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A King George VI portrait from an old Bermuda 5 Shillings banknote from 1937

Biography: George VI

Image Credit: | Above: A King George VI portrait from an old Bermuda 5 Shillings banknote from 1937

George, the second son of George V and Mary of Teck, was one of only five British monarchs ever to succeed to the throne in their predecessor’s lifetime.

Much in awe of his brother, Edward, Prince of Wales, throughout his childhood, George also suffered from a bad speech stammer as a young man.

With the aid of Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist, he gradually managed to overcome his speech defect by his thirtieth birthday.

In 1923, George married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and together they had two daughters – Elizabeth (Former Queen of the United Kingdom, 6th February 1952 - 8th September 2022), and Margaret.

George, markedly unprepared and unwilling for the role, was forced to assume the throne upon the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII, in December 1936. He had much to do, because opinion of the throne was severely affected by the crisis, and he still relied to a large extent upon the advice of his brother.

As it turned out, events on the continent soon overshadowed the monarchy’s problems. Europe gradually slid into war and, after the failure of her ‘appeasement’ policies, Great Britain declared war on Germany, alongside France, on September 3, 1939.

Like his father before him, George visited troops, weapons factories, supply docks and bomb-damaged areas to raise morale and support the war effort. With the Nazi's Luftwaffe airforce bombing London, the royal family remained determinedly at Buckingham Palace, although the young princesses were sent to Windsor.

George went so far as to practice firing his revolver, vowing that he would defend the palace to the death.

The actions of the King and Queen, staying in London with the people and making regular public appearances, greatly helped restore the prestige of the monarchy.

Anticipating the hardship of the post-war period, George was nonetheless troubled by the processes of nationalisation and decolonialisation which took place throughout Britain and the Empire.

Physically exhausted by the strains of kingship, and alarmed by the changes in society, he died from cancer on February 6, 1952.