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How Did King George VI Die? 'The Crown' Chronicles Queen Elizabeth II's Reign

Alex Bailey/Netflix

He might feature prominently in the new Netflix series, The Crown, but King George VI is just a small piece of the history of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. Still, if it wasn't for his passing, she would have never taken the throne at such a young age, but how did King George VI die? Instead of some wild ailment or disease or being assassinated at the hands of an enemy, King George VI died in a very human, and tragically familiar, way.

After ruling England for almost 16 years, after his brother Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936, King George VI died as a result of lung cancer, more specifically after succumbing to complications following a surgery to remove one of his tumor-filled lungs. He was found in his bed on Feb. 6, 1952, after passing away in is sleep. Though his health had greatly deteriorated after his surgery months prior, his official cause of death is said to be coronary thrombosis, which is a blocking of blood flow to the heart, as a result of a blood clot in an artery.

Directly following his death, Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, took the throne, but not after spending several months mourning the sudden death of her father, whom she loved very much.

Long before there were any stirrings of King George VI being crowned, he served in the Royal Air Force and then went on to study economics, civics, and history at Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. After just one year, he left school to uphold his duties as the Duke of York and soon after, married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, with whom he went on to have two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret.

King George VI took the throne in 1937, effectively saying goodbye to his birth-given name of Albert. He went on to lead the country during World War II, while taking the time to visit both army fields and areas of Britain that had been hit by bombs. But in 1951, after years of reigning as king, all the stress and heavy smoking led to King George VI getting diagnosed with lung cancer. That same year, he had one of his lungs removed. But even then, his health was deteriorating and resulted in his death at the age of 56.

The Crown chronicles the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, but it also shows who the king was before she took up the reigns and how his death is what led to the young queen ruling.