Edward VII (reigned 1901-10) was brought
up strictly under a very rigorous educational regime by his parents,
who had unrealistic expectations of his abilities. During his
mother's reign, he undertook public duties (including working
on Royal Commissions in the field of social issues), but he was
excluded by his mother from acting as her deputy until 1898. Edward
was 59 when he became king, having been heir apparent for longer
than anyone else in British history.
Criticised for his social life, Edward's
main interests lay in foreign affairs, and military and naval
matters. Fluent in French and German, Edward made a number of
visits abroad (in 1904, he visited France - a visit which helped
to create the atmosphere which made the subsequent Anglo-French
entente cordiale possible); he was related to nearly
every Continental sovereign and came to be known as the 'Uncle
of Europe'. Edward also played an active role in encouraging military
and naval reforms, pressing for the reform of the Army Medical
Service and the modernisation of the Home Fleet.
In the last year of his life he was
involved in the constitutional crisis brought about by the refusal
of the Conservative majority in the Lords to pass the Liberal
budget of 1909. The King died before the situation could be resolved
by the Liberal victory in the election in 1910.