Web has been used for the past five years to provide a global audience with

information about the Royal Family. During this period British monarchs

have also played a vital part in promoting international relations,

retaining ties with former colonies in their role as Head of the


GEORGE V (1910-36)

George V was born June 3, 1865, the second son of Edward VII and

Alexandra. His early education was somewhat insignificant as compared to

that of the heir apparent, his older brother Albert. George chose the

career of professional naval officer and served competently until Albert

died in 1892, upon which George assumed the role of the heir apparent. He

married Mary of Teck (affectionately called May) in 1893, who bore him four

sons and one daughter. He died the year after his silver jubilee after a

series of debilitating attacks of bronchitis, on January 20, 1936.

George ascended the throne in the midst of a constitutional crisis: the

budget controversy of 1910. Tories in the House of Lords were at odds with

Liberals in the Commons pushing for social reforms. When George agreed to

create enough Liberal peerages to pass the measure the Lords capitulated

and gave up the power of absolute veto, resolving the problem officially

with passage of the Parliament Bill in 1911. The first World War broke out

in 1914, during which George and May made several visits to the front; on

one such visit, George's horse rolled on top of him, breaking his pelvis -

George remained in pain for the rest of his life from the injury. The

worldwide depression of 1929-1931 deeply affected England, prompting the

king to persuade the heads of the three political parties (Labour,

Conservative and Liberal) to unite into a coalition government. By the end

of the 1920's, George and the Windsors were but one of few royal families

who retained their status in Europe.

The relationship between England and the rest of the Empire underwent

several changes. An independent Irish Parliament was established in 1918

after the Sinn Fein uprising in 1916, and the Government of Ireland Act

(1920) divided Ireland along religious lines. Canada, Australia, New

Zealand and South Africa demanded the right of self-governance after the

war, resulting in the creation of the British Commonwealth of Nations by

the Statute of Westminster in 1931. India was accorded some degree of self-

determination with the Government of India Act in 1935.

The nature of the monarchy evolved through the influence of George. In

contrast to his grandmother and father - Victoria's ambition to exert

political influence in the tradition of Elizabeth I and Edward VII's

aspirations to manipulate the destiny of nations - George's royal

perspective was considerably more humble. He strove to embody those

qualities, which the nation saw as their greatest strengths: diligence,

dignity and duty. The monarchy transformed from an institution of

constitutional legality to the bulwark of traditional values and customs

(particularly those concerning the family). Robert Lacey describes George

as such: ". . . as his official biographer felt compelled to admit, King

George V was distinguished 'by no exercise of social gifts, by no personal

magnetism, by no intellectual powers. He was neither a wit nor a brilliant

raconteur, neither well-read nor well-educated, and he made no great

contribution to enlightened social converse. He lacked intellectual

curiosity and only late in life acquired some measure of artistic taste.'

He was, in other words, exactly like most of his subjects. He discovered a

new job for modern kings and queens to do - representation."


As Prince of Wales, Edward VIII (reigned January-December 1936) had

successfully carried out a number of regional visits (including areas hit

by economic depression) and other official engagements. These visits and

his official tours overseas, together with his good war record and genuine

care for the underprivileged, had made him popular.

The first monarch to be a qualified pilot, Edward created The King's Flight

(now known as 32 (The Royal) Squadron) in 1936 to provide air transport for

the Royal family's official duties.

In 1930, the Prince, who had already had a number of affairs, had met and

fallen in love with a married American woman, Mrs Wallis Simpson. Concern

about Edward's private life grew in the Cabinet, opposition parties and the

Dominions, when Mrs Simpson obtained a divorce in 1936 and it was clear

that Edward was determined to marry her.

Eventually Edward realised he had to choose between the Crown and Mrs

Simpson who, as a twice-divorced woman, would not have been acceptable as

Queen. On 10 December 1936, Edward VIII executed an Instrument of

Abdication which was given legal effect the following day, when Edward gave

Royal Assent to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act, by which

Edward VIII and any children he might have were excluded from succession to

the throne. In 1937, Edward was created Duke of Windsor and married Wallis


During the Second World War, the Duke of Windsor escaped from Paris,

where he was living at the time of the fall of France, to Lisbon in 1940.

