The Roosevelts and the Royals by Will Swift
NewsAbout Will SwiftBook reviews and pressDownload Prologue to The Roosevelts and the RoyalsSample rare photos from the bookBuy The Roosevelts and the RoyalsContact author or publisher

about the roosevelts and the royals
Synopsis of The Roosevelts and the Royals Highlights of The Roosevelts and the Royals Background research for The Roosevelts and the Royals

About Franklin D. RooseveltAbout Eleanor Roosevelt

About Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother

king george vi
KING GEORGE VI

Born December 14, 1895

Died February 6, 1952

Married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon April 26, 1923

Two Children: Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret

Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George was born into one of the world’s most prominent families. Bertie, as he was known, was the great-grandson of Queen Victoria, who reigned over an empire that included one-quarter of the world’s population and territory, and was the world’s premier power. As a boy, Bertie was extremely shy, slow at school, homely, knock-kneed, and developed a stammer at age seven. As a result, he grew up believing he was an inadequate outsider. He had difficulty keeping up with his confident, older brother David, later King Edward VIII. His father, the future George V, was a remote and controlling figure, less an encouraging parent than a sharp-tongued naval commander, committed to maintaining the dignity of the Crown and ensuring that his children adhere to its protocols and traditions. Bertie inherited his father’s devotion to duty and, more than his brothers, was all too prone to subjugate himself to his sovereign father’s will, despite the cost to his health and his psyche. Fortunately, from his mother, Queen Mary, he also inherited a disposition toward broad-mindedness that would ultimately serve him well.

At thirteen, Bertie was sent to Osborne, the naval college, and was unprepared for its harsh demands. However, he found a father figure there, Surgeon-Lieutenant Louis Greig, who supported and encouraged him as his own father could not. Following his brother David’s path to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, and still haunted by a miserably inadequate early education, Bertie placed near the bottom of his class, compounding his feelings of estrangement and inadequacy. It was a relief in September 1913 to begin training as an ordinary midshipman on the battleship HMS Collingwood. Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914, and World War I began. Before the prince could even contemplate going into battle, he was incapacitated with a recurrence of the severe stomach problems that had plagued him ever since early childhood. He spent periods of the war in the hospital.

While his brother David, now Prince of Wales, was winning accolades during his celebrated tours of the Commonwealth, Bertie was struggling to overcome his frailties and find a role for himself at home. He admired his brother’s phenomenal charm and international successes, but felt diminished by them. His father bucked him up by bestowing on him the oldest dukedom in England, the ancient title of Duke of York. King George V thought his younger son, the Duke of York, who shared his sense of responsibility and a sturdy integrity, would make a superb king.

In June, 1920, twenty-four-year-old Prince Albert noticed Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at a dinner dance in London. Prince Albert was good-looking and athletic, but he was also shy, vulnerable, and intimidated by his own stammer. He would later acknowledge he had fallen in love with Elizabeth that evening, although it had taken him time to realize it. She turned down several marriage proposals from him before he succeeded in convincing her to marry him, join the royal family, and endure the scrutiny of the press. Once the duke had the consistent love, understanding, and support that he had craved all his life, he blossomed. A natural underlying gaiety emerged and his awkwardness and self-consciousness softened into greater spontaneity. Over time as he felt more secure, his natural common sense ripened into wisdom and sound judgment.

As the first royal family member to focus on industrial relations, he became known as the "Industrial Prince." He helped the monarchy begin to shift from charitable and social activities to an emphasis on social and economic development. After Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist, helped him overcome his speech defect, he was able to undertake several highly successful Commonwealth tours including a trip to Australia and New Zealand in 1927.

In the mid 1930s he led a deeply satisfying home life with his wife and two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret, but he was troubled by his older brother’s affair with a married American divorcee named Wallis Warfield Simpson. When his father King George VI died in January 1936, he watched with increasing dread as his brother, the new King Edward VIII, flouted convention and came into collision with the political and religious hierarchy over his desire to marry Wallis. He felt woefully unprepared to reign, but after his brother abdicated in December 1936, he summoned his remarkable courage and will power, and took over as king. He was crowned King George VI in May 1937 at a time when European dictators were beginning to rattle their swords. In 1938 and 1939 he made extremely successful state visits to France, Canada and the United States and shored up alliances with those countries.

When Britain declared war on Germany, after the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939, he committed himself fully to encouraging the nation and its troops. In an effort to bolster morale, he crisscrossed the country visiting troops, munitions factories, supply docks and bomb-damaged neighborhoods. During the Blitz he refused to leave London; he was proud when Buckingham Palace was bombed and he was nearly killed. Expanding his wartime role as monarch, he forged a remarkable partnership with Winston Churchill and another with Franklin Roosevelt. They came to value his wise counsel. By nature a sensitive man, he was worn out by the stress of the war. After peace was declared in April 1945, he faced a new set of post-war problems as the country shifted to a Welfare State and the Empire became a Commonwealth of disparate nations. In the last seven years of his life, he reigned over a country that faced continuing economic hardships stemming from the inordinate costs of the war. In 1947 he was too worried about Britain’s hardships to rest during a long winter cruise to South Africa, where he made a state visit with his wife and children.

In his last years he developed arteriosclerosis which made it difficult at times for him to engage in his beloved pastime of shooting at his Sandringham estate in Norfolk. His physicians diagnosed cancer in 1951. He died in his sleep on February 6, 1952 at the young age of fifty-six. During his reign he had restored the popularity and respectability of the monarchy and had played a big role in renewed British-American relations. He came to be seen as a symbol of the courage and continuity of Britain.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

FOR MORE ON KING GEORGE VI AND THE BRITISH
ROYAL FAMILY, PLEASE VISIT:

The Offical Web Site of the British Monarchy
The House of Windsor: George VI
BBC NEWS : UK : Profile : King George VI



The Roosevelts and the Royals
Franklin and Eleanor, The King and Queen of England, and the Friendship that Changed History

by Will Swift
John Wiley & Sons: June 2004; ISBN: 0-471-45962-3; Hardcover; 384 pages
Now available at Amazon, BN.com, or your local bookstore



Home