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While at Dartmouth Prince Albert developed stomach problems, which he did not report. He also gained a strong affection for the Church of England , being confirmed at Sandringham on 18 April ; he later wrote 'I have always remembered that day as one on which I took a great step in life' Wheeler-Bennett , He was throughout his life a convinced Christian, and later also an enthusiastic freemason.

Though he suffered from seasickness, he enjoyed being free of the family context and tried to avoid publicity: he was happy to let his elder brother be the focal point of media attention. He was serving on Collingwood when war was declared on 4 August and he served in the Royal Navy until , being actually at sea for twenty-two months. Late in August the gastric problems from which he had spasmodically suffered intensified, and his appendix was removed.

On his return to Collingwood he undertook the normal duties of a senior midshipman, but a further bout of gastric pains soon required his transfer to the hospital ship HMS Drina. The king and the prince were both determined that the latter should not be invalided out as he could have been , for the prince's presence in the navy was an important aspect of the monarchy's relationship to the war—and the prince much wished to remain with his ship and his comrades. During his convalescence Prince Albert undertook some public duties before returning to Collingwood as an acting sub-lieutenant in May , just in time to take part, in a turret of the Collingwood , in the battle of Jutland, the chief naval battle of the war.

This was an important experience for the prince personally and for the monarchy nationally, George V on his visit to the Grand Fleet after the battle declaring: 'I am pleased with my son. It was symbolic of the brothers' developing relationship that it was Prince Albert who achieved his objective. In August he was diagnosed as suffering from a duodenal ulcer. Rest alleviated the symptoms and the prince returned to sea duties in May on HMS Malaya as acting lieutenant.

He had been made KG on his twenty-first birthday. His persistence with naval service finally had to end in July when his stomach and other symptoms of debilitation brought him near collapse. The ulcer was successfully operated on, on 29 November He was thus one of the first officers as Flight Lieutenant Prince Albert when the Royal Air Force was instituted in April , and a royal presence was a handy political advantage for the new service. He was officer commanding boys about of them. In October he was posted to General Trenchard's staff in France and witnessed the armistice on 11 November.

At his father's request, he represented the king when the allies entered Brussels. Though he disliked flying, he trained as a pilot though forbidden to fly solo and qualified on 31 July , next day being gazetted squadron leader. Through frequent illness and two operations, Prince Albert had shown considerable determination during his time in the forces. His presence at Jutland gave him a status and confidence which he later found of great value, and his experience with boys' education in the RAF pointed him towards his chief subsequent innovation, his work with boys.

Prince Edward had spent several terms at Oxford before the war to no great purpose. Like other post-war servicemen, they found college and academic life both frustrating and liberating. Prince Albert was tutored by the historians R. Laurence , J.

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Butler , and D. Robertson ; he showed special interest in constitutional history. His equerry at Cambridge was Louis Greig — , by whom he had been taught at Osborne; Greig , with whom the prince won the RAF tennis doubles in , was an important influence in encouraging this still rather immature, somewhat gauche and uncertain young man, who had a good deal of his father's temper, to treat life with equanimity. George V permitted his son only three terms at Cambridge and, in a mark of paternal favour, on 3 June conferred on him the titles he himself had been given, Baron Killarney, earl of Inverness, and duke of York.

George V made it clear to his second son that when he came down from Cambridge he would not resume his career in the forces but would take on royal duties: the prince of Wales would look after the empire, the duke of York would help chiefly on the home front. Lady Elizabeth , recently launched into London society from her Scottish origins at Glamis Castle, hoped to avoid an early marriage and was reluctant to respond to the duke of York's attempts at courtship.

The duke for his part had as little experience of women as his elder brother had much, and was unsure how to proceed, though it would seem certain from an early stage that he wished to do so. He adhered to the view that a king's son could not propose, lest he be refused. The couple were married in Westminster Abbey on 26 April ; he was the first royal prince to be married there since Richard II.

George V strongly approved of his son's bride and his letter of congratulation to him ended: 'I feel that we have always got on very well together very different to dear David ' Wheeler-Bennett , The duke of York was different in a variety of but not all respects from his elder brother, and in making a happy marriage approved of by his family and the British establishment he had fulfilled one of the chief duties of a royal prince.

He and his wife secured the succession to the end of the twentieth century with the births of their daughters Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary from Elizabeth II , born at 17 Bruton Street, London, on 21 April George V approved the names and the omission of Victoria and Princess Margaret Rose , born at Glamis on 21 August d.

