The scandalous story of how King George VI became king

Queen Elizabeth II was born the eldest child of Prince Albert, Duke of York. The “Duke of York” title is traditionally given to the second son of the reigning monarch, and such was the case with Elizabeth’s father. “Bertie,” as he was known, was the second son of the King George V. The King’s eldest son was Prince Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David who’d always been known to friends and family as “David” and who was made Prince of Wales on his 16th birthday. Here’s how the most famous royals got their titles.

In January 1936, King George V died, and David succeeded to the throne as King Edward VIII. It was exactly as everyone expected it to be, including Prince Albert, his wife (Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon), and their two daughters (Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret). There was one hitch, however, and that was that two years earlier, the now-King Edward VIII had begun an affair with the American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, who was still married to her second husband.

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A look back at King George VI's life
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A look back at King George VI's life
The Duke and Duchess of York with their daughter Princess Elizabeth immediately after their return from Australia in 1927. Albert Frederick Arthur George, future George VI, 1895 – 1952. King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, 1900 –2002. Future Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Wife of King George VI and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 1926. Future Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. From The Duchess of York, published c.1928. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of York at the christening of their daughter Princess Elizabeth in 1926. Prince Albert, Duke of York, future George VI, 1895 - 1952. King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Duchess of York, future Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, 1900 - 2002. Wife of King George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Elizabeth of York, future Elizabeth II, born 1926. From The Coronation Book of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, published 1937.(Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Drive' - playing for the Generals in a match against the Admirals, circa 1926 (1937). From Coronation Souvenir Book 1937, edited by Gordon Beckles. [Daily Express, London, 1937]. Artist Unknown. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)
King George VI watching a blindfolded Australian soldier assemble a machine gun, 1940. George VI, 1895 - 1952. King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth.(Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
The Duke of York suffers the line-crossing ceremony aboard The Renown in 1927. The Giant Razor waits to complete the work of Neptune's distemper brush, after which he will be granted title of Old Sea Dog. Prince Albert, Duke of York, future George VI, 1895 - 1952. King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. From The Coronation Book of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, published 1937.(Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
The Royal family in 1936. George VI, 1895 - 1952. King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, 1900 - 2002. Wife of King George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Elizabeth of York, future Elizabeth II, born 1926. Queen of the United Kingdom. Princess Margaret, future Countess of Snowden, 1930 - 2002. From The Coronation Book of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, published 1937.(Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of York in 1925. Prince Albert, Duke of York, future George VI, 1895 - 1952. King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Duchess of York, future Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, 1900 - 2002. Wife of King George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II. From The Coronation Book of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, published 1937.(Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1941 visiting Bermondsey, a much bombed London borough during WWII. George VI, 1895 - 1952. King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, 1900 - 2002. Wife of King George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II.(Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of York during their tour of the Empire in 1927. Prince Albert, Duke of York, future George VI, 1895 - 1952. King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Duchess of York, future Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, 1900 - 2002. Wife of King George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II. From The Coronation Book of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, published 1937.(Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
George VI, Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy, 1936. The future King George VI (1895-1902) served in the Navy from 1910 until 1918, seeing action during World War I at the Battle of Jutland on board HMS 'Collingwood'. He became an Admiral of the Fleet upon his accession to the throne. A plate from the Illustrated London News: Coronation Record Number, London, 1937. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
Prince Albert in the uniform of a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, 1918. The future King George VI (1895-1902) served in the Navy from 1910 until 1918, seeing action during World War I at the Battle of Jutland on board HMS 'Collingwood'. A photograph from the Illustrated London News: Coronation Record Number, (London, 1937). (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
In Edinburgh' (1929), number 33 of 50 from the 'Our King And Queen' cigarette cards produced for WD & HO Wills, The Imperial Tobacco Company (London), 1937. On 21 May 1929, the Duke and Duchess of York were present for the opening of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at Assembly Hall, Edinburgh. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
With Queen Mary at Balmoral' (1924), number 15 of 50 from the 'Our King And Queen' cigarette cards produced for WD & HO Wills, The Imperial Tobacco Company (London), 1937. The Duke of York and Duchess of York at Balmoral castle with Queen Mary in September 1924. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
'UNITED KINGDOM : The visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to G Garnett & Sons Ltd, woollen and worsted manufacturers of Apperley Bridge, Eccleshill, Bradford. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married Prince Albert (second from right) in 1923. He later became King George VI, and she became Queen Elizabeth, mother of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photo by The Royal Photographic Society Collection/National Science and Media Museum/SSPL/Getty Images)'
