February 6-7, 1952 – Death of King George VI – Reports and Tributes – NBC/BBC – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
February 6-7, 1952 – Although it wasn’t wholly unexpected, he had been in declining health for some time, but the death of King George VI ended the chapter for a king who never wanted the throne and led his country through the darkest days of World War 2.
Albert Frederick Arthur George was born in December 1895, the second son of King George V. Known to the family as Bertie, George was shy and perfectly content to not be the heir apparent to the throne.
That was the job of his older brother, who became King Edward VIII after their father died in 1936.
But Edward’s rule didn’t last longer than a year. He abdicated his duties as king so he could marry his lover, American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
When Bertie stepped up to take his brother’s place, he chose the name King George VI in recognition of his father and to establish continuity between their reigns.
But it was during the second World War that George’s sense of solidarity was on full display. The King and Queen were under pressure to leave London for their own safety, but they refused — even after Buckingham Palace was bombed.
“The children will not leave unless I do. I shall not leave unless their father does, and the King will not leave the country in any circumstances, whatsoever,” the Queen said at the time.
King George VI was a heavy smoker, and the stress of the war took a toll on his health. He developed lung cancer, and in 1952 died in his sleep from a coronary thrombosis. He was 56.
Upon news of his death, US President Harry Truman said King George VI had “shared to the end of his reign all the hardships and austerities which evil days imposed on the brave British people. In return, he received from the people of the whole Commonwealth a love and devotion which went beyond the usual relationship of a King and his subjects.”
Here two special broadcasts from NBC Radio and The BBC – one on February 6th, the day of King George’s death and the second from the 7th, as tributes were pouring in.
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