By all accounts the duke of York was greatly altered by his marriage: 'It transformed him, and was the turning point of his life' Rhodes James , It is usually said that the Yorks had no expectation of the throne, but Wheeler-Bennett remarks:. Initially the Yorks lived at White Lodge in Richmond Park, which they found too large and expensive; in they moved to Piccadilly, in London. Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park became their country house in In public the duke of York became quite a prominent philanthropist.

His Industrial Welfare Society gained him knowledge of a wide range of industrial developments and discussions and he met trade unionists on something approaching a business footing, certainly more so than any previous prince. Building on his RAF experience, he developed a special interest in education and from he played the leading part in the experiment in social integration known as the Duke of York's Camps, in which he was encouraged and in the early days financed by Sir Alexander Grant , the biscuit manufacturer.

These camps brought together boys of working-class and public-school backgrounds in games, competitions, and discussions. The camps were held annually until except for , attended in all by about young men R. Hyde , The Camp Book , As an experiment in social integration in a period of social deprivation, high unemployment, and class tension, the camps were a bold move. It was an innovation for a royal prince to show such sustained interest in a cause of this sort. Film footage shows the duke relaxed and happy in what he, at least, found the sort of family atmosphere he hoped to encourage, and his joining in the camp song, 'Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree' , with its accompaniment of cumulative body gestures, showed genuine camaraderie.

The duke of York also became well known for sport. In , partnered by Greig , he played in the men's doubles championship at Wimbledon, being heavily defeated in the first round. The duke was embarrassed and never played tennis in public again one member of the crowd shouted to the left-handed prince: 'Try the other hand, Sir'; Bradford , In September he played himself in as captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews, acquitting himself well in the nerve-wracking opening drive from the first tee; the caddies, recalling the prince of Wales's dismal effort a few years earlier, stood, a local paper noted, 'disloyally close'.

But the duke found that golf brought out his bad temper, and he gave it up for gardening. He also rode to hounds and was, like his father, an excellent shot. They visited the Balkans in and in —5 east Africa and Sudan.

Italian mayor says England owes 250 years of royalties for St George's Cross flag

On their return the duke of York made the speech closing the British Empire Exhibition at the new Wembley stadium in north London. His father's opening speech had been one of the first to be broadcast; the duke's brief remarks exposed his stutter to the listening nation as well as the immediate audience. From October he was treated by Lionel Logue — , an Australian speech therapist practising in London, who made good progress where others had failed.

Under Logue's influence, the duke's confidence increased and his stutter diminished though it by no means disappeared: on several occasions, film of speeches taken for newsreels was withdrawn. The duke was in Melbourne for Anzac day 25 April and opened the new parliament building in Canberra on 9 May. His speeches on both occasions were considered great successes. Despite a major fire on Renown , the Yorks returned to Britain on 27 June. The serious illness of George V in the winter of —9 reminded his four sons that the accession of the prince of Wales might follow soon, with consequences for each of them, and particularly the duke of York , who would become heir presumptive.

The years to saw the Yorks engaged in quiet domesticity, with no major foreign expeditions. This domesticity gave them a deceptive view of what was to be their role, for in the s the duke had been much more publicly prominent as his father's representative. George V's death on 20 January put the duke's brother on the throne.

Edward VIII's uncertain and unsettled view of the monarchy was, from the duke's point of view, reflected in a wounding absence of consultation and, unlike Lord Louis Mountbatten , the duke and duchess of York were certainly not regularly included in the king's circle which met at Fort Belvedere, nor would they have wished to be they do appear in swimming costumes in one of the well-known photographs of the Fort Belvedere circle. They had a very limited acquaintance with Wallis Simpson , the king's mistress, and the duke, at least, seems not to have appreciated the seriousness of the developing constitutional and thus personal crisis.

In such circumstances, the Yorks' policy of uninvolvement was wise: it was also a strong indication that in this case, at least, they placed national before family priorities. The duke wrote to his brother several times in early November offering help, but does not seem to have gone to see him. On 17 November the king told his brother of his intention to marry Mrs Simpson.

If the duke of York did not seek out his brother to assist him, neither did the latter seek assistance or advice from the person closest to him in the family. This was apparently their only private meeting during the crisis until two days before the abdication, and the king's news had already been told to Queen Mary and Stanley Baldwin , the prime minister.

