* boys clothing: British royalty George V--children

British Royalty: George V (1865-1936): Children

Figure 1.--George V's many children were born while he and Quenn Mary were still Prince and Princess of Wales. The photographs for this postcard were taken in 1905 or 1906.

George V and Queen Mary had 6 children, 5 boys and a girl. They were presented as the model British family. Certainly they did not have the problems the modern English press likes to report with the current royals. They did, of course, have their problems with Edward--eventually resulting in the greatest modern crisis in the monarchy. Edward became famous for renouncing the throne to mary a divorced American. His brother Albert who had never been raised to be king, not only inherited the crown, but the great task of leading Britain through the trials of World War II.

The Children

George V and Queen Mary had 6 children, 5 boys and a girl. They were presented as the model British family. Certainly they did not have the problems the modern English press likes to report with the current royals. They did, of course, have their problems with Edward--eventually resulting in the greatest modern crisis in the monarchy. King George's children were some of the most famous children in the world at the time. They were outside Germany much more famous than the Kaiser's children and grand children. In America at the time the Germany royal famoily was virtually unknown. David and Albert were very close as they were close in age. David as he was to be king was pampered and Albert as a boy notived it, although he never seems to have bee resentful. Today we know very little about the children except for David (Edward VIII) and Albert (George V). David was by far the most outgoing and popular with the British people as he got older. He had the most difficult with his father. Albert was the closest to David, but he also got on well with his admitedly difficult father. He developed a stammer as a boy, pedrhaps because of his father--but tghis is not proven. He never expected to be king. Some at the tome did not believe that he was up to the job. But with the help of his vivacious wife Queen Mary (who came to be know with great affection as the Queen Mum) and the support of the British people, he pulled it oif and through perhaps the most difficult time in modern British history.

David (1894-1972)

Their eldest son was slated from the begining to succed his father as King. He was known in the family as David. As Prince of Wales he was enormously popular. He expressed concern with th unemployed. He was polished and urbane and became a fashion stter. He was imbitered because as what he saw as his father's severe treatment of him. He renounced the throne, however, in 1936 to marry an American divorcee. Some charge he was a NAZI sympethizer.

Albert (1895-1952)

Albert or Bertie as he was called in the family was born 18 months later. He was a shy, difidnt boy who ho developed a terrible stutter. He was almost the opposite of his urbane brother. Bertie was never intended to be king. Like he is father, however, he succeded to the crown only years before a great national crisis--the World War II. Much to everone's suprise he performed admirably.

Mary (1897-1965)

Mary Windsor was the Princess Royal who received the title of the Countess of Harewood. She is the little girl often seen marching in a smock with her sailor suited brothers or wearing a sailor suit herself. She was the only girl in a family of brothers. She had two sons herself who were very smartly dressed as boys, often in identical outfirs.

Henry (1900-1974)

Henry Windsor (1st Duke of Gloucester) was born in 1900, the first royal of the 20th Century. As a small child, he wore cotton frocks with tartan sashes tied at the waist with lace-edged pantaloons showing just beneath the hem of the frock. He was the first British royal to attend a preparatory school, although he did live with the boarders. He wore the school uniform. Due to ill health, he did not follow his older brothers into the navy.

George (1902-1942)

George Windsor (1st Duke of Kent) was born in 1902 and because of their similar ages is often pictured with his brother Henry. Like Henry, as a small child, he wore cotton frocks. He followed his older brother to preparatory school, although they did live with the boarders. He was healthier than Henry and thus followed the family tradition by entering the Navy. His cadet uniform, however, was cashmere and not rough serge like the other boys.

John (1905-1919)

John is probably the least known of George V's five sons because of his tragically short life. John was an epileptic. It is also alleged that he suffered from some form of mental retardation. He was special favorite of Queen Alexandra, his grandmother. He was eventiually separated from the family, but his devoted nurse Lala Bill continued to care for him. He died in his 14th year.


The boys generally got along extremely well among themselves and with their sister. The four surviving children grew very close and supportive of each oher. As older boys they looked out for each other and sympathised with Edward, recognizing the burdens he would face as king and recognizung that so much rested on him. The two groups of older and younger siblings that were close enough in age to play together. They also went to school togrther. One reason for the close relationship was that the children were so isolated. They did not go to school and thus did not have friends their own age. This lack of regular contact with other children of their age, beyond the occaisonal visits of their royal cousins meant that their brothers and sisters were their only real playmates.

The Children's Clothes

Queen Mary outfitted the boys in dresses until about 5 years of age. Quite a few images exist of the younger boys wearing dresses. The dresses were usually long, worn well below the knees. This shows that the practice of dressing little boys in dresses was quite common right up to World War I. The boys while still in the nursery were dressed in tussore smocks before being breeched. I do not know yet how breeching the boys was handled, but I assume that it was done on a birthday to accord a sense of special importance to the gesture, to give them a special feeling of being older. Judging from the pictures I have seen, the breeching of the boys seems to have occured around their 4th or 5th birthdays. It looks like John, however, may have been breeched later than the other boys. After breeching their mother almost always dressed the boys in sailor suits. They also wore kilts, especially on trips to Scotland, but sailor suits were the normal everyday wear for the boys and sometimes even for Princess Mary. This was primarily because their father was convinced that sailor suits and kilts were the only suitable attire for boys. One British fashion expert believes that the Scottish kilt outfit with silver buttoned doublet and gleaming Eton collar was one of the smartest outfits that the British royals wore, indicatinf, "The royals in those days had good taste in clothes."


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Created: February 26, 1999
Last updated: J11:15 PM 7/24/2008