The Marriage that Saved the Monarchy: George VI and Elizabeth

With single-minded determination, the future King George VI of Britain (known as Bertie) courted the Scottish Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon for more than two years, and proposed three times, before she finally accepted his hand.

Little did they know that their relationship and family would be catapulted on to the global stage after the abdication of King Edward VIII.  Shy, sensitive, and afflicted with a stutter, George VI had never imagined that he would become King. However, with his outgoing and confident wife’s support and love, he became an exceptional leader. He navigated the country through World War II, establishing a strong relationship with Winston Churchill, and inspiring the British people with his courage and compassion during the Blitz.

Biographer Sally Bedell Smith was granted unprecedented access by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to her parents’ letters and diaries, as well those of close friends and family. In her talk Sally will bring their love story to life and provide an inside view into the hopes, struggles, and triumphs of the royal couple. She will reveal how their marriage helped the new King and Queen meet the challenges and dangers Britain faced during World War II and led the nation back from the brink of destruction.

She will also show how the King and Queen solidified the public’s faith in the monarchy and trained their daughter Princess Elizabeth from an early age to be a highly successful monarch who would reign for an unprecedented 70 years.

Sally Bedell Smith, Best-selling Author

Sally Bedell Smith is the author of bestselling biographies of Queen Elizabeth II; William S. Paley; Pamela Harriman; Diana, Princess of Wales; John and Jacqueline Kennedy; and Bill and Hillary Clinton. A contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1996, she previously worked at Time and The New York Times, where she was a cultural news reporter. In 2012, Smith was the recipient of the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence. She is the mother of three children and lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Stephen G. Smith.


Thursday, April 6 | 6:30 p.m. (ET)

The Union League of Philadelphia

140 South Broad Street

Cash-bar reception and book signing preceding the lecture


Reception and Lecture only: $30 members: $40 non-members
Reception, Lecture, and Dinner: $110 members and non-members

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Dinner reservations are non-refundable.
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