Photograph of the Duke and Duchess of York. A formal photograph of the late King George VI (1895 - 1952) and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002). 1928 (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images)
Scout's Handshake' - Rally at Adelaide, 1927 (1937). From Coronation Souvenir Book 1937, edited by Gordon Beckles. [Daily Express, London, 1937]. Artist Unknown. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Take time to sail during their visit to Austrailia in 1927. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
circa 1927: George, Duke of York (1895 - 1952) and Elizabeth, Duchess of York (1900 - 2002) at the opening ceremony of the Australian Parliament in the Canberra, its first session after moving from Melbourne. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of York, the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England, with their baby daughter Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth II of England. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
circa 1926: The Duke of York (later King George VI) competing in the All-England tennis championships at Wimbledon. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
circa 1925: Elizabeth, Duchess of York (1900 - 2002) with her mother, The Countess of Strathmore (right) and George, Duke of York arriving at the opening of the British Empire Exhibition by King George V. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth seen here on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, London, England the day of their coronation, 12 May, 1937, with their daughters Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth, future Queen Elizabeth II and the king's mother Mary of Teck. George VI, 1895 – 1952, King of the United Kingdom. Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, 1900 – 2002. Queen consort of the United Kingdom as the wife of King George VI. Princess Margaret, later Countess of Snowdon, 1930 – 2002. Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II, born 1926. Mary of Teck, 1867 – 1953. Queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress consort of India, as the wife of King-Emperor George V. From The Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, published 1937. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
22nd August 1951: The Royal Family during a visit to Balmoral Castle: (left to right) Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret Rose (1930 - 2002), Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, King George VI (1895 - 1952), and Princess Elizabeth with her children Prince Charles (left) and Princess Anne. Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, purchased Balmoral Castle in 1846, and the small castle which stood in the 7,000 hectare wooded estate was redeveloped in the 1850s.The granite building was designed by Aberdeen architect William Smith with suggestions from Albert himself, who decided the interior decoration should represent a Highland shooting box with tartan or thistle chintzes, and walls decorated with trophies and weapons. Queen Victoria often visited the Highlands with her family, especially after Albertfs death in 1861, and Balmoral is still a popular retreat for the present royal family. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
31st January 1952: King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose (1930 - 2002) leaving the aeroplane after bidding farewell to Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on their departure on their Royal Tour to Kenya. This was the last time the Princess saw her father the King. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
21st October 1950: Princess Elizabeth holding her daughter Princess Anne on the occasion of her christening. Looking on is her sister Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) and her father King George VI (1895 - 1952). (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Photograph of King George VI (1895-1952), the Queen Mother (1900-2002), Queen Elizabeth II (1926 -) and Princess Margaret (1930-2002). Dated 20th Century. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Photograph of Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George (1895-1952) practising his backhand drive at a tennis game organised by Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead (1872-1930) at his country home in Charlton, near Banbury. Dated 20th Century. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Colour photograph of King George VI (1895-1952), the Queen Mother (1900-2002), Queen Elizabeth II (1926 -) and Princess Margaret (1930-2002) in the gardens of Windsor Castle. Dated 20th Century. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Photograph of King George VI (1895-1952), the Queen Mother (1900-2002), Queen Elizabeth II (1926 -) and Princess Margaret (1930-2002) at Windsor Castle. Dated 20th Century. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) with her father King George VI (1895-1952) in the grounds of Windsor Castle in Windsor, England on July 08, 1946. (Photo by Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Getty Images)
King George VI (1895-1952) with his daughters Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) in the grounds of Windsor Castle in Windsor, England on July 08, 1946. (Photo by Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Getty Images)
circa 1945: A Buckingham Palace balcony scene - Queen Elizabeth is showing Winston Churchill and King George VI her V-sign with Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret (1930 - 2002) also present. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
1st May 1942: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth with their daughters, Princesses Elizabeth (left) and Margaret Rose (1930 - 2002) at home in Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
The royal family arriving at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, July 1939. From centre, left to right: Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002), Queen Elizabeth, King George VI (1895 - 1952) and Princess Elizabeth. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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The royal family, who had disapproved of the affair from the outset, were now confronted with the newly ascended King Edward’s intention to marry the soon-to-be-twice-divorced Mrs. Simpson, whom the foreign press quoted as saying, “Soon I shall be Queen of England.” Even as the British press refrained from reporting on the continuing affair of the now-King Edward, a crisis was heating up in Parliament: If the King were to marry Mrs. Simpson without abdicating the throne, government would be forced to resign, as is customary in Great Britain in the event of a stalemate with the monarch (who actually has all these very real powers in Britain).

