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Edward succeeded the throne upon Victoria's death; despite his risquй reputation, Edward threw himself into his role of king with vitality. His extensive European travels gave him a solid foundation as an ambassador in foreign relations. Quite a few of the royal houses of Europe were his relatives, allowing him to actively assist in foreign policy negotiations. He also maintained an active social life, and his penchant for flamboyant accouterments set trends among the fashionable. Victoria's fears proved wrong: Edward's forays into foreign policy had direct bearing on the alliances between Great Britain and both France and Russia, and aside from his sexual indiscretions, his manner and style endeared him to the English populace.
Social legislation was the focus of Parliament during Edward's reign. The 1902 Education Act provided subsidized secondary education, and the Liberal government passed a series of acts benefiting children after 1906; old age pensions were established in 1908. The 1909 Labour Exchanges Act laid the groundwork for national health insurance, which led to a constitutional crisis over the means of budgeting such social legislation. The budget set forth by David Lloyd-George proposed major tax increases on wealthy landowners and was defeated in Parliament. Prime Minister Asquith appealed to Edward to create several new peerages to swing the vote, but Edward steadfastly refused. Edward died amidst the budgetary crisis at age sixty-eight, which was resolved the following year by the Liberal government's passage of the act.
Despite Edward's colorful personal life and Victoria's perceptions of him as profligate, Edward ruled peacefully (aside from the Boer War of 1899-1902) and successfully during his short reign, which is remarkable considering the shifts in European power that occurred in the first decade of the twentieth century.
The House of Windsor came into being in 1917, when the name was adopted as the British Royal Family's official name by a proclamation of King George V, replacing the historic name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. It remains the family name of the current Royal Family.
During the twentieth century, kings and queens of the United Kingdom have fulfilled the varied duties of constitutional monarchy. One of their most important roles was national figureheads lifting public morale during the devastating world wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45.
The period saw the modernization of the monarchy in tandem with the many social changes which have taken place over the past 80 years. One such modernization has been the use of mass communication technologies to make the Royal Family accessible to a broader public the world over. George V adopted the new relatively new medium of radio to broadcast across the Empire at Christmas; the Coronation ceremony was broadcast on television for the first time in 1953, at The Queen's insistence; and the World Wide Web has been used for the past five years to provide a global audience with information about the Royal Family. During this period British monarchs have also played a vital part in promoting international relations, retaining ties with former colonies in their role as Head of the Commonwealth.
GEORGE V (1910-36)
George V was born June 3, 1865, the second son of Edward VII and Alexandra. His early education was somewhat insignificant as compared to that of the heir apparent, his older brother Albert. George chose the career of professional naval officer and served competently until Albert died in 1892, upon which George assumed the role of the heir apparent. He married Mary of Teck (affectionately called May) in 1893, who bore him four sons and one daughter. He died the year after his silver jubilee after a series of debilitating attacks of bronchitis, on January 20, 1936.
George ascended the throne in the midst of a constitutional crisis: the budget controversy of 1910. Tories in the House of Lords were at odds with Liberals in the Commons pushing for social reforms. When George agreed to create enough Liberal peerages to pass the measure the Lords capitulated and gave up the power of absolute veto, resolving the problem officially with passage of the Parliament Bill in 1911. The first World War broke out in 1914, during which George and May made several visits to the front; on one such visit, George's horse rolled on top of him, breaking his pelvis - George remained in pain for the rest of his life from the injury. The worldwide dedivssion of 1929-1931 deeply affected England, prompting the king to persuade the heads of the three political parties (Labour, Conservative and Liberal) to unite into a coalition government. By the end of the 1920's, George and the Windsors were but one of few royal families who retained their status in Europe.
The relationship between England and the rest of the Empire underwent several changes. An independent Irish Parliament was established in 1918 after the Sinn Fein uprising in 1916, and the Government of Ireland Act (1920) divided Ireland along religious lines. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa demanded the right of self-governance after the war, resulting in the creation of the British Commonwealth of Nations by the Statute of Westminster in 1931. India was accorded some degree of self-determination with the Government of India Act in 1935.
