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King George VI Early lifeKing George was born on 14 December 1895 at Sandringham in Norfolk, the second son of the Duke of York, later George V.His father, king Georg V, had six children. His eldest son, Edward, was the next in line to be king. Albert was only second child. Early lifeFour kings: Edward VII (far right), his son George, Prince of Wales, later George V (far left), and grandsons Edward, later Edward VIII (rear), and Albert, later George VI (foreground)His youth was not easy.Though affectionate with his mother, affection was not always returned, and his father was harsh and critical.His tutors forced him to write with his right hand, though he was naturally left handed. Albert developed a stammer around age 8, and suffered the indignity of wearing leg braces to correct his knock knees. Often ill and easily frightened, George VI was somewhat prone to tears and tantrums—traits that he carried throughout much of his adult life As Albert did not expect to become king, he chose the Navy.In 1909, he graduated from the Royal Naval Academy at Osborne, but finished at the bottom of his class in the final exam. Despite this, Albert progressed to the Royal Navy Academy at Dartmouth and then joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman. Military career and education During World War I, he served on the HMS Collingwood, and saw action at the inconclusive Battle of Juteland in May 1916. In 1919, he joined the Royal Air Force and was certified as a pilot.He was the first member of the royal family to be certified as a fully qualified pilot.Military career In October 1919, Albert went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied history, economics and civics for a year.In 1920, he was created Duke of York and began to take on royal duties.He represented his father, and toured coal mines, factories, and railyards.His stammer, and his embarrassment over it, together with his tendency to shyness, caused him to appear much less impressive than his older brother, Edward. However, he was physically active and enjoyed playing tennis.He played at Wimbledon in the Men's Doubles with Louis Greig in 1926Education That year, he met for the first time since childhood Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the youngest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.He became determined to marry her.She rejected his proposal twice, in 1921 and 1922, reportedly because she was reluctant to make the sacrifices necessary to become a member of the royal family.MarriageElizabeth Bowes Lyon at the age of seven. After a protracted courtship, Elizabeth agreed to marry him.In 1923, Albert married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, youngest daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore. They had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret.Marriage1932, Princess Elizabeth and Margaret Rose with parents Boy Scouts on parade at Windsor Castle, Berkshire In 1936 King George died. 1936 became “the year of three kings”. In January, after his father’s death, Edward, his eldest son, became king. In December he refused from the throne and his younger brother, Bertie took his place.Abdication and a Reluctant KingThree Kings: Edward, Prince of Wales (Edward VIII 1936), HM George V (1910-1936) and Albert, Duke of York (George VI 1936-1952) Because of his stammer, Albert dreaded public speaking.After his closing speech at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley on 31 October 1925, one which was an ordeal for both him and his listeners, he began to see Lionel Logue, an Australian-born speech therapist. The Duke and Logue practised breathing exercises, and the Duchess rehearsed with him patiently.Subsequently, he was able to speak with less hesitation.Stammering KingLionel Logue, Australian speech and language therapist The growing likelihood of war in Europe dominated the early reign of George VI. George supported Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement towards Germany and Italy. Feeling war was a possibility, King George and Queen Elizabeth visited the United States in June 1939, and forged a strong friendship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.When Chamberlain resigned in May 1940, the king wished to replace him with Lord Halifax, but was persuaded to accept Winston Churchill, whose wartime leadership he then supported unreservedly.Early reignOn the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Coronation In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, violating the Munich Agreement, and war was declared. With the help of his speech therapist and his wife, King George successfully made one of the most important speeches of his life, announcing to the citizens of Britain that the country was at war.The royal couple were resolved to stay in London at Buckingham Palace, despite intense German bombing raids.World War IIKing George VI and Queen Elizabeth in rubble after Buckingham Palace was bombed King and Churchill developed "the closest personal relationship in modern British history between a monarch and a Prime Minister".Every Tuesday for four and a half years from September 1940, the two men met privately for lunch to discuss the war in secret and with frankness.Throughout the war, the King and Queen provided morale-boosting visits throughout the United Kingdom, visiting bomb sites and munitions factories, and in the King's case visiting military forces abroad.World War IIGeorge VI (left) with Field Marshal Montgomery (centre), Belgium, October 1944 During the post-war years, the stress of war began to catch up with King George VI and his health began to deteriorate rapidly.Around this time, his daughter, Princess Elizabeth, the presumptive heir, began to take on some of his royal duties. In 1951, following years of heavy smoking, King George was diagnosed with lung cancer and arteriosclerosis. On the morning of February 6, 1952, at the age of 56, George VI was discovered dead in bed.Illness and deathFuneral: The cortege and coffin of King George VI passes Horse Guards Parade. Despite his reluctance to be king, George VI was a conscientious and dedicated sovereign who assumed the throne at a time when public faith in the monarchy was at an all-time low.Armed with strong determination and the help of his wife, he became a modern monarch of the 20th century. During his reign, George VI endured the hardships of war and the transition from an empire to a commonwealth of nations, and restored the popularity of the British monarchy.Legacy