In 1935, Britain celebrated the Silver Jubilee of King George V. The crowds cheered, the children got their souvenir mugs and all seemed well with the Monarchy.
Less than a year later, the King was dead and his eldest son Edward VIII was fighting to retain the crown. His playboy lifestyle and his determination to marry an American divorcee, Mrs Ernest Simpson, led him into direct conflict with Parliament and the Empire. When they refused to accept his demands, the King abdicated, forcing his younger brother Albert to come reluctantly to the throne as King George VI.
The new King seemed entirely unsuited to the role. Unlike his extrovert and self-assured brother, he was painfully shy. He suffered from a severe speech impediment, hated public speaking and had no wish to be King. But he had no choice and a sympathetic nation rallied behind the new monarch.
After the rigours of the Depression and the uncertainties of the Abdication Crisis, people badly needed something to celebrate. The Coronation provided that much-needed distraction and involved the production of new stamps, celebratory brochures and greetings telegrams – all of which employed the talents of both Max and his brother Eric.
Against all the odds, George VI rose to the challenge of kingship, helped by the support of his wife and his speech therapist. By the time war broke out in 1939, he had done much to restore the credibility of the Monarchy. When Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, the King and his family were seen as symbolic of all that Britain was fighting for and he was deeply mourned after his early death in 1952.