Her Majesty’s first speech

On 5th April 2020 from Windsor Castle Queen Elizabeth II addressed Her speech to the people of the UK, to the Commonwealth and to the whole world urging people to stay disciplined and resolve.

Apart from Her anual Christmas broadcasts She rearly addresses the nation. In fact She only did it four times troughout Her 68 year reign excluding Her Sunday night speech.  Her Majesty appeared on the screens in 1991 during the first Gulf war, in 1997 when Princess Diana died, in 2002 at the death of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and in 2012 marking Her 60th anniversary as sovereign.
But did you know that Her Majesty adressed Her first speech to the public when She was only 14?

In October, 1940 Britain was on the edge of defeat to the Germans. Prime minister Winston Churchill wanted the young princess to make Her own contribution to the war effort by giving Her first radio broadcast. He asked the King, George VI to let His daugther make Her speech. The PM’s goal was to send comfort to the children who had been evacuated overseas. But there was a hidden motive.
Britain was in the need of a powerful ally against Nazi Germany so Churchill wanted to lure the United States of America into war.

According to Ingrid Seward form the Majesty Magazine the young princess was very nervous and went through a long prepearing process prior to Her speech. She practiced breathing and practiced the script in front of the Royal Family several times.

It was broadcasted from one of the rooms in Windsor Castle, from that moment the Castle became the symbol of a safe home. Princess Elizabeth was joined by Her sister, Margaret. This was the first time that the public had heard the princess’ voice.
Princess Elizabeth: „ All of us children who are still at home think continouly of our friends and relations who have gone overseas. Who have travelled thousands of miles to find a war time home and a kindly welcome in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States of America. […].
My sister is by my side and we are both going to say good night to you. Come on Margaret.”
Princess Margaret: „Good night children!”
Princess Elizabeth: „Good night and good luck to you all!”

It was an instant success and She was able to convince the American public whether they should join the war or not.

If you haven’t seen Her Majesty’s latest speech you can watch it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2klmuggOElE

As She said, „We will meet again!”



How We Remember Heads Of State That Die In Office

William Henry Harrison

It is interesting to note how quickly the tone in the media changed when it was announced that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had coronavirus. For a man who has received more brickbats than bouquets from the British and American media – both for his handling of the virus and before that – , the suddenly sympathetic coverage he has obtained might seem a little surprising. Indeed, an editorial for the New York Times just two days ago was titled, “Boris Johnson is not cut out for this crisis (1).” After it was announced that he had tested positive, the New York Times and indeed most of the British media have limited themselves strictly to reporting on the factual information regarding not only his condition, but him personally. Moreover, the “goodwill” expressed by Johnson’s main adversaries, Jeremy Corbyn (Labour) and Ian Blackford (Scottish National), have come together to form a significantly more positive – or at least less hostile – image of Boris Johnson in the press and, in consequence, the public eye. Indeed, Bloomberg News reported that,  “ [polls] found personal ratings for Boris Johnson — himself now diagnosed with coronavirus — that have not been seen for a British Prime Minister since the early days of Tony Blair’s premiership in 1997. (2)”

Looking at the history of heads of state who have fallen ill, or died, can give us a better understanding of the current situation in Britain, which is certain to repeat itself elsewhere. Furthermore, it can even give an insight into how Boris Johnson will be remembered in the future. As with most things, this varies by county, so we can examine both what can be expected of the U.S, and Britain itself. 

The United States has had quite a few examples of presidents who have died in office, William Henry Harrison most famously catching either a cold or cholera and dying within 30 days of taking office. Historical analysis of his presidency is, however, obviously limited. More important examples are those of John F. Kennedy and James Garfield. In particular, Garfield, who served as president from March to September 1881, dying from an infection caused by a bullet-wound, bears some resemblance to Boris Johnson. Running on a campaign of moderate economic reform and radical changes to the bureaucracy, neither of which he lived long enough to see passed. Nevertheless, much like Kennedy would later be credited with the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, Garfield was praised by historians for his stance as a far-sighted reformer and largely credited with later changes, in spite of how little he was able to accomplish during the time he was actually in office. Furthermore, those American presidents who died in office after leading extremely controversial administrations, namely James Polk and William McKinlley, have been held in either beningin obscurity by historians, or had only the most positive effects of their tenure emphasized. 

Assasination Of James Garfield

The United Kingdom has had a different experience with its own Prime Ministers dying in office. This is largely due to the fact that only Spencer Percival, who was assassinated, ever held the distinction of having done so His reputation was much enhanced by his death, given the mass discontent caused by his total-war style measures against Napoleonic France. Indeed, for a long time he was hailed as a sort of martyr against foreign radicalism, before being largely forgotten, which in any case resulted in him having a far better reputation than he would have had otherwise. This being said, there was one other Prime Minister who effectively died in office, being forced to resign due to ill health and dying of a heart attack a week later. Henry Campbell-Bannerman, much like Boris, came to power through a series of byzantine maneuvers in Parliament, and after leading a minority government to the greatest victory of any party in a generation, laid out a plan for massive reform of the British economy and foreign relations. Unlike James Garfield, however, few historians ever mention Campbell-Bannerman. His Liberal Party opponents were much more effective at taking credit for his reforms, and his importance was further obscured by the outbreak of a period of mass instability and violence from 1914 to 1945, only six years after his death.

