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Queen heartbreak: King George VI’s ‘altered’ appearance on last day he saw daughter

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Her Majesty, 95, will be reflecting today on the 70th anniversary of her father King George VI’s funeral. Britain’s former King passed away on February 6, 1952 and Princess Elizabeth was declared Queen. Her Majesty received the grim news of his death while she and Prince Philip were in Kenya as part of a tour of the Commonwealth. Following his death, cinemas, theatres and other venues across the country closed out of respect, while TV programmes also stopped broadcasting.

George VI lay in state in Westminster Hall where more than 300,000 people filed past his coffin.

His funeral was held on February 15 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, where his body was interred in a vault.

George VI was popular with the British people, despite his unexpected accession after his older brother Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936.

He and his wife Queen Elizabeth, who later became known as the Queen Mother, led the nation through the horrors of World War 2.

However, the King, who was a heavy cigarette smoker, was suffering from anxiety, exhaustion and lung cancer before his death.

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The Queen last saw her father on the runway at Heathrow Airport, as he came to wave her off ahead of her trip to Kenya on his behalf.

Lord Chandos, the then-Colonial Secretary recalled the King’s “altered” appearance in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in 1952.

He said: “I well remember the last time I saw the King.

“When Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip left Heathrow for Kenya, the King and Queen came to see them take off.

“I was shocked by the King’s appearance.

“I was familiar with his look and mien, but he seemed much altered and strained.”

He added: “I had the feeling of doom, which grew as the minutes before the time of departure ebbed away.

“The King went on to the roof of the building to wave goodbye.

“The high wind blew his hair into disorder.

“I felt with foreboding that this would be the last time he was to see his daughter and that he thought so himself.”

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The King was reported to have retired to his bedchamber “in his usual health” before he “passed peacefully away in his sleep”.

He died at the royal Sandringham estate in Norfolk and it was later discovered that a blood clot had stopped his heart.

Time magazine’s obituary of the King read: “Footman Daniel Long, who took a cup of cocoa to the King at 11pm and found him in bed reading a sportsman’s magazine, was the last person to see the King alive.

“Early next day, a servant brought the King‘s morning cup of tea. The tea was never drunk: a blood clot had stilled George VI‘s valiant heart as he slept.”

The Queen was just 25 when her father died.

News of the King’s death took a long time to reach the couple, who were in rural Kenya at the time.

They had been at a game-viewing lodge at the Treetops Hotel before returning to Sagana Lodge, where Philip broke the news of the King’s death to his wife.

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