Not long ago, Britain had both and King AND a Queen.

King George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions from December 1936 to February 1952. Alongside him was his wife, Queen Elizabeth, Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions.

George VI died in February 1952. His and Queen Elizabeth's daughter, Princess Elizabeth, then became Queen Elizabeth II.

From then on, until her death in March 2002 aged 101, Queen Elizabeth became known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, because a female consort (as Queen Elizabeth was), still keeps the title "Queen" even when the next monarch comes to the Throne (though a male consort doesn't become King. That's why Philip, Elizabeth II's husband, is Prince Philip and not King Philip).

The next monarch was Elizabeth II, so Queen Elizabeth added "the Queen Mother" to her title to avoid confusion.

The Queen Mother was also the last Queen of Ireland (Ireland became a republic in 1949) and the last Empress of India (which gained its independence in 1947).

Now the Queen Mother's biography has revealed the reaction to George VI's death.

In a letter to Queen Mary (Mary Teck, who was the consort of George V, and the mother of George VI), the Queen Mother revealed how she thought that George VI was sleeping peacefully, until she realised that he had passed away. In the letter, the Queen Mother refers to George VI as Bertie, and to her daughter, Princess Elizabeth, as Lilibet.

She also revealed how the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, wept when he heard the news of the King's death.

George VI underwent speech therapy several times during his life has he had a bad stammer, particularly when nervous.

Queen Mother on King George VI's death

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, worried about the "burden" that would fall on her daughter following the death of her husband King George VI, her biography has disclosed.

By Andrew Pierce and Gordon Rayner
17 Sep 2009
Daily Mail

Prince George, the future George VI, with Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the future Queen Elizabeth, on the day of their engagement in January 1923 Photo: PA

George VI died in his sleep at Sandringham on Feb 6, 1952. Queen Elizabeth later said in a letter to Queen Mary: “I flew to his room and thought he was in a deep sleep, he looked so peaceful — and then I realised what had happened.”

Churchill wept when he was told the news, and when his staff tried to console him saying he would get on well with the new Queen, he replied that “he did not know her and she was only a child”.

Queen Elizabeth set out her thoughts in a letter to Queen Mary, in which she worried about the “burden” which would fall on the 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth.

King George VI

“My darling Mama, what can I say to you — I know that you loved Bertie dearly, and he was my whole life, and one can only be deeply thankful for the utterly happy years we had together. He was so wonderfully thoughtful and loving, and I don’t believe he ever thought of himself at all... I cannot bear to think of Lilibet, so young to bear such a burden — I do feel for you so darling Mama — to lose two dear sons, and Bertie still so young and so precious — it is almost more than one can bear — your very loving Elizabeth.”

The biography also sets out the Queen Mother's views on the Royal family's financial arrangements.

She was implacably opposed to the agreement to end centuries of privilege and to pay income tax.

John Major, the prime minister at the time, told the House of Commons that the Queen and Prince of Wales had agreed to pay tax on their private incomes and that £900,000 of Civil List payments would end to five members of the Royal family.

King George VI's daughter, Princess Elizabeth, aged 24 or 25, in 1951, the year before she became Queen Elizabeth II

Before the decision was announced, the Queen delegated the job of breaking the news to her mother to her Private Secretary, Sir Robert, now Lord, Fellowes.

Shawcross writes: “He knew that she would not be pleased. The Queen Mother understood that the country was changing so much that monarchy had, as always, to change to retain consent.

“But, according to members of the family, she was concerned lest acceptance of such reform should imply criticism of the Queen and her predecessors, particularly the King, for not having paid tax earlier.”

Lord Fellowes met Queen Elizabeth at Clarence House at 6pm.

Lord Fellowes recalled: “The drawing room was in shadow with very few lights on.

She gazed into the distance as I talked. When I finished there was a long pause.

She then said: 'I think we will have a drink’.”

Lord Fellowes explained: “In other words, she thought it was completely wrong but she did not want to take it out on me. She did not want to hear about it or dwell on it.” He asked for a whisky and water; she had a Martini. They talked about it no more.

In 1996 it emerged that Queen Elizabeth had an overdraft of £4 million. Mr Shawcross said her debts had built up because of “inevitable financial shortfalls” even after her Civil List annuity rose to £643,000. The Queen covered her mother’s racing losses and other expenses to “enable her to continue the style of life to which she was both accustomed and suited”.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Sep 17th, 2009 at 12:27 PM..