Henry IX

King of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms

Reign: 20 January 1936-November 4, 1978 (42 years)

Coronation: 2 May 1937

Predecessor: George V

Successor: Queen Elizabeth II

Consort: Queen Anna

Married: June 7 1921

Full name: Henry Albert George Augustus

Titles and styles

HM The King

HRH The Prince Henry, Prince of Wales

HRH The Prince Henry

HRH Prince Henry of York

Royal house: House of Windsor

Royal anthem: God Save the King

Father: George V

Mother: Queen Mary

Born: 21 February 1893 York Cottage, Windsor

Baptized: 29 May 1894, St. George Chapel, Windsor

Died: Windsor Castle, November 4, 1978 at age 84

Henry is the older brother of Edward VIII and George VI and alternate to their reigns.

Early Life

Henry IX was born on 21 February 1893, at York Cottage, Windsor, England. He was the eldest son of The Duke of York, later King George V, and The Duchess of York, formerly Princess Victoria Mary of Teck. His father was the second son of The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, and The Princess of Wales, formerly Princess Alexandra of Denmark. His mother was the eldest daughter of The Duke of Teck and The Duchess of Teck, formerly Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge. As a great-grandson of Queen Victoria in the male line, Henry was styled His Highness Prince Henry of York at his birth. He was baptized in the St. George Chapel, Windsor on 29 May 1894, by Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury. The name Albert was included at the behest of Queen Victoria. Henry's parents, The Duke and Duchess of York, were often removed from their children's upbringing, like other upper-class English parents of the day. His father, though a harsh disciplinarian, was demonstrably affectionate, and his mother displayed a frolicsome side when dealing with her children that belies her austere public image. She was amused by the children making tadpoles on toast for their French master, and encouraged them to confide matters in her which it would have provoked their father to know. Henry would deal with his daughters in much the same way.

Prince of Wales

Prince Henry automatically became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay when his father, George V, ascended the throne on 6 May 1910. The new King created him Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on 23 June 1910, and officially invested him as such in a special ceremony at Caernarfon Castle on 13 July 1911. For the first time since 1616, and the evidence for that ceremony is thin, the investiture took place in Wales at the instigation of the Welsh politician David Lloyd George, Constable of the Castle, who at that time held the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Lloyd George invented a rather fanciful ceremony which took the form of a Welsh pageant, and coached Henry to utter some sentences in Welsh.

Military career and Education

When the First World War (1914–18) broke out, Henry had reached the minimum age for active service and was keen to participate. He had joined the army, after finishing school at Eton, serving with the Grenadier Guards, in June 1914, and although Henry was willing to serve on the front lines, the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, refused to allow it, citing the immense harm that would occur if the heir to the throne were captured. His brother David would follow into the same regiment. Despite this, Henry witnessed trench warfare firsthand and attempted to visit the front line as often as he could, for which he was awarded the Military Cross in 1916. His role in the war, although limited, led to his great popularity among veterans of the conflict. On his succession he became Admiral of the Fleet in the Navy, Field Marshal in the Army, and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. After the war, Prince Henry studied history, economics, Christian studies and civics and got a doctorate in Western History from Exeter College, Oxford. He then began to take on royal duties as Prince of Wales, representing his father, the King, touring coal mines, factories, and railyards, mostly in a cooperative effort with his brother, Prince Albert. Henry would support the working class Briton his entire life enjoying much popularity from it.

Royal duties

Throughout the 1920s Henry, as Prince of Wales, represented his father, King George V, at home and abroad on many occasions.. In 1924, he donated the Prince of Wales Trophy to the National Hockey League. The trophy is currently presented to the Eastern Conference playoff champion, and from 1974 to 1993 the conference was known as the "Prince of Wales Conference". His attitudes towards many of the Empire's subjects and various foreign peoples, both during his time as Prince of Wales, were somewhat judgmental but as he aged he became much more mellow and accepting. At the height of his popularity, he became the most photographed celebrity of his time and he set men's fashion. He dressed much like his grandfather, Edward VII.

