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Monday 3 August 2009

Not a Romantic Story

Some years ago, a programme described the plight of orphans in an Eastern European country, who had been raised from their earliest years in a Spartan setting in which they were given everything necessary to keep them alive - food and drink - but totally deprived of any physical contact or warmth. Depriving them of hugs and touch was as damaging as depriving them of food.

Tonight, watching the repeat of the "Revelations" programme about Edward VIII, I had exactly the same impression. Here, it appeared, was a man who functioned without any warmth of personality or humanity - even his relationship with Wallis Simpson was an attempt to gratify his own needs rather than a great romance - a man who seemed to have no sense whatsoever of the effects of his behaviour on other people, or, if he did have any awareness of it, didn't care. It's small wonder when he had father who terrified him and a mother who didn't really like children. I doubt there was any warmth at all in his childhood and he behaved like an infant for most of his life. It's a tragic tale, really, and one that speaks volumes about the influences of parents and how the world is perceived as a child. Interestingly, none of the children of George V grew up without some kind of personality issue; they all seemed to want to punish themselves in one way or another - which isn't surprising when one considers their punishing childhood regimen. Bertie - King George VI - came out best, despite his stammer (surely the result of his childhood fears, too - and not being allowed to write with his natural left hand) and it is a source of continual bafflement to me why George V was so tyrannical and humourless and such a bully to his children when he came from a loving (if overbearing!) mother, and a father who loved all the pleasures of life...

Much is written about the 'stupidity' of George V's elder brother, Albert Victor, who died so young, but he was not half as stupid as he is generally portrayed. He was a warm man, and one who understood many important political questions of the day (Ireland, for example) and would probably have made a far better king than George V. I dare say, too, that Albert Victor would have not been a bully and would have dared to rescue the Tsar and his family...George V, to my mind, was a very nasty man and it is evidenced in the effects on his children.

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