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George V and Queen Mary

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the new sovereign was not yet forty 'five years old. Middle-aged. But in the eyes of many people at that time, George V was a youngster of a King, for they had long been accustomed to much older monarchs. Nor was he very well known. Most of his early life had been spent unexcitingly, in the country at Sandringbam or closeted with governess or tutor in the London house. Even when he had emerged into the outer world he was exposed not to public perusal but the more private perils of the ocean, for he was thrust into the boisterous experiences of a naval cadet and eventually of a hard-driven mindshipman sailing the world in a British man-o'-war. And he .- loved seagoing. In 1892 however, because of the death of his elder brother, it had been necessary for him to alter his life, switch careers, and exchange the chosen profession of fulltime officer of the Royal Navy fot the inescapable routines of Heir to the Throne. As Duke of York, with his wife and future Queen beside him, he made a series of overseas tours, an Imperial ambassador instead of a seaman. He was created Prince of Wales in 1901.

Visits to foreign Courts, public engagements at home, deskwork in his study and, at his father's suggestion, a beginning of acquaintanceship with official papers - all these exercises were punctiliously carried through by the boy who had been 'Georgie’ : and was now a dutiful adult Prince, himself a father of a family, the Quiet Apprentice on the path to sovereignty. This man who became George V was never a showy or scintillating personality. Sincere and dependable utterly, but probably more shy, more inflexible, more conservative, more Victorian even than his grandmother. The style of his reign, therefore, was in immediate contrast to that of his father. His Court in fact became the antithesis of Edward VII's. It was a Court of reaction, faultless as the quarterdeck of a martinet. And, presiding over it, a monarch who was correct and kindly but inordinately self-effacing.

Yet this was a king who proved to be a loved national patriarch, first of a line of enthroned democrats, a rock of calm sense and firm leadership. He was the pioneer of representative kingship, speaking and acting for the nation. People gradually began to feel that here was an unpretentious Head of State with whom they could be identified. It was perhaps because he had been a working seaman, knowing what it was to be backaching and footsore and palm-blistered, that he had an innate rapport with the great mass of his people who worked with their hands. A Father-figure.

But in May 1910 that stature was still to come. The crowds who watched the untried son walking in the cortege of King Edward were yet to know the guiding goodness of George V. There was a clue, could they have seen it, standing on the working table of his London home. It was a few well-known lodestar lines, copied out in his own laboured hand on Marlborough House headed writing paper and framed: ‘I shall journey through this world but once.
Any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show any human being, let me do it now; let me not neglect or defer it, for I shall not pass this way again. ‘

Text Box: Princes Henry (born 1900) and George (bom 1902), With Prince John (who lived from 1905 to 1919), they were the King's younger sons

The text had been before him for a long time ; and he had been doing his own generous, hard-working best for nearly ten years -keeping count of the labour of it in his own diary too (he had inherited the habit of journal'writing from his grandmother). When he and his wife, royal Duke and Duchess representing the King his father, had gone out to Melbourne to open the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, the voyage had become an eight months' world tour during which, as he recorded, they travelled 45,000 miles, 53,032 of which were by sea and 12,000 by land. They laid 2 I foundation stones, received 544 loyal addresses, presented 4,329 medals and shook hands with 24,855 people at official receptions alone.

There were many other journeys after that one. But now, at the start of his reign, solemn domestic affairs of State anchored George V in London. His Accession was formally proclaimed by the Earl Marshal and his tabarded heralds from the balcony of Friary Court, St James's Palace, three days after his father's death. Across the road, two teenage naval cadets stood at the salute and watched the ceremony from over the garden wall of Marlborough House. They were the new Sovereign's two elder sons, Prince Edward and Prince Albert whose-parents were also looking down on Friary Court, but from behind a curtain of the boys' bedroom in the house. It would not have been seemly for the King to be observed watching the opening salute to his own grandeur.

Marlborough House was still the family home. Not until very much later did they move along the Mall to take up residence in Buckingham Palace in the rooms that had been those of King Edward and Queen Alexandra (who had themselves not been able to live in the long-neglected Palace for well over a year after their accession). When eventually they did go to the Palace the place was at last possessed of private apartments fit for a family to live in. Queen Alexandra had had a long struggle to put life and good looks, electricity and adequate furnishing, into a mansion unin­habited and untouched for fifty Victorian years. She and King Edward had not had years enough there, however, to do anything about the disliked East Front of the Palace added for Queen Victoria in 1847 - the one that faces down the Mall and is seen by the public - and it was not until 1913 that Sir Aston Webb built the present façade in Portland stone, to make the royal dwelling’ a cynosure instead of an eye-sore'.

The new Sovereign and Consort of that time, King George and Queen Mary, needed plenty of room for their family. They had six children, all born between 1894 and 1905: five boys and one girl. The last child and youngest son died young. So our history follows the remaining four Princes of this generation.

The children of George V, m order of arrival on the scene, were: Prince Edward, who was subsequently Prince of Wales, King Edward Vill and Duke of Windsor; Prince Albert, subsequently Duke ofYork and King George VI; Princess Mary, subsequently the Princess Royal, who married Viscount Lascelles who became the sixth Earl of Harewood; Prince Henry, subsequently Duke of Gloucester; Prince George, subsequently Duke of Kent; and Prince John, the youngest, who suffered from attacks of epilepsy and so was brought up apart from his brothers and sister, and who died in 1919 at the age of thirteen. The little boy's grave is in Sandringham churchyard.

But Sandringham, as thousands of tourists now able to visit the house and grounds know, has many memorials that are happy ones. The whole area, unsheltered though it may be from the cold east winds sweeping in from the North Sea, has a redolence of generation after generation of pleasant country living. This great rambling Jacobean-style house in Norfolk, most intimate and most affectionately regarded of the royal residences, then and now - the fact that Her Majesty The Queen has since 1977 opened it to the public does not alter its standing as one of the Family's favourite homes - was to George V 'the place I love better than anywhere else in the world'.

Even before he became King in 1910 he felt like that about Sandringham. For seventeen years he and his wife, Duke and Duchess of York and then Prince and Princess of Wales, had contentedly made their home in York Cottage, an old-fashioned villa in the grounds of'the big house'. Except for the eldest, all their children had been born there. When the Prince and Princess became King and Queen they kept the Cottage on for many years, living in it rathet than in the Sovereign's rightful home, Sandringham House itself, and being quite happy to do so.

'York Cottage, on the Sandringham House estate, was George V's Norfolk home for many years both before and after his accession. He described Sandringham as 'the place I love better than anywhere else in the world'.


Two cousins extraordinarily alike: Nicholas II, Tsar of Russia, and George V, in the uniform of a German cuirassier. The photograph was taken in 1913 during a visit to Berlin for the wedding of the daughter oj another cousin -the Kaiser, William 11

 


TOP: In 1909 a year before

becoming King and Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales made many visits to industrial centres. Here, in oilskins, they are about to enter a Cornish tin mine.

bottom: Queen Mary, in South Wales in 1912, was given an unusual royal carriage on a colliery visit. But she made no tonctisietts in dress style whilst 'down the nine'.

 


This was fortunate, because George's 'Motherdear', Queen Alexandra, did not move out of the main house in 1910 when Edward the King died and she became a dowager, the Queen Mother. Indeed she stayed there for the rest of her life, another fifteen years. Members of the Household of the new Sovereign and Consort, George and Mary, incredibly crowded as they all were in York Cottage (the Sailor King's grey parrot and all, a privileged bird addicted to hopping along the royal breakfast table and crashing its beak into the boiled eggs of his master's guests), felt that Queen Alexandra could never quite bring herself to look upon her son and daughter-in-law as King and Queen. At any rate, so far as Sandringham House was concerned, she had no doubt at all about her right to be there. Her view, rightly, was that the house had been built and paid for by her husband and was not a State palace or a possession of the Crown. It was quite different from Marlborough House which she used in London, for Sandringham was personal property and therefore hers. It did not occur to her that her son either needed it or ought to have it.

And her son, the new King, contentedly let it be so.

