gigatos | November 12, 2021
George V of the United Kingdom (London, June 3, 1865-Norfolk, January 20, 1936) was king of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth dominions and emperor of India from May 6, 1910 until his death in 1936.
As the second son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and grandson of the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria, at the time of his birth he was third in the line of succession, behind his father and older brother, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. He served in the Royal Navy from 1877 to 1891, until January 1892, when the unexpected death of his brother placed him directly in line for the throne. On Victoria”s death in 1901, Albert Edward became King Edward VII and George was named Prince of Wales. After his father”s death in 1910, George succeeded him as King Emperor of the British Empire. He was the only Indian emperor to attend his own Delhi Durbar.
As a result of World War I, the empires of his cousins, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, fell, while the British Empire expanded to its fullest extent. In 1917, George became the first monarch of the House of Windsor, the name by which he renamed the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha as a result of the prevailing anti-Germanism. His reign saw the rise of socialism, communism, fascism, Irish republicanism and the Indian independence movement, which radically changed the political landscape. The Parliament Act of 1911 established the supremacy of the House of Commons – whose members are democratically elected – over the House of Lords – whose members do not have to go through elections. In 1924, he appointed for the first time a Labour prime minister and in 1931, the Statute of Westminster recognized the Empire”s dominions as independent kingdoms within the British Commonwealth of Nations. He was afflicted by various illnesses throughout the latter part of his reign and after his death was succeeded by his eldest son, Edward VIII.
George was born on June 3, 1865 at Marlborough House in London, the second son of the then Prince and Princess of Wales, Albert Edward and Alexandra. His father was the first-born son of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. His mother was the eldest daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark. As the son of the Prince of Wales and grandson in the male line of the British monarch, he received from his birth the treatment of His Royal Highness and the title of Prince George of Wales. He was baptized by Charles Longley, Archbishop of Canterbury, on July 7, 1865, in the chapel of St. George at Windsor Castle.
As the youngest son of the Prince of Wales there was little chance that he would ever become king, as he was third in line to the throne after his father and brother, Prince Albert Victor, and was only seventeen months younger than Albert Victor, and given their closeness in age the two boys were brought up together. George was only seventeen months younger than Albert Victor and given the closeness in age both boys were educated together. In 1871, the queen appointed chaplain John Neale Dalton as tutor to the princes, from then on the brothers had a strict study program that included games and military exercises as well as academic subjects; however, none of them excelled intellectually. Since their father thought the navy was “the best possible training for any boy,” in September 1877, when George was twelve years old, the two brothers joined the training ship HMS Britannia at Dartmouth, Devon, as cadets.
For three years beginning in 1879, the brothers served on HMS Bacchante, accompanied by Dalton. They toured the British Empire”s colonies in the Caribbean, South Africa and Australia and visited Norfolk, Virginia, as well as South America, the Mediterranean, Egypt and East Asia. In Japan, George had a blue and red dragon tattooed on his arm by a local artist. Dalton wrote an account of their voyage entitled The Cruise of HMS Bacchante. Between Melbourne and Sydney, Dalton recorded a sighting of The Flying Dutchman, a mythical ghost ship. When they returned to Britain, Queen Victoria complained that her grandchildren could not speak French or German, so they spent six months in Lausanne in a last failed attempt to learn another language. The princes were separated after their stay in Lausanne; Albert Victor attended Trinity College, Cambridge, while George continued in the British Royal Navy. He traveled the world and visited many areas of the British Empire and served actively until his last mission in 1891-1892. Thereafter, his naval rank was largely honorary.