The Duke of Windsor was then appointed Governor of the Bahamas, a position

he held until 1945. He lived abroad until the end of his life, dying in

1972 in Paris (he is buried at Windsor). Edward was never crowned; his

reign lasted 325 days. His brother Albert became King, using his last name


GEORGE VI (1936-52)

George VI, born December 14, 1895, was the second son of George V and

Mary of Teck. He was an unassuming, shy boy who greatly admired his brother

Edward, Prince of Wales. From childhood to the age of thirty, George

suffered with a bad stammer in his speech, which exacerbated his shyness;

Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist, was instrumental in helping

George overcome the speech defect. George married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

in 1923, who bore him two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. He died from

cancer on February 6, 1952.

Due to the controversy surrounding the abdication of Edward VIII, popular

opinion of the throne was at its lowest point since the latter half of

Victoria's reign. The abdication, however, was soon overshadowed by

continental developments, as Europe inched closer to yet another World War.

After several years of pursuing "appeasement" policies with Germany, Great

Britain (and France) declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. George,

following in his father's footsteps, visited troops, munitions factories,

supply docks and bomb-damaged areas to support the war effort. As the

Nazi's bombed London, the royal family remained at Buckingham Palace;

George went so far as to practice firing his revolver, vowing that he would

defend Buckingham to the death. Fortunately, such defense was never

necessary. The actions of the King and Queen during the war years greatly

added to the prestige of the monarchy.

George predicted the hardships following the end of the war as early as

1941. From 1945-50, Great Britain underwent marked transitions. The Bank of

England, as well as most facets of industry, transportation, energy

production and health care, were brought to some degree of public

ownership. The birth pangs of the Welfare State and the change from Empire

to multiracial Commonwealth troubled the high-strung king. The political

turmoil and economic hardships of the post-war years left the king

physically and emotionally drained by the time of his death.

In the context of royal history, George VI was one of only five monarchs

who succeeded the throne in the lifetime of his predecessor; Henry IV,

Edward IV, Richard III, and William III were the other four. George, upon

his ascension, wrote to Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin concerning the state

of the monarchy: "I am new to the job but I hope that time will be allowed

to me to make amends for what has happened." His brother Edward continued

to advise George on matters of the day, but such advice was a hindrance, as

it was contradictory to policies pursued by George's ministers. The "slim,

quiet man with tired eyes" (as described by Logue) had a troubled reign,

but he did much to leave the monarchy in better condition than he found it.


Elizabeth II, born April 21, 1926, is the eldest daughter of George VI

and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She married Philip Mountbatten, a distant cousin,

in 1947; the pair have four children: Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne,

Andrew and Edward. She has reigned for forty-six years, and appears capable

of remaining on the throne for quite some time.

Monarchy, as an institution in Europe, all but disappeared during the two

World Wars: a scant ten monarchs remain today, seven of which have familial

ties to England. Elizabeth is, by far, the best known of these, and is the

most widely traveled Head of State in the world. Her ascension was

accompanied by constitutional innovation; each independent, self-governing

country proclaimed Elizabeth, Queen of their individual state. She approves

of the transformation from Empire to Commonwealth, describing the change as

a "beneficial and civilized metamorphosis." The indivisibility of the crown

was formally abandoned by statute in 1953, and "Head of the Commonwealth"

was added to the long list of royal titles which she possesses.

Elizabeth's travels have won the adulation of her subjects; she is

greeted with honest enthusiasm and warm regard with each visit abroad. She

has been the master link in a chain of unity forged among the various

countries within the Commonwealth. Hence, the monarchy, as well as the

Empire, has evolved - what once was the image of absolute power is now a

symbol of fraternity.

Elizabeth has managed to maintain a division between her public and

private life. She is the first monarch to send her children to boarding

schools in order to remove them from the ever-probing media. She has a

strong sense of duty and diligence and dispatches her queenly business with

great candor, efficiency and dignity. Her knowledge of current situations

and trends is uncannily up to date, often to the embarrassment of her Prime

Ministers. Harold Wilson, upon his retirement, remarked, "I shall certainly

advise my successor to do his homework before his audience." Churchill, who

had served four monarchs, was impressed and delighted by her knowledge and

wit. She possesses a sense of humor rarely exhibited in public where a

dignified presence is her goal.

Elizabeth, like her father before her, raised the character of the

monarchy through her actions. Unfortunately, the actions of her children

have tarnished the royal name. The much publicized divorces of Charles from

Diana and Andrew from Sarah Ferguson have been followed by further

indiscretions by the princes, causing a heavily-taxed populace to rethink

the necessity of a monarchy. Perhaps Elizabeth will not reign as long as

Victoria, but her exceptionally long reign has provided a bright spot in

the life of her country.



