George V's Childrens Upbringing


Figure 5.--This photograph shows three of George V's children, the future George VI, Edward VIII, and Princess Mary. I'm not sure if the boys are wearing shorts or kneepants. Notice the boys standing strictly to attention in proper naval style. This was the first generation of royals to be photographed informally.

George V and Queen Mary had 6 children, 5 boys and a girl. They were presented as the model British family. Certainly they did not have the problems the modern English press likes to report with the current royals. They did, of course, have their problems with Edward--eventually resulting in the greatest modern crisis in the monarch. Edward became famous for renouncing the throne to marry a divorced American. His brother Albert who had never been raised to be king, not only inherited the crown, but the great task of leading Britain through the trials of World War II. The King had had wonderful relationship with his father, Edward VII, 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. The Prince and Princess of Wales were both doting grandparents. The Princess was always more prone to spoiling rather than disciplining her own children, but this is often more of a virtue for a grandmother. Prince George's children grew up next door in York Cottage. Their parents, now the Duke and Duchess of York, did not especially approve of Alix's endulgences with the children, but neither was about to make a strong issue of it which would have terribly upset Alexandra. The young princes and princes were raised at York Cottage on the Norfolk estate, Sandringham. The future George V was the Duke of York when the boys were born. The boys lived in a rabbit warren of cramped, rather bleak rooms. They were seen to by grim attendants and strict nannies. Princess Mary about 1901 hired the rather intelectual lady Mademoiselle Bricka to teach the children French. The boys' tutor was Mr. Hansell. I do not know yet just which boy he tutored. I am also not sure if Princes Mary had her own tutor. Presumably there was a schoolroom, but again I do not yet have details.

The Children

George V and Queen Mary had 6 children, 5 boys and a girl. They were presented as the model British family. Certainly they did not have the problems the modern English press likes to report with the current royals. They did, of course, have their problems with Edward--eventually resulting in the greatest modern crisis in the monarch. Edward became famous for renouncing the throne to marry a divorced American. His brother Albert who had never been raised to be king, not only inherited the crown, but the great task of leading Britain through the trials of World War II. The boys generally got along extremely well among themselves and with their sister. The four surviving children grew very close and supportive of each oher. As older boys they looked out for each other and sympathised with Edward, recognizing the burdens he would face as king and recognizung that so much rested on him. The two groups of older and younger siblings that were close enough in age to play together. They also went to school togrther. One reason for the close relationship was that the children were so isolated. They did not go to school and thus did not have friends their own age. This lack of regular contact with other children of their age, beyond the occaisonal visits of their royal cousins meant that their brothers and sisters were their only real playmates.

The King's Relationship with His Children

The King had had wonderful relationship with his father, Edward VII, 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. Some historians have described George's relationship with his sons, especially the two older boys David and Bertie, as bordering on cruelty and profoundly affecting them as adults.

The Grandparents

The Prince and Princess of Wales were both doting grandparents. The Princess was always more prone to spoiling rather than disciplining her own children, but this is often more of a virtue for a grandmother. Prince George's children grew up next door in York Cottage. Their parents, now the Duke and Duchess of York, did not especially approve of Alix's endulgences with the children, but neither was about to make a strong issue of it which would have terribly upset Alexandra. She was allowed to have the children when ever she wanted. The young princes and princess loved to visit their grandmother who spoiled them terribly, in contrast's to their fathers' strict navy routein. The children quickly learned that the excuse, "but grandmama said we could" often got them out of difficult situations. Their grandfather was also quite endulgent, but not as engaged. Alix developed an especially close attachment to Prince John, the youngest child. Her relationship with her other grandchildren was more distant. Not only were they in Scotalnd, but daughter Louisa now Duchess of Fife was not nearly as willing for Alexandra to have the children as often as Alexandra would have wanted. The Princess was hurt by the differing attitude of her own daughter compared to her daughter-in-law.

The Nursery

The young princes and princes were raised at York Cottage on the Norfolk estate, Sandringham. The future George V was the Duke of York when the boys were born. The boys lived in a rabbit warren of cramped, rather bleak rooms. They were seen to by grim attendants and strict nannies. The boys were prohibitted from running in the halls and according to at least one historian were beaten if they did. [McLeod] The regime was particularly strict for the two older boys. The boys were kept in a one-room nursery with their nanny. The room was so small that the boys had few toys, except for a much beloved rocking horse. The children's nursery once had a most destinguished visitor--Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Kaiser was their grandfather's nephew. As was typical for him, he proceeded to offer unsolicited advise to Queen Mary and the nursemaids and governesses. Later the Kaiser was waxing eloquently on a favorite topic, women's sufrerage. He thought the idea rediculous and his wife and dauhter were forbiden to comment on it. The Kaiser asked the queen in the rude manner he spoke to his wife, "What could you possibly understand of politics?" It was with some delight she responded, only slightly more politely, "Just as much as a manunderstands of furnishing a nursery and bringing up a family." [Van der Kiste, 1999, pp. 160-161.]

Nannies

The boys' first nanny was a Mrs. Green. One historian describes her as "barren, neurotic, and deserted by her husband." [McLeod] She was incompetent and neglectful. One historian accues her of sadism. She feined great affection for David and virtually ignored Bertie. She was very possessive of David. She was responsible for taking him every day at tea time to visit with his parents in the drawing room. She reportedly would pinch him so tht he would cry and scream. His mother would then have him returned to him nanny and sent back to the nursery. Bertie on the other hand was apparently ignored. Sometimes Mrs. Green would even forget to feed him. One historian believes that this treatment in addition to feedings in a bumpy chairage whe she did remember to feed him led to his abdominal problems in adulthood. It was 3 years before Mrs. Green's mistreatment was noticed. And this came about only when she had a nervous breakdown. She had been working those 3 years without a single day's holiday. One historian suggests that the fact this terrible mistreatment was allowed to occur by the parents and a household full of attendants gives a telling view of the lack of attention given to the children. [McLeod]

Education

Princess Mary about 1901 hired the rather intelectual lady Mademoiselle Bricka to teach the children French. She had been Mary's own governess and reportedly had a great influence on here during her adolescene. She had little success with the children. One problem was that Queen Alexandra wasn't especially interested in the children doing lessons when she had them. Princess Mary apparently did not preceive that a governess effective when working with one clever, hard working little girl, might not do as well with three very young chidren not as interested in their studies. [Battiscombe, p. 241.]

The boys' tutor was Mr. Hansell. I do not know yet just which boy he tutored. I am also not sure if Princes Mary had her own tutor. Presumably there was a schoolroom, but again I do not yet have details.

Sources

Battiscombe, Georgina. Queen Alexandra (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1969).

McLeod

Van der Kriste, John. Kaiser Wihelm II: Germany's Last Kaiser (Bodmin: Sutton Publishing, 1999), 244p.






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Created: February 26, 1999
Last updated: July 7, 2002