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George VI of the United Kingdom
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George VI of the United Kingdom

King of Ireland (1936-1949),
Emperor of India (1936-1947)]]

King George VI, Albert Frederick Arthur George Windsor1 (December 14, 1895 - February 6, 1952), was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the British Dominions from December 11,1936 until February 6, 1952. He was the last Emperor of India from 1936 to 1947, the last King of Ireland from 1936 to 1949, and the first and only King of India during its brief status as a Dominion from 1947 to 1949. Generally known within his family as "Bertie" and to the public before becoming king as Prince Albert, he was the second son of the then- Duke of York (later King George V), and his Duchess, later Queen Mary. Prince Albert was created Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, and Baron Killarney in 1920, the same peerages that his father had held from 1892 to 1901. His official title as King was George the Sixth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India, but "Emperor of India" was omitted by a Royal Proclamation issued 1948 (though India had ceased to be an Empire in 1947).

There seemed no likelihood of his ascending the throne, because his elder brother, the bright and popular Prince Edward, was ahead of him in the line of succession. Accordingly, Prince Albert was allowed to serve in the Royal Navy during World War I (in which he received a mention in despatches) and had a certain amount of freedom in his choice of wife. He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, after she had turned him down several times.

Because of the distance between them and the throne, the Duke and Duchess of York were able to bring up their two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, in a relatively normal environment, without the pomp and circumstance that might otherwise have surrounded them. Albert was a shy man, who suffered throughout his life from a severe stammer. He was dismayed when his elder brother David, having acceded to the throne in 1936 as King Edward VIII, decided to abdicate, leaving him to take on the crown. His Coronation at Westminster Abbey occurred on May 12, 1937 and upon taking the throne, he chose the name "George VI", partly to comply with Queen Victoria's wish that no king of England have the name "Albert" and partly to restore confidence in the monarchy by using the same name as his father.

A few years later, World War II broke out, and the royal family, whose popularity had been waning, sought to set an example and were a decisive factor in keeping up the nation's spirits. The king's morale-boosting Christmas broadcast to the nation, early in the war, went down in history. In June of 1939, he and his wife became the first British King and Queen to visit America.

After the war, the king's health deteriorated rapidly. He was suffering from lung cancer due to his being a heavy smoker and last appeared in public at London Airport to see his daughter Elizabeth off on a tour of Africa. He died of a thrombosis in his sleep at Sandringham House - where he had been born in 1895 - on February 6, 1952, and is buried at Windsor Castle.

His elder daughter, still in Africa, succeeded him as Queen Elizabeth II. At the exact moment of succession, she was actually up a tree - in a tree-top hotel; possibly a unique circumstance for any such event.

King George VI also served as the last King of Ireland in accordance with the provisions of the (Irish) External Relations Act, 1936, until its repeal and the coming into force of the Republic of Ireland Act, 1948, in April 1949. Though some questioned whether the former Act actually made him King of Ireland, that fact was explicitly acknowledged in a debate in the Irish Senate in December 1948 by then Taoiseach (Irish head of government) John A. Costello, himself a former Irish Attorney-General. It was also accepted by then Irish President, Sean T. O'Kelly. Current President of Ireland Mary McAleese attended the funeral of his widow, Queen Elizabeth, the last Queen of Ireland, in 2002.

He was also the last Emperor of India until independence was granted to India in 1947, when he became the first and only King of India until India's adoption of a republican constitution in 1950.

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1 Children
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1 At the time of his birth, Prince Albert's surname was
Wettin and the Royal House name was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In 1917, both the dynastic name and personal surname were changed to Windsor because the UK was at war with Germany and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was deemed too Germanic.

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Preceded by:
Edward VIII
King of the United Kingdom Succeeded by:
Elizabeth II
Emperor of India