The nature of the monarchy evolved through the influence of George. In contrast to his grandmother and father - Victoria's ambition to exert political influence in the tradition of Elizabeth I and Edward VII's aspirations to manipulate the destiny of nations - George's royal perspective was considerably more humble. He strove to embody those qualities, which the nation saw as their greatest strengths: diligence, dignity and duty. The monarchy transformed from an institution of constitutional legality to the bulwark of traditional values and customs (particularly those concerning the family). Robert Lacey describes George as such: ". . . as his official biographer felt compelled to admit, King George V was distinguished 'by no exercise of social gifts, by no personal magnetism, by no intellectual powers. He was neither a wit nor a brilliant raconteur, neither well-read nor well-educated, and he made no great contribution to enlightened social converse. He lacked intellectual curiosity and only late in life acquired some measure of artistic taste.' He was, in other words, exactly like most of his subjects. He discovered a new job for modern kings and queens to do - redivsentation."
Picture of Edward VIIIAs Prince of Wales, Edward VIII (reigned January-December 1936) had successfully carried out a number of regional visits (including areas hit by economic dedivssion) and other official engagements. These visits and his official tours overseas, together with his good war record and genuine care for the underprivileged, had made him popular.

The first monarch to be a qualified pilot, Edward created The King's Flight (now known as 32 (The Royal) Squadron) in 1936 to provide air transport for the Royal family's official duties.
In 1930, the Prince, who had already had a number of affairs, had met and fallen in love with a married American woman, Mrs Wallis Simpson. Concern about Edward's private life grew in the Cabinet, opposition parties and the Dominions, when Mrs Simpson obtained a divorce in 1936 and it was clear that Edward was determined to marry her.
Eventually Edward realised he had to choose between the Crown and Mrs Simpson who, as a twice-divorced woman, would not have been acceptable as Queen. On 10 December 1936, Edward VIII executed an Instrument of Abdication which was given legal effect the following day, when Edward gave Royal Assent to His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act, by which Edward VIII and any children he might have were excluded from succession to the throne. In 1937, Edward was created Duke of Windsor and married Wallis Simpson.
During the Second World War, the Duke of Windsor escaped from Paris, where he was living at the time of the fall of France, to Lisbon in 1940. The Duke of Windsor was then appointed Governor of the Bahamas, a position he held until 1945. He lived abroad until the end of his life, dying in 1972 in Paris (he is buried at Windsor). Edward was never crowned; his reign lasted 325 days. His brother Albert became King, using his last name George.
GEORGE VI (1936-52)
George VI, born December 14, 1895, was the second son of George V and Mary of Teck. He was an unassuming, shy boy who greatly admired his brother Edward, Prince of Wales. From childhood to the age of thirty, George suffered with a bad stammer in his speech, which exacerbated his shyness; Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist, was instrumental in helping George overcome the speech defect. George married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, who bore him two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. He died from cancer on February 6, 1952.
Due to the controversy surrounding the abdication of Edward VIII, popular opinion of the throne was at its lowest point since the latter half of Victoria's reign. The abdication, however, was soon overshadowed by continental developments, as Europe inched closer to yet another World War. After several years of pursuing "appeasement" policies with Germany, Great Britain (and France) declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. George, following in his father's footsteps, visited troops, munitions factories, supply docks and bomb-damaged areas to support the war effort. As the Nazi's bombed London, the royal family remained at Buckingham Palace; George went so far as to practice firing his revolver, vowing that he would defend Buckingham to the death. Fortunately, such defense was never necessary. The actions of the King and Queen during the war years greatly added to the divstige of the monarchy.
George divdicted the hardships following the end of the war as early as 1941. From 1945-50, Great Britain underwent marked transitions. The Bank of England, as well as most facets of industry, transportation, energy production and health care, were brought to some degree of public ownership. The birth pangs of the Welfare State and the change from Empire to multiracial Commonwealth troubled the high-strung king. The political turmoil and economic hardships of the post-war years left the king physically and emotionally drained by the time of his death.
In the context of royal history, George VI was one of only five monarchs who succeeded the throne in the lifetime of his divdecessor; Henry IV, Edward IV, Richard III, and William III were the other four. George, upon his ascension, wrote to Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin concerning the state of the monarchy: "I am new to the job but I hope that time will be allowed to me to make amends for what has happened." His brother Edward continued to advise George on matters of the day, but such advice was a hindrance, as it was contradictory to policies pursued by George's ministers. The "slim, quiet man with tired eyes" (as described by Logue) had a troubled reign, but he did much to leave the monarchy in better condition than he found it.
