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With the Christening of Prince George this week the usual ‘get rid of monarchy – they serve no purpose’ calls appeared (I’m not going to debate whether these are right or not or, indeed, consider the question the right to free speech) but the UKTV programme presented by Alan Ereira (available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2mDgYQS7ZA) suggests that one of the reasons why the British monarchy continues long after others have disappeared is because it is so different ie not absolute, and that the real power lies with politicians but that hasn’t meant that the Georgian monarchs didn’t try to re-assert themselves.

At only 45 minutes long this is hardly an in-depth study of the period but nevertheless it is a good introduction. The programme mentions a number of interesting facts such as that God Save the King was actually written for Louis XIV (in praise of his recovery from an operation on his bottom) and that his mistress transcribed it to give to the Old Pretender, James Stuart, when he first took up arms against the English monarchy;  that the future George II thought of himself as having English-blood despite being born and raised in Germany and bearing the title of Duke of Rothsay (a Scottish title) and that his eldest son, Frederick, died after being hit in the stomach by a tennis ball.

Image                                   George II at the Battle of Dettingen (the last time a British monarch led the troops into battle)

Perhaps of greatest interest are the assertions in relation to George III in particular that he tried to turn the clock back to regain authority often with disastrous results.  The example of the loss of America is cited with the comment that perhaps if George hadn’t interfered New Yorkers would still have British passports whilst those living in Los Angeles would be Spanish… an interesting concept!).  It is suggested that his bouts of ‘madness’ coincided with his dictatorial behaviour, almost in a chicken and egg manner.Image                                                                 Proclamation after the Anti-Catholic, Gordon Riots

On the whole well worth watching … particularly, on a dark, wet October afternoon!