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King George IV
George Henry William Robert was born at Dumbarton Oaks, home of the heir to the throne of the United States in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. on December 19, 1919. He was the second son of Princess Matilda, daughter of King Henry III, and HRH William, Duke of Abercromby. Several weeks earlier, letters patent had been issued so that the young prince would enjoy a royal and princely status he would not otherwise have been entitled to. Otherwise he would have been styled merely as the child of a duke.
On August 1, 1923 when young George was only three, his mother became Queen of the United States when his grandfather, King Henry III died at the Royal Palace at St. Matthew's Square.
As the second son of the new Queen, George did was not raised to become King. His older brother, Prince William, was the heir to the throne and was raised to eventually succeed his mother.
The two young princes were educated at home, under the supervision of their mother and father. Their governess was Elizabeth Yates. He would go on to study History at Harvard before enlisting in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he was trained to become an office in the U.S. Army.
Upon the entry of the United States into World War II in December of 1941, both Prince William (now created Prince of Hawai'i) and Prince George (created Duke of Stratford) were called to service. Queen Matilda tried to intervene to prevent Prince William from having to see combat, but the Prince pleaded with his mother to allow him to serve (His father, the Duke of Abercromby, had seen combat with the U.S. Marine Corp during the First World War and the Prince wanted to emulate his father).
In July of 1943, Prince William was killed in combat during the Invasion of Sicily. Prince George, who was stationed in England and preparing to participate in the eventual D-Day operation of 1944, was recalled to the United States where he completed the remainder of his military service.
On November 3, 1945 Prince George married Lady Margaret Reed Thompson-McCullough, the daughter of Earl and Lady McCullough. The two met in 1944 while he was stationed at the Pentagon and she was working as a clerk in the Office of the Secretary of War. As a wedding gift, Queen Matilda formally invested her second son as the Prince of Hawai'i, as well as Earl of Fremont, Duke of Richmond, Duke of San Germán, Marquees of Conneautt and First Lord of Manhattan, Prince and Great Chief of Alaska, all of the formal titles granted to the heir to the throne.
After the wedding, the new Prince and Princess of Hawai'i took up residence at Dumbarton Oaks Palace in Georgetown. On October 10, 1946 Princess Margaret gave birth to her first son, Prince James. The young prince was soon joined by two brothers and a sister, Princess Mary, born in 1948, Prince Thomas, born in 1952, and Prince Christopher, born in 1955.
George made his first overseas visit in 1947, inspecting reconstruction efforts in Europe. Over the course of the next 12 years, he would become a global ambassador for the United States, visiting over two dozen nations, including a historic visit to the Soviet Union in 1959 with Vice President Richard Nixon.
His mother's health had begun to generally decline, starting with the death of his father, the Duke of Abercrombey in 1950. By early 1959, as the Queen neared her 70th birthday, it was becoming more likely that George would be succeeding his mother sooner, rather than later.
On July 30, 1959 while completing his visit to the Soviet Union, Prince George was notified by his Private Secretary, Sir William Weatherspoon, that Queen Matilda had died and that he was the King-designate.
George IV's Proclamation of Nomination was read at Smithsonian Castle, on Thursday, July 31, 1959. On November 3, 1959 (his 14th Wedding Anniversary), he was officially elected King of the United States during a national referendum, receiving 89 percent support from the people, one of the lowest in American History.
His State Coronation took place on Monday, August 1, 1960 at the United States Capital in Washington. The Crown of the Viceroy of the District of Columbia was presented by Robert E. McLaughlin, Presidents of the Board of Commissioners for the District of Columbia. The Orb of the New World was presented by Speaker of the House of Representatives Sam Rayburn, the Scepter of Liberty was presented by President of the Senate, Vice President Richard Nixon, and the Sword of Freedom and State Crown was President of the United States Dwight Eisenhower, Viscount Normandy.
Life as King
Following the Coronation, George, Margaret and their children moved from Dumbarton Oaks Palace to The Royal Palace at St. Matthew's Square. Like many of his predecessors, the King divides his time between The Royal Palace, the Royal Family Estate at Mount Vernon, as well as the Winter Palace near Miami, Florida.
King George has traveled to more nations around the world than all of his predecessors, combined. In 1959 he became the first Monarch to visit Alaska, where he presented the first 49 star national flag. He repeated this in 1960, when after his Coronation, he became the first American Monarch to visit Hawai'i, where he presented the first 50 star flag.