He was not pretentious or possessive, and most restrained when it came to putting his views. Over and over again his personal diary demonstrates his character. Perhaps never more so than on the day of his Coronation, which took place in June, 1911, a magnificent occasion of ancient ritual and modern pageantry. It had all the splendour and beauty of Abbey pomp and processions through the London streets. Escorting the King and Queen in their golden coach which had been first used by George III one hundred and fifty years before, Nation and Empire were on parade in full dress -the Empire now including the new Dominions: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa. All sent their leaders and their cohorts of soldiery. Among the chief figures at the Westminster ceremony walked two great captains of arms, the best-known British generals, Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener, each holding aloft a Sword of State. Kitchener, coming Co the height of his fame, was commanding the fifty thousand troops who lined the processional route in the heart of the capital city.

It was a tremendous, resounding day, an epic of anthems and trumpets, of thundering guns and marching men. The monarch at the centre of it all, a King richly adorned and gravely submissive, was clearly very deeply moved by all that took place. And yet, when that night he wrote his journal before going to bed, the diary was as unemotional a log as ever: ' Overcast and cloudy with some

George V on a tiger – shooting expedition in Nepal in 1912

 


showers and strongish cool breeze, but better for the people than great heat May and I left B.P. at 10.30 with 8 cream'Coloured horses Service in the Abbey was most beautiful, but it was a

terrible ordeal Worked all the afternoon with Bigge & others answering telegrams. Our guests dined with us at 8:30. May and I showcd ourselves again to the people. Wrote and read. Rather tired. Bed at 11.45.'

George V was not given to any excess of drama in writing, but no one who had dealings with him was in any doubt that he was nevertheless a sensitive man who was deeply involved in and deeply emotional about all the historical ceremonial which touched himself and his family - including that revival from ages past which the bravura of David Lloyd George conjured up at Caernarvon Castle a month after the Coronation, the Investiture of David, the seventeen-year-old Prince of Wales. Nor did the King's domestic austerity affect die splendour of the Courts, the full-dress levees, over which he and Queen Mary regularly presided at Buckingham Palace. He had nothing but enthusiasm for traditional forms of royal display, especially if they could in his view help the cohesion and peaceful government of his subjects overseas.

Having visited the vast country as Prince of Wales, he had a special interest in India, and when he ascended the Throne was much concerned over the fierce tides of disruptive nationalism which were rising in the subcontinent. It was ac his insistence chat he and the Queen, at the end of 1911, sailed away to make the last great State Progress of a British Sovereign in Imperial India. The centrepiece of the tour was a fabulous Coronation Durbar in Delhi. Brushing aside advisers' doubts about the safety of the visit, His Majesty rode, high-minded and heavily uniformed, rhrough rhe streets of the new capital city, and Bombay and Calcurta, exalted as King-Emperor. Over-decked and in vain as that sun-baked enthronement may seem to have been, it was nevertheless a statisfying pageant of the old Raj, an occasion of Princes in Homage never matched in the annals of the panoplied East.

Back in England in 1912, the King faced a different picture. His own country was racing wondrously out of the horse-drawn era into the age of the motor car and other exciting conveyances, and the first flying machines were beginning to shudder into the air from grassy aerodromes. But socially and constitutionally, the prospect was, for the average man-on-the-ground, anything but glittering. Industrial unrest was rife, and the contagion for a long coal strike spread from the miners to the dockers and railwaymen. Lloyd George introduced a revolutionary palliative called Unemployment Insurance, but neither that piece of legislation nor the team efforts of the now substantial group of Labour members in the House of Commons did much to help the negotiations of the new trade unions. It seemed impossible to take the heat out of workers grievances. Poverty brought protest to English streets. More serious still was the running sore of Ireland. The issue of Home Rule was at explosive point in the Parliament of Westminster as well as in Ulster

Another focus of disorder in the years between 1910 and the outbreak of the Kaiser's War in 1914 was the campaign for Votes for Women. Dedicated suffragettes were on the march. They advanced inexorably from shouting down political speakers to horsewhipping Winston Churchill, clawing policemen, smashing shop windows, dropping bombs into pillar-boxes and chaining themselves to the railings of Downing Street. One woman committed suicide by throwing herself under the hooves of the King's horse in the 1913 Derby to win a martyr's crown.

Within the Royal Family's circle, too, at least one member was starting to turn patterns of behaviour upside down. King George's eldest son, the impulsively up-and-coming Prince of Wales, having emerged from a segregated life of tutors, naval colleges, and a few months as a midshipman, went up to Oxford for a time, and at Magdalen - in contrast to the pattern of college life laid for his grandfather at Cambridge fifty years before - lived as much as possible the existence of an ordinary undergraduate. It was not easy, but the coltish Heir to the Throne made a number of friends in social classes other than his own, as well as among young aristocrats, and is reputed to have deflated certain taunting socialist republicans by singing 'The Red Flag' to his own banjo accompaniment. His years of non-compliance were beginning.

TOP: George V, Sailor' King, was always at home and happy at sea

He was rarely out of touch with the Royal Navy. Here he is visiting the Fleet   during th First World War.

bottom: Thousands of war casualties - and members oj medical staffs-were visited in hospitals by ~Their Majesties.


above: The desolation of   Ypres salient was the scene oj great battles and great less oj life.


The House of Windsor proclaimed

 


LEFT: David LloydGeorge, famous wartime Prim eMinister. When pictured herebefore 1914, he was Chancellor of the Excheque, notable for introducing old age pensions and unemployment insurance.

RIGHT: A suffragette trie tosell her paper to police officers outside Bow Street court. From 1910 to 1914 militant suffragettes struggled to obtain votes for women, often through acts of violence

 


The young Princes were being brought up in conventional royal style without university forays. The second son, Albeit - another 'Bertie', in name but not in character - passed through the Royal Navy's Dartmouth training, though with some classroom diffi­culty; the younger Prince George followed later through the College and towards the Senior Service; and the path of Prince Henry was through Sandhurst to a career in the Army.

At home, the family's life went its orderly way under the strict watch of a King and Queen whose styles and standards had not altered in twenty-five years. Their character was impeccable, but unbending too. When their children were toddlers they were a fond and understanding father and mother. Then, as the years went on and successions of severe governesses and tutors ruled their young, they gradually and without intention became out of touch with offspring growing to young manhood. They never gave children's parties. Kind and loving still, they nevertheless found it hard to bridge the generation gap and were unskilled as communicators even in their own sitting rooms. Whilst to the nation King George was a caring father-figure, to his sons he seemed more like a crusty fag-master. He knew it, and now and then he tried not to be so. Lacking any knack of relaxed fatherhood, and having been himself brought up in obedience to and even fear of a father, he would attempt to alter his ways by occasional bursts of rough jocularity, which made matters even more strained and embarrassing. The deep and enduring shyness in the make-up of both King George and Queen Mary was no doubt at the root of the brittle family situation.

Moreover, the King now had not much time for lowering his domestic fences. Barriers between classes and nations were going up instead of down all over the world, it seemed. There was little contentment in the air. Barbed camps of bigotry were being fostered.

the fast Labour government u

The year 1924 brought the fast Labour government in British history. Here the King, with Queen Mary and suitably uniformed, was meeting Mr Stephen Walsh, his new War Minister

 

All sons of sadnesses and disasters were making the news. One of the shocks was the loss of the 'unsinkable' liner Titanic, holed by a huge Atlantic iceberg off Newfoundland on her maiden voyage in 1912. The same year had brought the chilling story of the death of a hero. Captain Scott of the Antarctic.

The gravest of stormclouds were banking up over the continent of Europe, and to those who cared or dared to survey the scene the thunderclap of war was an inevitable outcome. In a clash of ambitions, great nations were feverishly arming and ranging themselves in sinister coalition.

Germany's was the most frightening of the mailed fists. Yet an exchange of Anglo-German official visits continued almost until the moment of the cloudburst. Emperor William had eagerly come over to attend the unveiling of the Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace, keeping up his ambivalent love-hate re­lationship with his grandmother's country. To the end, this Kaiser, head of a now overbearing Fatherland, could not believe that if he and his Austrian ally went to war, England would oppose him in battle and not allow France and Russia to be crushed.

