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Britain Since the 1930s

by Mandy Barrow
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The British Royal Family during the War

During the Second World war, a King was on the British throne.

Royal Family
The Royal Family with Prime Minister Winston Churchill
on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on VE Day.

World War Two in Europe began on 3rd September 1939,

King George VIWho was King during the Second World War?

When war broke out in 3rd September 1939 King George VI was three years into his reign. He became King unexpectedly following the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, in 1936.

(When King George V died in January 1936, his eldest son Edward became King. But in less than a year he gave up the throne in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, and his younger brother, George had to take over being King. )


Did the King evacuate to the country where he would be safe from the bombs?

No, the King and Queen remained at Buckingham Palace throughout the War. They sent their daughters, Princesses Elizabeth (our present Queen) and Margaret, to Windsor Castle for safety.

Did Buckingham Palace get bombed?

Yes, during the Blitz, Buckingham Palace suffered nine direct hits.

Did the King and Queen stay hidden in the Palace until after the war?

No, King George and his wife, Queen Elizabeth toured many of the areas that had suffered from heavy bombing. They showed the people of London that they cared for them.

The King also went abroad to visit his troops, in France and North Africa.

George CrossThe George Cross

King George VI founded the George Medal and the George Cross to honour the "many acts of heroism performed both by male and female persons especially during the present war." 

The George Cross is one of the nation's highest award for extreme bravery. (The Victoria Cross being the ultimate (highest) symbol of bravery in battle.)

In 1942 the George Cross was given to the island of Malta in recognition of the bravery displayed during the island's long siege by the Germans.

The George Cross has been awarded directly to 155 people, 84 posthumously (awarded after the person had died), and was bestowed (awarded) on over 100 recipients during the Second World War.

Facts about King George VI

  • King George was born in 1895 and ruled 1936–52)
  • His great-grandmother was Queen Victoria
  • He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in1923.
  • Their elder daughter, later HM Queen Elizabeth II, was born in 1926.
  • Succeeded to the throne on the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, in December 1936

Kings and Queens of Britain

The British Royal Family today

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