Among notable first visits by an American Head of State were visits to the Vatican in 1962, China in 1973 (as a follow-up to President Nixon's historic 1972 visit), the Soviet Union in 1974 and 1988, as well as a tour of the Middle East in 1978 and 1979.
As King, he has visited the United Kingdom more than any other nation, due in large part to his family connection to Queen Elizabeth II (the two are second cousins, several times removed). He has paid the most number of State Visits to France, where he was a guest of King Henri VI four times, and also attended his State Funeral in 1999.
After his State Visit to Mexico in 1999, the King, who turned 80 in December of 1999, announced that he would no longer make any official State Visits, as it would be to great a burden on his health. Beginning in 2000, Prince Matthew, Prince of Hawai'i and heir to the throne, began making more official visits on his grandfather's behalf, but these are not official State Visits as the Prince is not Head of State.
The last time King George traveled out of the country was for the 2005 State Funeral for Pope John Paul II.
On three separate occasions, State Visits have had to be canceled. In 1964, the King was to visit Norway, Sweden and Finland. However, because of the assassination attempt on his life (see below), he was forced to cancel the visit (the visits were rescheduled for 1966).
In 1968, the King's first official tour of Mexico was postponed, and then canceled, following the assassinations of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King and New York Senator and Presidential Candidate Robert Kennedy, respectively. This visit was rescheduled for 1970 as part of his visit to Venezuela and Peru.
In 1981, the King was to visit Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. However, after Prince James was assassinated (see below), the tour was canceled and was not rescheduled until 1991.
In addition to his international visits, King George has visited every state in the Union at least a half-dozen times, as well as every United States Territory and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
As Head of State, he has also hosted nearly 100 State Dinners as the Royal Palace. His most recent was for Queen Elizabeth II on May 7, 2007.
As Head of State, King George is technically not a political officer. However, in 1972, he and the other members of the Royal Family became the first to vote in the United States, following the adoption of the XXVI Amendment to the United States Constitution. While the Royal Palace has never formally stated how the King votes, he is traditionally believed to be conservative on most matters.
Relationships with Presidents
King George has had 10 Presidents serve during his reign. The first, Viscount Normandy, served as a trusted advisor to the King, helping him greatly during the transition in 1959-1960.
The next, John F. Kennedy, had a fairly contentious relationship with the King. The relationship started off on a bad note when Kennedy defeated Vice President Richard Nixon in 1960 for the Presidency. George and Nixon had a very good working relationship and the King had hoped his friend would be able to win the election. The King and Kennedy disagreed on how best to confront the Soviet Union over Cuba and Berlin, and the King was privately furious over Kennedy's decision to allow the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the relationship between George and Kennedy changed. The two worked together very closely, and the President asked the King to meet privately with the Soviet Ambassador to relay communications between Kennedy and Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev. When the crisis was over, the King presented Kennedy with the Royal Order of St. Matthew, the first and only time he has presented the award to a sitting President.
George and Kennedy also shared a strong belief in the Space Program. The change in the relationship was reflected in the November, 1963 visit to Texas, when Lee Harvey Oswald attempted to assassinate both the King and the President, succeeding in killing Kennedy, and seriously wounding the King (see assassination attempt, below).
The relationship with President Lyndon Johnson and King George was strained at best. Johnson believed himself to be above the King and rarely consulted with the King before taking actions. The King also later told advisors around him that he regretted being duped by Johnson in 1964 regarding the Gulf of Tonkin incident. According to Sir James Nesbitt, the Private Secretary to the King from 1959-1975, the King told him once "The son of a bitch sold me on that war on false pretenses, and I feel as though I have the blood of 50,000 young Americans all over my hands". Because of his distrust of Johnson, he and Sir Richard Nixon are the only former presidents not to be awarded Knighthood in the Most Royal Order of the Crown Sovereign.
Dating back to his time as Prince of Hawai'i, the King had a strong relationship with then Vice President, and later President Sir Richard Nixon. During the height of the Watergate scandal, the King stated his public confidence in his President, but at the beginning of August of 1974, the King privately summoned Nixon to the Palace where the King urged the him to resign. Realizing that he had lost the confidence of his trusted friend, and monarch, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.
His best relationship with a President has been with President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989).