King Edward 7th
King Edward 7th
Edward was born in Buckingham Palace on 9th November 1841. The son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, a German prince and a cousin of Victorias.
As the eldest son of the Queen he was automatically Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothsay. As a son of Prince Albert, he also held the titles of Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duke of Saxony. He was also created Prince of Wales and a knight of the Garter by his mother.
Prince Albert was determined that his eldest son should have an education that would prepare him to be a first class king. At the age of seven, Edward was started on a rigorous educational programme devised by his father under the strict supervision of several tutors. However, Edward did not excel at his studies, and although he tried to meet his parents expectations, he was not a diligent student and his true talents lay in the areas of charm, sociability and tact. He was sent to Rome, in the first few months of 1859, returning in the summer of that year to study at the University of Edinburgh. In 1861, Edward transferred to Trinity College Cambridge where he was tutored in history. His professor brought out the best academic performances of Edward's life, and Edward actually looked forward to his lectures.
King Edward 7th
Edward was the first heir to the throne who visited America where he was very well received. His good humour and confidence, his relaxed manner made the tour a great success. As well as inaugurating the Victoria Bridge at Montreal, spanning the St. Lawrence River, laying the cornerstone of the Parliament Building in Ottowa, he watched Blondin walk a high wire over Niagara Falls. Moving to the United States, he stayed at the White House with President Buchanan. Crowds received him enthusiastically and the Prince and the President journeyed to Mount Vernon to visit the tomb of George Washington. This four-month tour through Canada and the United States boosted Edward's confidence and self-esteem greatly, and brought many diplomatic benefits to the United Kingdom.
On returning to England it was decided that he should marry. His mother and Prince Albert decided for him. He was sent to Germany to his elder sister, Crown Princess of Prussia, who was entertaining Princess Alexandra of Denmark at the time. Edward was very impressed with Alexandra and marriage plans started.
At Niagara Falls
Although planning to marry, Edward did not let a little thing like a betrothal stand in the way of his enjoyment of other women. After all, he was the original playboy, gambling and womanising with great gusto. Prince Albert had heard that his son had smuggled an actress, Nellie Clifton into his tent when on manouevres with the army. His father was absolutely disgusted with Edward's behaviour and he travelled to Edwards camp to give him a roasting lecture. At the time Prince Albert was very ill with Typhoid, so this was the importance the Prince and Victoria placed on Edward's actions. Two weeks later, Prince Albert died of his illness and Victoria was inconsolable. For the rest of her life she blamed Edward for his father's death. She regarded her son with distaste, and called his behaviour frivolous, indiscreet and irresponsible. She wrote to her eldest daughter, "I never can, or shall, look at him without a shudder."
Edward's womanising carried on even after his marriage to Alexandra. It was said she knew about it and turned a blind eye.
He was associated with Lillie Langtry the actress, Lady Randolph Churchill, the mother of Winston Churchill, actress Sarah Bernhardt, Daisy Greville, Susan Pelham - Clinton, Hortense Schneider, Giulia Barucci, Agnes Keyser and Alice Keppel. Camilla Parker - Bowles, wife of Charles, our present Prince of Wales is the grand daughter of Alice Keppel.
Sir Charles Mordaunt, a member of Parliament, threatened to name Edward as co- respondent in his divorce case, but eventually decided not to. Edward was called as a witness in the proceedings but although he admitted to visiting the lady, he denied any impropriety so nothing was proven.
Edward and Alexandra
A short reign
Edward was regarded as an officianado of men's fashions. He wore tweed suits, homberg hats and Norfolk Jackets and he made the wearing of black ties with dinner jackets fashionable instead of white tie and tails. A stickler for proper dress, he lectured the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury for wearing Trinity House trousers with a Privy Councillors coat. As the Prime Minister was in the middle of an international crisis at the time, he apologised and said that his mind must have been occupied by some subject of less importance.
Edward introduced the practice of eating roast beef, roast potatoes, horseradish sauce and yorkshire puddings on Sundays, which is still a favourite for Sunday lunch in Britain.
Edward became King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India when Queen Victoria died in January 1901. He was named as the most popular king since the 1600's, loved by all his subjects.
His reign was called the Edwardian era and coincided with the start of a new century. heralding huge changes in technology and society, including the start of powered flight and the start of the Labour movement. Edward was instrumental in the modernisation of the Navy, especially the British Home Fleet and of the reform of the Army Medical Corps. He fostered good relationships between the UK and the other European countries, especially France, which earned him the title, "Peacemaker", but his relationship with his nephew, Wilhelm of Germany was poor. Edward predicted that Wilhelm would precipitate a war, and four years after Edward's death, World War I brought Edward's prediction true.
His was a short reign but a very happy one and he enlightened the general population to a different way of life that the Victorians had led.
Edward died on 6th May 1910.