King George could exercise little influence over the crescendo of -vents in Europe. The final explosion was triggered by the murder n the heir to the Austrian throne at Sarajevo in the June of 1914. Austria made this an excuse to declare war on Serbia; Germany declared war on Britain's now mobilised allies, Russia and France, and brutally invaded Belgium; and on 4 August a state of war between King George's country and Kaiser William's country came into being. The Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, watching the dimming of Whitehall's gaslamps that night, uttered

a phrase that became famous: 'The lights are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.' The First World War had begun.

All over Britain, the one European country which had been militarily unprepared, indignation at the German assault burst out in a matter of hours, bringing to the surface a deep-seated patriotism which without any conscription sent men flocking to the recruiting offices. And on that August night, when our ultimatum to Germany expired, it was to the Palace that the cheering crowds in the London streets instinctively turned. At midnight they were in dense mass outside the railings, calling out for the man who by history and tradition was their trusted representative in time of trial. When the King came out to face them he had beside him the Queen and the young Prince of Wales.



Meanwhile, at the Admiralty, Winston Churchill had sniffed battle and already deployed the King's warships. As always, he squared his shoulders gladly to the challenge of action. And presently a tiny British Expeditionary Force of putteed soldiers slipped across the Channel singing 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary'. Before long those regulars, joined by great numbers of volunteer comrades, were to find themselves in a devastation of mud and blood, advancing and then retreating to dig in desperately along lines of sodden trenches which ran from the Swiss border to the sea.

On the night when the Four Dark Years of conflict began, the British King, with one son Prince Alben already away in the Navy at sea, with his Court mobilised, and with his people feverish to defend 'little Belgium* and not yet imbued with Edward Grey's fatalism, wrote in his diary a few words which calamity had not robbed of habitual truth and terse factual reporting: 'War with Germany. Terrible catastrophe, but it is not our fault. Please God it may soon be over and that he will protect dear Bertie's life. Bed at 12.'

The prayer could hardly have been simpler, the entry more sincere. He went to war with faith and no illusions.

above : On the occasion of their Silver Wedding in 1918 Their Majesties were photographed at Buckingham Palace. The war was continuing, and the King's anniversary message was one oj sympathy for the sorrows of his people.

left: In 1922 Princess Mary, the only daughter of George V, was married to Viscount Lascelles, who became the sixth Earl oj Harewood. A wedding-day group on the Palace balcony

 


War that Changed a Name

Cataclysmic periods of history bring unexpected by-products. A new title for the British Sovereign's family was presently to be among them. The First World War, the war of 1914-18, was the earthquake from which the royal House of Windsor was officially born. The name was begotten out of anguish and quandary.

The trauma of that first Great War began in the firs! months oi (he fighting; and the cheering crowds of August 1914 were soon to realise, as dire casualty lists were posted, the cruel weight of the machine which the Germans had long been preparing. With a series of hammer blows, the enemy swept through Belgium and forced back the French and British troops. The Allies counter/ attacked and frustrated the German plan to annihilate the French armies, but the Battle of the Marne only made certain a long static war in the shclUtorn devastation of mud which was called the Western Front. War names became synonymous with misery: Ypres, Arras, Ncuve/Chapelle, Verdun, Vimy Ridge, Messines, he Somme and eternal Passehendaele. The words stood for sickeningly costly gains, shattering bombardments and in-conclusive Big Pushes in France and Flanders. British 'Tommies', however resilient the bittersweet humour which sustained them, had gone to earth and as the years went on were living and dying in a vast system of trenches and craters at times waist/deep in stinking water.

By 1917, too, America was still not quite sure about being in the war, Russia was cracking internally and becoming near/useless as a fighting ally, the failure of our Gallipoli landings against the Turks had left nasty scars and frightful Anzac casualties, submarine attacks were playing havoc with our shipping, German zeppelins

The marriage of Lieutenant Lord Mountbatten, later the first Earl Mountbatten of Burma, to Miss Edwina Aihley in 1922. The wetdding was attended by all the Royal Fimily

 


A rare photograph taken

at Glaniis Castle, the Scottish seat of Earl of Strathmore, and showing the Duke and Duchess of York before their engagement in 1923. Lady Elisabeth Boives-Lyon, today's Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother,

is seated in the centre with the. Duke behind her. On his left is the Ear! Lady Elizabeth's father) and on his right the Hon. David Bowes-Lyon.

 


had been bombing Britain for two years, Field Marshal Lord Kitchener had been drowned at sea when a battle-cruiser sank, and, in our own islands, there was the Sinn Fein Irish rising. The nation was deep in gloom and sorrow. Had the public known of the lingering seriousness of the King's injuries, suffered when his horse reared and fell on him during one of his assiduous visits 10 the armies in France, there would have been further anxiety - and less questioning.

Questioning there certainly was - and a search for scapegoats, for someone to blame for the way things were going. The witch-hunts, unreasonable but hardly unnatural, were a symptom of the same fear and frustration which had gripped sections of the population in the first hatc-the-enemy campaigns of 1914, over two years before, and were now one consequence of a people's continuing hurt and desperation at the tragic stalemate of a war which seemed never' ending. Calumny spread, and spared nothing, not even the Head of State.

Looking back on those demonstrations of doubt from the viewpoint of the present day, with two world wars experienced, it is not easy to understand the wild lashing-out. But the fact is that civilian conduct in the first German War lacked the patience and steadiness which characterised Home Front morale in the second war. Malign suggestions were tossed around at all and sundry, including the Monarch, unjustified though it was to snipe at a man who was essentially a dedicated. God-fearing English squire with two sons in the war - for the Prince of Wales, 'David' to the family and now in his twenties, was a staff officer in France, itching to get to the trenches, and Prince Albert, 'Bertie', as a serving sublieutenant in the Royal Navy, had been in action at the Battle of Jutland.

The rumour-mongering and questioning of 1917 had the political and military leadership as general targets, but presently became concentrated on the German origins and names of the King and his relatives. The inquisition which had begun feverishly so soon after the start of the war had already scandalously unseated -solely because of his German birth - the loyal and brilliant sailor and First Sea Lord, Admiral Prince Louis of Battenberg, who was a cousin of the King.

The forced resignation of Prince Louis, then the long-serving and exceptionally skilful chief of the Royal Navy, had greatly distressed the King by the sheer injustice of it. It had also pained Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty (who, however, lived to see the equally distinguished son of the Admiral - Lord Louis, who became Earl Mountbatten of Burma - appointed to highest rank in the Navy and the nation's Defence Staff after the next World War). And now, in 1917, malice struck at the monarch himself. Brief stirrings of republicanism, unknown in Britain for half a century, and distorted by certain cheap newspapers, caused whisperings that the King had a pro-German streak — and this brought out royal anger at the very thought of it.

The Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon: their official engagement photograph, 14 january

 


There was one particularly resented sneer. The writer H. G. Wells, at his most waspish after a Socialist rally celebrating the overthrow of the monarchy in Russia, publicly remarked that England was struggling through adversity 'under an alien and uninspiring Court'. King George in his sentient modesty was perfectly aware that his own circle was no focus of high intellectual endeavour, but .on reading the Wells slight he rasped out an immediate riposte which became famous: 'I may be uninspiring but I'll be damned if I'm an alien.'

He had become determined, nevertheless, to look into the name business. He did so quite firmly, but reluctantly. It was not that he felt guilty or that he was lukewarm in war effort because he was fighting his first cousin. It was simply that fairness to others, even fairness to insidious hate-rousing propagandists in his own country, was part of his nature. It had not occurred to him that the Germans had ceased to be human overnight.

