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George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last Emperor of India, and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last Emperor of India, and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

It was Christmas, 1939, and Great Britain was at war with Nazi Germany. Like his father before him, King George VI would continue the holiday tradition of addressing the British Empire in a live radio message. That year, he would broadcast from the royal country house at Sandringham, where he and his family would spend Christmas.

The Royal Residence at Sandringham, England

The Royal Residence at Sandringham, England

King George VI and his family leave Buckingham Palace, 1939, to spend Christmas at their country house at Sandringham. Pictured are the King and his wife Queen Elizabeth, daughters Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Princess Elizabeth would become Queen Elizabeth upon the death of her father in 1952.

King George VI and his family leave Buckingham Palace, 1939, to spend Christmas at their country house at Sandringham. Pictured are the King and his wife Queen Elizabeth, daughters Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Princess Elizabeth would become Queen Elizabeth upon the death of her father in 1952.

You will remember that King George VI was not a man comfortable with public speaking. His struggle to overcome a debilitating speech impediment – a stutter – was immortalized in the 2011 American Academy Award-winning film for Best Picture, “The King’s Speech.” A shy, nervous man, a heavy smoker and drinker (it would kill him at 56), King George VI would have preferred to have remained the Duke of York, living a quiet, out-of-the-public eye life with his sturdy wife and two rosy-cheeked daughters.

British Royal Princesses Elizabeth (l.) and Margaret Rose. February 1939, 7 months before the outbreak of WWII

British Royal Princesses Elizabeth (l.) and Margaret Rose. This photo was taken in February 1939, seven months before the outbreak of WWII.

King George VI – born Albert, called Bertie – never wanted to be king. He wasn’t supposed to be king. He was only king because his brother David had abdicated the throne in 1936 and he, Bertie, was next in line. Nevertheless, unwillingness aside, this unlikely monarch would rise to the occasion and be the very king the British people so sorely needed in a time of great trouble.

It was December 25, 1939, the day of the broadcast. Dressed in the uniform of the Admiral of the Fleet, the tall and too thin sovereign approached the table where two radio microphones were set up, taking his seat.

King George VI addresses his people on September 19, 1939, at the outbreak of WWII.

King George VI addresses his people on September 19, 1939, at the outbreak of WWII.

Taking a few deep breaths, he began to speak, slowly yet solidly. Measuring his words carefully, he spoke from the heart:

“A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted.”

Toward the end of his nine-minute broadcast, he said:

“I feel that we may all find a message of encouragement in the lines which, in my closing words, I would like to say to you:”

He then read from a poem given to him by his 13-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth,

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’”*

He finished by saying,

“May that Almighty Hand guide and uphold us all.”

For a king not known for compelling speeches, this one would be a landmark. It united King and Country in common cause and inspired the people to hold fast. After all, at this point in history, no one knew that the Allies would triumph. Britain was to face five more years of war and brutal bombing by Hitler before the day of liberation would arrive. The end of 1939 was a shaky time and great leadership by King, Queen, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill would hold Britain steady against the Nazi aggressors.

Queen Elizabeth and King George VI of Great Britain stop at Vallence Road, Stepney, in the East End, London, to examine the debris following an air raid in the Second World War. October 4, 1945

Queen Elizabeth and King George VI of Great Britain stop at Vallence Road, Stepney, in the East End, London, to examine the debris following an air raid in the Second World War. October 4, 1945

King George VI pins a Distinguished Service Medal on Chief Petty Officer C.L.Baldwin in December 1939.

King George VI pins a Distinguished Service Medal on Chief Petty Officer C.L.Baldwin in December 1939.

Listen to the last four minutes of the King’s Christmas 1939 message here:

For more about the British Royal Family on this blog, click here.