As he was destined for a career in the navy, George served for many years under his uncle, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, who was stationed in Malta; consequently he lived closely with his cousin, Princess Mary of Edinburgh, and fell in love with her. Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh approved of the choice, but the mothers of both – the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Edinburgh – objected. The Princess of Wales thought Mary”s family was too pro-Germanic and the Duchess of Edinburgh disliked England. Mary”s mother was the only daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and resented the fact that, as the wife of a younger son of the British sovereign, she had to cede precedence to George”s mother, the Princess of Wales, whose father had been a minor German prince before being unexpectedly called to the throne of Denmark. Guided by her mother, Mary refused the marriage proposal; she finally married in 1893 Prince Ferdinand, heir to the Romanian throne.
In December 1891, George”s older brother, Prince Albert Victor, became engaged to his third aunt, Princess Victoria Maria of Teck, who was colloquially called “May” in the family, due to the month of her birth. May”s father, Francis, Duke of Teck, belonged to a morganatic branch of the house of Württemberg. Her mother, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, was a granddaughter in the male line of King George III and a cousin of Queen Victoria.
Albert Victor died of pneumonia six weeks after the formal betrothal, leaving George second in line to the throne and with a chance to reign after his father. George himself was just recovering after being confined to bed for six weeks with typhoid fever, the disease then believed to have caused the death of his grandfather, Prince Albert. Queen Victoria still regarded the Princess of Teck as the right choice for one of her grandchildren; meanwhile, during the period of shared mourning the relationship between George and Mary grew closer. A year after Albert Victor”s death, George proposed to Mary and she accepted. They were married on July 6, 1893 in the royal chapel of St. James”s Palace in London. Throughout their lives they remained devoted to each other. George admitted to being unable to express his feelings easily verbally, but they often exchanged love letters and notes of affection.
The death of his older brother ended George”s naval career, because he was now directly in line for the throne. Queen Victoria bestowed upon him the titles of Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baronet of Killarney on May 24, 1892; in addition, J. R. Tanner gave him lessons in constitutional history. After the marriage, Mary received the treatment of Her Royal Highness and the title of Duchess of York.
The Dukes of York lived mainly at York Cottage, a relatively small house in Sandringham, Norfolk, where their way of life resembled that of a well-to-do middle-class family, rather than that of royalty. George preferred a simple, quiet life, in marked contrast to the lively social life led by his father. His official biographer, Harold Nicolson, later defined George”s period as Duke of York with disappointment: “He might have been all right as a young midshipman and as a wise old king, but when he was Duke of York he did nothing at all except kill animals and paste stamps.” George was a keen stamp collector, an activity Nicolson disparaged, yet he played an important role in turning the royal philatelic collection into the most comprehensive stamp collection in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth worldwide and in some cases went on to set record purchase prices.
During the following years the couple had six children: Edward, born in 1894 and who would later become Edward VIII, married to Wallis Simpson in 1937; Albert, born in 1895, who would later become George VI, married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923 and father of Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom; Mary, born in 1897 and married to Henry Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, in 1922; Henry, born in 1900 and married to Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott in 1935; George, born in 1902 and married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark in 1934; and John, born in 1905 and died in 1919. Randolph Churchill claimed that George was a strict father, to the point that he terrified his children and because, supposedly, George himself remarked to Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby: “My father was afraid of his mother, I was afraid of my father and I will see to it that my children are afraid of me”. There is actually no direct source for this quote and it is likely that George”s parenting style was very similar to what most people of the time were accustomed to.
As Duke and Duchess of York, George and Mary undertook a wide variety of public duties. On the death of Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901, George”s father ascended the throne as Edward VII. George inherited the titles of Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay and for much of the remainder of that year was known as the Duke of Cornwall and York.
George and Mary toured the British Empire in 1901. Their tour included Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, Ceylon, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the colony of Newfoundland. The tour was designed by Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain with the support of Prime Minister Lord Salisbury and its main purpose was to reward the Dominions for their participation in the South African War of 1899-1902. George presented the colonial troops with thousands of South African war medals specially designed for the occasion. In South Africa, the royal retinue was greeted with elaborate decorations, expensive gifts, fireworks and meetings with township leaders, African leaders and Boer prisoners. Despite public demonstrations, not all residents responded favorably to the visit. Many white Afrikaners in the Cape Colony were upset by the displays and the expense, as the war had weakened their ability to reconcile their Dutch Afrikaner culture with their status as British subjects. Critics in the English-language press decried the enormous cost of the visit at a time when families were facing severe economic hardship.
