Teaching Students About King George Vi
King George VI, born Albert Frederick Arthur George Windsor, was the King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire, as well as the last Emperor of India from 1936 until his death in 1952. Teaching students about King George VI offers an opportunity to dive into important aspects of British history during a period that includes World War II and the beginning of the end for colonialism.
Lesson One: The Early Life of King George VI
Start by introducing students to King George VI’s early life and upbringing. Discuss his family background, his parents, King George V and Queen Mary, and notable siblings including Edward VIII. Educate students about his time at the Royal Naval College and his service in World War I. Touch upon how his experiences during this time shaped him as a person and future monarch.
Lesson Two: Ascension to the Throne
Explain how upon the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII, King George VI assumed the throne reluctantly but dutifully. Emphasize that this unexpected transition was due to Edward’s relationship with Wallis Simpson – a twice-divorced American who did not have the approval of Parliament or the Church.
Discuss how this sudden change affected King George VI’s life, highlighting his insecurity about becoming king due to his shy nature and speech impediment – a stammer which would later inspire the 2010 Oscar-winning film “The King’s Speech.”
Lesson Three: World War II and Leadership
The reign of King George VI is most notably marked by World War II. Teach students about how he led Britain in this difficult time – visiting bombed areas in London during The Blitz, fostering close relationships with leaders such as Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and providing steady leadership in crisis. Highlight his dedication to supporting the morale of British citizens through regular radio broadcasts, exemplifying courage and resilience.
Lesson Four: The Post-War World and the End of an Empire
In the aftermath of World War II, King George VI faced a new challenge – the dissolution of the British Empire. Educate students about the significant events during this time, such as India’s independence and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, which signaled the beginning of the end for Britain’s status as a global imperial leader. Address the social and political implications of this transformation, especially its impact on Britain’s identity.
Lesson Five: His Legacy and Death
Finally, discuss the legacy of King George VI, covering his untimely death at age 56 due to lung cancer and heart problems. Teach students about how Queen Elizabeth II came to power upon his death in 1952. Reflect on King George VI’s role in maintaining stability both domestically and internationally during pivotal times in history.