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King Edward VII (1901 - 1910)

Name: King Edward VII
Full Name: Albert Edward
Born: November 9, 1841 at Buckingham Palace
Parents: Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Relation to Charles III: Great-great-grandfather
House of: Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Ascended to the throne: January 22, 1901 aged 59 years
Crowned: August 9, 1902 at Westminster Abbey
Married: Alexandra, daughter of Christian of Denmark
Children: Three sons including George V, and three daughters
Died: May 6, 1910 at Buckingham Palace, aged 68 years, 5 months, and 24 days
Buried at: Windsor
Reigned for: 9 years, 3 months, 12 days
Succeeded by: his son George V

He was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and known to his family as ‘Bertie’. As Prince of Wales he did not meet his parent’s expectations of duty and during his mother’s long reign devoted himself to being self-indulgent. He was likeable, sociable and outgoing but became known as a playboy interested in horse racing, shooting, eating, drinking and other men’s wives.

In 1863 he married Alexandra of Denmark and the marriage was a reasonably happy producing 6 children. Alexandra tolerated his succession of mistresses who included Lille Langtry (actress), Lady Churchill (mother of Winston Churchill), Sarah Bernhardt (actress) and Alice Keppel (great-grandmother of Camilla wife of Charles the current Prince of Wales). Having mistresses was at the time not uncommon amongst the aristocracy, but his mother despaired of him and kept him away from taking an active part in politics even after Albert's death and she was elderly and retired to Balmoral and Osborne. In 1871 Edward survived a serious illness of typhoid which had killed his father. His eldest son Albert who was engaged to Mary of Teck died of pneumonia.

Edward was well received abroad and as heir-apparent toured India in 1875. When he finally became King Edward VII on the death of his mother in 1901, he frequently made trips to Europe including France where he contributed to the Anglo-French ‘Entente Cordiale’ signed in 1904, to Russia and the Triple Entente between Britain, Russia and France which a few years later would play an important role in affairs on the outbreak of World War I. He supported reform of the army following the Boer War, and Admiral Fisher’s expansion of the Royal Navy including building the new Dreadnought battleships.

The Edwardian period was seen as golden age for the upper class in Europe and America, but society was changing – socialism, women suffragettes, the Labour party and trade unions were becoming powerful and the founding of Britain’s Welfare State. ‘We are all socialists now’ he is reported to have remarked. In an increasing democratic society Edward saw the importance of displaying the mystique of pomp and circumstance of the monarchy, and seeing and being seen by the people. A role he and his successors took to well. He died of pneumonia at Buckingham Palace in 1910 and was succeeded by his second son George V.

King Edward VII's Signature


‘I never can, or shall, look at him without a shudder’ – Queen Victoria (who had a low opinion of her eldest son Edward)

‘Because a man has a black face and a different religion from our own, there is no reason why he should be treated as a brute.’ - Edward (complaining to his mother about British treatment of native Indians)

‘We are all socialists now’ - King Edward VII (observing changes in society)

’I believe the emperor of Germany hates me’ - King Edward VII (on rising tensions with his nephew Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany).

Timeline for King Edward VII

Year Event
1901Edward VII becomes King on the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.
1901Australia is granted dominion status.
1902Arthur Balfour becomes Prime Minister.
1902First trans-Atlantic radio transmission
1902Edward VII institutes the Order of Merit.
1902Empire Day is celebrated for the first time.
1902Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories published.
1903Wilbur and Orville Wright of the US make the first manned and controlled aircraft flight.
1903The Women’s Social and Political Union, demanding votes for women, is founded by Emmeline Pankhurst.
1904Britain and France sign the Entente Cordiale, settling outstanding territorial disputes.
1904Sigmund Freud publishes Psychopathology of Everyday Life.
1904Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie is published.
1905Motor buses are first used in London.
1906Construction of HMS Dreadnought
1907Edward VII visits his cousin Tzar Nicholas II of Russia
1907Taxi-cabs are legally recognized in Britain for the first time.
1907Baden-Powell takes the first ever group of boy scouts on holiday to Brownsea island, Dorset.
1907Parliament rejects Channel Tunnel scheme.
1907New Zealand is granted dominion status.
1908Production of Ford motor cars begins.
1908Publication of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
1908The fourth Olympic Games are held in London.
1908Herbert Henry Asquith becomes Prime Minister.
1908The Triple Entente is signed between Russia, France, and Britain.
1908The Children’s Act establishes separate juvenile courts to try children.
1908Old Age Pensions established in Britain for all over 70 years old with an income of less than ten shillings per week.
1909The People’s Budget is introduced by Lloyd George
1909The Women’s Suffrage movement becomes more militant in their fight for votes for women.
1909Introduction of Labour Exchanges
1909French airman, Louis Blériot, makes the first cross-Channel flight from Calais to Dover.
1909First rugby match to be played Twickenham takes place.
1909First Boy Scout Rally is held at Crystal Palace, London.
1910Constitutional Crisis is caused by the House of Commons’ attempt to curb the power of the House of Lords.
1910Edward dies of pneumonia at Buckingham Palace.