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George V of the United Kingdom
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George V of the United Kingdom

George V, George Frederick Ernest Albert Windsor, né Wettin1 (3 June 1865-20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (from 1927, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and Emperor of India from 6 May 1910 until his death. He was also King of Ireland from 6 December 1922 to his death. He was the first British monarch of the House of Windsor.

He was born at Marlborough House in London, the second son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark. As a younger son of the Prince of Wales, there was no expectation that Prince George of Wales, as he was then styled, would take the throne. His elder brother, Prince Albert Victor, later Duke of Clarence and Avondale, known to the family as "Eddy," was second in line to the throne after his father. As children, the two boys were very close and were sent away together to naval college as a way of finishing their education, but their characters were very different. Eddy was unstable -- possibly even mentally retarded -- whilst George had inherited the steady, dutiful disposition of his grandmother, Queen Victoria.

After becoming engaged to marry his second cousin once removed, HSH Princess Victoria May ("Princess Mary") of Teck (26 May 1867-24 March 1953), the Duke of Clarence died suddenly leaving Prince George directly in line for the throne. On 24 May 1892, Queen Victoria created Prince George Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, and Baron Killarney. He married his late brother's fiancée Princess Mary on 6 June 1893 in the Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace. The Duke and Duchess of York lived mainly at York Cottage, Sandringham House, a relatively small house where their way of life was almost that of an ordinary family. However, they set very high standards for their children, of whom they had six, five boys and a girl:

In the Duke and Duchess of York there was a genuine love match. Indeed the couple were so devoted that they could not bear to spend a day apart; whenever they were separate, they wrote to each other several times daily.

Following his father's accession to the throne on 22 January 1901, George, as the surviving son of the new British Sovereign, automatically became Duke of Cornwall in the peerage of England and Duke of Rothesay in the peerage of Scotland. For much of 1901, he was known as His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall and York. He was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on 9 November 1901, titles which he held until his father's death on 6 May 1910, when he succeeded to the throne.

King George V and Queen Mary were crowned at Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911. They were subsequently enthroned as Emperor and Empress of India at New Delhi on 11 December 1911.

As king and queen, George and Mary saw Britain through World War I, a difficult time for the royal family as they had many German relatives. Although a female-line great granddaughter of King George III, Queen Mary was the daughter of the Duke of Teck, a morganatic scion of the Royal House of Württemberg. King George's paternal grandfather was Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha; the King and his children bore the titles Prince and Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duke and Duchess of Saxony.

The German Emperor Wilhelm II, who was widely despised by the British public, was the king's first cousin, "Willy." The King had brothers-in-law and cousins who were British subjects but who bore German titles such as Duke and Duchess of Teck, Prince and Princess of Battenberg, Prince and Princess of Hesse and by Rhine, and Prince and Princess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sønderburg-Augustenberg.

On 17 July 1917, George V issued an Order in Council that changed the name of the British Royal House from the German-sounding House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the House of Windsor, to appease British nationalist feelings. He specifically adopted Windsor as the surname for all descendants of Queen Victoria then living in the United Kingdom, excluding females who married into other families and their descendants. (By doing so, he resolved the issue of whether the Royal Family had the personal surname, and if so, what it might be.)

Finally, on behalf of his various relatives who were British subjects he relinquished the use of all German titles and styles, and adopted British-sounding surnames. George V compensated serveral of his male relatives by creating them British peers. Thus, overnight his cousin, Prince Louis of Battenberg, become Louis Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford-Haven, while his brother-in-law, the Duke of Teck, became Adolphus Cambridge, 1st Marquess of Cambridge. Others, such as Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, simply stopped using their territorial designations. In Letters Patent dated 30 November 1917, the King restricted the style Royal Highness and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess of Great Britain and Ireland to the children of the Sovereign, the children of the sons of the Sovereign, and the eldest living son of the eldest living son of a Prince of Wales.

The Letters Patent also stated that "the titles of Royal Highness, Highness or Serene Highness, and the titular dignity of Prince and Princess shall cease except those titles already granted and remaining unrevoked." Relatives of the British Royal Family who fought on the German side, such as Prince Ernst August of Hanover, 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale (the senior male-line great grandson of George III) and Prince Carl Eduard, 2nd Duke of Albany and the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (a male line grandson of Queen Victoria), were simply cut off; their British peerages suspended by a 1919 Order in Council under the provisions of the Titles Deprivation Act 1917.

Following the war, George's health began to deteriorate. He had always had a weak chest, and this weakness was exacerbated by his heavy smoking. But he managed to see the silver jubilee of his reign, in 1935, by which time he had become a well-loved king. He died on 20 January 1936, at Sandringham House and is buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. He was succeeded by his eldest son, who became King Edward VIII.

King George also reigned as king in many states, including the Irish Free State, becoming 'King of Ireland' under the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927. An astute judge of people, he once advised Ireland's High Commissioner in London to send a personal message from him to Eamon de Valera: "Don't make so many promises. They are so damned difficult to carry out." "Too true", de Valera is supposed to have remarked with a laugh. "I could do with someone like His Majesty in my cabinet!"

George was a well-known stamp collector, and played a large role in building the Royal Philatelic Collection into the most comprehensive assemblage of United Kingdom and Commonwealth stamps in the world, in some cases setting record purchase prices for items. His enthusiasm for stamps, though denigrated by the intelligentsia, did much to popularize the hobby.

Titles from birth to death

  1. His Royal Highness Prince George of Wales
  2. His Royal Highness The Duke of York
  3. His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall and York
  4. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
  5. George V, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the British domians beyond the seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.
  6. George V, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the relams and territories beyond the seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.


[1] King George V's original surname may have been
Wettin and the Royal House name was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In 1917, both the dynastic name and personal surname were changed to Windsor due to their German origins (because the UK was at war with Germany). The actual surname that may have borne by Ernestine branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is not clear. However a study commissioned by Queen Victoria concluded that her marital surname was Wettin.

[2] It has recently been discovered or allegated that King George was murdered by his court physician, doctor Watson. The King, in an advanced state of dying and in great pain was resolute and strongly resisting passing while on his deathbed. According to some sources, Dr. Watson injected the king with a lethal combination of cocaine and morphine the night of his death so that he would not survive into the morning. Dr. Watson's excuse was to speed the king's death and end suffering and also so that his death could be reported in the morning edition of the Times.

[3]King George V was a very short and slender man, although in movies and television he is often portrayed as a tall and intimidating man. Though his true height was a "state secret," it believed he was no taller then 5 feet 5 inches. The King also had a few tattoos on his arms which he had gotten done during his days in the navy. After becoming King, he would never allow them to been seen in public again.

[4]There had been a rumour going around the George had gotten married in Malta before marrying Mary of Teck. This rumour was denied by both the King and the royal court and today it is believed that the rumour was false, though there is no concrete evidence either way.
Preceded by:
Edward VII
King of the United Kingdom Succeeded by:
'''Edward VIII
Emperor of India