British History 2:
From the French Revolution to World War II
Topic: "Majesties and Royal Highnesses"

by Laura Cenicola & Mareike Aumann

Glossary: Edward VII

Political Career:

Edward succeeded the throne after the death of his mother. Though his reputation was rather bad, he acted as a king at his best behavior and fulfilled his role very energetically and therefore managed to restore the spark to monarchy that had been not so bright since his father's death. Since lots of his relatives had married into European Royal families, he travelled to Europe numerous times and established solid foundations, acting in the role of an ambassador of foreign relations. His good relations to Europe gave him the nickname 'uncle of Europe'. Edwards's interest in foreign politics helped him to establish useful alliances. His manners and style made him popular with the British people. Other topics of interest for him were military and naval matters and so he pressed a reform of the Army Medical Service and the modernization of the Home Fleet. Under his reign several Acts were passed, including the Education Act in 1902 and the Labour Exchanges Act in 1909. Furthermore, old age pensions were established in 1908. He also founded the Order of Merit to reward people interested in science, art and literature in 1902.


Personal Life:

Edward VII was born on November 9th, 1841. He was the oldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Consort of Albert and took his fathers family name though he was still Hanoverian from his mother's side. As common in the line of Hanoverian rulers and their offspring, Victoria and her son had a rather cold relationship. Edward was very resistant and resentful in his youth, nevertheless his parents made sure he would be prepared to rule once the time had come. Edward attended Cambridge and Oxford and even joined the army for a short time. An affair that he had with an actress caused a scandal, his father Prince Albert died shortly after that, which lead to Queen Victoria partly blaming him for her husband's death. When he married Princess Alexandera of Denmark in 1863, with whom he had three sons and three daughters, the relationship to his mother became a little more relaxed but even though her husband had died, she did not allow her son to take any governmental role. Edward chose to rebel against his mothers actions and involved himself with women, drinking, travel, food, gambling and sports. Edward had many long term mistresses as well, including the actress Lily Langtry. His wife let him be and as a consequence he was the cause of several cases of divorce. Leading an active social life, Edward set new fashion trends.
Edward died on May 6th in 1910 at Buckingham Palace.


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