-Navy Lodge No.2612 ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ,, accessed October 23, 2012. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ The King's Freemasonry , Freemasonry Today, May 1, 2011, accessed October 23, 2012.
  3. George VI - King's Speech, September 3, 1939
  4. ^ John Stewart: Antarctica - An Encyclopedia. Vol. 1, McFarland & Co., Jefferson and London 2011, ISBN 978-0-7864-3590-6 , p. 618 (English).

Web links

Commons : George VI. (United Kingdom)  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
New title created
(until 1910: George V. )
Duke of York
Title merged with the crown
(from 1986: Andrew )
Edward VIII King of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II
Edward VIII Emperor of India
Title abandoned
New title created King of Pakistan
Elizabeth II