I don’t know why this old news popped up in Twitter, about King George V being euthanised on 1936.
1936 SECRET IS OUT: DOCTOR SPED GEORGE V’S DEATH
By JOSEPH LELYVELD, Special to the New York Times
As he lay comatose on his deathbed in 1936, King George V was injected with fatal doses of morphine and cocaine to assure him a painless death in time, according to his physician’s notes, for the announcement to be carried ”in the morning papers rather than the less appropriate evening journals.”
The fact that the death of a reigning monarch had been medically hastened remained a secret for half a century until the publication today of the notes made at the time by Lord Dawson, the royal physician who recorded that he administered the two injections at about 11 o’clock on the night of Jan. 20, 1936. That was scarcely an hour and a half after Lord Dawson had written a classically brief medical bulletin that declared, ”The King’s life is moving peacefully toward its close.”
That ”close” came in less than an hour after the injections. Lord Dawson, according to his notes, had already taken the precaution of phoning his wife in London to ask that she ”advise The Times to hold back publication.’
”A Peaceful Ending at Midnight,” said the headline the next morning in the newspaper that was deemed to be the most appropriate vehicle for major announcements to the nation.
British class snobbery with media.
Lord Dawson’s notes assert that he had been told by Queen Mary and the Prince of Wales that they did not want the King’s life needlessly prolonged if his illness was clearly fatal. There is no indication that the King himself had been consulted.
It is not clear from the notes how explicit Lord Dawson was in the exchange he reported with the Queen and Prince about the method of ending the King’s life, or whether this conversation had been initiated by the family or the physician.
Ten months later Lord Dawson spoke on euthanasia in a debate in the House of Lords.
The royal physician spoke against a bill that would have legalized the practice but he did so without condemning euthanasia. Instead, describing it as a ”mission of mercy,” he argued it was a matter best left to the conscience of individual physicians rather than official regulators.
”One should make the act of dying more gentle and more peaceful even if it does involve curtailment of the length of life,” he told his fellow peers. ”That has become increasingly the custom. This may be taken as something accepted.”
Calling for a ”gentle growth of euthanasia,” rather than a removal of all restraints by legislation, Lord Dawson went on to say, ”If we cannot cure for heaven’s sake let us do our best to lighten the pain.”
Left to the conscience of individual physicians, and stuff the law, and don’t consult the dying person?
I wonder if these sorts of views figure in opposition by doctors to change the law on euthanasia now.
The King’s last words:
The King, who was 71, had been in failing health for some months with a chronic bronchial complaint, but his final illness was brief. It was only four days before his death that the Queen sent for Lord Dawson. On the morning of his last day, he managed a 10-minute meeting with his privy counselors.
After his death, it was reported that his last words had come in the form of a question to his private secretary. ”How is the Empire?” he was said to have asked.
But Lord Dawson’s notes report a subsequent exclamation, which came after dinner when he was injected with a small dose of morphine to enable him to sleep more easily. ”God damn you,” the King said, according to the notes, as he fell asleep.
No indication who or what ‘you’ was.
Later that evening, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Gordon Lang, prayed at the bedside of the unconscious King. Once the Archbishop retired, Lord Dawson prepared the fatal injections, consisting of three-quarters of a gram of morphine and one gram of cocaine.
Was the King’s death a result of collusion between the doctor and the Archbishop?
Ten months later, the Archbishop followed Lord Dawson as a speaker in the euthanasia debate in the House of Lords, praising the speech the royal physician had just given.
Euthanasia still has not been legalized in Britain. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society said today that it had not yet decided what, if anything, it wanted to say about the death of King George V 50 years ago.
The plebs still have no choice (legally) in how they might die. Perhaps King George had no choice either – that is something that suggested euthanasias would protect.
These days timing someone’s death for the convenience of The Times probably wouldn’t happen.
Would it be the doctor or the priest tweeting “We knocked the bastard off”?