His common sense, however, dictated that advice should be sought, especially when he discovered that some of his subjects -and these were some who were sincere and not rabble-rousers - felt it was improper, when we were struggling for our lives against the Germans, that our own Sovereign, symbolic leader of a Britain opposing a loathed Hohenzollern, should bear the designation Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

The King was not sure that strictly he had a surname. He had never used one - understandably, because no royal surname operated in Britain. He belonged to a branch of an old German family of course, and his Queen was a Teck; but even the Royal College of Heralds said they were not certain what His Majesty's own name was. Not 'Guelph', they thought, and not 'Wipper' or 'Wcttin' cither - which were names associated geographically and dynas' tically with the Guelphic Saxe'Coburg family, and in any case were unfortunate labels if given English pronunciation. But yes, the College of Arms agreed, some members of the monarch's family in Britain did have unpopular names like Schleswig/Holstem. No clear ideas were forthcoming, however, even when the politicians as well as the family-tree pundits were brought into the consultations and asked for alternatives. All sorts of cumbersome and un-propitious titles - 'Tudor-Stewart' and 'Fitzroy' amongst them -were put up and in turn rejected.

But now the King had firmly decided that a new name must be taken. And at length there came, as in so many problems through the years there has come, a solution from the Royal Household. For it was Lord Stamfordham, that soundest of Private Secretaries, who suggested 'Windsor'. The name was so natural and native, so proper and foursquare in English history that it was at once gladly accepted.

On 17 July 1917 a royal statement was approved by the Privy Council, and its terms were made public in the form of a solemn Proclamation garnished with the traditional flourish of words and a good sprinkling of'heretofore' and 'whereas' and 'henceforth'.

A popular wedding picture taken on the day the Duke of York married Lady Elisabeth. The parents of

the couple are with them

 


The substance was His Majesty's decision that 'Our House and Family shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor' and that all British-based descendants in the male line of 'Our Grandmother Queen Victoria of blessed and glorious memory' were immediately to relinquish 'All German Titles and Dignities'.

So Coburg and Hanover and Brunswick were swept away, and in came names with a good United Kingdom ring about them. The King's two brothers-in-law, the Duke of Teck and Prince Alexander ot Teck (Queen Mary's brothers), became the Marquess of Cambridge and the Earl of Athlone. Prince Louis (the deposed Admiral) and Prince Alexander of Battenberg, cousins of the King, became the Marquess of Milford Haven and the Marquess of Carisbrookc, with the new family name of Mount batten.

Thus was the royal style anglicised by George V 'in the eighth year of our Reign'; thus a dynasty was christened; and thus the Windsor tapestry began to be woven. It was a soothing change. The strange thing, perhaps, was that so right a name as 'Windsor' had not been used before.

Across the battle lines, the German Emperor was predictably not amused. His reaction, spiky as his moustache, was that he would be looking forward to the next performance of Shakespeare's Merry Wive* of Saxe-Coburg'Gotha. And in England, the German-born but very English Prince Louis, on hearing that it had been officially proclaimed that he was titled Battenberg no longer, wrote in the visitors* book of a house where he spent several days: 'Arrived Prince Hyde. Departed Lord Jekyll.' Hostilities never subdued the Mountbatten family sense of humour - and that grandfather of Prince Philip's possessed it abundantly.

When King George opened Wimbledon's Jubilee Tennis competition in June 1926 Queen Mary received Fiance's Mile Suzenne Lengleti, six times singles champion in the post-war fears.

 


Meanwhile, the war ground on. It seemed grimmer than ever in 1917, and the outlook gave no promise of brighter news from the front. Altering a royal name had not altered either the weary stalemate or the weight of shellfire on the Western Front. But what King George's pronouncement had done was implacably to blazon the determination of British monarch and British people to conquer a tyranny. The King, though no chauvinist and a hater of war, was said to have turned pale with anger many times on reading gruesome dispatches from the front and reports of enemy atrocities. He urged his mother Queen Alexandra to keep heart and faith that we should win in the end. 'I shall never submit to those brutal Germans', he told her. Secretly, he must have wondered at times whether he might be the last as well as the first 'Windsor'.

The moments when Britain appeared nearest to defeat occurred in fact in the year that eventually brought victory, 1918. Then were courage and faith most needed. On the Continent, nor only armies but ancient institutions such as monarchies were being swept away, victim's of the disillusion of despairing soldiers at the front ant dedicated pacifist socialists behind the breaking battle lines. Bac news came from all directions, but for the British monarch the tidings that came from Moscow were shockingly grim. A signa arrived out of now republican Russia telling of the murder by the Bolsheviks of the Tsar and his entire family. This was persona bereavement for the King, but served only to strengthen his will to conquer on the Western Front, however unlikely any such success seemed early in the year. Germany's massive Spring Offensive o 1918 broke through the Allied lines. But British, French, Anzac and Canadian counterattacks, joined now by the armies of the United States, not only stemmed but turned the tide after a few weeks. A spent enemy had made his final throw. It was at last the khaki uniforms, not the field/grey ones, which swept forward. Triumph was in sight.

By October the German Government was putting out feelers for armistice terms. Early in November a Socialist Republic and the abdication of the Kaiser were proclaimed from the Reichstag steps in Berlin. The deflated William, emperor no more, was allowed to escape from his own country's and the Allies' vengeance, and was admitted into neutral Holland as a private and protected exile.

George V at the helm of his racing yacht Britannia in

 


Two days later, at dawn in the coach of a train in the French forest of Compiegne, the Armistice was signed. Fighting ceased along the whole Western Front 'at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month' of 1918.

The First World War was at an end. In London a riot of jubilation and thanksgiving lasted for a week. The King - with staunch Queen Mary, straight-backed and toque-toppcd at his side - drove in an open carriage through the crowded streets and was deafeningly cheered. On horseback he reviewed a huge parade of convalescent soldiers in Hyde Park and was nearly pulled off his horse when men broke ranks and rushed forward to shake his hand. No doubts encircled him now. He had become the nation's symbol of endeavour and triumph, a stainless priest of victory held in unalloyed affection by his people. Romanov and Hohenzollern cousins and their monarchies had gone, but. Windsor remained. The British crown and its wearer, the institution and the man, were alike solid and secure.

None knew better than the Head of State, however, that an exhausted country would soon be expecting a reward of tonic and case after all the sacrifices; and, pray though he did, he was aware that no magic stroke would bring it. The bells of thanksgiving rang out bravely enough aftet the bugles of truce, but they did not peal away the truth that the flower of the nation's young, leaders for rebuilding the future, had been slaughtered on the battlefields. The emaciating sacrifices had not created a new earth, and there was no new heaven just round the corner.

Aftermath

The King was fifty/three when the war ended, and was looking old beyond his years. Queen Mary was a well-preserved fifty-one. The Prince of Wales was twenty-four, Prince Albert nearly twenty-three. Princess Mary twenty/one, Prince Henry eighteen, and Prince George sixteen.

Golf was one of several sports enjoyed after the war by the Duke of York, here seen in action against Frank Hodges, leader of the Miners'

Union, on a course in the Rhondda



Valley in 1924.

 


The family - except the Prince of Wales who was in Canada on the first of his Empire tours - saw His Majesty lead the nation's tribute to the 900,000 war dead at the tall Cenotaph in the middle of London's Whitehall in 1919- The ceremony took the form of a memorial service at the foot of the monument on n November, exactly one year after the fighting had stopped. The Cenotaph was at first built of wood, co the design of Sir Edwin Lutyem. It was reconstructed in stone during the following year, and stands in Whitehall still. Indeed, although some voices are raised regularly protesting that the ceremony opens old war wounds and should be allowed to die, it continues to be the scene of the crowded annual service on Remembrance Day - 'Armistice Day' is no longer the name, for the Cenotaph now commemorates the dead of two Great Wars. Wreaths are placed when November comes; but, except on this one day of official remembering each year, the Cenotaph has become a largely unremarked piece of the London scenery. Gone are the days when men removed their hats front their heads as they passed the monument on foot or in a bus. (Gone are the hats too, for that matter.) Nor does the whole nation now pause at the eleventh hour on 11 November, for the observing of the Two Minutes' Silence on the stroke of eleven a.m. continues only at the central shrine and at the church services of that anniversary morning. But in 1919 the Observance was total.

