The 3rd June marks the birthday of George Frederick Ernest Albert Saxe Coburg Gotha, in 1865.
At the time of his birth, he was third in line to the British throne, though, as he had an elder brother, he was not expected to ascend to it.
His parents were the Prince and Princess of Wales at the time, his grandmother, the Queen (Victoria). He was brought up as a second royal son would be, serving his time in the Navy, rising quickly to a high rank, as he was expected to.
His future changed in 1891 when his elder brother Albert died, from influenza, during a widespread outbreak of the disease, which took many in the country at that time. His navy career ended quickly and he was brought rapidly home to take his place as the future Prince of Wales and eventually King.
His elder brother had been due to marry the Princess Mary of Teck, but the betrothal was quickly switched to the younger brother and they married on 6 July 1893 at ST James’ Palace in London.
They were said to be a devoted couple, coming together during their joint mourning for his brother and her partner. Together they would have 5 sons and 1 daughter.
George would come to the throne after his father’s short reign in 1910. He would reign through the difficult years of the first world war. This is another war that could be nicknamed the cousins war, as King George of Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas of Russia, were all cousins to a degree. King George would be the only monarch to retain his crown from the trio.
One of his most memorable acts during this war was the fact that he decided to change the family nane from Saxe Coburg Gotha, which was seen as ‘too German’ to the quitessentially English name of Windsor, which the royal family retain to this day.
Generally George was a popular King, also becoming the first to make a Christmas speech to his people in 1932, albeit by radio, now a common occurrence on TV every Christmas day.
His youngest son, John, died early, after a life full of illness, rumoured to have been badly controlled epilepsy. His eldest son, Edward, and George never had an easy relationship. Edward was a very outgoing person, and always travelling around the commonwealth to great adulation. He was also often in the company of married women, who he seemed to favour, a fact that would bring down his own reign less than a year after his father died. The second son, Albert, was well known to be the favourite of his parents’, he had settled down with a sensible woman, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and begun a family with her.
George would die on the 20th January 1936 (the year of the three Kings), his death ‘helped’ alledgedly by his doctor, after a very long illness, which stretched across the last ten years of his reign.
He is remembered as a rather boring King, who enjoyed much of the simpler life, his hobbies included stamp collecting, and who supported his country through the difficulties of the world war. Before his death, he predicted another war with Germany ‘within ten years’ and this would come only three years after his death. He had predicted that the Nazi party were going to be trouble in Germany, and how right he was!!!!