In Australia the Duke opened the first session of the Australian Parliament since the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia. In New Zealand he praised the military values, bravery, loyalty and devotion to duty of the New Zealanders. The tour gave the colony an opportunity to show off its progress, especially the adoption of modern British standards in communications and manufacturing. The implicit aim was to promote New Zealand”s attractions to tourists and potential immigrants by focusing the attention of the British press on a land that few knew about, while avoiding spreading news of growing social tensions. On his return to Britain, in a speech at London”s Guildhall, George warned of “the impression which seems to prevail among brothers across the seas, that the Old Country must wake up if it intends to maintain its former position of privilege in colonial trade against foreign competitors.”
George was made Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on November 9, 1901. King Edward VII wished to prepare his son for his future role as king. Unlike Edward himself, whom Queen Victoria had deliberately excluded from affairs of state, George was given wide access to state papers by his father; at the same time his father allowed his wife access to his papers, as he valued her advice and often received her help in writing speeches. As Prince of Wales, George supported reforms in naval training, which included cadets enlisting at the age of twelve or thirteen and receiving the same education, whatever their social class or potential future assignments. The reforms were implemented by John Fisher, who then held the position of Second Sea Lord.
From November 1905 to March 1906, George and Mary toured British India, where the prince became disgusted by racial discrimination and campaigned for greater native participation in the country”s government. This trip was followed almost immediately by another to Spain for the wedding of King Alfonso XIII to Victoria Eugenia of Battenberg, George”s first cousin, where the bride and groom escaped an assassination attempt. A week after returning to Britain they traveled again to Norway for the coronation of King Haakon VII and Queen Maud, George”s sister.
Edward VII died on May 6, 1910 and George became king. On the death of his father he wrote in his diary: “I have lost my best friend and the best of fathers I never had a word of anger with him. I am overwhelmed with grief and heartbroken, but God will help me in my responsibilities and my dear May will be my comfort as she has always been. May God give me strength and guidance in the heavy task that has fallen upon me.”
George never liked his wife”s habit of signing official documents and letters as “Victoria Mary” and insisted that she stop using one of the names, and they both agreed that she should not be called Queen Victoria and so she became Queen Mary. They both agreed that she should not be called Queen Victoria and so she became Queen Mary. Later that year, a radical propagandist named Edward Mylius published the lie that the king had secretly married in Malta as a young man and that, consequently, his marriage to Queen Mary constituted bigamy. The hoax first appeared in the press in 1893, but George took it as a joke. In an effort to put an end to the rumors, Mylius was arrested, tried and convicted of libel and sentenced to a year in prison.
The coronation of the new kings took place at Westminster Abbey on June 22, 1911. The event was celebrated with the Festival of Empire in London. Later that year, the King and Queen traveled to India for the Delhi Durbar, where they were presented on December 12, 1911, before an audience of Indian dignitaries and princes, including the Emperor and Empress of India. George used the newly created Imperial Crown of India for the ceremony and during the event proclaimed the change of India”s capital from Calcutta to Delhi. On December 15 he laid the foundation stone of New Delhi along with Queen Mary. They traveled throughout the subcontinent and George took the opportunity to enjoy big game hunting; in Nepal he killed 21 tigers, 8 rhinos and a bear over the course of 10 days. He was an expert and keen marksman. On December 18, 1913 he shot nearly a thousand pheasants in six hours at Lord Burnham”s house, although he went so far as to admit “we went a little too far” that day.
