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HRH George VI (1895-1952)

Australia, Coronation of George VI, Obverse

Image: Australia, Coronation of George VI, Obverse

Source: Museum Victoria

George VI was born on 14 December 1895. He was a shy boy with a stammer, not groomed to be king: his popular brother Edward was heir apparent to the throne. Allowed some degree of freedom, he was able to serve in the Royal Navy in World War I, and in 1923 married 'commoner' Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. They had two daughters, Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and Margaret Rose.

George and Elizabeth visited Australia as the Duke and Duchess of York in 1927, acting as the royal representatives at the opening of the provisional Parliament House in Canberra on 9 May 1927. The couple arrived in Australia on 26 March and departed the country on 23 May.

According to the itinerary, the Duke and Duchess spent twelve days of their tour in New South Wales, seven days in Queensland, four days in Tasmania, eleven days in Victoria, six days in South Australia, three days in the Australian Capital Territory and six days in Western Australia. The remaining ten days of the tour were spent travelling or used as recreation days. The public expressed considerable loyalty and affection to the visitors.

On 10 December 1936 George unexpectedly became King when his brother Edward VIII abdicated to marry divorcee Wallace Simpson. Upon ascending the throne he said 'With my wife [Elizabeth] to help me at my side, I take up the heavy task that lies before me. In it I look for the support of all my peoples.' The King felt unprepared to assume this role, was untrained in affairs of state and his stutter made public speaking difficult. To combat the latter problem, he worked with an Australian speech therapist; the treatment was ultimately successful.

In addition to the royal visit of 1927, other Australian tours by the couple were planned in 1949 and again in 1952. Both were cancelled due to the King's ill health. On his death on 6 February 1952 his daughter Elizabeth ascended the throne.

References:
http://www.naa.gov.au/naaresources/publications/research_guides/guides/royalty/menus/chapter05.htm
Wikipedia website http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_VI_of_the_United_Kingdom

 

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