Freemasonry rather than religion or a common view of family had been a bond between the brothers, but it was not a bond that endured. The abdication crisis was traumatic for George VI , the title the duke of York chose for himself. He had clearly underestimated the intensity and the speed of the crisis that led to his accession: when he visited his mother to tell her it was imminent, 'I broke down and sobbed like a child' Wheeler-Bennett , Even so, he dealt expeditiously and decisively with his elder brother's anomalous position, creating him duke of Windsor at his accession council.

A good deal has been made of his statement to his friend Lord Louis Mountbatten : 'I'm quite unprepared for it. David has been trained for this all his life. I've never even seen a State Paper. But this was a considerable exaggeration made in the immediate aftermath of the crisis. In fact George V had prudently and possibly intentionally prepared his second son for the kingship to a much greater extent than in previous analogous cases.

The new king did not like publicity—he was that rare being, a genuinely shy monarch—but he was well used to deputizing for his father. It was in the behind-the-scenes aspects of monarchy that he was inexperienced, but not much more so at the time of his accession than any other monarch since George III. Even here, he learned quickly and always went through his cabinet boxes with something of the assiduity of his father. Publicly, the new king had the advantage of a government with a large majority and no anticipation of domestic political crises; privately, he was happily married, with two daughters and a queen who acted as confidante to a greater extent than had been enjoyed by any recent British king.

The emphasis on family happiness was an innovation in the twentieth-century monarchy: George V had often been photographed with his sons, usually in uniform or with shotguns, but the domestic element which George VI's young daughters brought to photographs and visits was homely and appealing.

In broadcasts and public appearances he skilfully used this family aspect of his life to associate himself with the common experience of his subjects. S[impson] '. The revelation that the duke had failed to disclose assets material to his financial settlement hardened the king's resolve to exclude her, characterized by the legally dubious denial of the title 'her royal highness' to the duchess of Windsor.

So also did the Windsors' irresponsible visit to Hitler in October The king probably overestimated how far the abdication endangered the stability of the monarchy—the events of in fact showed the crown in parliament acting with rapid and conclusive effectiveness—but in the pre-war years his treatment of his brother was prudent. It was soon generally understood that George VI sat on the throne through a sense of duty; this effectively countered the implication of Edward VIII's action, that occupation of the throne was a voluntary matter, with personal preferences in certain circumstances being given greater weight than the obligations of sovereignty.

The secretariat thus embodied experience and tradition, though the secretaries' complaint was that the king too often disregarded them. Robert Rhodes James observes: 'The myth that the Queen, Hardinge , Lascelles and Wigram [briefly private secretary in ] ran the monarchy and dominated a weak King, is amusing to the constitutionalist because the exact reverse was the case' Rhodes James , The king retained something of the temper he had shown as a child, and he certainly had much of his father's will.

The queen was noted for her ability to calm her husband, just as she had her father-in-law. George VI was crowned on 12 May the date planned for Edward VIII and with his coronation in an important sense both passed and demoted his brother, who was not only the sole monarch since to abdicate, but also the only one to fail to be crowned. The coronation was broadcast by the BBC to a world and empire-wide audience, the king's wish prevailing against considerable opposition, but the coronation service was not televised the element of intrusion into a religious ceremony rather than the smallness of the potential audience being the objection , though the procession was.

The king's broadcast that evening was delivered almost faultlessly and the many rumours—that his stammer had worsened, that he suffered epileptic fits, that he would barely be able to undertake monarchic duties—were scotched. Neville Chamberlain's succession to Baldwin as prime minister in May required no initiative or choice on the king's part.

Much less straightforward, in personal or policy terms, was foreign policy. As the Conservative Party divided into factions, so the king risked being drawn into the argument which came to be seen as pro- and anti-appeasement. His inexperience in this area eased him into his role as constitutional monarch, for its effect was that he did not interfere though he was much put out by Chamberlain's failure to brief him in February that Anthony Eden's resignation was imminent. Thus he supported Chamberlain more because Chamberlain was his prime minister than because he approved of his German policy.

Whatever view one takes of appeasement, George VI's conduct was correct. On the other hand, George VI did at one important moment associate himself with Chamberlain's policy in a most unusual and public way, probably without appreciating the implications. The king's intended contribution to foreign affairs in was a message to Hitler , 'from one ex-Serviceman to another', which he suggested he send during Chamberlain's first visit to Germany in he also offered to write in similar terms to King Victor Emmanuel of Italy and Emperor Hirohito of Japan.

