George VI: The Unprepared King.
The problems of King George VI.
George didn’t expect to be the king. He was the second son and therefore it was his older brother who was brought up to know that one day, he would be the sovereign.
And just as expected, when their father died, Edward ascended to the throne and became King Edward VIII.
Just as is the case with Prince Harry today, George had no desire whatsoever to become the monarch.
George was a shy man who was happily married to the former Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and the couple had two small daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. He was a reserved man but was happy with his lot in life.
But in 1936, life in England was troubled. Those in the know were increasingly aware that war with Germany was becoming a definite possibility.
But for George, there was another prospect.
Edward, his brother the king, wasn’t married but had enjoyed a string of mistresses. But for the last two years he had been seriously involved with a woman who was most unsuitable as queen.
Not only was she American – and the royal family was expected to marry into British families – but she was also married, she had previously been divorced.
The government and royal insiders believed that it would be impossible for the king to continue his relationship with this woman – a Mrs Wallis Simpson – let alone marry him.
Furthermore, they were both suspected of having sympathies with the Nazi regime. To many, the fact that Edward was on the throne was an all-round disaster.
But the king resisted their pleas. He wanted Wallis Simpson to be divorced so that he could marry her. The government was scandalised. In order to do so, they maintained, he would have to give up the throne.
He did so in December 1936 and his unwilling brother George became king. He and his family were completely disrupted. Their lives changed completely. But what was particularly worrying to him, his wife and those oh-so-careful ministers was that although George was a good man, he had a huge problem when it came to his regal role. Increasingly, war became more likely and George, as king, was required to keep up the morale of the country. In those days, this was largely done by speeches, on the radio and in public.
But the king had a terrible speech impediment.
He stuttered, stammered and hesitated. He was totally unsuitable for public speaking. The government were in despair – they had gone from one king whose sexual activities were unsuitable to one who became a trembling wreck when he had to address his people.
Thanks to his own determination, an unusual therapist and his wife – who later became the much-loved Queen Mother – he overcame this problem and became an excellent monarch.
George VI died in 1952 at the young age of fifty-six. His wife Elizabeth lived until she was one hundred and one years old and always blamed Wallis Simpson for her husband’s early death. Had it not been for Mrs Simpson, George would not have been king and would have lived a longer and happier life.
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