Windsor Castle

Windsor 1923

View of Royal Apartments in 1923

In 1921, Henry asked his father if he could take up residence in Windsor Castle, because his father or the family did not go there often. His father agreed only if he modernized it, oversaw major repair and acknowledged it as the Sovereign’s Residence. Henry agreed and launched the largest renovation and reconstruction the castle had ever seen. He added a swimming pool in the orangery and a conservatory off the east terrace, repaired most of the outer stone work and redid and modernized the interiors. In the grounds he expanded the farm and parkland. He enjoyed agriculture greatly and bought 1500 more acres to add to the farm. Later he would see that Heathrow airport would be built at Ipswich so the planes would not cause such a ruckus at his favorite home. He also had the Pipe Organ redone in the St. George Chapel; he enjoyed Pipe Organ toughly but never knew how to play. He also enjoyed gardening, especially his Orchids he kept at Windsor. He attended Sunday Church Service at St. George’s Chapel more than any other service.

Disputes with his brother

Henry was very much like his father, but looked like his grandfather, with his dull devotion to duty and honor but was also deeply religious and took his role as Head of the Church very seriously. His brother David was more of a playboy like his grandfather Edward VII. On 16 November 1936, Henry invited his younger brother David to Buckingham Palace to discuss David’s lifestyle and possible choice of spouse. David expressed his desire to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée, when she became free to re-marry. Prime Minister Baldwin informed the King that his subjects would deem the marriage morally unacceptable, largely because remarriage after divorce was opposed by the Church of England, and the people would not tolerate Wallis but Baldwin never provided any evidence to back this up. He certainly never asked Parliament or put it to the people. Henry believed as his father did that Ms. Simpson was a bad influence on David and had he been heir to the throne it would have been unacceptable. David married her and went to the Caribbean, Henry and David never spoke again.

Marriage and Family

In June 1921, the Prince of Wales married Princes Anna of Baden the only daughter of Fredrick II, Grand Duke of Baden. He met her while serving in WWI and liked her immediately but the feeling was not mutual, thinking he was conceited and arrogant. However he soon showed her that he could be much more humble and she change her mind quite quickly. Anna was very attractive and would keep her youthful look much of her life unlike her husband who aged quickly and always had a few extra pounds. Henry was very good to her, and the two would have a very good marriage, with little arguments, Queen Anna later said that the best decision she ever made was marring him. Unfortunately the couple was unable to have children; both were greatly distressed by this. After Henry, in the line of Succession was his brother the Duke of Gloucester and then his niece Lillibet, as Queen Elizabeth was known to the Family. When the Duke of Gloucester died in 1976, Elizabeth was next in line and became Queen after her Uncle Henry.


George V was supposed to have said soon before his death “Thank God Henry is to be King and not David.” And on 20 January 1936 he died and Henry became King and chose to reign as Henry IX, Henry was said to have a very close relationship with his father and was said to have broken down and sobbed at his father death. But Henry was ready and willing to be King and said to his mother “I shall be a good King”. He was crowned in Westminster Abbey and his approval ratings never fell below 95%, the most popular King and head of state of a country ever. He led the monarchy and nation though WWII and along with Churchill gave some of the most motivational speeches of all time. Because of him the Monarchy had a good reputation through the 20th century. Henry IX’s coronation took place on 2 May 1937. In a break with tradition, Queen Mary attended the coronation as a show of support for her son. There was no Durbar held in Delhi for George VI, as had occurred for his father, as the cost would have been a burden to the government of India. Rising Indian nationalism made the welcome that the royal couple would have received likely to be muted at best, and a prolonged absence from Britain would have been undesirable in the tense period before World War II. Two overseas tours were undertaken, to France and North America, both of which promised greater strategic advantages in the event of war.

World War II

The growing likelihood of war in Europe dominated the early reign of Henry IX. The King was constitutionally bound to support Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement stance towards Adolf Hitler. The King, however, favored Winston Churchill’s plan not to appease. But, when the King and Queen greeted Chamberlain on his return from negotiating the Munich Agreement in 1938, they invited him to appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with them. This public association of the monarchy with a politician was exceptional, as balcony appearances were traditionally restricted to the royal family. In 1939, the King and Queen undertook an extensive tour of Canada, during which they made a brief visit to the United States. The Canadian Prime Minister at the time, William Lyon Mackenzie King, hoped that the King's presence in Canada would allow him to demonstrate in reality the principles of the Statute of Westminster 1931, which gave full self-government to the Dominions and recognized each Dominion as having a separate crown. Thus, at his Canadian residence, Rideau Hall, Henry IX personally accepted and approved the Letter of Credence of the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Daniel Calhoun Roper.