Lord Halifax , who had just succeeded Eden as foreign secretary on the latter's resignation, discouraged the idea, suggesting a later approach might be more appropriate. Nothing came of this, though the king returned to the idea in September , shortly before Chamberlain's journey to Munich. But when Chamberlain returned from Munich on 30 September , the king asked him to come 'straight to Buckingham Palace, so that I can express to you personally my most heartfelt congratulations on the success of your visit to Munich' Wheeler-Bennett , Chamberlain's visit to the palace was not unusual, but the king's appearance with his prime minister on the palace's balcony was an exceptional association of the monarchy with the government's foreign policy.

King of England and King of Italy meet aboard ship in harbor of Gaeta, Italy HD Stock Footage

The king followed this up with a message to his people on 2 October, praising Chamberlain's 'magnificent efforts' Wheeler-Bennett , Queen Victoria had made Beaconsfield a knight of the Garter when he returned from Berlin in bearing 'peace with honour', the phrase Chamberlain repeated in his speech in Downing Street after returning from the palace. George VI also wished to honour his prime minister, but Chamberlain , who immediately regretted his use of the famous phrase, declined and thus saved the king considerable subsequent embarrassment.

The close association of the king with the government's policy of appeasement and rearmament was intended to be further shown by a royal announcement of a system of voluntary national service but Chamberlain , not the king, made the broadcast not because the monarchy should not be involved in the implementation of policy, but because a royal message might be too alarming to the stock exchange. George VI , influenced by Lord Halifax who with his wife, a lady-in-waiting, regularly dined privately with the king and queen and Lord Cranborne , appears to have moderated his position during the winter of —9.

His secretary, Hardinge , had always been hostile to Chamberlain's foreign policy. Happily for George VI a tour of Canada, which was suggested in and planned from , provided an alternative focus of royal activity. A visit to the USA and the Roosevelts , suggested by the president in , was associated with it. The king had already made an important state visit to France in July The king and queen sailed on 5 May on the Canadian Pacific liner Empress of Australia on what had become, given the deteriorating international situation, a royal tour of much more than usual importance.

The support of the dominions for a second war in Europe could by no means be taken for granted, and the USA was still quite strongly isolationist. President Roosevelt , who proposed the visit with the deliberate intent of encouraging British—American co-operation at the personal level of head of state as well as at the diplomatic, showed much greater prescience than the British Foreign Office. Carefully choreographed by John Buchan who as Lord Tweedsmuir was governor-general of Canada , the Canadian visit was a great success.

This was, remarkably, the first visit by a British sovereign to a dominion.


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The royal party crossed Canada by train, welcomed by almost the entire populations of the little towns at which they stopped. They returned to Niagara Falls and there crossed into the United States, the first British sovereign to do so. A visit to Washington, accompanied by Mackenzie King , the Canadian premier, on 8 and 9 June was followed by a private visit at the Roosevelts' country house, Hyde Park.

The royal party returned to Canada, sailing for Britain on 15 June. The king's notes of his talk with Roosevelt are an important source for the president's views at this time; so important did George VI consider these talks that he carried his handwritten notes of them in his briefcase throughout the war. Royal visits are habitually described as successful; this visit to North America was, in diplomatic terms, second in importance in the twentieth century only to Edward VII's visit to Paris in Edward VII's initiative was an intended change of direction sponsored by the monarch.

George VI's was not a personal initiative in that sense, nor did it reflect a change in direction; but it was effective all the same. George VI was forty-three when war was declared on 3 September He began a diary which he kept through the war. That night he broadcast to the empire, and it was intended that a copy of his message be circulated to each household in the UK a plan abandoned because of its cost. In George V had played no public role in the nation's adaptation from peace to war.

The development of radio and film meant that the public role of the monarchy in this war would be prominent. The king had discontinued his father's Christmas broadcasts, but in reluctantly agreed to make one. He had been sent a book of poems, The Desert privately printed, , by Minnie Louise Haskins , a lecturer at the London School of Economics, and from it he included at the end of his message lines which immediately became famous:.

The broadcast followed well-publicized royal visits to the fleet at Invergordon and the British expeditionary force in France and placed the fit and energetic monarch at the forefront of the national effort, in contrast to his prime minister, who was aged seventy and looked it. The king believed a national government was desirable but, while he made this clear to Chamberlain , he did not undermine his prime minister, though the latter was the chief obstacle to its achievement.

