Book review: George VI


After having watched The King’s Speech at the cinema (like about a gazilion other people), I found myself intrigued by the story of George VI, and wanted to learn more. I picked up George VI by Sarah Bradford at Amazon, and forgot all about it, until I cleaned out my bookshelves.

I rather regret not reading it earlier, because this book is very well written and a joy to read. It is rather long (and did drag on a bit in the end) but the story just flows in a way that made me want to read on, and on, and on…

One advantage is that you can tell that there has been a lot of research put into it, yet it rarely gets dry as some academic writing is wont to get. The letters keep the story going in more personal detail, and the story keeps flowing.

The biography covers his entire life, from his birth on the most unfortunate of days (the day of Prince Albert’s death years before) to his death. His education, family life, public life and family problems are all gone over in detail.

It seems that the upbringing of young royals in Denmark and the UK was remarkably similar at that time – the navy is heavily involved in both George VI, and Frederik IX’s upbringing, and the generations before them. Had Queen Elizabeth been a boy, it’s entirely possible she would have followed a similar path.

Even though the falling out between the Duke of Windsor and George VI is a rather significant point, I felt that, as we were approaching the end of the book – a lot of what happened to the Duke/Duchess of Windsor “off-screen” could have been eliminated from the book with no real consequence to the story itself.

Overall, I really enjoyed this, and it was a good way to build out my knowledge of the era and the monarch.

Link to the book at Amazon.co.uk: George VI

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