Edward VII

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Edward VII

Edward VII (Albert Edward), 1841–1910, king of Great Britain and Ireland (1901–10). The eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, he was created prince of Wales almost immediately after his birth. As a youth he traveled widely on the Continent and visited the United States, Canada, and the Middle East. In 1863 he married Alexandra, daughter of Christian IX of Denmark. They had six children. Victoria lived largely in seclusion for some years after the death (1861) of the prince consort, and the duty of representing the crown at public functions devolved upon Edward. A liberal patron of the arts and sciences, he became a leader of fashionable society and an enthusiastic sportsman. His love affairs and extravagant living, however, often offended his mother, who steadfastly denied him any political responsibilities. Edward succeeded to the throne on Jan. 22, 1901, at the age of 59 and was crowned on Aug. 9, 1902. As king, he took a deep interest in foreign policy and by his travels helped to promote better international understanding. The popularity he acquired in France smoothed the way for the Anglo-French entente of 1904. The end of his reign was marked by the constitutional crisis over the attempt to limit the veto power of the House of Lords. Edward cooperated somewhat reluctantly with the Liberal ministry of Herbert Asquith, but the issue was still unresolved at the time of his death. He was succeeded by his only surviving son, George V.

See biographies by S. Lee (2 vol., 1925–27), P. Magnus (1964), K. Middlemas (1972), J. Pearson (1975), and G. St. Auban (1979).

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