George V, King of England, who died on January 20th 1936
An old king and his two successors - George V with his eldest son, Edward VIII, and the man who never wanted to be monarch, George VI
For as the old king passed away, a new one was created. The death of George V saw his crown pass to his eldest son, Edward VIII, the dashingly handsome and hugely popular prince who wanted to modernise the monarchy. George V is said to have remarked that his son and heir would 'ruin himself within the year' when asked about Edward's future kingship and he was right. On the night of January 20th 1936, Great Britain passed to the rule of a man who came close to tumbling its throne for the first time in centuries, and all for love.
By the end of 1936, George V would have given Great Britain two more kings as his second son succeeded his first with a swiftness that took the whole country by surprise
The sad ending to the kingship of a man who was expected by many to become one of his country's greatest monarchs in a flight from his former realm through fog and mist on a cold December night was still months away as those gathered round the deathbed of the old king bowed to pay their homage to their new ruler. But the beginnings of it were already there, in the new king's devotion to Wallis Simpson, and in his determination that the old ways be swept away in favour of a modern monarchy. On January 20th 1936, Great Britain swapped a king set in his ways for a monarch determined to do things his way. But seventy eight years later, it is the former whose influence still rules with its different approach to modernity.