They Euthanized the King!

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Sept. 3 2009 3:03 PM

They Euthanized the King!

/blogs/xx_factor/2009/09/03/talk_about_death_panelsking_george_v_was_euthanized/jcr:content/body/slate_image

I just came across a fantastic historical footnote (thanks to reader Joe Garland) to the whole send-the-grandparents-to-their-deaths aspect of the health care debate. Drudge today has a banner headline about how  some terminally ill patients in Britain are being possibly hastened to their demise . It turns out this is a grand tradition, one that applies to both commoners and kings. King George V , who was inconveniently lingering in a lousy state of health, was euthanized by the royal physician with a dose of morphine and cocaine (a speedball!) in 1936. It was timed so that the death could make the morning edition of The Times . (Those were the days when newspapers had some clout!) Maybe the problem was that the chap had gotten terminally cranky. The initial reports were that his final words were, "How is the Empire?" But his physician noted that before the fatal dose, he was given a shot to help him sleep, at which he exclaimed, "God damn you." (Possibly the old boy’s bad mood was because he had overhead conversations regarding the next coronation.) This story seems ready-made as proof that if your fate is in the hands of bureaucrats, it doesn’t matter who you are, no one can save you. But remember that this took place long before the creation of Britain’s National Health Service, and that a man who has footmen was quite capable of footing the bill for any medical care he desired.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 9:19 PM The Phone Call Is Twenty Minutes of Pitch-Perfect, Wrenching Cinema
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.