The official Royal Tour historian, Gustave Lanctot, stated: "When their Majesties walked into their Canadian residence, the Statute of Westminster had assumed full reality: the King of Canada had come home." The entire trip was a measure intended to soften the strong isolationist tendencies among the North American public vis-à-vis the developing tensions in Europe. Although the aim of the tour was mainly political, to shore up Atlantic support for Britain in any upcoming war, the King and Queen were enthusiastically received by the Canadian public. They were also warmly received by the American people, visiting the 1939 New York World's Fair and staying with President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House and at his private estate at Hyde Park, New York. When war broke out in 1939, Henry IX and his wife resolved to stay in London and not flee to Canada, as had been suggested. The King and Queen officially stayed in Buckingham Palace throughout the war, although they usually spent nights at Windsor Castle to avoid bombing raids. Henry IX and Queen Anna narrowly avoided death when two German bombs exploded in a courtyard at Buckingham Palace while they were there. In 1940 Neville Chamberlain was replaced as Prime Minister by Winston Churchill, at which the King simply said as everyone else did, thank God he’s back. Churchill and the King worked very closely together, the King acting almost as a Deputy Prime Minister to Churchill. The King also provided morale-boosting visits throughout the UK, visiting bomb sites and munitions factories. When bombs landed in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, the Queen famously declared: "I'm glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End in the face". In 1945, in an echo of Chamberlain's appearance, the King invited Churchill to appear with him on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the VE Day celebrations.

The Commonwealth

Henry IX’s reign saw the acceleration of the dissolution of the British Empire, which had begun with the Balfour Declaration at the Imperial Conference of 1926, when the Commonwealth came into being and the Dominions were acknowledged to have evolved into sovereign states over a period of years previous—a declaration which was formalized in the Statute of Westminster 1931. Britain's brief League of Nations Mandate over Iraq ended in 1932 with Iraqi independence without membership in the as-yet ill-defined Commonwealth even being considered. This process gathered pace after World War II. Transjordan became independent as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1946, Burma in January 1948, and Palestine (although divided between Israel and the Arab states) that May; all three opted out of the Commonwealth. After declaring itself a Republic, southern Ireland left the Commonwealth the following year. India became the two independent dominions of India and Pakistan. George relinquished the title of Emperor of India, and became King of India and King of Pakistan instead. He remained King of Pakistan until his death, but in 1950 Henry ceased to be King of India when that country became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations, recognizing Henry's new title as Head of the Commonwealth.

Later Reign

After WWII he took a much less personal hand in government. He went on one more visit to the United States in 1951. He opened Parliament and saw the Prime Minister once a week, but that is the extent of it. He retreated much to his Royal residences, mostly Windsor, spending a lot of time with his family and his hobbies, such as hunting/shooting at Balmoral, tending his orchids and farms, doing historical research for Oxford and stamp collecting. He looked forward to Garter Day and took it very seriously. He played a large role in the National Railway Museum in Yorkshire, another interest of his, and had many famous organists come to play for him at Windsor. He, unlike his predecessors, had a pet cat rather than dog. British Longhair was the breed he always had, and it would travel with the family wherever they went. Henry took to eating many different kinds of cheese at tea-time during his days as Prince of Wales, which he would continue until his death. Aside from his official religious roles, Henry regularly attended Sunday services throughout, more often at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, St Mary Magdalene Church when staying at Sandringham House, or at Crathie Kirk when the family holidayed at Balmoral Castle.


Henry died in his sleep in his study at Windsor Castle on the 4th of November, 1978 at age 84. He laid in state for four days and over 4 million people filed pass to pay their respect, and flags across the world were put at half mast. His funeral was broadcast in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the United States.

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