Right Royal Tyrant

Doco last night (Mon.) on George V and Queen Mary (BBC 2) narrated with his usual polished disengagement by Sam West (and to think I once stepped out with his nanny…). It told the story of the spare heir and his journey from duffer to family tyrant to national treasure. He really was a dull, unimaginative, culture-free zone, a man who liked nothing better than blasting birds from the sky and collecting the postage stamps of his Empire (16,000 pages of the damn things, for goodness sake).

History credits GV with the inspired idea of changing the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the more acceptable Windsor because of WW1 anti-German sentiment. Was he really bright enough to come up with that one? And why, having decided to rescue his favourite cousin Nicky from the hands of the Bolshies, did he then determinedly turn his back on him and his family? Whose advice was he following? What was not underlined sufficiently in the doco was his devastating failure as a father: of the three boys, one became a gay drug addict, another a pro-Hitler lapdog to the man-woman he married and the other, Good King George VI, was left with the self-confidence of a dormouse and a debilitating stammer. Not a good track record for any dad, let alone a king dad.

‘The King’s life is moving peacefully to its close’? They timed it to coincide with the morning broadsheets. Euthanasia for a King – but not for poor brave Tony Nicklinson and others with Locked-In Syndrome.

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