George inherited the throne at a politically turbulent time. The previous year, the House of Lords, dominated by Conservatives and Unionists, rejected the budget proposal of David Lloyd George-then Chancellor of the Exchequer-which introduced new taxes affecting the wealthy to fund social welfare programs, going against the usual convention that lords did not veto budgets. The Liberal prime minister, H. H. Asquith, had asked the previous king for assurances that he would appoint enough Liberal lords to force the budget through the chamber. Edward had reluctantly agreed, provided the lords rejected the budget after two successive elections. After the January 1910 general election, the Conservative lords approved the budget.
Asquith attempted to reduce the power of the Lords through constitutional reforms that were again blocked by the Upper House. A constitutional conference on the reforms was adjourned after 21 sittings in November 1910. Asquith and Lord Crewe, Liberal leader of the Lords, asked George to grant them a dissolution, which would lead to a second general election, and to promise to appoint enough Liberal lords if the legislation was again blocked. If George refused, the Liberal government would resign, which would give the appearance that the monarch was engaging-“with the Lords and against the people”-in party politics. The king”s two private secretaries, Lord Knollys and Lord Stamfordham, gave him conflicting advice. Knollys, who was a Liberal, suggested that he accept the cabinet”s demands; while Stamfordham, who was a Unionist, suggested that he accept resignation. Like his father, George reluctantly agreed to the request, although he felt that ministers had taken advantage of his inexperience to intimidate him. After the December 1910 election, the Lords once again decided to let the bill pass when they learned of the threat to bog down the chamber with the appointment of more Liberals. The subsequent Parliament Act of 1911, permanently withdrew-with a few exceptions-the Lords” power to veto budget-related bills. The king later came to feel that Knollys had withheld information from him about the opposition”s willingness to form a government in the event that the Liberals resigned.
The 1910 general election left the Liberals as a minority government dependent on the support of Irish nationalists. As a reward for their support, Asquith introduced legislation that would give Ireland self-government, but the Conservatives and Unionists opposed it. As a reward for the support, Asquith introduced legislation that would give Ireland self-government, but the Conservatives and Unionists opposed it. Tempers were heated over the Home Rule proposal, which would not be possible without a corresponding Act of Parliament, relations between old Knollys and the Conservatives became strained and he was prompted to withdraw. Desperate to avoid the prospect of civil war in Ireland between Unionists and Nationalists, George called a meeting of all parties at Buckingham Palace in July 1914, in an attempt to negotiate a settlement. After four days the conference ended without agreement. On September 18, 1914, the king – having considered vetoing the legislation – gave his assent to the Home Rule Act, but its execution was postponed by a suspensory act due to the outbreak of World War I.
World War I
On August 4, 1914 the king wrote in his diary: “I held a Council meeting at 10:45 to declare war against Germany. It is a terrible catastrophe but it is not our fault. I hope that with God”s favor it may soon be over.” Britain and her allies were at war with the Central Powers, led by the German Empire, from 1914 to 1918. The German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who for the British people came to symbolize all the horrors of war, was the king”s first cousin. The king”s paternal grandfather was Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha; consequently, the king and his children held the titles of princes and princesses of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and dukes and duchesses of Saxe. Queen Mary, although British like her mother, was the daughter of the Duke of Teck, a descendant of the German Dukes of Württemberg. The king had brothers-in-law and cousins-in-law who were British subjects but bore German titles such as Duke and Duchess of Teck, Prince and Princess of Battenberg, Prince and Princess of Schleswig-Holstein. When H. G. Wells wrote about the court of the United Kingdom, he said that it was: “a foreign and dull court”, George responded with the famous words: “I may be dull, but I”ll be damned if I”m a foreigner”.
On July 17, 1917, George appeased British nationalist sentiments by issuing a royal decree that changed the name of the British royal house from the German Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the more British-sounding Windsor. The king and all his British relatives renounced their German titles and treatments and adopted British-sounding Anglophile surnames. George compensated his male relatives by naming them British nobles. His cousin, Prince Louis of Battenberg, who at the beginning of the war was forced to resign as First Sea Lord because of anti-German sentiments, became Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, while Mary”s brothers became Adolphus of Cambridge, 1st Marquess of Cambridge and Alexander of Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone. George”s cousins, Mary Louise and Helen Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein renounced their territorial designations.
