Monday, 28 July 2014

Royalty Too ...

Then as now, the British royal family had to show that it was getting stuck in just as much as any other family, perhaps more so, because of its German connections. 

The rather slight, if not gaunt, figure in the center of this 1914 photograph is the 21 year-old Prince of Wales. He was the eldest son of the then monarch, King George V, and he later became King Edward VIII - and even later the Duke of Windsor, and Governor of the Bahamas, but the less said about that the better...

Known to his friends as "David", the future Edward VIII had a huge number of given names, as presumably befits the heir to the throne. In 1914, he joined the Grenadier Guards, one of Britain's elite regiments. By all accounts he was anxious to go to the Front, but Lord Kitchener would not let him.

He wrote to a friend, "... mine is a most rotten position ... I'm not allowed to fight. Of course I haven’t got a proper job which is very painful to me and I feel I am left too much in a glass case. I long to be taking my chance in the trenches with my brother officers and in fact all able-bodied Englishmen. But both seem to be impossible, so I have to carry on here at HQ ... It's a dull, monotonous life. This is a most rotten war unless you are actually fighting. It's a rotten war altogether and the sooner it ends the better for everyone concerned."

Nevertheless, he did manage to get into the trenches from time to time, and his father awarded him the Military Cross in June, 1916, a medal given for acts of “exemplary gallantry."

David thought his MC was undeserved, and so do I, but there was a war on, and figureheads have to do their figure heading, even when it be noxious to them. The man eventually took control of his life and told his handlers where to get off -- and you can't help admiring him for that.

My latest novel, The Deadly Playground, 1914, is out now.  Why not click on this link and get yourself a copy?

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