Author Topic: King George V  (Read 42132 times)

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Offline Prince_Lieven

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King George V
« on: June 15, 2007, 01:43:00 PM »
Hey everyone, I was just wondering if anyone new anything more about this - I've often read that George V was highly critical of his government's brutal policies in Ireland in the early 1920s, and that he disapproved of the antics of the para-military 'Black and Tans' but does anyone know anything more specific about his views? I've never read a biography of George, is anything about this mentioned in it? Thanks!  :)
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: King George V
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2007, 03:31:20 PM »
I've read some of it but will have to go back and look. For all his reputation as a traditionalist and conservative, he was very forward-looking (much like his father) when it came to the treatment of Indians, Jews, the Irish and others traditionally oppressed or discriminated against. He also took a strong view about the conditions of the poor in the country. I think it was these traits that allowed him to have a remarkably easy relationship with both the Labour and Socialist governments--something that on the face of it, you'd think would've been very difficult for him.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 04:54:56 PM by grandduchessella »
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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: King George V
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2007, 03:58:38 PM »
Yes, I must admit that I was (pleasantly) surprised when I read about it. I always put him down as a typical unionist, which I guess he was, but his concern for the welfare of the Irish did him great credit, especially considering that Irish welfare was a very long way down the list of Lloyd George and Churchill's priorities.
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Offline Duke of New Jersey

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Re: King George V
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2007, 04:38:11 PM »
I think he said something like "Only of we had passed Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule bills back then." 

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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: King George V
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2007, 04:55:20 PM »
From Kenneth Rose's bio: 'The King...agonized over the bloodshed...' Lord Stamfordham wrote that 'The King feels that the probably results arising from McSweeney's death [from an ultimately fatal hunger strike, McSweeney was Lord Mayor of Cork] will be far more serious and far-reaching than if he were taken out of prison and moved into a private house where his wife could be with him, but kept under strict surveillance so that he could not escape and return to Ireland." This was during the wave of violence during 1918-19. GV was abused by Lloyd George for 'timidity' but reproached to his face by Ponsonby for supporting Lloyd George. When he was invited to open teh new Parliament in June 1921, he was warned not to go but 'those fears he dismissed; he would turn a ceremonial duty into a mission for peace.' The Unionists were angered as they didn't support the Parliament in the first place, let alone the King putting an official stamp of approval on it. It has been suggested that he was trying to challenge his ministers into action but his speech was, as usual, composed by his Cabinet. 'His only departure from custom lay in persuading the Government to cast his speech in the form of a personal appeal for reconciliation in Ireland. General Smuts...may be credited with implanting that visionary plan in the King's mind and producing an early draft of the speech.' the actual text was the work of Sir Edward Grigg, on of the PM's private secretaries.

Part of his speech: 'I am emboldened by the thought to look beyond the sorow and anxiety which have clouded of late my vision of Irish affairs. I speak from a full heart when I pray that my coming to Ireland today may prove to be the first step towards the end of strife amongst her people, whatever their race or creed. In that hope I appeal to all Irishmen to pause, to stretch out the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and forget, and to join in making for the land they love a new era of peace, contentment and goodwill...'.

His speech gained some appreciation for him from Lloyd George and the King himself was heartened by its reception. GV sent Lord Stamfordham to the PM a few days later to urge him to take immediate advantage of the improved atmosphere in Ireland as the King felt it would be fleeting, especially when 'dealing with a quick-witted, volatile and sentimental' opulace. Lloyd George concurred and assured him they were to invite de Valera and Sir James Craig, PM of Northern Ireland, to meet in London. Stamfordham also conveyed how the King deplored the 'minatory tone' of Birkenhead's speech to the House of Lords on the eve of the King's speech as well as Churchill's 'unhelpful statement in the Commons promising military reinforcements' to the Ulster side. De Valera did accept the invitation and this led to a formal truce between the British forces & the IRA. Throughout the negotiations, the King was kept fully informed and offered 'whoelhearted encouragement'.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 05:12:02 PM by grandduchessella »
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: King George V
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2007, 05:03:51 PM »
A report came out at the same time of an interview with Lord Northcliffe, proprietor of The Times and the Daily Mail which caused a great deal of strife. It stated that basically GV told Lloyd George to 'come to some agreement' with the people in Ireland since he 'cannot have my people killed in this manner'. This supposedly led to the retaliatory comments in the Lords & Commons on the eve of his Ireland speech. The report was quickly denied and buried. Kenneth Rose, however, thinks the comment had the ring of truth and 'conforms to similar reproaches which we now know he addressed to his ministers.' In the negotiations with de Valera, the King 'played more than a passive role. Often hot-tempered over small interruptions to his daily routine, he could demonstrate an enviable restraint in affairs of State.' GV encouraged Lloyd George to 'remove all threats and contentious phrases' from his draft reply to de Valera and the amended letter 'proved acceptable' to the latter. GV also warned LG about becming enmeshed in haggles over terminology at the expense of getting something done. With the truce concluded, GV was able to write in his diary his hope that 'after seven centuries there may be peace in Ireland' though his hope proved illusory. '[T]hroughout the remaining years of his reign he was an anguished yet impotent witness to broken promises and crude stategems, to civil war and sectarian violence and bloodshed. 'What fools we were not to have accepted Gladstone's Home Rule Bill,' he told Ramsey MacDonald in 1930."