In a patent issued on December 11, 1917, the king restricted the treatment of “His Royal Highness” and the titular dignity of “prince or princess of Great Britain and Ireland” to the children of sovereigns, the children of the sovereign”s children, and the eldest living son of the eldest living son of a Prince of Wales. The patent also stated that “the treatment of Royal Highness, Highness or Serene Highness and the titular dignity of prince and princess shall cease except in those titles already granted and irrevocable.” Relatives of the British royal family who fought on the German side, such as Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover, 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale – great-grandson of George III – and Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany and Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha – grandson of Queen Victoria – had their British titles of nobility suspended in 1919, by royal decree and with the approval of the Privy Council under the provisions of the Title Deprivation Act of 1917. Under pressure from his mother, Queen Alexandra, George also removed the heraldic flags belonging to his German relatives who were members of the Order of the Garter from St. George”s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
When Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, George”s first cousin, was overthrown in the Russian Revolution of 1917, he and his family were initially confined in Tsarskoye Selo, at that stage, when the provisional government led by Alexander Kerensky was still in power; the British government, the only country that could do anything to save them, offered him and his family asylum; but in the face of the worsening living conditions of the British people and the fear that the Bolshevik revolution could reach the United Kingdom, the king thought that the presence of Russian royalty might seem inappropriate under such circumstances, this position doomed the fate of Nicholas II”s family. Despite Lord Mountbatten”s later assertion that David Lloyd George, the prime minister, opposed the rescue of the Russian imperial family, letters from the king”s private secretary, Lord Stamfordham, suggest that it was George V himself who opposed the rescue, despite the government”s vehement advice. MI1, a branch of the British secret service, carried out plans for the rescue, but the government of the Soviets was in place, and already the Romanov family had been moved to Tobolsk and then to Yekaterinburg; thus, due to the strengthened position of the Bolshevik revolutionaries and major difficulties in the conduct of the war, the plan was never implemented. The tsar and his family remained in Russia, where they were killed by the Bolsheviks in July 1918. The following year, Maria Fyodorovna – formerly called Dagmar of Denmark – mother of Nicholas and aunt of George, and other members of the Russian imperial family were rescued from the Crimea by British ships.
Two months after the end of the war, John, the king”s youngest son, died at the age of thirteen, after being ill all his life. George was informed of his death by Queen Mary, who would explain her grief by writing: “it was a great worry for us for many years The first blow in the family circle is hard to bear, but people have been kind and empathetic and that has helped us a lot”.
The King toured Belgium and northern France in May 1922, visiting World War I cemeteries and memorials built by the Imperial War Graves Commission. The event was described by Rudyard Kipling in the poem The King”s Pilgrimage. This tour and a short visit to Italy in 1923 were the last times George left the United Kingdom on official business after the end of the war.
Before World War I, most of Europe was ruled by kings related to George, but during and after the war, the monarchies of Austria, Germany, Greece, and Spain, as well as Russia, fell to revolution or war. In March 1919, Lieutenant Colonel Edward Lisle Strutt was sent, with the king”s personal authority, to escort the ex-Emperor Charles I of Austria and his family to the safety of Switzerland. In 1922, the British Royal Navy ship HMS Calypso was sent to Greece to rescue the king”s cousins, Prince Andrew, who had been sentenced to banishment, and Princess Alice. Prince Andrew was the son of King George I of Greece and nephew of Queen Alexandra; Alice was the daughter of Louis of Battenberg, one of the German princes who received a British noble title in 1917. Among Andrew and Alice”s children was Prince Philip, who would later marry George”s granddaughter Elizabeth II. The Greek monarchy was again restored shortly before George”s death.