In 1920, on the second anniversary of the Armistice, there took place not only the wreath'laymg and the service of prayer at the monument in London's famous street of Government offices but also the burial of an Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. Unidentified by name or rank, his remains had been taken from a grave in France to be buried among England's kings. George V, accompanied by his two eldest sons, acted as one of the pallbearers and walked in procession behind the gun-carriage bearing che coffin from the Cenotaph to its place near the west door of the Abbey.

Engagement photograph, 1935 of the Duke ofGloucester and Lady Aim Montagu-Douglas/Scott, now Princess Alice, the dowager Duchess. Her mother, the Duchess of Buccleuch, is on the left.

 


Soon, the King was grateful to resume at least some of his old peacetime routines in both protocol and personal pursuit. He held formal receptions at the Palace once more, and the pageantry of the Guards in the full glory of scarlet tunics and bearskins was seen when he drove out to open Parliament in State. He was able to see Balmoral again - he had not visited it for six years - and there was more time for Sandrmgham and the country life he loved. Queen Mary was busy again in London with her passionate and knowledgeable collecting of Chinese Chippendale and jade, the prime decorations of her extensive ho use-furnishing. She could concentrate now on her expert petit/point needlework, having spent the war supervising the rougher stitchings of the national Women's Guild, heroines of the Balaclava helmet and knitted scarf industry which inspired the song 'Sister Susie's sewing shirts for Soldiers'.

The Queen accompanied her husband on most of his activities, though not, if she could avoid it, on board ships. She loathed the sea as much as he loved it. The King was never more animated and happy than when at the helm of his racing yacht Britannia, with a great spread of sail above him, his crew of thirty fellow enthusiasts around him, deck aslant and lee gunwale under water as the vessel went tearing through the scudding Solent during the competitions of Cowes Week;

But there was more to the peacetime years than bright ceremonial and sailing. Post-war pleasures were overclouded for everybody. However strong was the anxiety to get back to normal - to forget troubles and cheer Hobbs hitting centuries, Joe Beckett knocking out Bombardier Wells, Bolton Wanderers scoring Cup goals, Charlie Chaplin making the first comedy film classics and Cltu Chin Chow breaking records at His Majesty's Theatre - life was chiefly a thing of work-chasing worry, and the world would never be the same again. Politics and industry were in painful disarray, and Prime Minister Lloyd George's 'Land Fit for Heroes' just a dream. Disappointment was the aftermath of war.

And not only in Britain. Continental Europe even had a fresh war, Greece against Turkey. In 1921 during the period of that

Balmoral in the evening sun: three new views of the Castle. More a home than a fortification, it is to Scotland what Sandringham is to England: private house end holiday retreat, Balmoral was the realisation of a dream of Queen Victoria, audits building, between 1853 and 1856, was supervised by the Prince Consort. Victoria called it her 'dear paradise' and the house still reflects her taste, which extended to tartan carpets.


Broadlands, the Hampshire home of the late Earl Mountbatten of Burma. The present Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent part of their honeymoon here in 1947. The house was opened to the public shortly before Lord Louis ‘s death in 1979

 


Text Box: The view from the Green Droving Roam in the Queen's own apartments at Windsor Castle. This unique photograph show; the gardens below the little known East Terrace.

The King George IV Gateway front the lattins beside the Long Walk. The battlemented towers of Windsor were built during reconstruction work carried l'u at the Castle by Wyatville between 1820 and 1830.

 


TOP Sandringham House from across the Upper Lake. Natural springs rise within the  grounds ,feeding this and the Lower Lake. Many line specimens affiant and shrub bloom in the delightfully landscaped grounds. Most are named and bear the date of their planting

bottom The Queen's fitting room at Sandringham.

 


conflict there was born (on the dining-room table of a villa in Corfu) a boy named Philip, son of a Greek general, Prince Andrew. This was the Prince Philip who three decades later was to be Britain's 'First Gentleman' and Consort, the man who brought the name of Mountbatten into the Royal House.

In 1922 Philip's father, Prince Andrew, was pretty unjustly put on trial for his life in Athens by the Greeks, smarting under defeat by the Turks; and King George V, who was related to the Greek royal family, managed to send in a rescue ship to bring the Prince and his family to safety - the infant Philip, future Duke of Edinburgh, included.

All the same, the Sovereign could hardly have had much time to think about Greek babies just then. Turmoil in his own kingdom was preoccupation enough. As so often, Ireland was proving the grievous sore. Anti-British Sinn Feiners formed themselves into a National Assembly called the Dail and, forced underground, illegally proclaimed an independent Republic. Guerrilla zealots of the movement, the first Irish Republican Army, fought fierce gun battles in the streets and in every possible way resisted the troops, the armed police, and especially the harsh police auxiliaries who had been recruited largely from daredevil ex-Service misfits and were called the Black and Tans. In 1921 the British Government was forced to seek agreement with the Republicans, with the result that the Irish Free State, given Dominion status within the British Commonwealth, was shakily founded and the South was divided from the six counties of the Protestant North.

The infant Prince Philip of Greece in a 1922 family group. He is on the lap of his mother. Princess Andrew. Most of the people here are Mountbaltens. Lord Louis stands behind Princess Andrew (who was Princess Alice of Battenberg).

 


The King, deeply disturbed at the break-up of part of the United Kingdom, had brushed aside warnings of personal risk and crossed to Belfast to open in person and earnestly to address the first session of new Ulster Parliament under the Government of Ireland Act. He hoped that peace and amity on both sides of the border would follow, but it was not to be. The ardent Republicans were not appeased by the new status, and civil war ravaged Dublin. Violence continued - as it continues in even more bitter and concentrated pattern today in the North - and the extremist De Valera came to political power in 193 By then the South was well on the road to complete separation, a wholly independent Eire.

On the English side of the Irish Sea, meanwhile, the coming of peace brought no lasting calm or surge of prosperity, but only an increasing unemployment problem and mounting public dis-satisfaction with Ministers' management of both foreign affairs and industrial strategy. Lloyd George and his Coalition Government had to go, and in 1923 a pipe/smoking country gentleman named Stanley Baldwin became Prime Minister at the head of a Conservative administration. He was defeated eight months later, and at the beginning of 1924 Britain for the first time had a Labour Government, an unprecedented experience for the King as it was for his people.

His First Minister now was a former clerk and son of a farm labourer, James Ramsay MacDonald from Lossiemouth in Scotland; the new Lord Privy Seal was a trade union organiser who had been a Lancashire mill hand, J. R. Clynes; the Home Secretary was an ex-foundry worker, Arthur Henderson; and the Secretary of State for the Colonies a sometime engine-driver, J. H. Thomas. It was characteristic of the King's sense of duty and his honest efforts to be impartial that, unfamiliar though he was with leaders of such kind, he treated them as though they were blue-blooded to a man. He knew that they had become experienced politicians. He recognised their intelligence and seriousness; he was willing to look for their potential as statesmen and was hopeful that their sense of responsibility would increase.

In short, the King treated the Labour men with kindness, sympathy and co/operation from the start. He was at pains to know them personally, to be useful to them with experienced advice when they came in audience, and to give them guidance on matters of protocol. They, for their part, though a little awkward in his presence at first, warmed to the genial reception they received and liked the quiet kindness of the man in whose name they and their administration had been called upon to act. Somewhat against the grain, they even took trouble to meet the Sovereign's meticulousness

The Duke and Duchess of York in the twenties. Prince Albert is in R.AF uniform and wears his pilot’s 'wings'.

 


The East Front of Buckingham Palace, one of the most photographed buildings in the world - a picture from the nineteen-forties, when the sentry-hexes were outside. Nowadays they are inside the forecourt, so no longer overwhelmed by camera - happy tourists

 


Parents and grandparents at Princess Elisabeth's christening on 29 May At the time no one imagined that this child, the present Queen, would occupy :he Throne.

 


The Music Room at Buckingham Palace. Designed by Nash, the decor includes eighteen columns of deep-blue scagliola with gilt Corinthian capitals and very fine immense chandeliers. This roam overlooks the garden of forty acres and one of the most extensive lawns in the world. It has been the scene of many royal christenings

 


over what he deemed to be correct clothing by buying or hiring suits of tailed Court dress - though, fearing the laughter of their followers, they jibbed at knee breeches.