Given the fact that de Valera had scant respect for GV's authority or rank, Time magazine even calling him GV's 'enemy' and deV having once been sentenced to death (reduced to penal servitude and then freed in the amnesty of the following year) for commanding insurgents against the King, I think it says something about how GV was able to view him and deal with him despite this. Like his relationships with Lloyd George and Ramsey MacDonald (who he actually grew pretty close to), GV didn't let personal issues like that get in the way of what he deemed best for his Empire.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 05:10:00 PM by grandduchessella »
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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: King George V
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2007, 05:29:19 PM »
Yes, I must admit that I was (pleasantly) surprised when I read about it. I always put him down as a typical unionist, which I guess he was, but his concern for the welfare of the Irish did him great credit, especially considering that Irish welfare was a very long way down the list of Lloyd George and Churchill's priorities.

I don't think there's any doubt that GV wanted to keep Ireland in his Empire, much as he did India despite the rising calls for independence there. I also don't think there's any doubt about his true concern and care for the people of those countries. To him, the 2 views weren't incompatible. He certainly didn't view the native people of his various dominions (Irish, Indian, African, etc...) as any less than he did the British. I don't think he quite understood the desire on the part of some, in time the majority, to break away and have an independent nation. I think he desired more that their lot be improved and that the disenfranchised be brought into the political system and treated with all due consideration and equality while keeping them as part of the British Empire.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 05:30:50 PM by grandduchessella »
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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: King George V
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2007, 06:29:38 PM »
Thanks for the contributions Duke of NJ and GDE, especially Grandduchessella for typing all that! Very interesting! :)


Given the fact that de Valera had scant respect for GV's authority or rank, Time magazine even calling him GV's 'enemy' and deV having once been sentenced to death (reduced to penal servitude and then freed in the amnesty of the following year) for commanding insurgents against the King, I think it says something about how GV was able to view him and deal with him despite this. Like his relationships with Lloyd George and Ramsey MacDonald (who he actually grew pretty close to), GV didn't let personal issues like that get in the way of what he deemed best for his Empire.

There's an extract of a letter in my old school history book that an Irish representative in England wrote home, describing a meeting with the King in the early 1930s, before de Valera came to power. He seemed to have the utmost respect for and confidence in de Valera's predeccessor, WT Cosgrave, whereas he regarded de Valera as 'scarecely Irish at all'.  ;D

Quote
He certainly didn't view the native people of his various dominions (Irish, Indian, African, etc...) as any less than he did the British.

I think this is very much to his credit, since it certainly wasn't a view popular among people of his class and generation in Britain. He's right that they should've implemented Home Rule though (they did pass the third home rule bill, in 1914, but it's implementation was delayed because of World War I). When Gladstone introduced the first home rule bill in 1886, he urged the MPs to give Ireland home rule with honour, rather than be forced to do so in humiliation at a later date.
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"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

Offline Duke of New Jersey

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Re: King George V
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2007, 07:10:05 PM »
Quote
Thanks for the contributions Duke of NJ and GDE, especially Grandduchessella for typing all that! Very interesting!

You are too kind, I did not contribute anything.  GDE deserves all the credit.  :)

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Offline Duke of New Jersey

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Re: King George V
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2007, 07:17:43 PM »
This is for all the people (like me) who don't really know much about the Irish War of Independence:

ANGLO-IRISH WAR
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Irish nationalists vs. Great Britain

PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Ireland

DECLARATION: No formal declaration

MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Irish independence from Great Britain

OUTCOME: The Irish Free State was established incorporating all but six Irish counties in the Protestant north, laying the ground for continued civil unrest.

APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS: Britain, 100,000; Ireland, 3,000

CASUALTIES: Britain, 1,585; Irish Republican Army, 500; Easter Uprising, Britain, 529 killed and wounded; Ireland, 62 killed (Irish wounded unknown)

TREATIES: Anglo-Irish Treaty, December 6, 1921

The history of English involvement in Ireland dates back to 1171 when Henry II (1133–89) invaded the island and proclaimed himself overlord of the region. Yet organized resistance did not arise until the Protestant movement of the 1690s. By 1798 an Irish Protestant revolt led to the formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on January 1, 1801. During the mid-19th century the Irish encountered a devastating famine, resulting in more than 1 million deaths and an equally large number of emigrants, most of whom fled to America. The crisis fueled anti-British sentiment in Ireland and increased the internal hostilities between the Protestants and the Catholics. An independence movement known as Fenianism emerged from the Irish plight, which threatened English hegemony through terrorist actions and subsequently forced Parliament to consider Irish autonomy.

Charles Stewart Parnell (1846–91) led the fight in Parliament for the compromise policy known as Home Rule (which promised Irish autonomy in internal affairs only) in the late 1800s. Parliament finally passed a Home Rule bill in 1912. However, radical opposition and the outbreak of World War I postponed implementation. In response to what the Irish felt was deliberate hedging on the Home Rule policy by the British Parliament, a group known as the Irish Republican Brotherhood (which in time would become the Irish Republican Army [IRA]), led by Sir Roger Casement (1864–1916), James Connolly (1870–1916), Patrick Pearse (1870–1916), and others, organized a rebellion to begin on Easter, April 24, 1916. On returning from a weapons procurement trip to Germany, Casement was captured and imprisoned, which scuttled plans for a national revolt. However, nearly 2,000 die-hards under Connolly and Pearse went ahead with the Dublin uprising scheduled for Easter Sunday. Within a week 20,000 British troops were in Ireland, and the rebellion had been crushed.


Offline Duke of New Jersey

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Re: King George V
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2007, 07:18:08 PM »
In the wake of the Easter Uprising, fifteen Irish Republican leaders were summarily executed, 2,000 rebels were just as summarily imprisoned, and the British began a campaign of persecution against the relatively tiny Sinn Féin, an Irish political society seeking independence from Britain, which the English assumed—incorrectly—had been the organization that planned the rebellion. Thousands of patriots rushed to the ranks of Sinn Féin, making it the most powerful nationalist organization in Ireland. Following the executions of Pearse on May 3 and Connolly on May 12, a surviving Irish Republican Brotherhood leader, Eamon de Valera (1882–1975), came to prominence and demanded a republican government.

The British made an attempt in 1917 to generate a consensus in Ireland by setting up the Irish National Convention, but then—with typical imperial heavyhandedness—destroyed whatever gains they had made by announcing a plan, never to be fulfilled, to draft Irishmen for the war in Europe. The Irish responded at the ballot box and in the streets.

Sinn Féin won 73 of the seats in the British Parliament assigned to Ireland, then, to a man, the elected refused to go to London. Instead, they set up an independent provisional government with its own assembly, the Dáil Éireann, elected by Irish members of the British Parliament. They also established an Irish court system and organized the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to resist British administration and secure official recognition for the republic. The British promptly arrested 36 of the Irish parliamentary delegates, but the remaining 37 ratified the Irish Republic proclaimed during the Easter Uprising.

Led by Michael Collins (1890–1922), the IRA was soon engaged in widespread ambushes and attacks on local barracks. The British retaliated with ruthless reprisals. Most of the Irish police force resigned. The British replaced it with a group of English recruits, known from the color of their temporary uniforms as the "Black and Tans." Violence seemed hardly avoidable. The IRA and the Irish Volunteers launched into two and a half years of guerrilla warfare, which the Irish called "the Troubles," a counterterrorist insurgency against the Royal Irish Constabulary of the Black and Tans.

As Ireland descended into something very much resembling civil war, the British bit by bit alienated Irish public opinion. They were soon forced—partly by Irish-American pressure, partly by Ireland's public support for the IRA, partly by such isolated heroic acts as the 1920 hunger strike of the Lord Mayor of Cork—to pass the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. With this act Britain continued its bungling by partitioning the island into two administrative regions, each with limited autonomy, which pleased none of various factions and laid the groundwork for future sectarian violence.