Political turmoil in Ireland continued as nationalists began the struggle for independence; George expressed his horror at government-sanctioned killings and reprisals against Prime Minister David Lloyd George.At the opening session of the Northern Ireland Parliament on June 22, 1921, the king, in a speech drafted in part by General Jan Smuts and approved by Lloyd George, called for conciliation.A few days later, a truce was agreed upon.Negotiations between Britain and Irish secessionists led to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. A few days later a truce was agreed. Negotiations between Britain and the Irish secessionists led to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. At the end of 1922 Ireland was partitioned, the Irish Free State was established and Lloyd George left the government.
The king and his top advisors were concerned about the rise of socialism and the growing labor movement, which they associated with republicanism. Their concerns, though exaggerated, resulted in a redesign of the monarchy”s social role, which became more inclusive of the working class and its representatives-a radical change for George, who was more comfortable with naval officers and the landed aristocracy. In fact, the socialists no longer believed his anti-monarchist slogans and were willing to come to terms with the monarchy if it would make the first move. George took that step, adopted a more democratic stance that crossed the class line and brought the monarchy closer to the people. The king also cultivated friendly relations with moderate Labor Party politicians and trade union leaders. George V abandoned the social isolation that had conditioned the behavior of the royal family and improved his popularity during the economic crisis of the 1920s and for more than two generations thereafter.
Between 1922 and 1929 there were frequent changes of government. In 1924, George appointed Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour Prime Minister, in the absence of a clear majority for any of the three parties. The king”s tactful and sympathetic reception of the first Labour government – which lasted less than a year – allayed the suspicions of party sympathizers. During the 1926 general strike, the king advised the Conservative government of Stanley Baldwin not to take exalted action, and objected to the suggestion that the strikers were “revolutionaries” by saying, “Try to live on your wages before you judge them.”
George hosted an Imperial Conference in London in 1926, where the Balfour Declaration accepted the evolution of the British dominions into forms of self-government: “autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another In 1931, the Statute of Westminster formalized the legislative independence of the dominions, further providing that “any alteration in the law touching succession to the throne or royal treatment and titles” would require the approval of the parliaments of the dominions as well as the Westminster parliament, which could not legislate for the dominions except by consent. The foreword to the act describes George as “the symbol of the free association of the members of the Commonwealth of Nations,” who were “bound together by a common allegiance.”
In the wake of the world financial crisis, the king encouraged the formation of a national government in 1931, led by MacDonald and Baldwin, offering to reduce the civil list to help balance the budget.
In 1932, George decided to give a royal Christmas address on the radio, an event that became an annual event thereafter. He was not originally in favor of the innovation, but was persuaded by the argument that it was what his people wanted.
In 1933, he was troubled by the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany. In 1934, the king bluntly told German Ambassador Leopold von Hoesch that Germany was the danger of the world and, if it continued at its present rate, was destined to enter a war within the next ten years; he warned his ambassador in Berlin, Eric Phipps, to be wary of the Nazis. By the silver jubilee of his reign in 1935, he had become a beloved king, and said, in response to the adulation of the crowd, “I don”t understand it, after all I am just a fairly ordinary person.”
George”s relationship with Edward, his eldest son and heir, deteriorated in the last years of his life. He was disappointed by Edward”s failure to establish himself in life and appalled by his constant affairs with married women. In contrast, he was very attached to his second son, Prince Albert, and adored his eldest granddaughter, Elizabeth; whom he nicknamed “Lilibet,” while the child affectionately called him “Grandfather England.” In 1935, George said of his son Edward: “After my death, the boy will be ruined in twelve months” and of Albert and Lilibet: “I pray to God that my eldest son (Edward) will never marry and have children, and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne”.