In the political crisis of the king personally hoped Chamberlain would continue as prime minister or, failing him, Lord Halifax. The king's secretaries, sensing an impending crisis, consulted constitutional authorities about the details of procedure, establishing, somewhat dubiously, that the king was not required to ask an outgoing premier's advice on his successor. On 8 May the Conservative government's majority fell from about to 81 in the vote on the conduct of the Norway campaign. Meetings between the government and the Labour Party established that the latter would join a coalition, but not one led by Chamberlain.

Halifax in effect removed himself from consideration for the premiership. Hardinge told the king that when Chamberlain offered his resignation the out-going premier would also ' without hesitation recommend Mr Churchill ' Rhodes James , The king's abstinence from the process of cabinet -making at this time was highly beneficial, as the new national government led by Churchill emerged through the efforts and negotiations of its members, rather than as the result of royal encouragement.

When the king saw Chamberlain on Friday 10 May , he accepted his resignation, and, according to his diary, told him 'how grossly unfairly I thought he had been treated' and learned in 'an informal talk over his successor' that Halifax would not serve. The king noted in his diary that he:. Churchill had emerged from a political process of elimination, despite the king's preference for Halifax , and the monarch at this dramatic moment in fact played no more of a part in that process than was usual, and certainly less than his father had played in the making of the First World War coalitions.

George VI's account of his discussions at this time shows a very sensitive understanding of constitutional proprieties, with careful distinction drawn between conversation and formal request for advice. He floated Halifax at Chamberlain informally, and asked formally for advice only once that option was eliminated. He was careful to avoid being the recipient of advice which he was not ready to accept, and was also careful, at such an important moment in the nation's history, to be seen as ready to accept his new prime minister, Winston Churchill.

Churchill now rapidly took on the role of leader of the war effort, in a way that Chamberlain could not do, leaving the king to a more symbolic role. The king soon appreciated Churchill's capacity for this, recognizing the effectiveness of the combination which they provided of baroque bravado and homely dignity. The king's role was to encourage the war effort by morale-boosting visits to bombed towns, cities, and factories, while at the same time providing a sense that normal life had not altogether disappeared.

Thus the king and queen lived in Buckingham Palace with their daughters living at Windsor until the palace—virtually unprotected—was bombed on 9 September the bomb did not immediately explode and the king worked in his study just above it. The palace was again bombed three days later and altogether was hit nine times during the war. Subsequently the king and queen slept at Windsor, commuting to London each day.

This German bombing was a great advantage to the British monarchy. It diminished the slightly paternalist tone of the royal visits to bombed areas in London and elsewhere. It was a good card to play in the USA. It gave the royal family greater confidence: the queen famously observed: 'I'm glad we've been bombed. We can now look the East End in the face' Wheeler-Bennett , The remark emphasized the difference as well as the advantage. But their spartan existence, with their clothes and food subject to rationing, was relatively closer to ordinary life than at any time in the history of the monarchy.

Although even Churchill was not told how close the escape from the first set of bombs had been, enough was known nationally for the point to be taken. The result of the bombing of the palace was, according to a Mass-Observation survey, that one-third of the king's appearances on newsreels were interrupted by applause in the cinema, as opposed to one-seventh before the bombing Richard and Sheridan , The bombing of the palace occurred just as the full force of the blitz began, ordered by Hitler's directive of 5 September During the blitz the king and queen assiduously visited bombed areas, often on their own initiative and with little prior notice.

The king was in Coventry on 16 November , the day after its destruction. Similar visits were made to Southampton, Birmingham, and Bristol. The absence of notice meant that the usual disruptions of a royal visit were largely avoided. Some felt that these visits could be intrusive—'too busy cleaning up and one thing and another' was sometimes the comment T.

Harrisson , Living through the Blitz , , But the absence of the sovereign from areas of devastation would have caused far more adverse comment than his presence. Clara Milburn of Burleigh, Warwickshire, wrote in her diary on 11 September Their Majesties have visited the heavily-bombed areas today and, as an air raid warning was sounded, they went into a police station and had tea with A. The king emphasized the importance of the home front by creating, on his own initiative and with his own design, the George Cross and George Medal, announced in his broadcast of 23 September They developed from his observation of civilian work following air raids.

