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 14 December 1895 at York Cottage , Sandringham , Norfolk ; † 6 February 1952 at Sandringham House , Norfolk) of 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 .

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

He was a great-grandson of the reigning British Queen Victoria on his father's side and was fourth in line to the throne on the day of his birth, behind his grandfather Albert Edward , his father and older brother Edward . He was named after his great-grandfather, Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's husband), as he was born on December 14, the 34th anniversary of his great-grandfather's death. In 1898 Queen Victoria bestowed the form of title "Royal Highness" on the descendants of the Duke of York .

"Bertie", as he was affectionately known in family circles, was a shy, reserved boy who constantly struggled with his frail health. Together with his three brothers, he received a strict Victorian upbringing, which was characterized by drill, toughness and discipline. Responsible for this were nannies , governesses and tutors , into whose hands the Duke and Duchess of York had placed the education of their children. The mother rarely spent time with her children, while Prince George acted on the maxim that his sons should be downright afraid of him, just as he had once been afraid of his own father. Due to the extremely strict upbringing practices of the servants (e.g. Albert was re- educated to be right -handed despite being left-handed by birth) and the fact that he stuttered, the sensitive Prince Albert had a mostly unhappy childhood. Stuttering accompanied him throughout his life. The circumstances of the childhood years welded Bertie closely to his older brother Eduard (David) and the two developed a very close relationship.

After the death of Victoria (1901) and grandfather Edward VII (1910), Albert's father ascended the throne as George V on May 6, 1910. Edward was made Prince of Wales in the same year, making him the official heir to the throne . For the shy Albert it was already clear at this early point in time that he himself never wanted to and would never 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 grew up with his siblings in the social isolation of royal residences, now came into contact with others of his own age for the first time. After completing theoretical training, Albert served the first six months of 1913 on the cadet training ship HMS Cumberland , touring the Caribbean and Canada's east coast . In September 1913 he was assigned to the battleship HMS Collingwood and subsequently served three months in the Mediterranean .

After the outbreak of World War I , HMS Collingwood was tasked with defending British territorial waters as part of the Grand Fleet , but with the proviso that Prince Albert should not be placed in direct danger to life or limb. In spite of his limited use, he took part in the summer of 1916 as an observer at the naval battle of the Skagerrak (May 31/June 1) and was distinguished ( Mentioned in dispatches ). During the war he continued to suffer from his fragile health and had to undergo an operation for chronic intestinal problems in November 1917 , which is why he was no longer able to observe further hostilities at close range. At his own request, Albert was assigned to the newly established Royal Naval Air Service after his recovery in February 1918 and was taken over by it after the formation of the Royal Air Force as an independent service . He served in the Squadron of The Boy's Wings at Cranwell until August 1918 , where he became the first member of the royal family to become a pilot, beginning a tradition that the Windsor princes continue to this day. Albert spent the last weeks of the war until November 1918 as a general staff officer at the Royal Air Force headquarters in Nancy , France .

In October 1919 Albert retired from active military service to study history , economics and political science at Trinity College , Cambridge University . During his student days he became a member of the Masonic League ( Navy Lodge, No. 2612 ). On June 4, 1920, his father bestowed on him the title Duke of York , traditionally bestowed on the second-born son of the British king. Along with this appointment came 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 carried out his duties very dutifully and conscientiously. As President of the Industrial Welfare Society , the Prince visited a variety of coal mines, factories and railroad sites, showing a genuine interest in the working conditions of employees, earning him the nickname "Industrial Prince" . However , Albert 's demeanor and habitus were far less impressive than those of his brother Eduard, and his stuttering made public appearances or speeches torture wife to begin therapy with unconventional speech therapist Lionel Logue . From then on, Logue looked after the Duke of York on a regular basis and also prepared him 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 26 April 1923, Prince Albert married the Scottish noblewoman Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon , youngest daughter of Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and his wife Cecilia Nina Cavendish-Bentinck , at Westminster Abbey . The couple had met in 1920 at a high society ball. At first Elizabeth was skeptical about marrying into the royal family and only accepted the third marriage proposal from him, who stated that he would not marry any other woman. Although Lady Elizabeth was a descendant of King Henry VII (1457-1509) and descended from the Scottish aristocracy , she was considered a commoner by Windsor house law. The marriage, which can be described as very happy, produced two daughters:

rise to power

George VI (1939)

