GEORGE V (1865-1936). King of England and Emperor of India; and his son, the future King EDWARD VIII (DUKE OF WINDSOR). (1894-72). DS. (“George R.I.” and “Edward P.”). 2pp. Tall 4to. London, June 3, 1925. An appointment of Canadian opera soprano EMMA ALBANI-GYE (1847-1930) as Dame Commander of the Civil Division of the British Empire, with her autograph draft letter (unsigned) accepting the citation.
George V ascended to the British throne with the May 1910 death of his father, Edward VII, the son and successor of Queen Victoria. George V’s 26-year reign witnessed challenges to Britain’s empire in Ireland and India and the upheaval of World War I, which altered the political landscape of Continental Europe and Britain. It was in 1917, due to anti-German sentiment, that George V changed his royal house’s name from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor.
At the beginning of World War I, Edward, Prince of Wales, was commissioned to the Grenadier Guards, the official guard of the royal family but, to his great disappointment, he was not allowed to serve at the front. He did, however, distinguish himself in other campaigns abroad and “it was during the war that he first showed those qualities of charm, friendliness and sincerity that were to make him so popular,” (Royal Encyclopedia). After the war, he frequently represented his father, and became one of the most prominent celebrities of the day. But following his succession to the throne in 1936, public opinion turned against him because of his relationship with Wallis Warfield Simpson, a twice-divorced American, deemed unacceptable as a British queen. Edward’s determination to marry her led to the only voluntary abdication of a British monarch in history and made Edward’s reign the second shortest.