King Edward VII

The Uncle of Europe 

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Born at Buckingham Palace on 9 November 1841, Prince Albert Edward was the eldest son and second child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Named after his father, but known as Bertie to those close to him, he was created a Knight of the Garter in 1858, a Knight of the Thistle in 1867 and, in 1868, a Knight of St Patrick.

He subsequently went on to visit Canada at the request of the Canadian government, prior to visiting the United States at the request of then-president James Buchanan, thus identifying him as the first heir to the throne to cross the Atlantic.

On 24 September, the Prince met his future wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark in Germany’s Speyer Cathedral before they subsequently married on 10 March 1863 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. The couple went on to have five children - Princes Albert Victor, George (later George V), and Princesses Louise, Victoria and Maud. During his mother Queen Victoria’s reign, he undertook various duties, but his high society lifestyle as Prince of Wales caused the Queen great concern and he was excluded from acting as her deputy until 1898.

Aged 59 when he became King on 22 January 1901 following Queen Victoria’s death, Edward’s Coronation was postponed until 9 August the same year owing to appendicitis which required emergency surgery.

Fluent in French and German, Edward made several visits abroad and became affectionately known as the ‘Uncle of Europe’ for his participation in foreign affairs. Another of his main interests lay in military and naval matters and he played an active role in encouraging naval and military reforms, persevering for the reformation of the Army Medical Service and modernisation of the Home Fleet.

King Edward also became engaged in a constitutional crisis brought on by the refusal of Parliament’s Conservative majority in the House of Lords to pass the Liberal budget of 1909. He subsequently died on 6 May 1910 before the matter could be resolved through what was a Liberal victory later that year. 24 major-type definitive stamps were issued during King Edward’s relatively short reign, the first appearing in 1902.