The Queen is the United Kingdom's Head of State. As well as carrying out

significant constitutional functions, The Queen also acts as a focus for

national unity, presiding at ceremonial occasions, visiting local

communities and representing Britain around the world. The Queen is also

Head of the Commonwealth. During her reign she has visited all the

Commonwealth countries, going on 'walkabouts' to gain direct contact with

people from all walks of life throughout the world.

Behind and in front of the cameras, The Queen's work goes on. No two days

in The Queen's working life are ever the same.


Until the end of the 17th century, British monarchs were executive

monarchs - that is, they had the right to make and pass legislation. Since

the beginning of the eighteenth century, the monarch has become a

constitutional monarch, which means that he or she is bound by rules and

conventions and remains politically impartial.

On almost all matters he or she acts on the advice of ministers. While

acting constitutionally, the Sovereign retains an important political role

as Head of State, formally appointing prime ministers, approving certain

legislation and bestowing honours.

The Queen also has important roles to play in other organisations,

including the Armed Forces and the Church of England.


Until the end of the 17th century, British monarchs were executive

monarchs - that is, they had the right to make and pass legislation. Since

the beginning of the eighteenth century, the monarch has become a

constitutional monarch, which means that he or she is bound by rules and

conventions and remains politically impartial.

On almost all matters he or she acts on the advice of ministers. While

acting constitutionally, the Sovereign retains an important political role

as Head of State, formally appointing prime ministers, approving certain

legislation and bestowing honours.

The Queen also has important roles to play in other organisations,

including the Armed Forces and the Church of England.


The Queen is not only Queen of the United Kingdom, but Head of the

Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 independent countries.

Most of these countries have progressed from British rule to independent

self-government, and the Commonwealth now serves to foster international co-

operation and trade links between people all over the world.

The Queen is also Queen of a number of Commonwealth realms, including

Australia, New Zealand and Canada.


Visits to all kinds of places throughout the United Kingdom, Commonwealth

and overseas are an important part of the work of The Queen and members of

the Royal family. They allow members of the Royal family to meet people

from all walks of life and backgrounds, to celebrate local and national

achievements and to strengthen friendships between different countries.

Many of the visits are connected to charities and other organisations with

which members of the Royal family are associated. In other cases, royal

visits help to celebrate historic occasions in the life of a region or

nation. All visits are carefully planned to ensure that as many people as

possible have the opportunity to see or meet members of the Royal family.


The Queen has many different duties to perform every day. Some are

familiar public duties, such as Investitures, ceremonies, receptions or

visits within the United Kingdom or abroad. Away from the cameras, however,

The Queen's work goes on. It includes reading letters from the public,

official papers and briefing notes; audiences with political ministers or

ambassadors; and meetings with her Private Secretaries to discuss her

future diary plans. No two days are ever the same and The Queen must remain

prepared throughout.


The colourful ceremonies and traditions associated with the British

Monarchy are rich in history and meaning and fascinating to watch. In some,

The Queen takes part in person. In others - such as Guard Mounting or Swan

Upping - the ceremony is performed in The Queen's name. Many of the

ceremonies take place on a regular basis - every year or even every day -

which means that British people and visitors to London and other parts of

the United Kingdom may have an opportunity to see some of these interesting

events take place.


The Queen has many ceremonial roles. Some - such as the State Opening of

Parliament, Audiences with new ambassadors and the presentation of

decorations at Investitures - relate to The Queen's role as Head of State.

Others - such as the presentation of Maundy money and the hosting of

garden parties - are historical ceremonies in which kings and queens have

taken part for decades or even centuries.


In addition to the events in which The Queen takes part, there are many

other ceremonies and traditions associated with the British Monarchy. Some

of these have military associations, involving troops from the present

Armed Forces as well as the members of the historical royal bodyguard, the

Yeomen of the Guard. Others are traditions which are less well known than

the colourful pageantry but are interesting in their own right. Some - such

as the customary broadcasts by the Sovereign on Christmas Day and

Commonwealth Day - are fairly recent in origin, but have rapidly become

familiar and popular traditions.


When a sovereign dies, or abdicates, a successor is immediately decided

according to rules which were laid down at the end of the seventeenth

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