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George V’s greatest gift to his ministers: silence

The Spectator, in 1916, on an exemplary constitutional monarch

22 October 2016

9:00 AM

22 October 2016

9:00 AM

From ‘A Royal contribution’, The Spectator, 7 October 1916:

His Majesty has passed through troublous times, in the constitutional controversy, in the Irish imbroglio, and in the war, when passion rose to its highest point. The temptation to go behind his Ministers, and to snatch popular favour at their expense, must have been tremendous sometimes. ‘Remember, I am not responsible for this!’ represents the attitude of many sovereigns who have called themselves constitutional. The King never by a hint, a suggestion, a word, or a gesture has taken the stage against his advisers. For one thing, he was far too much of a gentleman to do so; and for another, he had the good sense to perceive that, whatever his own opinions might be, interference with ministers would be the beginning of the end of constitutionalism. The King’s record is unblemished by cynicism or selfishness… The only disadvantage of the King’s method is that in these days of publicity it strikes the eye far less than things which are of much less importance.

 


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