Health problems and death
World War I affected George”s health: he was seriously injured on October 28, 1915, when his horse threw him to the ground during a troop review in France, and his excessive fondness for tobacco exacerbated his recurrent respiratory problems. He suffered from pleurisy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In 1925, to regain his health and on the advice of his doctors, he reluctantly left on a private Mediterranean cruise; it was his third trip abroad since the beginning of the war and would be his last. He became seriously ill with septicemia in November 1928 and for the next two years his son Edward took over many of his responsibilities. In 1929, the suggestion of a further rest abroad was rejected by the king “in rather strong language.” Instead he retired for three months to Craigweil House, in the resort of Bognor, Sussex. As a result of his stay, the town acquired the name “Bognor Regis,” which is Latin for “King”s Bognor.” A myth would later grow that his last words, when told that he would soon be well enough to revisit the town, were, “Fuck Bognor!”.
George never fully recovered. In his last year he was administered oxygen on several occasions. On the night of January 15, 1936, the king came to his bedroom at Sandringham House complaining of a cold; he would never leave the room alive again. He became weaker and weaker until he gradually lost consciousness. Prime Minister Baldwin would later say:
whenever he regained consciousness he would make some kind of query or pleasant remark to someone, words of thanks for the kindness shown. But he said to his secretary when he sent for him, “How is the Empire?” An unusual phrase in his manner and the secretary replied, “All is well, sir, with the Empire,” the king smiled at him and once again fell into unconsciousness.
By January 20, he was close to death. His physicians, led by Lord Dawson of Penn, issued a bulletin with words that became famous: “The King”s life moves peacefully toward its end. Dawson”s private diary, discovered after his death and made public in 1986, reveals that the King”s last words were a whispered “Damn you!” to his nurse as she administered a sedative on the night of January 20. Dawson wrote that he had hastened George V”s death by giving him injections with lethal doses of morphine and cocaine. He noted that he acted to preserve the king”s dignity, to avoid further tension in the family and so that the death, which occurred at 11:55 p.m., could be announced in the morning edition of The Times newspaper, rather than “the less appropriate
The German composer Paul Hindemith locked himself in a BBC studio the morning after the king”s death and in six hours composed Trauermusik (English: Music of Mourning). That same evening a live BBC broadcast was made, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Adrian Boult and the composer as soloist.
During the procession to the Palace of Westminster, where George”s coffin was to be displayed to the public, the Imperial Crown of State fell from the top of the coffin and landed in the gutter as the cortege arrived at the palace courtyard. The new king, Edward VIII, saw it fall and wondered if it would not be a bad omen for his new reign. Edward would abdicate within a year and his brother Albert, Duke of York, would ascend the throne as George VI.
As a sign of respect for their father, the four surviving sons, Eduardo, Alberto, Enrique and Jorge, stood guard at the catafalque the night before the funeral: Edward, Albert, Henry and George, stood guard at the catafalque the night before the funeral, which was known as the Princes” Vigil.The vigil was not repeated again until the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 2002.George V was buried in St. George”s Chapel at Windsor Castle on January 28, 1936.
George preferred to stay at home and indulge in his hobbies of stamp collecting and hunting, he lived a life that his biographers would later consider dull because of its conventionality. He was not intellectual and lacked the sophistication of his two royal predecessors: on returning from a night at the opera, he wrote: “We went to Covent Garden and saw Fidelio, and how damned dull it was.” He was, however, dedicated to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. He was, however, earnestly devoted to the U.K. and the Commonwealth. He understood the British Empire better than most of its ministers; as he explained, “it has always been my dream to identify with the great idea of Empire.” He seemed to work hard and was admired by the people of the United Kingdom and the Empire, as well as the “establishment.” Historian David Cannadine described King George V and Queen Mary as a “devotedly inseparable pair” who did much to uphold “character” and “family values.” George set a standard of conduct for British royalty that reflected the values and virtues of the upper middle class rather than the lifestyles and vices of the upper classes. By temperament he was a traditionalist who never fully appreciated or approved of the revolutionary changes being effected in British society. Nevertheless, he invariably exercised his influence as a force for neutrality and moderation, seeing his role as that of the mediator rather than the final decision maker.
