King Edward VII

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King Edward VII (1905)

Edward VII (Albert Edward Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, 1841-1910) was King of Great Britain and its dominions and colonies, and Emperor of India, from 1901 to 1910. He succeeded his mother, Queen Victoria, and was succeeded by his second son, George V. He gave his name to the "Edwardian Era," the last splurge of glory and wealth before Britain descended into the horrors of the First World War.

As Prince of Wales he was a worry to the Queen and the British establishment. Lazy, easily bored, and without a proper job, he fell prey to numerous temptations. He was a gambler (at cards and horses), a glutton and a womaniser; despite having married Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863, he had numerous adulterous affairs, most notoriously with the actress Lillie Langtry, and in 1870 was called as a witness in a divorce trial in which he was implicated.

King

Despite his bad habits, he was a successful and popular monarch. He avoided politics but helped bring about the Entente Cordiale with France in 1904. His reign was a success because he was so visible and people of all ranks enjoyed his presence. The king in turn enjoyed company and had a gift for making graceful introductions and putting people at ease. Small talk came easy because he remembered names and faces. Foreign dignitaries were pleased that he spoke both French and German well. He was amusing and considerate and was strikingly handsome in his dress uniform. His Danish wife Queen Alexandra, whom he married in 1863, was graceful and slender, with a natural dignity and was popular with the people.

Further reading

  • Brook-Shepherd, G. Uncle of Europe: The Social and Diplomatic Life of Edward VII (1975)
  • Hibbert, Christopher. Edward VII: The Last Victorian King (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Lee, Sir Sidney. King Edward VII: A Biography - Vol. 1 (1925) online edition, the official life
  • Lee, Sir Sidney. King Edward VII: A Biography - Vol. 2 (1927) online edition
  • Thompson, Paul. The Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society (1992) online edition
  • Weintraub, Stanley. Edward the Caresser: The Playboy Prince Who Became Edward VII (2001) excerpt and text search
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