Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"A Spirit Undaunted" by Robert Rhodes James

When you kept yourself interested in stamps, you finish by looking intels on their topic.

The Dulac's "young Greek hero" effigy led my mind to wonder if King George VI lived such a reign to earn afterward this artistic comparison.

Last book written by British politic historian, Sir Robert Rhodes James (1933-1999), A Spirit Undaunted: the Political Role of George VI told the political career of the younger prince became King in December 1936 because of the love caprice of his brother Edward VIII.

Cover of the circa 350 page book (

Some introductive chapters replaced the King in the context of what is the monarch's place in the British political régime in the 20th century. What does the Constitution authorize? is a repetitive question each time a governmental difficulty rose. And a difficult one in a State where the fundamental law is mainly unwritten, full of custom, precedent and jurisprudence. Rhodes James quickly told the personal place each King and Queen took from the Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689 to the Queen Victoria's youth - a position more or less a consequence of the political context and the monarch's character.

More details are given for the governmental succession problems and the main law votes lived by Prince Consort Albert and his descendants, Edward VII and George V.

The book come back to its title when Edward VIII became King and with the comparison of the two brothers, Prince David and Prince Albert - both changed names when they became King. The philatelist I am discover that the first was deprived of battles during the Great War and didn't understand how his father expressed his love, while the younger served on ship in the Navy and received, mostly by accidents, the scholar knowledges and living experiment necessary to became King. For exemple, a long and fastidious work on his eloquence and an official trip to Australia in 1931.

After the minutes of the December 1937 crisis, George VI is depicted in front of his Prime Ministrers who must to advice him... when they were willing to keep him informed... The friendship between the King and royalist Winston Churchill are the subjects of the most moving pages about the Second World War. George VI lived it like most of the Londoners: in a confortless home, in shelter when needed and supporting soldiers when visiting Malta in 1943.

And when the death happened in 1952 - unpreviewed since Princess Elizabeth was on a trip to Australia when recall back when in Kenya, the monarchy is strong and popular, ready to get in its new - shall I said - "body",[1] Queen Elizabeth II, whose effigy by Arnold Machin is since 1957 the equivalent of Edmund Dulac's portrait of 1937. The portrait of the incarnated monarchy, no more of the mortal man.

Notes :
1 : By the title of Ernst Kantorowicz's masterpiece, The King's Two Bodies.

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