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Lafayette L00421
Neg. Date: None

copyright V&A

King George V (1865-1936), photographed – when Duke of York – during his visit to Dublin, then still a part of United Kingdom, in October 1891.

He was the second son of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, and thus not expected to find himself monarch. After the death from pneumonia in 1892 of his elder brother, Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avon, George took over his role and his fiancée, Princess Mary of Teck, whom he married in July 1893.

As much as it may seem odd, it was not without precedent – his aunt Marie Federovna, the Empress of Russia was passed on to next brother upon the death in 1865 of her fiancée Tsarevich Nikolai.

Essentially a shy and private man, he had a deep dislike of ceremony and avoided entertaining. The sea and navy were his love, shooting and philately his hobbies. As King, he carried out his duties with the determination and zeal his grandmother, Queen Victoria, would have been proud of. His genuine engagement with the war effort, his identification with the nation during hard times, and his self-imposed austerity won him the love and sympathy of his subjects. Conscious of his and his wife’s German origins, in 1917 George changed the royal family’s name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor. This prompted the King’s first cousin, Emperor William II, to wonder jokingly as to when he might see the famous operetta renamed ‘The Marry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.’

Although the Great War saw the disappearance of many European royal states, the British monarchy emerged from it stronger then before.

Despite their differences in taste and temperament, George got on well with his father, King Edward VII, whom he often accompanied to social events. It was “in remembrance of old days on the (royal yacht) Britannia and over fishing at Newlands” (her parents’ residence), that Daisy wrote to George a letter of sympathy after the King Edward’s death in May 1910.

In Germany, Daisy met the King George V Queen Mary in July 1913 at the wedding of the Emperor’s youngest child, Princess Victoria Louise, to Prince August of Cumberland. In January 1921, desperate and feeling defeated by her divorce settlement, Daisy turned to King George V for help and to request the status of ‘under British Protection’ in her legal complications in the German courts.

This photograph was reproduced on front cover of the Navy and Army magazine on 20 December 1895.

Staid and reserved as he was, it is noteworthy that George holds a cigarette in this portrait, perhaps a suggestion by the photographer to make him appear less stuffy and formal. A burning cigarette would have given off smoke and hence in this portrait George holds a half-smoked cigarette which is no longer lit!