After a cursory home education, Jorge He opted for a naval career in 1877, serving with his older brother Albert as naval cadets and until the latter was sent to study at Trinity College in 1882. Jorge he remained in the Navy as an officer until Albert’s death in 1892. From that moment on, he assumed the role of heir.
In 1893 he married Princess Maria of Teck, George III’s great-granddaughter. The couple had six children – five sons and a daughter (of whom one – John – suffered from epilepsy and (probably) autism, and was hidden from public view).
The mandate of Jorge as monarch – 1910-1936 – began amid a constitutional crisis in Britain. The Liberal government, led by Prime Minister Asquith and Finance Minister Lloyd George, were in dispute with the House of Lords, the upper house of Parliament.
The conservative-dominated upper house had rejected the 1909 annual finance bill, a controversial budget that included several important provisions in the area of social welfare. The government was at a standstill with unelected Lords, threatening to flood the upper house with specially created peers, simply for the purpose of forcing the budget law into Parliament.
It was in this context that George V faced a difficult decision. Asquith and Lloyd George required the consent of the king to create a large number of new pairs; naturally, the conservative opposition expected the monarch to refuse to break convention by creating so many party political peers.
Eventually Jorge accepted Asquith’s request to grant permission to create the new pairs if necessary; at which point the Lords surrendered and approved Lloyd George’s budget. As a consequence of the crisis, however, the 1911 Act of Parliament was enacted severely reducing the power of the Lords, including their right to veto bills.
During World War I, the King george – and his wife May (as Maria was known) – visited the Western Front on several occasions. During one of those visits, his horse fell on him, breaking his pelvis, an injury that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
In the middle of the war, in 1917, and sensitive to the German origin of the royal family, Jorge changed the family name from the very Germanic Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.
That same year the king controversially denied asylum in Britain to Russian Tsar Nicholas II – his cousin – and his family, after the Russian revolution. The tsar was later arrested and assassinated by the Bolsheviks.
The depression of 1929-1931 convinced Jorge that a unity government was required for the nation to unite in the fight against the prevailing poverty of the time. To this end, he convinced the three main political parties to join a temporary coalition of government, Labor, Liberals and Conservatives.
During the reign of George V Britain’s relationship with its colonies underwent a series of changes. Ireland split along religious lines in 1920 with the south remaining autonomous; Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa demanded and received the right of self-government, leading to the creation, in 1931, of the British Commonwealth of Nations. India obtained a measure of self-government in 1935.
George V he was considered neither very well educated nor very well educated; neither was he a sharp or popular speaker. Yet he embodied diligence and duty. He tried to deal with issues, rather than define government policy, like his predecessors Victoria I and Edward VII.