George V died on January 20, 1936 and was succeeded by Edward VIII as the eldest son . Since the unmarried Edward was still without descendants, Albert rose to the presumptive heir to the throne as Duke of York . As the year progressed, it became apparent that the king was in a relationship with twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson . A constitutional crisis ensued when Edward informed Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin on November 16 that he wished to marry the commoner Mrs. Simpson . With the British government and the governments of the self-governing Dominions not agreeing to the marriage, the crisis shook the British monarchy to its core. Since the king was determined to make Wallis Simpson his wife and thus to put private needs ahead of the interests of the monarchy, he renounced the crown on December 11, 1936 and abdicated after only eleven months of reign. 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 , who officially proclaimed him king and took the oath of allegiance . To give some continuity to the populace and as a gesture of respect to 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. George bestowed the title Duke of Windsor on his brother , but denied his wife the title "Royal Highness" .

George VI was crowned with the Edwardian Crown at Westminster Abbey on 12 May 1937 by the Archbishop of Canterbury , Cosmo Gordon Lang . 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 decided not to be crowned emperor in British India . In addition, an expensive coronation ceremony at a Durbar (court day) in Delhi would have burdened the Indian state budget.

Reign 1936 to 1952

George VI (right) with Clement Attlee , 1945

The beginning of the reign of George VI. was marked by political crises. Due to the aggressive foreign and armament policy of the National Socialist German Reich under Adolf Hitler , Europe was headed for a new war. In addition, the reputation of the monarchy was severely damaged by the abdication crisis, also because Eduard openly sympathized with the Nazi regime . As a constitutional monarch , George was bound by the kingdom's constitution and required to support the appeasement policies 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. as the first crowned British monarch, together with his wife, on an extended North American journey. Under the Statute of Westminster he was King of Canada and in that capacity sought to strengthen ties with one of the major dominions. In the USA he endeavored to reduce American isolationist tendencies and to win them over as allies in a possible conflict with the German Reich. To this end, he met with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House .

Despite all peace efforts, the western powers ' policy of appeasement 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 BBC , King George justified entering the war to the people of the global empire .

The Royals' balcony appearance with Winston Churchill

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

During the Second World War , the royal family shared the hardships of the common people and lived only on food rations themselves, for example. Georg stayed in London despite German bombing raids and even damage to Buckingham Palace. After German air raids ( cf. Battle of Britain ) they visited affected districts, offered consolation and took an intense interest in the suffering of the civilian population and the soldiers. The royal family itself was not spared from losses: in August 1942, Prince George, Duke of Kent , a younger brother of the king, died in a plane crash. Georg was nominally the supreme commander of the armed forces , but he had no influence whatsoever on the course of the war. Rather, he devoted himself intensively to his representational duties and encouraged the workers on numerous visits to armaments companies. There were also visits to troops 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 emblematic figures of the British resistance to fascism . When a cheering crowd chanted "We want the King!" in front of Buckingham Palace after the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht on May 8, 1945 ( VE Day ), George VI found himself. at the peak of its popularity. He was celebrated on the palace balcony with his family and Winston Churchill.

Although Great Britain emerged from the Second World War as a victorious power , it had to pay a high price for military victory and therefore experienced an extremely difficult post-war period . Due to the enormous costs, national bankruptcy threatened, the British economy was on the bottom. In global politics, Great Britain only played a secondary role behind the new world powers USA and the Soviet Union . The war had accelerated national independence efforts in the British dominions and colonies, which is why the new Prime Minister, Clement Attlee , promoted 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 connected to the Commonwealth as Dominions. Georg relinquished the title of Emperor of India on June 22, 1948 and in 1949 he assumed the title of Head of the Commonwealth.


