by Denis Judd
I. B. Tauris
George VI was crowned as King of the United Kingdom on 11 December 1936 and reigned until 6 February 1952. He was the last Emperor of India and the first Head of the Commonwealth. Born on 14 December 1895, the thirty-fourth death anniversary of his great-grandfather, Albert, Prince Consort of Queen Victoria, he was named after him. In Queen Victoria’s view, the distinguished name was the hallmark of the lineage and bore the stamp and seal of her union with the Prince Consort. Successive generations of male royals bore his name among their names. The baby’s father, the Duke of York, later King George V, wrote to Queen Victoria (aged seventy-six) with some finesse, proposing to call him Albert after the Prince Consort. Queen Victoria, the baby’s Godmother, accepted it graciously with warmth and spontaneity. The baby prince was christened on 17 February 1896. Not born to be King, Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, the second son of King George V, was second in line to the throne. He was born in 1895 at a time when Britain was the greatest world power, wielding far-reaching influence worldwide, her Empire far-flung, with the Royal Navy patrolling the seven seas. A focal point of imperial patriotism, at the heart’s core of a global imperial structure, the Royal Family were leaders of British society.
(The first paragraph of a review compiled by Miriam Jacob)