Facts and Events
George was a grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. From 1877 to 1891, he served in the Royal Navy. On the death of Victoria in 1901, George's father became King Edward VII, and George was made Prince of Wales. On his father's death in 1910, he succeeded as King-Emperor of the British Empire. He was the only Emperor of India to be present at his own Delhi Durbar.
As a result of the First World War (1914–18), most other European empires fell while the British Empire expanded to its greatest effective extent. In 1917, George became the first monarch of the House of Windsor, which he renamed from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as a result of anti-German public sentiment. His reign saw the rise of socialism, communism, fascism, Irish republicanism, and the Indian independence movement, all of which radically changed the political landscape. The Parliament Act 1911 established the supremacy of the elected British House of Commons over the unelected House of Lords. In 1924 he appointed the first Labour ministry and in 1931 the Statute of Westminster recognised the dominions of the Empire as separate, independent states within the Commonwealth of Nations. He was plagued by illness throughout much of his later reign and at his death was succeeded by his eldest son, Edward VIII.