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

King George VI died of arterial thrombosis at his country home, Sandringham House, Norfolk, aged 56. He died on the night of February 5/6, 1952; his servant found him dead in bed at 7:30 in the morning. After being laid out in St Magdalene Church , Sandringham and London's Westminster Hall , he was buried in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on 15 February .

Princess Elisabeth automatically became queen on the death of her father and was crowned on 2 June 1953 . 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 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

  • 14 December 1895 to 28 May 1898: His Highness Prince Albert of York
  • 28 May 1898 to 22 January 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Albert of York
  • 22 January to 9 November 1901: His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Cornwall and York
  • 9 November 1901 to 6 May 1910: His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Wales
  • 6 May 1910 to 3 June 1920: His Royal Highness The Prince Albert
  • 3 June 1920 to 11 December 1936: His Royal Highness The Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, Baron Killarney
  • 11 December 1936 to 6 February 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 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 of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

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

Wilhelm of Hesse -Kassel
⚭ 1810
Louise Charlotte of Denmark

Ludwig of Württemberg
⚭ 1797
Henriette of 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 of Hesse-Kassel
⚭ 1777
Caroline 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 of Württemberg (1804–1885)
⚭ 1835
Claudine Rhédey of Kis-Rhéde (1812–1841)

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


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

Alexandra of Denmark (1844–1925)

Francis of Teck (1837–1900)

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


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

Mary of Teck (1867–1953)

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

See also pedigree of the rulers of Great Britain .


Descendants of George VI

Crown of Saint Edward (Heraldry).svg
Queen Elizabeth II (b. 1926)
⚭ 1947–2021
Philip Mountbatten (1921–2021)

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


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

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

Andrew (b. 1960)
⚭ 1986–1996
Sarah Ferguson (b. 1959)

Edward (b. 1964)
⚭ 1999
Sophie Rhys-Jones (b. 1965)

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

Sarah Armstrong Jones (b. 1964)
⚭ 1994
Daniel Chatto (b. 1957)


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

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

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

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

Beatrice (* 1988) ⚭ 2020
Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi (* 1983)

Eugenie (b. 1990) ⚭ 2018
Jack Brooksbank (b. 1986)

Louise (* 2003)

James (born 2007)

Charles Armstrong Jones (born 1999)

Margarita Armstrong Jones (born 2002)

Samuel Chatto (born 1996)

Arthur Chatto (born 1999)


George (born 2013)

Charlotte (* 2015)

Louis (* 2018)

Archie (born 2019)

Lilibet (* 2021)

Savannah Phillips (born 2010)

Isla Elizabeth Phillips (born 2012)

Mia Grace Tindall (born 2014)

Lena Elizabeth Tindall (born 2018)

Lucas Philip Tindall (born 2021)

Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi (born 2021)

August Philip Hawke Brooksbank (b. 2021)

film adaptations

  • 2010: The film The King's Speech by Tom Hooper deals with the career of George VI. from self-doubting stutterer to dignified head of state who had to encourage Britain and the then colonies during the Second World War. Colin Firth plays the role of George VI. The film shows, among other things, the radio speech of September 3, 1939 on the entry into the war of the British Empire and its history. The King's Speech was nominated for twelve Oscars and won Best Picture at the February 27, 2011 Academy Awards. Colin Firth received the Oscar for Best Actor, and the film also won the Oscars for Best Director (Tom Hooper) and Best Original Screenplay.
  • 2012: The film Hyde Park on the Hudson by Roger Michell shows how George VI. in 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt visited, where he tried 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.


  1. Military Masons-Navy Lodge No.2612 ( Memento des Originals of 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 23 October 2012. @1@2Template:Webarchiv/IABot/
  2. The King's Freemasonry , Freemasonry Today 1 May 2011, accessed 23 October 2012.
  3. George VI - King's Speech, September 3, 1939
  5. 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 images, videos and audio files
predecessor government office successor
Title newly created
(until 1910: Georg 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
Title recreated King of Pakistan
Elizabeth II