Following several heart attacks and slipping in and out of consciousness, King Edward VII died at 11:45pm on 6th May 1910. His son, the Prince of Wales, became King George V and his wife, the Princess of Wales, became Queen Mary. This was the beginning of a modern Georgian era for the United Kingdom.
On the death of his father, King George recorded in his diary, “I have lost my best friend and the best of fathers. I never had a cross word with him in my life. I am heart-broken an overwhelmed with grief but God will help me in my responsibilities and darling May will be my comfort as she always has been. May God give me strength and guidance in the heavy task which has fallen on me.”
As the new Queen’s first name was in fact Victoria, the couple decided against her being styled as Queen Victoria – owing to the obvious comparisons she would’ve received – and so it was decided she would be styled as Queen Mary.
The Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary took place at Westminster Abbey on 22nd June 1911 and was celebrated with the Festival of Empire in London.
Upon his Accession, King George V also became Emperor of India and Mary, Empress. In 1911, the couple visited India in the capacity of Emperor and Empress. While in India they attended the Delhi Durbar where they were presented to an assembled audience of Indian dignitaries and princes. George wore the newly created Imperial Crown of India and declared the shifting of the Indian capital from Calcutta to Delhi.
Back home, King George had inherited the throne at a very turbulent time for the United Kingdom. The constitutional struggle to curb the power of the House of Lords had not yet been resolved and the King was nearly involved in a constitutional crisis that would have threatened his short reign. Public support for King George V grew rapidly throughout the First World War when he made several visits to the front in France.
The accession of George V marked the end of the Edwardian era and the Victorian era was becoming a distant memory. The United Kingdom and the Empire were embarking upon a modern Georgian era and an era that would see King George and Queen Mary celebrate their Silver Jubilee in 1935.
It is often reported that the future Queen Elizabeth II was King George V’s favourite grandchild and she often referred to him as ‘Grandpapa England’. It is also said that Queen Elizabeth II has based her reign on the character of her grandmother, Queen Mary, who’s stoicism, steadfastness and devotion continued beyond her husband’s death in 1936.