The End Of A King.

 

 

(c) Victoria College, Jersey; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

King George V of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Emperor of India died on this day in 1936 his death saw the beginning of the very brief blink and you miss it reign of his son King Edward VIII.

The First World War took a toll on George’s health: he was seriously injured on 28 October 1915 when thrown by his horse at a troop review in France, and his heavy smoking exacerbated recurring breathing problems. He suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pleurisy. In 1925, on the instruction of his doctors, he was reluctantly sent on a recuperative private cruise in the Mediterranean; it was his third trip abroad since the war, and his last.[In November 1928, he fell seriously ill with septicaemia, and for the next two years his son Edward took over many of his duties. 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,Aldwick, in the seaside resort of Bognor, Sussex. As a result of his stay, the town acquired the suffix “Regis”, which is Latin for “of the King”. A myth later grew that his last words, upon being told that he would soon be well enough to revisit the town, were “Bugger Bognor!”

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George never fully recovered. In his final year, he was occasionally administered oxygen. The death of his favourite sister Victoria in December 1935 depressed him deeply. On the evening of 15 January 1936, the King took to his bedroom at Sandringham House complaining of a cold; he remained in the room until his death. He became gradually weaker, drifting in and out of consciousness. Prime Minister Baldwin later said:

each time he became conscious it was some kind inquiry or kind observation of someone, some words of gratitude for kindness shown. But he did say to his secretary when he sent for him: “How is the Empire?” An unusual phrase in that form, and the secretary said: “All is well, sir, with the Empire”, and the King gave him a smile and relapsed once more into unconsciousness.

By 20 January, 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 is moving peacefully towards its close.”  Dawson’s private diary, unearthed after his death and made public in 1986, reveals that the King’s last words, a mumbled “God damn you!”,were addressed to his nurse, Catherine Black, when she gave him a sedative on the night of 20 January. Dawson wrote that he hastened the King’s death by injecting him with a lethal combination of morphine and cocaine. Dawson noted that he acted to preserve the King’s dignity, to prevent further strain on the family, and so that the King’s death at 11:55 p.m. could be announced in the morning edition of The Times newspaper rather than “less appropriate … evening journals”.

At the procession to George’s lying in state in Westminster Hall, part of the Imperial State Crown fell from on top of the coffin and landed in the gutter as the cortège turned into New Palace Yard. The new king, Edward VIII, saw it fall and wondered whether it was a bad omen for his new reign.  As a mark of respect to their father, George’s four surviving sons, Edward, Albert, Henry, and George, mounted the guard, known as the Vigil of the Princes, at the catafalque on the night before the funeral. The vigil was not repeated until the death of George’s daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, in 2002. George V was interred at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 28 January 1936. Edward abdicated before the year was out, leaving his brother Albert, Duke of York, to ascend the throne (taking the regnal name George VI).

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George had ruled for twenty six years been married to his wife and consort Mary of Teck for forty three years had six children together, would have nine grandchildren though at the time of his death that number was only at five the future Queen Elizabeth being the eldest and probably his favourite his wish was to see Bertie and his “Lilibet”, and she affectionately called him “Grandpa England”. In 1935, George said of his son Edward: “After I am dead, the boy will ruin himself within 12 months”, and of Albert and Elizabeth: “I pray to God my eldest son will never marry and have children, and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne.”.

Whether George’s wish came true and magic does exist or he just knew the character of his eldest son very well indeed he was right in everything Edward abdicated and Bertie was crowned then Elizabeth has ruled ever since she is now going into her 90th year.

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