By December 1936, even the British public knew of the scandal. Mrs. Simpson fled Britain for France, while members of the royal court pressured her to renounce the King. But neither she nor the King were to be deterred. To prevent further upheaval, King Edward VIII officially abdicated the throne on December 10, 1936. These are the 11 other royal scandals that rocked the world.

RELATED: See Queen Elizabeth over the years

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Queen Elizabeth's Style Transformation
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Queen Elizabeth's Style Transformation

June 1927: A positively precious portrait of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York. 

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

January 1932: Princess Elizabeth, wearing a sharp little coat, walks in to visit the Royal Tournament at Olympia.

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

January 1933: Princess Elizabeth stands beside her younger sister, Princess Margaret Rose.

Photo: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

June 1936: Wearing a sweet pink dress, Princess Elizabeth looks quite charming, standing with her mother and sister.

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

January 1938: Princess Elizabeth standing with her grandmother, Queen Mary, matching her younger sister in a long trench coat and mary-jane shoes.

Photo: Fox Photos/Getty Images

June 1940: Princess Elizabeth looking studious (if unhappily so) at Windsor Castle.  

Photo: Lisa Sheridan, Getty Images

May 1944: Princess Elizabeth wearing a summer dress and sunhat in the grounds of Windsor Castle. 

Photo: Lisa Sheridan, Getty Images

February 1952: An official picture of when Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne, becoming Queen, and wearing some impressive jewels.

Photo: APIC/Getty Images

December 1953: Talk about a long train! Her Majesty at her wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh.

Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

March 1954: Queen Elizabeth II on the balcony of Government House, Melbourne, during her tour of Australia.

Photo: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

April 1954: The Queen in a floral-patterned dress for a tour of Aden, Yemen.

Photo: Universal Picture Group/Getty Images

November 1954: Queen Elizabeth dancing with Air Marshal Sir John Baldwin, at a ball held at the Hyde Park Hotel, London, 26th November 1954. The ball celebrated the centenary of the Battle of Balaclava.

Photo: Dennis Oulds via Getty Images

June 1956: Queen Elizabeth II in Sweden, wearing a lot of pearls and an interesting hat.

Photo: M. McKeown, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

January 1960: The Queen wearing a classic jacket as she stands with Prince Charles and Prince Edward at Windsor castle.

Photo: Anwar Hussein, Getty Images

July 1965: Queen Elizabeth II wore a vibrant coat and hat at Ventnor during a royal visit to the Isle of Wight. 

Photo: Fox Photos/Getty Images

January 1969: The Queen, in a fuchsia dress, walks beside U.S. President Richard Nixon.

Photo: Hulton Archive, Getty Images

January 1973: Now that is glamour: from the intricate pattern, to the fur and crown, there's not much else we can ask for!

Photo: Tim Graham, Getty Images

February 1977: Queen Elizabeth looks like she's ready for spring in this plaid dress and bright hat.

Photo: Serge Lemoine, Getty Images

July 1982: Navy and white is always in style, and we appreciate the small pattern on her dress mixed with the bold lines of the hat.

Photo: Tim Graham, Getty Images

October 1986: Queen Elizabeth II stands out in robin's egg blue during a visit to Hong Kong.

Photo: Tim Graham, Getty Images

May 1993: The Queen and Prince Philip attend a formal banquet, the queen in a bright pink gown and a very expensive -- and we expect heavy -- accessory on her head.

