The Queen’s father (portrayed in the 2010 film The King’s Speech) didn’t expect to take the throne until his older brother abdicated. George VI will be remembered for his leadership in World War II. When it was suggested that the Royal Family might go to Canada for safety from the blitz, his wife, the future Queen Mum said: ‘The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave the King. And the King will never leave.’
Tradition, discipline and duty were George V’s watchwords. He rebelled against his own father’s lasciviousness by being a dutiful husband but he was a distant father. He also took pleasure in founding the royal stamp collection. In many ways he modelled our current royal family. Not least by changing their name to Windsor at the height of anti-German fervour in 1917.
(1820 – 1830)
Lavish and indulgent, you probably know George IV best from Blackadder and the epic debts he ran up. But he was cultured and forward-looking too and patron to many artists and architects: Regent’s Street, Regent’s Park, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and much more exists thanks to his vision. He also collapsed drunk on his wedding night because he couldn’t bear the sight of his new wife, Caroline of Brunswick.
Well known to us all from the film as the mad one, George III is so much more. A devoted father with 15 children with his wife Queen Charlotte, he was diligent at his best and never took a mistress. Beloved by subjects for his simple tastes and dubbed ‘farmer George’, his long reign of 60 years is marked by the loss of the American colonies. That may have been the spur for his madness.