Postcard Of Campbell-Bannerman, Shortly After His Death

In the end, we can extrapolate from this analysis two conclusions: Firstly, there is an inherent quality to sickness in heads of government or state, and a possibility of incapacity to continue in office which that implies, that makes positive re-evaluation of politicians more desirable to contemporary commentators and historians alike. Secondly, the legacy of Boris Johnson, as Prime Minister who could be forced out of office due to incapacity by disease, will depend on events that occur after he leaves office. If the incoming global recession does result in a period of instability comparable to that of 1914-45, then Boris runs the risk of becoming a new and unfairly forgotten,  Campbell-Bannerman. If indeed the economic consequences of the coronavirus are mild, then he is likely to be more akin to James Garfield. Either way, Boris Johnson can, for now, take some relief in the more positive press that he is getting. 

Bibliography

1. Russell, Jenni. “Boris Johnson Is Not Cut Out for This Crisis.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Mar. 2020.

2. Singh, Matt. “One Battle Boris Johnson Is Clearly Winning.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 28 Mar. 2020

7 History Shows to Watch in Quarantine

This is a trying time for most of us. The rapid spread of the Coronavirus has closed schools and workplaces, causing us to spend much of our time at home. Without the possibility of going out to enjoy yourself.

Therefore the question arrives, what should i do with all my new won time?

A good long series, is perhaps the answer.

With plenty of episodes and seasons these shows are guaranteed to keep you busy. While you at the same time can fully emerge yourself in a fascinating passed time.

7. The Tudors

English history is equally long and fascinating. The best part is perhaps its long list of kings. From William the Conqueror to Edward the 8th. England has truly had some remarkable rulers. Perhaps no one as remarkable as Henry the 8th.

This series tells the story of the english monarchs troubled personal life and reign. The divorces, the beheadings and the deaths. From Catherine of Aragon to Catherine Parr and everybody in between. With a great amount of historical detail, this show is a great way to experience the fascinating 16th century.

Imdb rating: 8.1

Year(s): 2007-2010

Season(s): 4

6. Peaky Blinders

Jumping 400 years up in english history, Peaky Blinders tells the story of a much different England. Set in Birmingham during the 1920s, the show emerges us in a smoke filled and industrialized city life, with everything that has to offer.

The Series follows Great War veteran Tommy Shelby and his family of criminals and their rise from local thugs to powerful players in interwar Britain. Tommy is a perfect antihero that you can’t stop rotting for, no matter how bad he gets. Perhaps because of that great 1920s fashion.

Imdb rating: 8.8

Year(s): 2013-

Season(s): 5

5. Rome

Jumping back a few years in history, the show Rome chronicles the final days of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.

The series includes many of the late republics great historical characters like Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony and Octavian. While at the same time following two ordinary roman soldiers experience of these great events. Giving us a great mix of the top of roman society and the bottom, resulting in a incredibly fascinating and informing series.

Imdb rating: 8.7

Year(s): 2005-2007

Season(s): 2

4. Spartacus

Continuing in ancient times the show Spartacus, tells the story of the real life thracian gladiator Spartacus, who from 73 to 71 BC led a large slave revolt against the Roman Republic.

Even though this is not the first adaptation of the story of Spartacus the show does a fantastic job of showing us the bloody hardcore world of the romans republics underclass. While telling one of the greatest stories ever told.

Imdb rating: 8.5

Year(s): 2010-2013

Season(s): 3

3. The Crown

As stated english history is very long, and currently the monarch of England is the longest reigning throughout that long history. Having reigned an incredible 68 years! It is none other than Queen Elizabeth the Second.

The Crown chronicles the reign of Elizabeth from the early 1950s to the modern day. Telling the stories of the drama behind the gates of Buckingham Palace, while at the same time emerging us in post war britain’s national development. We experience Britain’s fall from a first grade imperial power to a secondary world power, from the seat of its ancient monarchical power.

Imdb rating: 8.7

Year(s): 2016-

Season(s): 3

2. Band of Brothers

Of course we have to have something about the Second World War on this list. That is no shame, with this amazing show though. Band of Brothers is a series about the U.S army´s Easy Company of the 101 Airborne Division.

The shows chronicles their mission during WW2 from Operation Overlord to V-J Day. From the companies landings in Normandy to the capture of Hitler’s impregnable “Eagles Nest”. Every episode is also based on interviews with real life members of the company giving the show a beautiful and scary realness, creating a historical authenticity that very few shows manages to capture.

Imdb rating: 9.5

Year(s): 2001

Season(s): 1

1. Vikings

Heading north to the cold fjords of Scandinavia. Perhaps no part of history is so mysterious and fascinating at the same time, as the viking era. In large part because we in reality know very little of this remarkable period in european history. But the few stories we know are fantastic.

The show Vikings tells the story of real life historical character Ragnar Lothbrok and his fictional rise from farmer to king. Sucking us into a violent world of war, raids and brawls.

Imdb rating: 8.6

Year(s): 2013-

Season(s): 6

What is your favorite history show?