The King wrote to his mother: 'They have different ideas Co ours and they are all socialists, but they ought 10 be given a chance and ought to be treated fairly.'

He readily took to his well-spoken new Prime Minister, and indeed seemed from the very beginning to see more sound qualities in him than many other people did, including some of his own colleagues. Unfortunately, Mr MacDonald, seasoned public figure though he was, after a short time began to worry judicious observers by an inclination, or so it seemed, to spend as much time in drawing rooms as m debating chambers. His manifest basking in the Sovereign's friendliness displeased many Labour followers. He found it hard to resist giving himself airs. Though he worked hard and with some success for general disarmament and the settlement of a disturbed Europe, the problems proved too much for him and, deserted by the Liberals, his Government fell after ten months and Mr Baldwin and the Tories returned to power. But in 1929 'Ramsay Mac' was back in office for a second time. Two years later, with the country in deep financial crisis and nearly three million people out of work, he resigned once more - only to return to Number Ten Downing Street as head of an emergency 'National Government' composed of representatives of all parties, a coalition charged with the task of attempting to find shelter from the economic blizzard and lessen the shame of the Depression.

Mr MacDonald had taken the task of leadership this time at the insistent request of the King. Throughout the post-war years George V was as much in day-to-day concern over the state of the nation as his politicians were, and did not hesitate to put forward opinion and appeal over matters on which he felt deeply. One of these problems was the mounting total of the unemployed (even by 1920 the total had passed the two million mark} and the meagre amount of State aid for people out of a job. In 1921 he had sent a typical letter to the Secretary of the Cabinet urging that there should be more concentration on work schemes such as road-building and forestation. Giving subsistence money was not enough, and in his view the amounts of the weekly dole payments were not enough anyhow. 'It is impossible', the royal message said, 'to expect people to subsist upon the unemployment benefit of fifteen shillings for men and twelve shillings for women.' Could not the Government treat the situation 'with the same liberality as they displayed in dealing with the enormous daily cost of the war;*

Just as he had placed his faith and his counsel in the service of Stanley Baldwin during the earlier troubles culminating in the National Strike of 1926 - His Majesty had declined personal intervention then but had warned against Churchillian extremes of provocation - so the King in 1931 worked with a mixed assembly of Ministers as they fought to bring the nation back from the brink of bankruptcy. MacDonald gave up as leader after four grim years, during which his bland association with the Liberals, the Conservatives and the King brought to him the final break with the Labour Party which he had helped to found. In 1935 Baldwin was at the wheel again.

It was during those post-war years of worldwide slumps and realignments that the King, though zealous to succour both his politicians at home and his own family life around him, was anxious also to keep fast the straining ties of Empire. And for this he dispatched his not unwilling eldest son on a further series of long tours abroad - during the Eastern journey alone he travelled fifty thousand miles. On these official missions, the smiling fair-haired Prince of Wales established a popular image all over the world.

A scene near the Slack Exchange during the General Strike of The public transport system had come to a standstill; commuters hitched lifts whenever they could.

 


The King himself always preferred to stay at home in Britain rather than embark on State Visits overseas. He did however go to great lengths in entertaining elaborately many other Heads of State when they came over at his invitation to London. To them he was a cheerful host, certainly more relaxed than with his own family. For a man whose nature was reserved, whose temper was often short and whose outlook was not the widest, he managed remarkably well with less august oversea^ callers too. When the American Charles Lindbergh made his dramatic solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1927 (New York to Paris in thirty'three hours) and was given an audience at the Palace, the royal entourage wondered how the shy monarch and the staunch republican would get on. They need not have worried. The aviator, a prickly young Isolationist who hated crowns and thrones, confessed after the talk that the British Sovereign had been such a jovial interrogator that he found it natural to regale him with all the details of his pioneer crossing. And the King's diary said: 'A very nice boy and quite modest.'



Modesty was one of the pleasant qualities of George V's second son, Bertie, the stay-at-home one, quietly content to be 'also-ran' to the mercurial David. This was the son whose unassuming nature was in accord with his own. But the royal father was anxious to 'bring Bertie out' and help him to combat his hesitations of speech in public and the innate shyness which had not been dispelled by his wartime service in Navy and Air Force and a subsequent course of study at Trinity College, Cambridge. He had enjoyed a largely informal visit to East Africa in 1924 and 1925, but now a big official test was arranged. Although the King was well aware that his eldest boy was the one who was the Golden Tourist, and was happy about the success which the Prince of Wales's breezy manner and easily switched/on charm had achieved during his visits, it was the second son Albert, now Duke of York, who at the beginning of 1927 left for Australia to open the first Parliament to meet at Canberra, new Federal capital of the Dominion, and to make a six months' official tour of the Antipodes.

On that formidable exercise in royal duty overseas, the still nervous and highly strung Duke made the first firm steps towards confidence in public - largely because he had acquired delightful support. For already the future King George VI had beside him his wonderful wife. The nervous but determined Prince Bertie had courted Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon for two years. She accepted him in 1923 and they were married the same year. The new Duchess of York, destined to be a shining thread in the fabric of modern royal history, was a charmer from the beginning, as she was to be in the half-century of sterling service as Queen Consort and Queen Mother which - though none knew it then — lay awaiting her strength and her smile.

Her husband was the first of George V's sons to marry. The next to do so was the fourth in age, Prince George the Duke of Kent, who took as his bride in 1934 the elegant Princess Marina of Greece. In the following year came the wedding of Prince Henry the Duke of Gloucester, third son, to a Scot, Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott, pretty daughter of the seventh Duke of Buccleuch. The King's daughter, however - Princess Mary, the Princess Royal had been the first of the children to leave home. She was married in 1922 to a Yorkshire landowner, Viscount Lasccllcs, who became the sixth Earl of Harewood.

All the marriages were popular public occasions. But the most shining matrimonial event of those times, also in 1922, was a wedding that was not only royal but the social event of a decade, a picture-book extravaganza at St Margaret's, Westminster. It was the wedding of the brilliant royal cousin 'Dickie' Mountbatten, then Lord Louis and a handsome naval lieutenant, to the

King George and Queen Mary were not frequent travellers overseas but on reaching Continental sunshine they enjoyed themselves. Here they are with Prince George and friends

 


Text Box: The Duke of York as soldier and Highlander in 1929.

glamorous and highly intelligent Edwina Ashley, heiress to the fortune of a millionaire grandfather, Sir Ernest Cassel, an Anglo' German financier who had been a great friend of King Edward VII. The Prince of Wales, looking extraordinarily young and slightly overpowered by his Admiral's uniform, was best man. It was all very star-studded. King George and Queen Mary and Queen Alexandra attended; royalty came from all over Europe.

The old Victorian pattern of'royals marrying royals' had been broken, all the same. It had been quite happily demolished, in fact, in the year after the war when there took place [he wedding of the popular Princess 'Pat' of Connaught, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, to Admiral Alexander Ramsay - technically a commoner though the son of an earl - and the Princess resigned all claims to being a Royal Highness. For the remaining fifty-five years of her life she was 'plain' Lady Patricia Ramsay.

Small though the signs were, barriers of archaic formality surrounding the monarchy were beginning to be breached during the twenties and thirties of the century.

top Three generations infant of the miniature Welsh cottage at Royal Lodge, Windsor, which was given to Princess Elisabeth (on the right) by the people of Wales when she was six.

above Armistice Day, 1933. The Duke and Duchess of York in procession from St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh. They are led by the chief of the Scottish Heralds, Lord Lyon King of Arms.

