Sunday, February 06, 2005

The King

Queen Elizabeth II became Queen of England on this day 53 years ago.

The Queen was born in London on April, 21 1926 as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. She became Queen when her father died from cancer at the age of 56.

George VI, who was then known as Albert, became King following the unusual abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, in 1936.

His brother, Prince Edward, who had already had a number of affairs, met and fell in love with a married American actress, Mrs Wallis Simpson. Eventually Edward realised he had to choose between the Crown and Mrs Simpson who, as a twice-divorced woman, would not have been acceptable as Queen. After just 11 months as King, Edward VIII executed an Instrument of Abdication. Edward was then created Duke of Windsor and he married Wallis Simpson.

His younger brother Albert stuttered and perhaps was a little slow. George was a sickly child and was often ill. In 1909 he was sent to Osborne as a naval cadet but passed at the bottom of his class. After attending Dartmouth he joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman, but suffering bouts of acute gastritis, did not see action in theFirst World War until serving on HMS Collingwood at the Battle of Jutland.

The War created problems for the royal family because of its German background. Owing to strong anti-German feeling in Britain, it was decided to change the name of the royal family from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.

Here is one of his letters to Chamberlain:

16th September, 1938

I am sending this letter to meet you on your return, as I had no opportunity of telling you before you left how much I admired your courage and wisdom in going to see Hitler in person. You must have been pleased by the universal approval with which your action was received. I am naturally very anxious to hear the result of your talk, and to be assured that there is a prospect of a peaceful solution on terms which admit of general acceptance. I realize how fatigued you must be after these two very strenuous days, but if it is possible for you to come and see me either this evening or tomorrow morning, at any time convenient to yourself, I need hardly say that I shall greatly welcome the opportunity of hearing your news.

And here is his letter to Queen Mary

27th September, 1938

The latest news is this: the Prime Minister has just sent a telegram to Hitler and Benes suggesting that they should get into touch with each other and to propose that Hitler should occupy Asch and Egerland on October 1st. That an International Commission should than arrange for the rest to be handed over peacefully by October 10th. Benes has been told, as he well knows, that this country will be overwhelmed anyhow, and that it would be wise for him to take this course. If Hitler refuses to do this then we shall know once and for all that he is a madman. It is all so worrying this awful waiting for the worst to happen.

And then another to Chamberlain

18th March, 1939

I feel I must send you one line to say how well I can appreciate your feelings about the recent behaviour of the German Government. Although this blow to your courageous efforts on behalf of peace and understanding in Europe must, I am afraid, cause you deep distress, I am sure that your labours have been anything but wasted, for they can have left no doubt in the minds of ordinary people all over the world of our love of peace and our readiness to discuss with any nation whatever grievances they think they have.

And then there is this radio address

24th May, 1940

The decisive struggle is now upon us. I am going to speak plainly to you in this hour of trial I know you would not have me do otherwise. Let no one be mistaken. It is no mere territorial conquest that our enemies are seeing. It is the overthrow, complete and final of this Empire and of everything for which is stands: and after that the conquest of the world. And if their will prevails they will bring to its accomplishment all the hatred and cruelty which they have already displayed. It was not easy for us to believe that designs no evil could find a place in the human mind. But the time for doubt is long past. To all of us in this Empire, to all men of wisdom and goodwill throughout the world, the issue is now plain.

It is life or death for all.

Albert saw it all.

He saw his older brother give it all away for love.

Or so that is the way the story goes.

He watched as Hilter double crossed his prime minister.

He was King during the horrible air raids on London.

and he watched as the British Empire

became the American Empire.

And his little girl has been Queen

to this day.

Its hard to imagine that there are still

Kings or Queens,

but there are.

And they are there.

And we are here.

It all seems a little out of date.

And it is.



4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is this post about?

2:38 PM  
Blogger OZ said...

It is about a King named George who was not that smart.
However, this King had a good heart I think. It is about empire, and it is about monarchy, and it is about the human drama.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the letters, especially when the King is asking his PM to come by tonight, or perhaps tomorrow if he can...Its a real window into gentility.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

king george is out of his mind.

10:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home