A Cause of Tension? The Leadership of King George V: Visiting the Western Front

  • Matthew GlencrossEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Modern Monarchy book series (PSMM)


This chapter casts an entirely fresh light on a monarch often dismissed as weak and irrelevant. It argues for the importance of the British monarchy to the narrative of the Great War and its impact on the UK. This is achieved by an exploration of how George V sought to fulfil what he identified as a ‘traditional’ kingly duty, by acting as the leader of his armed forces, but in a modern context which stressed the symbolic dimensions to that leadership role. It considers the purpose and ultimate usefulness of this determination by the King to be a visible, if not militarily active, presence to his troops, using as a case study exemplar of this his determination to visit the Western Front and establish himself as a visible presence for the troops fighting in his name. Thus, as soon as the Front Line became (relatively) stable with the failure of the Schlieffen Plan, George V saw it as his kingly duty to visit his troops. His reasoning was that, after all, he was their Commander-in-Chief. Such a visit was, however, unprecedented for modern British monarchs, and its accomplishment would make him the first British King to visit his troops when on active deployment on the field of battle in over a century.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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