Monday, May 8, 2023


From the vault, 03.11.2022, with additional material.

I know this is a repost of a relatively recent item but the coronation of Charles 111 to the throne makes it topical and interesting.

It was originally part of a larger post on last words of famous people.

King George V

Portraitr by Luke Fildes, 1911.

“Bugger Bognor!”

Reputed to be the last words of King George V, being his response when his doctor told him he would soon be well and able to visit Bognor Regis again.

It has also been suggested that George V, a heavy smoker, in 1928 fell ill with a chest infection. He spent some time recuperating at Sir Arthur du Cros's house in the south-coast town of Bognor and, the story goes, when he was leaving the town he was petitioned to rename it Bognor Regis as a mark of his visit. He is supposed to have responded 'Bugger Bognor!"

It is unlikely they were his last words.

On the evening of 15 January 1936, the King took to his bedroom at Sandringham House complaining of a cold and he remained in the room until his death. He became gradually weaker, drifting in and out of consciousness. Prime Minister Baldwin later said:
... each time he became conscious it was some kind inquiry or kind observation of someone, some words of gratitude for kindness shown. But he did say to his secretary when he sent for him: "How is the Empire?" An unusual phrase in that form, and the secretary said: "All is well, sir, with the Empire", and the King gave him a smile and relapsed once more into unconsciousness.
By 20 January, he was close to death. His physicians, led by Lord Dawson of Penn, issued a bulletin with the words "The King's life is moving peacefully towards its close."

Dawson's private diary, unearthed after his death and made public in 1986, reveals that the King's last words, a mumbled "God damn you!", were addressed to his nurse, Catherine Black, when she gave him a sedative that night.

Dawson, who supported the "gentle growth of euthanasia", admitted in the diary that he ended the King's life:
At about 11 o'clock it was evident that the last stage might endure for many hours, unknown to the Patient but little comporting with that dignity and serenity which he so richly merited and which demanded a brief final scene. Hours of waiting just for the mechanical end when all that is really life has departed only exhausts the onlookers & keeps them so strained that they cannot avail themselves of the solace of thought, communion or prayer. I therefore decided to determine the end and injected (myself) morphia gr.3/4 [grains] and shortly afterwards cocaine gr.1 [grains] into the distended jugular vein ... In about 1/4 an hour – breathing quieter – appearance more placid – physical struggle gone.
Dawson wrote that he acted to preserve the King's dignity, to prevent further strain on the family, and so that the King's death at 11:55 pm could be announced in the morning edition of The Times newspaper rather than "less appropriate ... evening journals". 

Queen Mary, who was intensely religious and might not have sanctioned euthanasia, nor the Prince of Wales, were consulted. The royal family did not want the King to endure pain and suffering and did not want his life prolonged artificially but neither did they approve Dawson's actions. British Pathé announced the King's death the following day, in which he was described as "for each one of us, more than a King, a father of a great family".

Postcard for George V's Silver Jubilee, celebrating 25 years on the throne in 1935, showing King George V and Queen Mary. He died on January 20, 1936.

At the procession to George's lying in state in Westminster Hall, the cross surmounting the Imperial State Crown atop George's coffin fell off and landed in the gutter as the cortège turned into New Palace Yard. The new king, George's eldest son Edward, saw it fall and wondered whether it was a bad omen for his new reign. Edward abdicated before the year was out, leaving Albert to ascend the throne as George VI.

The Lying-in-State at Westminster Hall, London

The Funeral Procession passes
the Queen Victoria statue in Windsor

The Cortege procedes down to Lower Ward and turns right into
The Horseshoe Cloisters and St George's Chapel

The coffin lies on the catafalque in St George's Chapel

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