May 12, 1937: George VI Coronation at Westminster
He grew up with the name Albert, but on this day in 1937, Prince Albert was crowned King George VI at a historic ceremony. For one, it was the first coronation ceremony to be televised live by the BBC. For another, Prince Albert did not even want the throne, and the way in which it came to him was also historic.
At his birth, Albert was fourth in line to the throne. He did have an elder brother, so the chances of his gaining the throne were somewhat remote, but still a possibility. History tells us that Albert was a sickly child, who much preferred the quiet study of history and civics to the boisterous physical activity that his elder brother, Edward, loved. Albert did, however, join the military, where he underacheived and did little of note during WWI. Upon return to England, Albert married and began to travel.
At the closing ceremony of the British Empire Expedition, held at Wembley Stadium, Prince Albert was tasked with making a speech. All his life Bertie had struggled with a speaking impediment, and the Wembley speech only reminded him of the struggles he had endured. With the help of one Lionel Logue, a speech therapist, Prince Albert was able to drastically improve his speaking abilities, an achievement he would soon be glad he attained.
In January, 1936, Albert’s father King George V died. Prince Edward, the elder brother, ascended to the throne as King Edward VIII, leaving Albert the next in line. In a move that shocked the British nation, less than a year after his coronation Edward VIII abdicated the throne so that he could marry his mistress. She had been twice divorced. No upstanding British subject could conceive of his king marrying a woman twice divorced, and so Edward VIII chose to abdicate. Bertie was terrified at the prospect of becoming king. Nevertheless, Albert assumed the mantle and was crowned King George VI, on this day in British history, May 12, 1937.