Photo: Tim Graham, Getty Images

March 1995: The Queen visited South Africa and wore a bright yellow hat with this patterned dress.

Photo: Tim Graham, Getty Images

November 1998: London must be chilly in November! The Queen wore this large fur coat as she left the House of the Lords.

Photo: Johnny Eggitt, Getty Images

November 2002: The Queen and Prince Philip attend the premiere of the "Die Another Day" James Bond flick, dressed to impress!

Photo: Nicolas Asfouria, AFP/Getty Images

November 2003: U.S. President George W. Bush is formally welcomed to the U.K. by the Queen, dressed here in a lilac coat and hat.

Photo: Kristy Wigglesworth, AFP/Getty Images

June 2004: The Queen's hats keep getting better and better, and we love the top hat vibe this one has for Trooping the Colour.

Photo: James Quinton, WireImage/Getty Images

June 2005: A lady in pink always shows up men in black (though they look quite dapper as well!).

Photo: Tim Graham, Getty Images

October 2005: Her Majesty looked stunning in this white coat to visit the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House and Museum.

Photo: Anwar Hussein, WireImage/Getty Images

May 2006: Queen Elizabeth II attends the Order of the Bath service, dressed in traditional garments, and looking lovely.

Photo: Anwar Hussein, Getty Images

June 2006: The Queen looks chic in this dress as she and Prince Philip attend a performance at the Royal Opera House.

Photo: Tim Graham, Getty Images

May 2007: The Queen dials up the fun of this look by wearing vibrant, neon pink in her accents, paired with a lavender wool coat.

Photo: Chris Jackson, Getty Images

October 2007: Her Majesty attends the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, dressed in silk.

Photo: John Stillwell, AFP/Getty Images

June 2008: The Queen hosts a garden party at Buckingham Palace, and we're loving the sheer umbrella.

Photo: Tim Graham, Getty Images

October 2008: The Queen wore this intricately patterned dress during a two-day tour of Slovenia.

Photo: Chris Jackson, Getty Images

December 2008: The Queen attends the Christmas Day church service, looking lovely in a holiday-themed outfit.

Photo: Chris Jackson, Getty Images

June 2009: Her Majesty knows how to accessorize, and we can't get enough of her great looks!

Photo: Indigo/Getty Images

November 2010: The Queen wore this floral dress during a visit to Abu Dhabi.

Photo: Julian Parker, UK Press/Getty Images

April 2011: Prepping for the royal wedding in style, the Queen attends a dinner in this metallic and periwinkle gown.

Photo: Danny Martindale, WireImage/Getty Images

May 2011: Dashing leaders! Looking stunning in an embellished dress, Queen Elizabeth prepares to attend a State Banquet with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Photo: Chris Jackson, AFP/Getty Images

June 2012: Queen Elizabeth accessorizes this monochrome ensemble with vibrantly colored flowers.

Photo: Julian Parker, UK Press/Getty Images

June 2012: The Queen shares a laugh at the Queen's Cup Polo Day in 2012, dressed in the color of success.

Photo: Nick Harvey, WireImage/Getty Images

March 2013: The dark trim on this coat adds another level of sophistication, as if the Queen needed any help in that department!

Photo: Mark Cuthbert, UK Press/Getty Images

April 2014: This portrait of Queen Elizabeth by photographer David Bailey was released on April 20, 2014 to mark her majesty's 88th birthday on Monday April 21. 

Photo: Getty Images

April 2015: The Queen attends a reception at Canada House on April 19, 2015 in London.

Photo: Danny E. Martindale/Getty Images

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On December 11, 1936, Prince Albert, Duke of York, ascended as King George VI. Edward was created His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor, and in 1937, married Mrs. Simpson. She became The Duchess of Windsor, albeit without the “HRH” styling (at least, officially; apparently, her friends called her “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Windsor”). And then-Princess Elizabeth, being the elder daughter of the King, suddenly found herself heir to the throne. Next, don’t miss these 23 rarely seen photos of the royal family.

The post The Scandalous Story of How King George VI Became King appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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