There are numerous statues of King George V, including those in Hobart, Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide in Australia and one outside Westminster Abbey in London by William Reid Dick. King George”s Fields, a series of parks spread across the United Kingdom, were created in his memory. Many places have been named after him, for example: King George V Park in St. John Newfoundland; Stade George V in Curepipe, Mauritius; main streets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; an avenue, a hotel and a metro station in Paris; a school in Seremban, Malaysia; and the King George V School and King George V Memorial Park in Hong Kong.
Two battleships of the British Royal Navy, the 1911 HMS King George V and her 1939 namesake, were named in his honor. George V gave his name and donations to many charities, including the King George”s Fund for Sailors, later known as Seafares UK.
Titles and treatments
By birth, George was Prince of the British Empire and received the treatment of His Royal Highness. Before ascending the throne he was successively Duke of York from May 24, 1892 to January 22, 1901, Duke of Cornwall and York from January 22, 1901 to May 6, 1910, and Prince of Wales (Duke of Rothesay in Scotland) from November 9, 1901 to May 6, 1910, with the treatment of His Royal Highness. From May 6, 1910, after the death of Edward VII, George ascended the throne as George V and became King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India, with the treatment of His Majesty and His Imperial Majesty.
His full treatment as king was “His Majesty George V, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the seas, king, defender of the faith, emperor of India,” until 1927, when it was changed to “His Majesty George V, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the seas, king, defender of the faith, emperor of India.”
Among other distinctions George was invested knight of the Order of the Garter (August 4, 1884), knight of the Order of the Thistle (July 5, 1893), knight of the Order of St. Patrick (August 20, 1897), knight grand commander of the Order of the Star of India (September 28, 1905), knight grand cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (March 9, 1901), knight grand commander of the Order of the Empire of India (September 28, 1905), knight grand cross of the Royal Victorian Order (June 30, 1897), with the Order of Imperial Service (March 31, 1903) and with the Royal Victorian Chain (1902). He was also made a member of the King”s Privy Council (July 18, 1894) and a Royal Fellow of the Royal Society (June 8, 1893). From Spain he received the Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III (January 5, 1888), the collar of the same order (May 30, 1906) and the Order of the Golden Fleece (July 17, 1893).
He entered the service of the Royal Navy in 1877 and served as a cadet on HMS Britannia until 1879; he was then a cadet on HMS Bacchante until January 1880, when he attained the rank of midshipman; in 1884 he attained the rank of second lieutenant; in 1885 that of lieutenant and was aboard HMS Thunderer, HMS Dreadnought, HMS Alexandra and HMS Northumberland. In addition, he was appointed personal Aide-de-Camp to the Queen in 1887.
In July 1889 he was in command of the torpedo boat HMS 79, in May 1890 in command of the gunboat HMS Trush, and on 24 August 1891 he was appointed frigate captain and was in command of HMS Melampus. During the following years he received different appointments within the British Royal Navy”s chain of command: captain, on 2 January 1893; rear admiral, on 1 January 1901; vice admiral, on 26 June 1903; admiral, on 1 March 1907; and admiral of the fleet, the highest rank within the Royal Navy, in 1910. He was also appointed field marshal of the British Army in 1910, and marshal of the Royal Air Force – as a title, not as a rank – in 1919.
As Duke of York, George”s coat of arms was the coat of arms of the United Kingdom with the coat of arms of Saxony superimposed and differentiated by a lambel to three pendants in argent; the central pendant bore an anchor in azure. As Prince of Wales, the central pendant lost its anchor. As king, he displayed the coat of arms of the United Kingdom. In 1917, he removed by court order the coat of arms of Saxony from the coats of arms of all the descendants of Albert, the prince consort (although the royal coat of arms never bore the coat of arms of Saxony).