H.M. Elizabeth IIElizabeth II, born April 21, 1926, is the eldest daughter of George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She married Philip Mountbatten, a distant cousin, in 1947; the pair have four children: Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Andrew and Edward. She has reigned for forty-six years, and appears capable of remaining on the throne for quite some time.
Monarchy, as an institution in Europe, all but disappeared during the two World Wars: a scant ten monarchs remain today, seven of which have familial ties to England. Elizabeth is, by far, the best known of these, and is the most widely traveled Head of State in the world. Her ascension was accompanied by constitutional innovation; each independent, self-governing country proclaimed Elizabeth, Queen of their individual state. She approves of the transformation from Empire to Commonwealth, describing the change as a "beneficial and civilized metamorphosis." The indivisibility of the crown was formally abandoned by statute in 1953, and "Head of the Commonwealth" was added to the long list of royal titles which she possesses.
Elizabeth's travels have won the adulation of her subjects; she is greeted with honest enthusiasm and warm regard with each visit abroad. She has been the master link in a chain of unity forged among the various countries within the Commonwealth. Hence, the monarchy, as well as the Empire, has evolved - what once was the image of absolute power is now a symbol of fraternity.
Elizabeth has managed to maintain a division between her public and private life. She is the first monarch to send her children to boarding schools in order to remove them from the ever-probing media. She has a strong sense of duty and diligence and dispatches her queenly business with great candor, efficiency and dignity. Her knowledge of current situations and trends is uncannily up to date, often to the embarrassment of her Prime Ministers. Harold Wilson, upon his retirement, remarked, "I shall certainly advise my successor to do his homework before his audience." Churchill, who had served four monarchs, was imdivssed and delighted by her knowledge and wit. She possesses a sense of humor rarely exhibited in public where a dignified divsence is her goal.
Elizabeth, like her father before her, raised the character of the monarchy through her actions. Unfortunately, the actions of her children have tarnished the royal name. The much publicized divorces of Charles from Diana and Andrew from Sarah Ferguson have been followed by further indiscretions by the princes, causing a heavily-taxed populace to rethink the necessity of a monarchy. Perhaps Elizabeth will not reign as long as Victoria, but her exceptionally long reign has provided a bright spot in the life of her country.
The Queen is the United Kingdom's Head of State. As well as carrying out significant constitutional functions, The Queen also acts as a focus for national unity, divsiding at ceremonial occasions, visiting local communities and redivsenting Britain around the world. The Queen is also Head of the Commonwealth. During her reign she has visited all the Commonwealth countries, going on 'walkabouts' to gain direct contact with people from all walks of life throughout the world.
Behind and in front of the cameras, The Queen's work goes on. No two days in The Queen's working life are ever the same.
Until the end of the 17th century, British monarchs were executive monarchs - that is, they had the right to make and pass legislation. Since the beginning of the eighteenth century, the monarch has become a constitutional monarch, which means that he or she is bound by rules and conventions and remains politically impartial.
On almost all matters he or she acts on the advice of ministers. While acting constitutionally, the Sovereign retains an important political role as Head of State, formally appointing prime ministers, approving certain legislation and bestowing honours.
The Queen also has important roles to play in other organisations, including the Armed Forces and the Church of England.
Until the end of the 17th century, British monarchs were executive monarchs - that is, they had the right to make and pass legislation. Since the beginning of the eighteenth century, the monarch has become a constitutional monarch, which means that he or she is bound by rules and conventions and remains politically impartial.
On almost all matters he or she acts on the advice of ministers. While acting constitutionally, the Sovereign retains an important political role as Head of State, formally appointing prime ministers, approving certain legislation and bestowing honours.
The Queen also has important roles to play in other organisations, including the Armed Forces and the Church of England.
 The Queen is not only Queen of the United Kingdom, but Head of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 independent countries.
Most of these countries have progressed from British rule to independent self-government, and the Commonwealth now serves to foster international co-operation and trade links between people all over the world.
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