 


New Blood

To King George and Queen Mary the marriages of the three sons brought more than ordinary parental joy. Ever since their family had emerged from the nursery stage they had found it difficult to have any close companionship with them. No real rapport existed: the generation gap inside the Palace seemed unbridgeable. Formality reigned at family gatherings. No parties were given for the young people. The Queen was shy, as unbending with her own offspring at home as she was when on public duty. She was never bred to romp and frolic - though she was not without a sense of humour. And the King, kind and domestic person though he was, had not moved out of the nineteenth century when it came to confronting teenagers. To be censorious with his growing-up boys was a natural reflex; he never began to understand, never ceased to criticise the altered conventions and standards of behaviour which had come in with the post-war years. He used to try to amend this failing by bursts of rough chaffing, but they only made matters worse. His sons were afraid of him. Even when the Princes attained manhood his often querulous disapproval did not stop - until those marriages came. Then the situation altered rosily.

The arrival in a family circle which had become cold and isolated of three lively daughters-in-law from worlds outside the Court caused a distinct relaxation of manner in the King and Queen in their homes. The geniality and unembarrassed affection which the sons and daughter had known when they were very small, but not since, was shed on them once more because it was released upon their wedded partners. In the King the change was most happily marked. And in return he himself was loved, no longer feared, by his own.

The Duke of York's bride, the uninhibited Lady Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore, at once captivated her father-in-law when she danced like a breath of Highland air and shaft of sunshine into the hitherto hidebound Court and cloistered Palace life. That was no surprise to Queen Mary, who from the moment of meeting the girl from Glamis, before ever she accepted her son's proposal, had taken a great liking to a charming young lady who so naturally combined spontaneity and sense of duty. All through her life, the undemonstrative Queen Mary maintained a relationship of special affection for the younger woman whose standards were often her own and whose endearing ease in public and in facing new situations she admired though could hardly by nature emulate. As to the King, the love he gave to his first daughter-in-law lifted his spirits, mellowed his views, and contained in it something of the same sort of devotion which throughout her life he extended to his 'Darling Motherdear', Queen Alexandra (who died at Sandnngham in 1925, well into her eighty-first year, almost as old as Queen Victoria had been).

Elizabeth Bowes'Lyon had - as the Queen Mother of today still has - the touch of gold in human relationships, and it was almost effortlessly that she not only enhanced the life of her husband but by her influence fashioned the new warmth between her husband and his father, an accord of confidence and encouragement. King George had always felt more akin to his second son than to his eldest, the personable but iconoclastic David, the Prince of Wales. And now, towards the married Bertie, the affection was almost wistful when the father wrote to him: 'You are indeed a lucky man to have such a charming and delightful wife as Elizabeth. I trust you will have many years of happiness You have always been so sensible and easy to work with Very different to dear David.'

And Elizabeth, the new Royal Duchess, inspirer of this release of sentiment, reciprocated the King's feelings. Unlike his own children, she was from the start never afraid of him, and not once in the twelve years of being his daughter-in-law did she have any experience of the well-known tetchiness which never altogether deserted him. In her own words written later in life, 'He was so dependable and could be deliciously funny when he was in the mood.'

A measure of this fond relationship was the happiness of the King at the birth of the Duchess's first baby on 21 April 1926 - : Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of Windsor, today's reigning Queen Elizabeth II. She was the first grandchild in the male line.

For the prematurely old monarch, however, domestic felicity was never for long undisturbed. He was plucked from it by the cares and councils of the General Strike which came two weeks after the Princess's birth. He was also denied family life's full enjoyment by his own frail health, the progressive physical weakness which became seriously worrying to his Queen, his children and his doctors. He had suffered from chesty colds since he was a small boy, and soon after the war attacks of bronchitis developed. Through these his constitution had noticeably begun to fail in 1925, the year after he had painstakingly marked a national milestone by opening I and making his first broadcast speech at the great British Empire Exhibition staged in Wembley Stadium.

He was so stricken, weak and bedridden at the beginning of T92 5 that for a whole fortnight he was unable to hold a pen and write the nightly log in his leather-bound diary - which was for him a depressing failure and deprivation, and for those about him an indication of the seriousness of his condition. The death of his loved and lovely mother, late that year, was a weakening sorrow too, though by then he was up and about, on the surface much as usual.

The welcome given to the Jubilee precession by the London crowds in At last months on the King's reign deeply touched his heart.

 


Indeed, with care his health did improve. In the next two years he was able to confront with at any rate an appearance of robustness the continuing political and industrial troubles of his country. He also resolutely fulfilled heavy programmes of public engagements, laying foundation stones, opening county halls and a number of bridges as well as the Mersey Tunnel, inaugurating London's first airport on the grass of Croydon, attending Wimbledon and the Cup Final and as many other varied sporting occasions as his days could possibly stand.

But in November and December of 1928 he became even more gravely ill than before. 'Unable to give due attention to the affairs of Our Realm', as his royal warrant put it, he appointed six Counsellors of State to act in his stead. Propped up in bed, he was barely able to sign the warrant. A pleural abscess had developed, weakening the King's heart. An operation was performed just in time to save his life, but he was in a critical condition for many days. Crowds waited outside the Palace gates to read the doctors' bulletins posted there each day. Churches were kept open day and night for intercessions.

Again he recovered, very slowly this time. Not until February 1929 had he turned the corner sufficiently for Queen Mary to take him to a house named Craigwell on the outskirts of Bognor in Sussex for several weeks of convalescence. He was not a patient patient: boredom and irritableness retarded progress. One of the things which cheered and improved him most was a scries of visits by a lively three-year-old Princess Elizabeth, who would chatter beside him as he was wheeled out in a bathchair and dig castles and sand-pictures along the seashore for the entertainment of the old gentleman she knew and loved as 'Grandpapa England'.

One of the nicest stories of the early childhood of the Princess -the present Queen - reports a remark she made one Christmas at Sandringham when, with the family, she was listening to, and mishearing, carollers singing 'Glad tidings of great joy I bring to you and all mankind'. The small girl's comment was: 'I like that. And I know who Old Man Kind is - it's Grandpapa.'

The West Terrace of Sandringham House. Although these formal flowerbeds

are gone, the house remains essentially unchanged

 

In the spring of 1929 'Man Kind' was better enough to return to London, and in July he was able with the Queen to attend a national service of thanksgiving for his recovery. But his operation wound was unhealed, and this contributed to a reverse which he suffered a few days after that service in Westminster Abbey. Strangely enough, the setback was triggered by a friend, none other than that former railwaymen's leader, Jim Thomas, the down-to' earth Cabinet Minister who was notorious for possessing neither awe nor aspirates. He was the member of the Labour Government whose company His Majesty used to find particularly congenial, though the two men were poles apart in background and manner. A real friendship had developed. The King had never come across a socialist (or any other) statesman so frank and so irreverent in talking to a monarch. Thomas's bluntness was disarming, and the Sovereign was amused rather than offended when his Minister told him that his princely sons were reluctant to pay visits to Balmoral because it was 'such a bloody dull 'ouse'. But now, in May 1929, the Minister unwittingly caused damage when he was received at the Palace, for his latest crop of ribald jokes made the King laugh so much that he burst open the wound abscess below his ribs and suffered a relapse. Soon his condition was once more occasioning anxiety. In the ensuing months two more operations were necessary. But again he recovered.

King George's final years, in the first half of the thirties, were plagued by the inherent bronchitis. But he brushed aside medical advice in persistently refusing to go abroad for even a week or two of Mediterranean warmth and sunshine. He worked on, in his own land, taking things more quietly than he had ever done but worrying over the papers on his desk as much as ever he had. There was plenty of cause for concern. The country had barely avoided complete economic collapse. Massive loans from foreign bankers had not eased the chronic unemployment situation or erased the shame of the Hunger Marches and the Great Depression.

Abroad, Germany's even more ghastly post-war slump had given birth to a Fascism more terrible than Italy was experiencing under the strutting Mussolini. The anti-Semitic, anti-democratic Brown Shirts of Hitler were on the march, trampling down the law, the League of Nations and anything else which stood in their militaristic path. For a second time in less than twenty years Germany was flagrantly rearming and presently gobbling up weak neighbouring territories. The black and crooked cross of National Socialism was putting half Europe under menacing shadow.

