Lessons From History: The Boy Who Would Be King
How do you face the daunting tasks that come along the way?

Albert had a gloomy beginning. As a young boy, he suffered a persistent stammer. His tutors forced him to write with his right hand, even though he was naturally left-handed. He had to wear leg braces to correct his knock-knees. He was frail, often ill, and easily frightened. Everyone’s expectations of the boy were about one notch above the lowest, but this prince of Great Britain would eventually prove them wrong.

He was born His Highness Prince Albert of York in 1895 and was never expected to be more than a prince. He was naturally timid, but never lacked initiative or devotion. He started attending the Royal Naval Academy at Osborne in 1909, but finished at the bottom of his class. Despite this, he advanced to the Royal Naval Academy at Dartmouth and then joined the Royal Navy. Serving as a young naval officer, he fought in the Battle of Jutland in World War i, and afterward joined the Royal Air Force as the first certified pilot in the Royal Family.

A few years later, in 1936, King George v died. Albert’s brother, Edward, the immediate heir to the throne, hurriedly abdicated to pursue his relationship with a divorced woman, Wallis Simpson. A surprised Prince Albert was quickly crowned King George vi and gained all the responsibilities of the sovereign of England.

Soon after, a dark cloud settled over Europe and Britain. Bombs fell, shaking the ground underneath King George as he sat in the tearoom with his wife. He heard the explosions while discussing business in his office. He could see the rising smoke in the distance through his bedroom window.

One day, a bomb exploded a street away from Buckingham Palace. Windows shattered, chandeliers rattled with a vengeance, and the floor was littered with pieces of fine china. Advisers begged King George to leave the palace and go somewhere safe—perhaps leave the country. He listened to the suggestions with a creased brow. He had a family to protect—a wife and two daughters to think about. He made up his mind. Yes, he had a family to look after, but it was his duty as king to defend his country. The bombs continued to fall, but the royal family stayed.

On the morning of Sept. 13, 1940, the King and Queen were rushing to the palace’s shelter when a high explosive bomb hit the palace grounds and its chapel. The force of the explosion knocked them to the ground. Thankfully, they were uninjured and spent the rest of the air raid in the safe confines of the shelter. Soon after, they emerged to examine the rubble and debris in their backyard.

Turning his focus to his nation, the King set out to check on the English people and their losses. King George visited the severely bombed areas in the East End of London with his wife. With her help, the King made multiple morale-boosting visits to Britain’s bombed cities. They toured hospitals and visited wounded troops. King George understood how important it was to support the people who were supporting him.

In 1943, the King visited British troops stationed in North Africa. He later went to Malta to do the same, and in June 1944 after the D-Day invasion, he visited the troops in Normandy. Although the kingship was unexpectedly thrown upon him, he embraced it fully and dedicated his term to helping his people, proving to be the exact king the people needed.

Remember his childhood speech impediment? With the help of his wife and a speech therapist, he fought his way through the impairment. He had to fight self-doubt and pressure from outside sources all along the way. But he didn’t give up. He dedicated himself to the impossible task and gained victory.

Despite being unexpectedly thrown into the position of sovereign, King George was remarkably dedicated and committed to the task handed to him. He chose determination as his weapon of choice and fought his way through the battles of uncertainty that the role of king presented. During his reign, he endured through both national and personal conflicts. He didn’t become easily frightened like he once had. The low expectations people once had for him were shattered. He walked right up to the obstacles in his path and fought until he had trampled them enough to reach the other side.

What is the one thing in your life holding you back? Does it seem like something you can’t move past? Have you ever been expected to do something you felt you were completely unprepared for? When something seems daunting, do you do the hard thing and stand up to it, or do you tend to choose the easy route?

Oftentimes we become overwhelmed with the thought of conquering the test and trial set in front of us. There is no need to shy away from the hard thing. Stand up to it. Persevere as King George did. Don’t give up when something hard appears in the middle of your path. Stare it straight in the face and conquer it with unmatched determination and resolve. We don’t have to fight our battles by ourselves—God promises to fight our battles for us (Exodus 14:13-14). Nothing is too big for you to handle if you ask for God’s help.

King George is a great example of someone who did amazing things with uncomfortable situations. But the inspiring reality is that we can do even greater things. We can do more than support a battle-torn country in the midst of war. We can do more than overcome a personal impediment. With God’s power combined with perseverance, we can exceed everyone’s expectations.