A heavy smoker, King George VI (born Albert Frederick Arthur George) died of lung cancer and heart disease in February 1952.
As the second son of King George V, he was not expected to inherit the throne and spent his early life in the shadow of his elder brother Edward VIII. However, only months into his reign, Edward abdicated the throne to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson and George became king.
During WWII George was seen as sharing the hardships of the common people and he became known as a symbol of British determination to win the war. Although Britain and its allies were victorious in 1945, the British Empire declined—Ireland had largely broken away, followed by independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. George relinquished the title of Emperor of India in June 1948 and adopted the new title of Head of the Commonwealth.
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In the 1920s, George had partially effective speech therapy for stammering.