It proved difficult and sometimes divisive to select particular acts of civilian bravery, and many of the awards went to servicemen. The work of the king and queen on the home front, and especially in —41, constitutes an exceptional moment in the history of the monarchy. The timing of the visits was largely at royal initiative and, though there was no palace press secretary until , so was their management and presentation. Much of the detail was handled by the assistant private secretary, Sir Alan Lascelles , with whom the king formed a close bond. When in Sir Alexander Hardinge , the private secretary, resigned through ill health following a row with Lascelles , the king accepted the resignation with alacrity and would not allow Hardinge to withdraw it.

The king—who felt of Hardinge that 'he was doing me no good'—noted in his diary: 'It was difficult for me to have to do this but I know that I should not get the opportunity again … I feel happier now it is over' Rhodes James , Lascelles became George VI's private secretary, holding the post until the king's death and into the next reign.

He was simultaneously keeper of the Royal Archives. George VI worked well with Churchill once the latter became accustomed to his post. They met for lunch each Tuesday at Buckingham Palace. The first of over lunches was on 10 September , the day the palace was bombed, and continued until the end of Churchill's premiership. They met without advisers or secretaries present. The king found these talks invaluable for keeping in touch, though his staff regretted the absence of the memoranda that George V habitually dictated immediately following such meetings.

Churchill also seems to have found them useful, and they ensured that there was no court influence on strategy other than via the prime minister Churchill perhaps recalled the importance to Field Marshal Haig of palace support in — Their mutual respect and affection was reflected in an exchange of telegrams following the axis surrender in north Africa in May , an exchange unusually released for public information; the king's simple message and Churchill's florid reply neatly represent the differences between the two men Wheeler-Bennett , —5.

On Tuesdays, before the prime-ministerial lunch, George VI held investitures, for which he prepared himself very thoroughly; in he calculated that during the war he had personally bestowed over 44, medals and decorations Rhodes James , The possibility of the death or assassination of the prime minister concerned the king, who at a Tuesday lunch on 16 June —with Churchill about to leave for Washington—asked his advice on his successor. On the king's request, Churchill by letter that day confirmed that he recommended Anthony Eden. When Churchill and Eden travelled together in , the king returned to the point, Churchill recommending Sir John Anderson , an independent MP, as prime minister in the event of Churchill and Eden's both being killed.

George VI , like many of his subjects, found the slow pace of the war frustrating. He longed to visit his troops, but, apart from a visit to the British expeditionary force in France in December , there was no suitable occasion until , after the defeat of the axis powers in north Africa. Travelling as General Lyon , he left for north Africa on 11 June, was prevented by fog from refuelling at Gibraltar, and reached Algiers on 12 June. He travelled miles in two weeks visiting camps and former battlefields.

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As well as his fear of flying, George VI suffered from a phobia about inspecting lines of troops and on at least one occasion was only with difficulty persuaded to leave his tent. On his own imaginative initiative he had on 15 April awarded the people of Malta the George Cross for their heroism during a period of sustained siege and assault. Encouragement to the government and people of the United States after they had entered the war was uncontroversial, and was developed by George VI in a series of letters and by the reception of Eleanor Roosevelt in London in October More complex were the United Kingdom's relations with the Soviet Union.

Here the king played a characteristically straightforward role. He wished to honour the citizens of Stalingrad in the same way as he had honoured those of Malta, and incidentally associate the monarchy with the very popular pro-Russian sentiments of the working class. The award of a British medal to Stalingrad was thought inappropriate though George V had awarded the Military Medal to French cities in the First World War and it was decided instead to award a sword of honour, the personal gift of the king, 'to the steel-hearted citizens of Stalingrad'.

This the king played an active part in designing; the sword was displayed in British cities prior to being taken by Churchill to the Casablanca conference early in for presentation to Stalin , the high point of Anglo-Russian fraternity. George VI made one of his rare strategic suggestions when in , encouraged by Smuts , he encouraged Churchill to reconsider operation Overlord the D-day landings in favour of further attack via Italy.

Churchill sent the king's letter to the chiefs of staff and, after a dinner attended by the king, Churchill , and Smuts , plans for D-day went ahead, though some extra attention was paid to Italy. The king attended the conference in London on 15 May at which senior staff were briefed on the landings, and he brought it to a conclusion with a brief and effective unscheduled speech of exhortation.

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