V had hoped his elder brother, Albert, would be king, and let him
live a quieter, saner life, but the fates decreed otherwise.
Albert died in 1892, making George the heir apparent.
Upon the death of his father, Edward V11, in 1910, George
became King of England.
is often spoken of as an unexceptional man.
His official biographer wrote “no personal magnetism, 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.”
But George was a sensible man.
In 1917, he recognised and understood his country’s
distaste for all things German.
George dropped his family’s very obvious Germanic name,
and Windsor Castle became the inspiration for the Royal Windsor
was also known as a gentle and dedicated man.
During the First World War, he made over 450 visits to
troops and over 300 visits to hospitals, visiting wounded
servicemen. He helped
to bring about the better treatment of German prisoners-of-war and
one of the best illustrations of George’s gentle honour is not
to do with his royal duties, but with his favourite hobby –
still a prince, George was asked to look through an old lady’s
stamp album. It had
been valued at fifty pounds, but George saw at once that it was
worth much, much more. It
even contained a particular rare stamp that had been his heart’s
desire for many years. The
album’s owner was informed of the treasure she owned and was
advised to sell the collection through Puttick and Simpson,
auctioneers in London, and pay ten pounds in advertising the sale.
lady followed the Prince of Wales instructions, and made a fortune
of over seven thousand pounds.
Part of that fortune came from the sale of the stamp the
Prince so desired – it went for fourteen hundred pounds.
week after the sale, Sir Arthur Davidson, who was Equerry to King
Edward, phoned George and, knowing of the Prince’s interest in
stamps, mentioned the sale of the stamps and the lady’s extreme
good fortune. He
said, “Did you happen to see in the newspapers that some damned
fool had given as much as fourteen hundred pounds for one
gentle honesty and humour now displayed itself, as he replied,
“I was that damned fool."
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