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Summary Article: George VI
from Chambers Biographical Dictionary


King of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The second son of George V, and father of Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret, he was born at Sandringham House, Norfolk, and educated at Dartmouth and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He served in the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland (1916), and later in the Royal Naval Air Service and the RAF (1917-19). Keenly interested in the human problems of industry, he became president of the Boys' Welfare Association and originated the summer camps for public school and working-class boys. In 1920 he was created Duke of York and he married Elizabeth (Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon) in 1923. An outstanding tennis player, he played at Wimbledon in the All-England Championships (1926). The following year, he and the duchess toured Australia. On the abdication of his elder brother, Edward VIII, he ascended the throne in 1936. During World War II he set a personal example over wartime restrictions, continued to reside in bomb-damaged Buckingham Palace, visited all the theatres of the war and delivered many broadcasts, for which he overcame a speech impediment. In 1947 he toured South Africa and substituted the title of Head of the Commonwealth for that of Emperor of India when that subcontinent was granted independence by the Labour government. By then his health was rapidly declining, although he persevered with his duties. His last great public occasion was the opening of the Festival of Britain (1951). He died in his sleep on 6 February 1952 and was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth II.

  • Judd, Denis King George VI 1895-1952 (1982).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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