Figure 1.--Prince George's relationship with his mother was close and mutually affectionate. His mother was also very fond of animals and often pictured with her dogs.
Prince George was a typical lively little boy. Lady Geraldine described George as "a lively little pickle". He was high spirited, yet dutiful. He appears to have been bright, but by no means brilliant. His relationship with his mother was especially close and mutually affectionate. She was much more involved in her children's lifes than many women of her time and station. Presumably the bond between her and George was tightened by George's lively resonse in kind that her older son Albert Victor (Eddy) was incapable of giving. It is strange how a boy like George who was so tenderly traeted as a child could have been so severe and strict with his own children as a father. He was her favorite child and he was devoted to her. The letters between them make strange reading today, but the tone was more common for the time. George like the other children were coddled in the isolated atmpsphere of Sandringham and thus generally imature for their age. George must have had to grow up rather quickly when he began his cadet training. Princess Alexandra continued to treat George like a small child even when he was a young naval officer commanding a ship. We know less at this time about the relationship between him and it his father, although it is striking how the character of the fathers and sons varied in the royal family over time.
We have still limited information about Prince George's personality as a little boy. He appears to have been a typical lively little boy. Lady Geraldine described George as "a lively little pickle". He was high spirited, yet dutiful. He appears to have been bright, but by no means brilliant. [Battiscombe, p. 141.]
Prince George's relationship with his mother was especially close and mutually affectionate. She was much more involved in her children's lives than many women of her time and station. Presumably the bond between her and George was tightened by George's lively resonse in kind that her older son Albert Victor (Eddy) was incapable of giving. (Prince Eddy was his grandmother Queen Victoria's favorite, primarily because he was too lethargic as a child to cause any trouble, this changed when he grew up.) It is strange how a boy like George who was so tenderly treated as a child could have been so severe and strict with his own children as a father. He was her favorite child and he was devoted to her. The letters between them make strange reading today, but the tone was more common for the time. Queen Alexandra had her papers destroyed, but Prince George saved most of her letters to him and some of his letters survive to demonstrate that he wrote back in the same intimate tone. These letters are very different from the much more formal letters Queen Victoria wrote to her children which can sound more like a letter frm the Queen than from a mother.
George like the other children were coddled in the isolated atmopsphere of Sandringham and thus generally immature for their age. George must have had to grow up rather quickly when he began his cadet training. While we still have only limited information, it appaers that Prince George and his brother were not just enrolled in the school and allowed to sink or swim as Prince George was to do to his boys. David (the future Edward VIII) was as a result to have a particularly difficult time. Rather fir Prince George and Prince Eddy, their tutor was sent along with them and Prince Eddy allowed to stay even though he did not successfully complete the academic program. We suspect that defference to monarchy was stringer at the time and that the autorities at the school may have looked very carefully after the boys, although here we do not yet have details. Even so, the first term away from the protected environment at Sandringham must have been quite a shock for the imature young prince who had never before been in a school with boys his own age. In this regard, the experience of Prince George's sisters (Princesses Louise, Victoria, and Maude), unkindly known collectively as "the Hags", was very different. They were kept at Sandriham and never sent to school. Little attention was given to their education. As a result, they were largely uneducated and very childish even as young women. This was to cause problems when Prince George was to bring his bride Princess Mary ("May") to live nexy door to them at York Cottage on the Sandringham estate.
Princess Alexandra continued to treat George like a small child even when he was a young naval officer commanding a ship. We know less at this time about the relationship between him and it his father. By all accounts the Prince of Wales was a kindly, affectionate father, but much less engaged than the Princess. Alexandra who was more asertive than Prince George's future wife never seems to have complained that he was too strict with the children. Indeed he made a point of not being strict and allowing the children considerable freedom of which many reports suggest that they took ample advantage. Strangely, George the V is reported to have said, "I was afraid of my father and I am going to be damded sure that my children are afraid of me". I'm not yet sure how to reconcile these two seemingly coflicting views.
Prince George and Princess Mary of Teck or May as she was known in the family knew each other as children, but did not get along. She was chosen a the bride for George's older brother Prince Alber Victor (Eddy). After Prince Eddy 's unexpected death, it was decided that Princess May and Prince George should marry. It was not a love match although the two were on friendly terms. Princess May, never regarded a beauty, had regal bearing and dignity. Over the years the two were to become devoted to each other. She was very deferential to him, perhaps in part reflecting her rather modest dynastic background. She did not, however, have to put up with all the extra-marital affairs that her more outspoken mother-in-law, Queen Alexandra had to endure. Perhaps as a result, the Prince of Wales generally deferred to his wife on domestic matters. George V on the other hand because he was more often at home appears to have dictated many domestic arrangements which his wife dutifully accepted.
While Prine George appears to have had a wonderful relationship with his father, but he and his wife Mary were incapable of giving the same love and affection to their children. King George was much more formal with his children than his father, Edward VII, had been with him. Edward VII had thought it a mistake to treat children to severely or strictly. George V on the other hand was very strict with the boys and their relationship was very formal. The correspondence between George and his son Edward VIII, at least as an older boy, often sounded like official correspondence. He reportedly severely criticised his sons when after being thrown into a rough military academy with little preparation, they performed poorly. While is undoubtedly true that the King maintaied a very formal relationship wih his children, especially he boys, there in some difference of opinion as to just how severe he actually was.
It is striking how the character of the fathers and sons varied in the English royal family over time. Prince Albert as a small boy was separated from his mother because of her extra-marital affair (really cauded by her husband's behavior) and as a result belived strngly in marital fidelity and moral rectitude. His son Edward VII rebelled against his father's rectitude and a notorious womanizer. An entire book would be needed to chronicle his many affairs, the most noted with the famed singer Lillie Langtree. In turn, his son George V rebelled against his father's libertine social life and was faithful to his wife. His idea of a good evening was working on his famed stamp collection. George's son Edward VIII rebelled from his father's strict moral code to persue an active social life with the "fast set" of the roaring 20s. He had several affairs before shocking the world by giving up the throne to marry an American divorcee, Mrs. Wallace Simpson. Interestingly, George VI who was also a son of George V and raised side by side with his older brother chose a life of domestic rectitude much like his father.
Battiscombe, Georgina. Queen Alexandra (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1969).
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