Edward was king of Great Britain from 1901 to 1910, having been heir to Victoria for nearly 60 years.
Edward was born on 9 November 1841 in London, the eldest son of Victoria and her prince consort, Albert. He was subjected to a strict regime from an early age, as his parents were keen to ensure he was prepared to rule. He attended both Oxford and Cambridge and briefly joined the army. A liaison with an actress caused considerable scandal and Prince Albert visited his son to reprimand him. Albert died two weeks later and Victoria held her son partly responsible for the death of his father.
Victoria withdrew almost completely from public life, and Edward was allowed to represent her at state occasions, but given almost no chance to participate in affairs of state. He became a leader of London society, spending his time eating, drinking, gambling, shooting, watching racing and sailing. In 1863, he married Princess Alexandra of Denmark and they had six children, five of whom survived to adulthood. Edward also had a series of long-term mistresses, including the actress Lily Langtry.
In January 1901, Victoria died and Edward succeeded to the throne as Edward VII. He was crowned in August 1902. He threw himself into his new role with energy and his reign restored sparkle to a monarchy that been rather gloomy since his father's death 40 years earlier. Related to most European royalty (he was known as the 'Uncle of Europe'), he was able to assist in foreign policy negotiations and his well-received addresses during a state visit to Paris helped pave the way for the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale of 1904. Edward was also the first British monarch to visit Russia. In 1902, he founded the Order of Merit to reward those who distinguished themselves in science, art or literature.
In the last year of his life, Edward was involved in a constitutional crisis brought about by the refusal of the Conservative majority in the Lords to pass the Liberal budget of 1909. He died on 6 May 1910, before the situation could be resolved, and was succeeded by his son who became George V.
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