The royal biography serves many purposes, and the Americans do not seem to be less interested in the lives of British kings and queens than the British – perhaps, by contrast, a little more. As we are advised when a member of the royal family appears among us and all hell breaks down: we have waged a revolutionary struggle to free ourselves from the monarchy; What is the appeal, what is the meaning — and why everyone is screaming for a glimpse of the Prince [fill in the blank] Or Elizabeth II?
Jane Ridley’s new biography of the current Queen’s grandfather George V – apparently subtitled “Never a Dal Moment” – offers some useful and instructive answers. He explains in his opening remarks that George’s reign (1910-36) “spanned more than twenty-five times in the most turbulent and eventful years faced by any British sovereign in the twentieth century … [managing] To drive the monarchy through the constitutional crisis, World War I, the Russian Revolution, the collapse of dynastic Europe, the Irish Home Rule, strikes, Bolshevism, the rise of the Labor Party and the dangers of the Great Depression.
That is to say, King George ascended the throne in the dawn of our modern geopolitical world and faced events and ideologies and mass movements – not to mention the media – with which we are still at odds.
Of course, the powers of Britain’s first modern monarch were constitutionally limited; And the bearded, bearded, abusive, stamp-collecting king himself was a determined man. Yet one of the strengths of George V is the writer’s skill and art, which surprisingly reveals that George really exerted political influence – subtly and wisely, for the most part, and sometimes restrained his natural emotions – and invented conventions for modern British monarchs. , Which ensures its survival. It is no less impressive in the case of a king who ascended the throne in middle age, largely untrained and, of course, uneducated for the unexpected role that history imposed on him.
Born in 1865, Prince George Frederick Ernest Albert, grandson of the recently widowed Queen Victoria, was the youngest son of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and, thus, was not expected to succeed to the throne. Accordingly, at the age of 12, he was sent with his older brother, Albert Victor, to HMS Britannia, a naval training ship in Dartmouth, where their different personalities manifested themselves. Prince Albert Victor, second in inheritance, did not improve in Dartmouth; But Prince George did, and responsibly received Spartan training for an officer in the Royal Navy. In later years he worked in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, Australia, East Asia and South America. He got a dragon tattoo on his arm in Tokyo, saw most of the British Empire, pointed ships.
Indeed, his exposure to the wider world was extensive and could shape a certain cosmic nature if not intelligence. But Yuvraj, a disciplined and efficient officer, always maintained the habit of behavior and mind – with some prejudices, at least not against the intellect – reflecting (in the author’s view) “the Tory cultural and educational attitude descended from the aristocracy to the military. It is not hard to imagine that George would satisfactorily pursue a naval career, rise to an irresistibly high position, and, following in the footsteps of other subordinates, serve primarily in official positions with distinction.
However, that all changed in 1892 when Albert Victor, recently Anglo-German Princess Victoria Mary, died of an influenza pandemic. Now second in line to the throne, 26-year-old George reluctantly left the Navy and sadly reunited with his brother’s fianc, fell in love with her, married the princess, and settled in Snag York Cottage. The Royal Sandringham Estate in rural Norfolk. For the next 17 years, in the words of one of his earlier biographers, the prince “did nothing but kill animals and get stamped.”
That, of course, is a slight exaggeration. George was an exceptional shot and, for most of his life, organized his off-duty existence in large quantities (and, for modern sensibilities, shocking) to bag grouse, pheasants and other unfortunate creatures. But he and his wife – who later removed Victoria from her title and later became the approximate Queen Mary of royal folklore – also quickly inherited six children, five sons and a daughter, depicting domestic happiness and family happiness. Simple devotion in the shadow of greatness that, unlike some ancestors and successors, had much to do with the couple’s (and monarchy’s) lasting popularity.
Prince George was not a philosopher, largely devoid of aesthetic interests, and he was not uncommonly ready for the multiple challenges of a constitutional monarchy when he succeeded his worldly wise, pleasure-seeking, crowd-pleasing father, Edward VII, in 1910. In the fourth century of George’s reign, the notoriously dull, infamous dyspeptic and strictly disciplined ex-naval officer’s temperament was challenged by a long, seemingly endless, internal crisis and a series of foreign catastrophes, all of which were unconfirmed. .
Yet, in reality, King George became a fair-minded, even prudent, emperor whose duties and loyalty to the common ground and the pursuit of harmony were both responsive to his benevolent duties and aware of the dangers and privileges of his dynasty. .
As king, during the budget stagnation of 1910-11, she was immediately confronted with the current Liberal government’s determination to reduce the ancient power of the Tory-led House of Lords and acted as a midwife to reach a compromise. In 1914, as Ireland stood on the brink of home rule, he sought to avoid a civil war between Irish nationalists and Ulster loyalists. In the Great War, establishing a regal pattern repeated in World War II, he tirelessly traveled the battlefield, meeting and encouraging frontline soldiers, and exercising his limited constitutional powers by persuading civilian and military matters.
After all, with the radical expansion of the vote in Britain and the subsequent electoral transformation, King played his part in ensuring that the change was peaceful, when Labor replaced the Liberals as Britain’s main leftist party, denying Labor’s just demands in office. Her famous diary entry when Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald formed Britain’s first Labor government: “23 years ago today, dear grandmother. [Queen Victoria] Died, I wonder what he thought of the Labor government. ”- Reflecting a mixture of his personal concerns and public generosity. During the general strike of 1926, when the organizers were widely identified as revolutionaries, George V advised, “Try to survive on their wages before they are tried.”
King George V is well served by his biographers, but the famous works of diarist-diplomat Harold Nicholson (1952) and diarist-journalist Kenneth Rose (1983) did not completely detract from the king’s lasting dignity as flexible, inflexible and courteous. – Immersed. Jane Ridley disagreed and made an amusingly persuasive case not only for the democratic benefit of the constitutional monarchy but also for George’s humor, humanity, fair trial and “standing as one of the most thoughtful and successful kings in British history.”
George V: Never a moment
By Jane Ridley
HarperCollins, 560 pp., $ 35
Philip Terzian, contributing author to The Washington Examiner, Architects of Power: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and author of the American Century.
The King with the Dragon Tattoo Post first appeared on the Washington Free Beacon.