I thought I'd use this Thirties Thursday post to share a few facts about the real King George VI. To begin with, he didn't actually look much like this:
- Born on December 14, 1895, Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George (known as Prince Albert) was the second son of George and Mary, then known as the Duke and Duchess of York. Unfortunately the baby was born on Mausoleum Day - the anniversary of the death of Prince Albert, (Queen Victoria's husband) and the Queen (who was still very much alive in 1895) insisted that her family always spend the day visiting Prince Albert's grave. No birthday celebrations allowed. This continued until Victoria's death which occurred just after little Prince Albert's 5th birthday.
- Although he was naturally left-handed, it was decided (as was the norm at this time) for the child to be taught to write with his right hand. Many believe this is when Prince Albert began to stutter.
- He never enjoyed good health; he was prone to many digestive disorders and when he was in the Navy spent a great deal of his time in Sick Bay.
- His elder brother, the Prince of Wales, had graduated second to the bottom from the Naval officer training school at Dartmouth, much to his father the King's displeasure. Prince Albert got his brother out of the dog house when he graduated last in his class.
- He and his brother were exceptionally close. They had been born 18 months apart and were each other's first choice for company as they were growing up. Prince Albert worshiped his blond, charismatic older brother and Prince Edward was very protective of his younger brother. This close relationship was irretrievably damaged during the Abdication crisis of 1936.
- When he was preparing to propose to his future wife (then known as Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon), Prince Albert was faced with a dilemma. It was unheard of for a royal Prince to propose without knowing he was going to be accepted; back then one did not say 'no' to a Prince. Following the accepted protocol of the time, Prince Albert sent his Private Secretary to Lady Elizabeth to ascertain what her answer would be to a marriage proposal. Lady Elizabeth sent word back through the poor Private Secretary that if Prince Albert wanted an answer, he would have to ask her himself. He did. She refused. Twice. She finally said 'yes' when the determined Prince asked for a third time.
- He was another member of the Royal family who had inherited the Hanoverian temper; he was prone to large fits of anger which would (luckily) be short-lived. After he became King, he would take out his frustrations on his bath sponge, twisting it into shreds. Royal bath sponges had a short life in those days.
- During the Abdication crisis, the thought was floated of Edward VIII's successor not being his next brother, but the younger brother, Prince George, Duke of Kent. The Duke had married a Greek Princess and his dark good looks and charm had made him a popular personality. Prince Albert (known as the Duke of York) was not well-known to the British public. His natural shyness and his speech problems meant he did not make many public appearances and even less public speeches.
Of course, he did inherit the throne in December 1936 and was King during the second World War. He became known as George the Good and his unexpected death in 1952 (at the young age of 56) plunged the country into mourning.