Reading The Thirties: An Intimate History by Juliet Gardiner I was reminded of a shocking, but verified, fact regarding George V's death on 20 January 1936. Knowing that the King was nearing the end the royal physician, Lord Dawson, hastened his death just hours after issuing the brief medical bulletin: "The King's life is drawing peacefully to its close." The monarch's death was accomplished with a strong dose of morphine and cocaine in order that the news would first be announced in the august paper of record, The Times, and similar "broadsheets," rather than the downmarket evening tabloids. Regal duty to the end.
(I should point out that this is hardly breaking news; it has been known since the 1980s -- see this NY Times article -- though that hardly makes it less startling.) Gardiner also points out (p. 374, The Thirties) that Lord Dawson was later to vote against the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill in the House of Lords in 1936, "though of course, then as now, such acts did take place." Indeed.
The death of George V, interestingly enough, coincided with the date of the funeral of the great bard of Empire, Rudyard Kipling. These men represented two icons of a Britain-that-was and a world that was about to change quite dramatically in the coming decade -- leaving a post-war Britain much diminished in stature.
Postscript: fleming77 has advised me via twitter that the mixture that hastened the end of George V's life was known as a "Brompton cocktail," originating at the Brompton Hospital and having been well-known and available to wealthy patients at the time, long before more modern debates on assisted suicide.
Read more reflections on history, idleness, and the art of living from the Idle Historian in To The Idler The Spoils