Click here for the full text of the King’s 1939 Christmas Message plus The REAL austerity Christmas: How a nation gripped by fear kept calm and carried  on three months after outbreak of war in 1939

*“The Gate of the Year,” by Minnie Haskins (1908)

Whitney Houston talking to the audience before proceeding to perform "Saving All My Love for You" during the HBO-televised concert "Welcome Home Heroes with Whitney Houston" honoring the troops, who took part in Operation Desert Storm, their families, and military and government dignitaries, 1991.

from TMZ:

Whitney Houston‘s family was told by L.A. County Coroner officials … the singer did not die from drowning, but rather from what appears to be a combination of Xanax and other prescription drugs mixed with alcohol … this according to family sources.

We’re told Coroner’s officials informed the family there was not enough water in Whitney’s lungs to lead to the conclusion that she drowned.

Our sources say the family was told Whitney may well have died before her head became submerged.

And family sources tell us … it was actually Whitney’s aunt, Mary Jones, who discovered Whitney’s body in the bathtub. Mary had laid out Whitney’s dress for the evening on the bed and then left for about a half hour. When Whitney didn’t come out of the bathroom, Mary entered, pulled Whitney out of the tub and began administering CPR.

And we’re told … Whitney’s mom has arranged to have the singer’s body flown back to Atlanta, as early as tomorrow. The family was told the Coroner has no problem releasing the body because there is no evidence of foul play — and unless cops put a hold on the body, it can be flown back East.

Readers: For more on Whitney Houston here on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

An emergency medical team removes Whitney Houston's lifeless body from her 4th floor room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, L.A., on February 11, 2012.

TMZ reports that Whitney Houston may have drowned. Her body was initially found face down in the bathtub but had been removed by her bodyguards and staff before medical personnel arrived. Various pill bottles were found in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. An autopsy will be performed to discover whether Ms. Houston died from an overdose, drowning, or another cause.

A bathroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel much like the one in which Whitney Houston died.

Family members said Houston had been taking Xanax, prescribed for anxiety. TMZ reported that, the night before she died, Whitney Houston had been drinking alcohol heavily. Had she mixed the two drugs, it would have had a strong sedative effect, perhaps causing her to fall asleep in the bathtub and drown.

Paparazzi swarm around a coroner's van transporting Whitney Houston's body from the Beverly Hilton Hotel to the L.A. County morque for an autopsy.

Readers: For more on Whitney Houston here on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

Before Whitney Houston signed a contract with Artista Records in 1983, she was a much sought-after teenage model. She was one of the first African-American women to appear on the cover of Seventeen magazine.

Whitney Houston (r.) enjoys an ice cream treat with an unidentified model in this 1981 issue of Seventeen magazine. Whitney was 18 years old.

Readers: For more on Whitney Houston here on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

 

Peace Love Whitney

This Peace Love Whitney Jr. Hoodie honors the life of Whitney Houston with a peace sign, a heart, and a graceful treble clef to symbolize Whitney's musical gifts. This is one of the many offerings at CafePress.

More tasteful gifts from Cafe Press, these to memorialize the passing of the great American rhythm and blues singer Whitney Houston, with “Peace Love Whitney” t-shirts and gifts. Visit Cafe Press to see the cool designs for yourself.

Readers: For more on Whitney Houston here on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

Whitney Houston (1963-2012) The legendary singer, actress, and producer won six Grammy awards, two Emmy awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards across her extensive career. She was probably best known for her megahit “I Will Always Love You,” written by Dolly Parton.

Gifted singer Whitney Elizabeth Houston (1963-2012) died today yet her voice lives on and has the power to move us.

This video features Houston singing the American National Anthem at the 1991 SuperBowl when the U.S.A. was involved in the Gulf War.

Readers: For more on Whitney Houston here on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

Mariah Carey (l.) and Whitney Houston perform a duet at the 1999 Oscars ceremony. The two pop stars were good friends.

Zimbio is posting what Hollywood stars such as Mariah Carey are saying about Whitney Houston’s death. Check it out. Also Toofab is showing tweets from stars.

Readers: For more on Whitney Houston here on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

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