However much British appeasers declared,that Adolfthe Fuhrer had really no evil intent and that war would rot come again. King George V had no illusions: he clearly saw the dangers of both Nazi ambitions and France's outdated Maginot Line fixations. Yet again in his lifetime, Germany was boiling to aggression and no doubt about it. And in Russia the Soviet hierarchy had inherited the harsh Imperialism of the Tsars.

'What will people think of such fuss in these anxious times;' His Majesty had growled when he surveyed the plans - which Queen Mary had willingly encouraged - for a national celebration in 1935 of his twenty-five years on the Throne.

What people did think was that it was well worth while; and on the day of the royal Silver Jubilee, a gloriously sunny May the Sixth, beflagged London fairly exploded with enthusiasm as the King and Queen drove to give thanks in St Paul's Cathedral. The open landau of the Sovereign and Queen Consort was preceded by the carriages of the Duke and Duchess of York and their children the two Princesses, Elizabeth aged nine, and now a four-year-old sister, Margaret Rose, with her; and the Prince of Wales arrayed in the full Scarlet of the Welsh Guards . It was all a brave and happy sight.

Towns and villages far and wide spent the day in jollifications to salute the anniversary. Then at ten in the evening the King pressed a button in Buckingham Palace to light a huge bonfire a mile away in Hyde Park. This was a signal for two thousand other beacons to burst out, making chains of light crisscrossing the whole country. People danced round the flames singing patriotic songs and standing to attention for 'God Save the King'.

The King was surprised and moved. Why, he asked in his diary, should such a never-to-be-forgotten day take place at such a time of national difficulty and world danger? 'I'd no idea they felt like that about me', he wrote. 'I'm beginning to think they must like me for myself.' It was the right answer. He had become a focus of stability and reliability in a darkening scene; the demonstrations of regard for him must have warmed a weak old heart which was destined to beat for only another eight months. Soon after the period of the Jubilee celebrations the final decline of his health began. He was too frail to attend the 19] 5 service of November remembrance at the Cenotaph, and his grief at the death of his favourite sister Princess Victoria in December seemed to lessen his will to live.

But he did manage to make his Christmas Day broadcast, from a small ground'floor room at Sandrmgham House, and he insisted on doing it 'live' as usual, with his family listening nervously in the next room. It was he who in 1932 had started the now traditional Sovereign's Message via the BBC microphone to nation and Commonwealth. Those little fireside talks 'on the wireless', the measured voice conveying the sincerity of the speaker, were milestones in the early history of public broadcasting which had begun in 1922. He did not know it, did not try to be it, but the King was a perfect radio talker. There was a nice rumbling depth in the phrases, and a bit of bronchial grating too, but no trace of the guttural Germanic of his forebears and a few of his family contemporaries. The tones were warmly resonant and paternal, bringing the caring personality of the man into millions of homes by the very sound of him.

He used to broadcast because he felt it his duty, not because he liked doing it. He was always glad when what was for him an ordeal was over - and was far from impressed when told on one occasion by an obsequious Minister that 'you have been per­manently recorded for posterity as you spoke, Sir. How wonderful if we'd had a recording of Queen Elizabeth I.'

His Majesty's reply was a gruff'Damn Queen Elizabeth'.

Broadcasting - in sound only, for regular public-service television, in which the British Broadcasting Corporation led the world, did not come until late in I9J6 - was the outstanding scientific achievement of George V's era. The reign had also seen tremendous developments in other fields. Australia was brought within three days' flying time of the United Kingdom, for example; advances in electric power banished a gaslit world; motor-car owning started to be popular; and a matchless railway system had its crack expresses steaming along, even then, at a hundred miles an hour. Literature and music and the theatre flowered too in that quarter of a century, its giants including Chesterton and Belloc, Shaw and Galsworthy, Elgar and Delius, Frank Benson and Ellen Terry. Sport had its Hobbs and Sutcliffe, a jockey named Steve Donoghue was the lion of the racecourses, and an Englishman, the imperishable Fred Perry, actually won the men's singles at Wimbledon - three times in a row.

A Rip Van Winkle from Edwardian times would have been astonished to find how the appearance of human beings had changed by the end of King George's reign. Hourglass waists had

Been released and muffs rebuffed; giddy girls called flappers wore their hair bobbed and lavishly lipsticked their mouths; they danced the Charleston in the shortest of skicts and in backless bathing

costumes swam unsegregated from th«r boyfriends. Men had turned away from silk hats and high-crowned bowlers to free-and-easy soft caps and trilbies; Oxford bags and loud plus-fours flapped round male legs.

Not that the King altered his style, however. It was in his nature to regard sarrorial changes as the eccentricities of a raving world, and he himself kept to the fashions of his youth: bard hats, stiff collars, waistcoats, watch-chains, narrow trousers creased at the sides, spats and cloth-topped boots. It was reputed that he used the same collar stud for fifty years. He had a cautious suspicion even of some of his era's technical advances, including miracles of communication which had entered the nation's life. Though he was glad enough to use it to keep in touch with that loved sister Victoria on any day when he had not seen her, he was inclined to regard the telephone as a diabolical invention for lazy people. Queen Mary never used the instrument at all.

It was well that the King's ways did not alter. His moral strength, and in the end his repute and his value to his country, lay in the quality of unvarying dependability, the rocklike common sense and enduring fairness which he exemplified. And his probity prevented his prejudices from hurting anyone but himself. He left behind his sterling character as well as his stamp collection. In his old-fashioned decencies resided a national asset and anchor.

The anchor chain was slipping, clearly and quickly, as the New Year began, and from Sandringham a stand-by warning went out to the family. The Sovereign's life was moving peacefully towards its close. So they gathered to Queen Mary's side: the Prince of Wales, now forty-one years old; the Duke of York (forty) and his Elizabeth (the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were at that time nine and five); Princess Mary, who was rhirty-eight (her firstborn son, the present Earl of Harewood, was almost thirteen); the Duke of Gloucester, aged thirty'five; and the Duke of Kent (thirty-three),

Aglimpse of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, the official residence of the Sovereign in Scotland.

 


Text Box: George V died at Sandringhaw on 20 January 1936. Here his coffin is borne to the train for London, followed by his sons. His body had lain in state in the chancel of the tittle church at Sandringkam where it had been guarded by estate workerswhose first child, the present Duke, was barely three months old.

On 20 January 1936, members of the Privy Council assembled .n the King's bedroom where His Majesty lay gravely ill. The Lord President read aloud a proclamation setting up an emergency Council of State. At the end, the King said ‘I approve', but even with help his hand was unable to manage a signature at the foot of :he document. Finally, with a faint smile of apology to those around :he bed, he made the mark of his initials. But no further word came. The voice which less than a month before had been heard sounding a brave note of hope around the nations was silent now. It was his it broadcast; and now he was in his last hours. Just before midnight on that cold Norfolk night the King died in the presence of Queen Mary and the children. He was seventy years old.

When the news of his passing was announced, a sense of loss and

uncertainty was widespread throughout the country, for Britain's respected Head of State had become not only a symbol of all that was dutiful and decent but an earnest of continuity in a decaying world. The now widowed Queen Mary, sixty-eight years old, wrote in her own diary: 'The sunset of his death tinged the whole world's sky.' It was a time of darkening. King George V's own twilight months had been saddened by the shadows which the bellicose Dictators were already casting across the Rhineland and far Abyssinia.

Moreover, within the family it was also .known that in His Majesty's mind there was a small though worrying cloud of a more intimate kind, centred on his popular eldest son and heir, David the Prince of Wales - Prince Charming in the eyes of the public and an admired figure to his relatives, but in fact a charmer who was proving unsure and erratic, a man whose nature, so unlike his father's, betrayed a leashed restlessness and rebellion against the regimen of his parents. David was loved but David was alarming. His personal style, his friends and interests, were already disturbing. His father and mother had for some time known about his 'latest friendship' with an American married woman. The King had always done his best to bring up this vigorous son to be ready to give his whole mind to the responsibilities of sovereignty which were his destiny.

But how would that Prince shape now that the supreme torch of service was coming to his hand? What sort of monarch was about to leap on to the stage!

It was a question hardly yet breathed as the nation mourned the loss of the first of the Royal Windsors.








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