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OTD-23 September

Updated: Aug 21, 2021


King George VI had surgery to have his left lung removed

The stress of the second world war had taken its toll on the King's health, exacerbated by his heavy smoking & subsequent development of lung cancer among other ailments, including arteriosclerosis & thromboangiitis obliterans. A planned tour of Australia & New Zealand was postponed after the King suffered an arterial blockage in his right leg, which threatened the loss of the leg & was treated with a right lumbar sympathectomy in March 1949.

His elder daughter Elizabeth, the heir presumptive, took on more royal duties as her father's health deteriorated. The delayed tour was re-organised, with Elizabeth & her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, taking the place of the King & Queen.

The King was well enough to open the Festival of Britain in May 1951, but on 23 September 1951, his left lung was removed by Clement Price Thomas after a malignant tumour was found.

In October 1951, Princess Elizabeth & the Duke of Edinburgh went on a month-long tour of Canada; the trip had been delayed for a week due to the King's illness. At the State Opening of Parliament in November, the King's speech from the throne was read for him by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Simonds. His Christmas broadcast of 1951 was recorded in sections, & then edited together.

On 31 January 1952, despite advice from those close to him, the King went to London Airport to see off Princess Elizabeth, who was going on her tour of Australia via Kenya. On the morning of 6 February, George VI was found dead in bed at Sandringham House in Norfolk. He had died from a coronary thrombosis in his sleep at the age of 56. His daughter Elizabeth flew back to Britain from Kenya as Queen Elizabeth II.

Princess Margaret like her father had smoked cigarettes since the age of 15, or earlier, & had continued to smoke heavily for most of her life. On 5 January 1985, she had part of her left lung removed; the operation drew parallels with that of her father over 30 years earlier.

DID YOU KNOW? As far back as 1604, & well ahead of his time, King James VI of Scotland & I of England wrote 'A Counterblaste to Tobacco' in which he expresses his distaste for tobacco, particularly tobacco smoking. As such, it is one of the earliest anti-tobacco publications.

The king wrote;

"Have you not reason then to bee ashamed, & to forbeare this filthie noveltie, so basely grounded, so foolishly received & so grossely mistaken in the right use thereof? In your abuse thereof sinning against God, harming your selves both in persons & goods, & raking also thereby the markes & notes of vanitie upon you: by the custome thereof making your selves to be wondered at by all forraine civil Nations, & by all strangers that come among you, to be scorned & contemned."

"A custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, & in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse." James VI & I in 1604

  • A Counter-Blaste to Tobacco, by King of England James I (Author) is available for free at the Kindle store.


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