On this day in history : 6th May 1910 – King Edward VII, known as ‘Bertie’ to his family and close friends, dies from a heart attack at Buckingham Palace….

Photograph of Edward VII 1900s W & D Downey – Public domain

Edward, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, had been born at Buckingham Palace on the 9th of November 1841…. He was to become Prince of Wales a month later, on the 8th of December….

On the 10th of March 1863 he married Danish Princess Alexandra, at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor…. They were to have six children five of whom lived to adulthood – Prince Albert Victor, Prince George (later to become George V), Princess Louise, Princess Victoria and Princess Maud….

Edward and Alexandra on their wedding day 1863 – Public domain

Edward was to have many affairs during his marriage, including with actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Lillie Langtry…. He also had relationships with Lady Randolph Churchill (the mother of Winston Churchill) and Alice Keppell (the great grandmother of Camilla, wife of Prince Charles)…. He had one particularly scandalous affair with an actress before his marriage…. Prince Albert was distraught over the disgrace it brought upon the royal family…. The affair ended – but two weeks later Albert died…. Queen Victoria blamed Edward for the death of her beloved husband – she never forgave him….

Edward (right) with his mother Queen Victoria, Tsar Nicholas II (left), Empress Alexandra and baby Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, 1896 – Public domain

Following the death of Victoria, on the 22nd of January 1901 Edward became King…. The Coronation was set for the 26th of June 1902 but Edward suffered appendicitis two days before – and it had to be postponed until the 9th of August 1902….

Edward was a heavy smoker, regularly smoking over 20 cigarettes a day and a dozen cigars…. In March 1910, whilst in Biarritz, France, he collapsed with a severe case of bronchitis…. He stayed in France to convalesce – his condition went unreported to the British public…. Edward faced much criticism for staying away at a time when political tensions were running high over the unresolved constitutional crisis of the ‘People’s Budget’….

On the 27th of April he arrived back at Buckingham Palace…. Queen Alexandra returned shortly after, having just visited her brother, King George of Greece, in Corfu…. On discovering the condition of her husband she called their children to inform them their father was seriously ill….

On the 6th of May Edward suffered a series of heart attacks – but refused to go to bed…. “No, I shall not give in; I shall go on; I shall work to the end”…. At 11.30pm he lost consciousness and was carried to bed…. He died fifteen minutes later….

drawing of Edward on his deathbed by Sir Luke Fildes 1910 – Image : Wellcome Images CC BY 4.0

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