Offline Tdora1

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Re: King George V
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2007, 07:18:19 PM »
Oh my - one of my favourite GV topics - and I've quite a pile of contradictory waffle, nearly all of it contemporaneous, on Home Rule and Himself.
I know it caused him intense anxiety and irritation, and enormous worry too. I'll look up the good bits and bash them out asap. I've always been especially interested in this issue as it came to dominate such a goodly chunk part of GV's reign and had a habit of rising up to infuriate the poor King whenever his temper was being stoked elsewhere at the same time - or else when things were otherwise being comparatively not King-combustable!

Can be certain it was a nightmare for May when the dispatches came in... :-X
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Offline Duke of New Jersey

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Re: King George V
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2007, 07:19:26 PM »
Outraged by the way the north had been divided to create a Protestant majority, the IRA stepped up its guerrilla war against the British. Britain retaliated by imposing martial law and setting loose the Black and Tans. The violence peaked on Bloody Sunday, November 21, 1920. In the morning the IRA assassinated in Dublin 11 men it suspected of being British intelligence agents. The Black and Tans struck back that afternoon, opening fire on a crowd watching a football match in a Dublin park. When the smoke cleared, 12 lay dead, 60 others wounded. Across Ireland hostility toward the British boiled over, and, as the terror continued, liberal British prime minister David Lloyd George (1863–1945) decided it was time to revisit the "Irish Question." A truce was declared in July 1921 that led to an Anglo-Irish Treaty on December 6, 1921, granting the 26 counties of southern Ireland dominion within the commonwealth. However, the partition between these and the six Protestant counties in the north remained, pleasing neither Protestant Ulster nor Catholic Dublin. Nevertheless, Dublin accepted the partition and became capital of the Irish Free State.

The 1921 proposal that established the Free State ended the Anglo-Irish guerrilla war for the time being, but it wreaked havoc on Ireland's sense of identity. Free Staters accepted dominion as a step toward true independence; radical republicans considered it an insult. Then IRA mastermind Michael Collins signed Lloyd George's treaty and helped set up the new provisional government. Collins, a larger than life figure who would inspire the likes of Mao Zedong (Tse-tung) and Yitzhak Shamir (b. 1915), had just signed his own death warrant. Immediately after the treaty was put into effect, IRA diehards, vowing never to accept a separate Northern Ireland, ambushed and killed their former leader in his native County Cork on August 22, 1922. The IRA, born from the ashes of the Easter Uprising, would fight on—so said its members—until the whole island was both free and united.


Phillips, Charles, and Alan Axelrod. "Anglo-Irish Civil War." Encyclopedia of Wars, vol. 1. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2005. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE53&iPin=EWAR0071&SingleRecord=True (accessed June 15, 2007).


-Duke of NJ

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: King George V
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2007, 10:15:59 PM »
George V's Views On Ireland In A Letter To Asquith
11 August 1913

"Although I have not spoken to you before on the subject I have been for some time very anxious about the Irish Home Rule Bill, and especially with regard to Ulster. The speeches of not only of people like Sir Edward Carson, but of the Unionist leaders, and of the ex-Cabinet Ministers; the stated intention of setting up a provisional Government in Ulster directly The Home Rule Bill is passed; the reports of Military preparations, Army drilling etc.; of assistance from England, Scotland and the Colonies; of the intended resignation of their Commissions of Army officers; all point towards rebellion, if not Civil War, and, if so, to certain bloodshed. Meanwhile there are rumours of probable agitation in the country; of monster petitions; Addresses from the House of Lords; from Privy Councillors; urging me to use my influence to avert the catastrophe which threatens Ireland. Such vigorous action taken, or likely to be taken, will place me in a very embarrassing position in the centre of the conflicting parties backed by their respective Press. Whatever I do I shall offend half of the population....No Sovereign has ever been in such a position, and this pressure is sure to increase during the next few months. In this period I have the right to expect the greatest confidence and support from my Ministers, and above all, from my Prime Minister. I cannot help feeling that the Government is drifting and taking me with it. Before the gravity of the situation increases I should like to know how you view the present state of affairs, and what you imagine will be the outcome of it . . ."

In January 1913, Ulster Protestants founded the Ulster Volunteer Force to be ready for civil war in case of Home Rule. Many British officers supported the UVF, which apparently worried King George V enough that he wanted Ulster to be excluded from the Home Rule Bill. In April 1914, for example, the UVF received a shipment of illegal arms, but the police did not do anything about it. 
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 10:32:59 PM by grandduchessella »
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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: King George V
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2007, 07:37:00 AM »
Thanks for the info everyone. I know GV called an all-party conference in 1914 in an attempt to sort things out, but I don't know much about it - I don't even know which Irish politicians attended.  :-[ Does anyone have any details?
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
-Sherlock Holmes

"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."