You must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love
George VI, who succeeded to the throne, was another younger brother. That was not the only quality that he shared with George V. Like him, he was modest in his domestic tastes and loved family life. Although his father’s horror of the First World War had caused him to develop an unexpected degree of pacifism by the end of his life, his son also found himself to be a war leader: his behaviour during the Second World War was much the same as George V’s had been in 1914–18. He and Queen Elizabeth set an example of fortitude, duty and self-denial.
After the Second Word War, the monarchy was prime among the institutions having to adapt to Indian independence and the loss of empire. The arrival of Elizabeth II to the throne in 1952 gave both the nation and the monarchy the tonic that they needed. Here was a radiant young Queen who personified the country’s new destiny as it began the difficult process of reinvention. On February 6, the anniversary of her accession, she will have provided stability for 65 years, during sometimes gloomy and fractious times. A natural conservative, she adopted the idea of monarchy pioneered by George V—whom she called ‘Grandpa England’—and developed by George VI, combining iron duty with devotion to family and an uncomplicated religious faith.
Is the House of Windsor still a castle? Castles are designed to keep people out.
Edward Vlll’s abdication speech, December 11, 1936
Top left Edward VIII broadcasts to the nation in 1935. Top right: The British press didn’t break the story about the King’s relationship with Wallis Simpson until the day before the abdication was announced. Above: The couple were made Duke and Duchess of Windsor. George VI purchased Sandringham and Balmoral from his brother