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Edward VII - 1901-1910

Key Facts about Edward VII

Though Edward VIl was renowned for his hedonistic lifestyle rather than for the political achievements of his reign he nevertheless created the cultural ambience of the twentieth century. The Edwardian Age, which he exemplified, was a period when self-assurance and complacency of the Victorian Age was giving way to doubts and self-examination about Britain's world role. This was accompanied by a new frivolity in the pursuit of leisure.

Edward had waited fifty-nine years to become king and as Prince of Wales had never gained his mother's approval, either as an international ambassador or as a king in waiting. Though he travelled extensively, he spent most of his visits abroad indulging his pleasures, which were a love of women and horses, the arts, theatre and motor cars. In 1863 he married the beautiful Alexandra of Denmark and she bore him six children, though this did not slow down his lifestyle.

In his public presence, however, Edward personified the Britain that ruled the world. In his state robes, painted by Sir Luke Fildes, he looks as much a roi soleil as Louis XIV. Edward's contribution to the social life had far-reaching effects in the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France, which replaced the Anglo-German inclinations of his mother.

Though he seemed little interested in science, industry or social reform his reign was marked by considerable advances in these quarters, and his misdemeanours were easily forgiven by his adoring subjects.

Key Events during the Reign of Edward VII

1901 - Edward VII becomes King on the death of his mother, Queen Victoria. Australia granted dominion status.

1902 - Edward institutes the Order of Merit.

1903 - Wilbur and Orville Wright make the first flight. Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union, demanding votes for women.

1904 - Britain and France sign the Entente Cordiale, settling outstanding territorial claims.

1907 - New Zealand granted dominion status.

1908 - The Fourth Olympic Games are held in London. Herbert Henry Asquith becomes Liberal Prime Minister. The Triple Entente is signed between Russia, France and Britain.

1909 - Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduces the People's Budget.

1910 - Parliament Bill introduced to curb the power of the House of Lords. Edward dies at Buckingham Palace, aged 68.

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