Thursday, May 6, 2010

Edward VII dead, George now king


May 6, 1910

Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas and Emperor of India, died of pneumonia "at a quarter of an hour before midnight to-night," according to the New York Times. The King was 68 years old. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, the Prince of wales, who will reign as King George V.
The late king's "illness in its final stages progressed with terrifying rapidity. He had been reclining in an invalid chair, and it was only at 3:30 this afternoon, after a violent bout of coughing,"which so exhausted him" that he was "prevailed upon to allow himself to be laid in bed."
He retained full consciousness, and asked for news of his horse, Witch of the Air, which "was running at Kempton Park this afternoon." The king was told that the horse had won.
King Edward's condition "rapidly grew worse." After all five of his doctors were called into consultation, they made a public announcement that the king's condition was critical. Edward began to "show signs of approaching dissolution," and he "sank rapidly, and at 11:45 breathed his last."
King Edward's week-end visit to Sandringham "seems to have been responsible for his fatal illness." Heavy rains had fallen in that part of Norfolk, and lawns and grounds around Sandringham were damp and wet. Edward enjoyed the outdoors, so after each meal was finished, he went outside, inspecting "alterations in the grounds," meeting with the estate agents, and talking with his head keeper.
The result of "his fondness for open-air life was that he caught a chill," and he returned to London with the symptoms of a cold." He hoped to shake off the illness by staying indoors, but once again "developed phases which indicated bronchial trouble."
Since her return yesterday from the Continent, Queen Alexandra remained in "constant attendance on her husband."
It appears that the King "realized his condition was serious," and last evening he "turned over to the Princess Louise a number of personal papers, which took away with her in a big portmanteau."
The King maintained a very close and "most confidential" relationship with the Princess Royal, his eldest daughter. When she visited him last night, "she remained closeted with him for a considerable time, nobody being in the room with them with the exception of His Majesty's personal valet, who enjoyed his fullest confidence."
All throughout the King's final illness, the Prince and Princess of Wales remained in the palace. Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria were also with the king. Alexandra "watched over His Majesty with utmost devotion from the moment of her return Thursday night." She stayed up nearly all night, "only snatching brief moments of rest on a couch in her sitting room." The Princess of Wales is "also a very able nurse, and she rendered some assistance in the sickchamber."
The Duchess of Albany, the widow of the king's youngest brother, Leopold, spent some time with the king, and "when she left she was weeping bitterly."
London "to-night, with King Edward lying dead, is a despairing city."

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