The First Family of Wales: The Lloyd George Children in British Politics

  • Paul Ward

Abstract

Gwilym and Megan Lloyd George were brought up in a family in which by virtue of their father’s successful political career their multiple national identities were fully apparent to them. David Lloyd George had utilized his Welshness to strengthen his position in British Liberalism, and then as Prime Minister during the First World War and its aftermath had established himself as a world statesman, although one who represented British interests. The Lloyd George name was Welsh and instantly recognizable. Lloyd George was celebrated as the ‘Welsh wizard’ and criticized as the ‘Welsh goat’.1 Politics was seen as a natural occupation for the Lloyd George children. Megan remarked in a speech in 1928 that ‘I’ve had politics for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner all my life.’2 With their father being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1908, the children found the family home coincided exactly with the centre of power of the United Kingdom and its Empire in Downing Street. Despite this British context, the Lloyd George family did retain its Welshness, not least through the deliberate and conscious actions of Margaret Lloyd George, the children’s mother. Richard, the oldest son of the Lloyd Georges, wrote of his mother that ‘her love of Wales and everything Welsh was so great as to have left an indelible imprint on all her children’.3

Keywords

Depression Europe Tate Egypt Appendicitis 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    Mervyn Jones, A Radical Life: The Biography of Megan Lloyd George (London: Hutchinson, 1991), p. 22. Richard, the eldest son, and Olwen, the eldest daughter did not enter politics.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Viscount Gwynedd, Dame Margaret: The Life Story of His Mother (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1947), p. 21. He wrote of his mother: ‘In a word, she was Wales’ (p. 32).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    John Grigg, Lloyd George: The People’s Champion1902–1911 (London: Eyre Methuen, 1978), p. 54.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    G.R. Searle, The Liberal Party: Triumph and Disintegration1886–1929, second edition (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001), p. 72.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    J. Graham Jones, ‘Major Gwilym Lloyd-George, First Viscount Tenby (1894–1967),’ National Library of Wales Journal, 32 (2001), p. 177. This essay provides the fullest account of Lloyd-George’s political life. See also Kenneth O. Morgan on Lloyd-George in the Dictionary of National Biography.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    Megan’s perspective on Lloyd George’s fall is given in a letter to her sister Olwen on 25 October 1922. She wrote ‘Tada had wonderful receptions both at Manchester & Leeds & made wonderful speeches in both places. The people are absolutely with him, altho’ very tired of the government, more particularly because of its being a coalition than anything else. Whatever happens Tada will be in power. He will be tremendous in opposition — & Bonar [Law] knows it,’ Kenneth O. Morgan (ed.), Lloyd George Family Letters 1885–1936 (Cardiff and London: University of Wales Press and Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 197.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    For Gwilym’s account see ‘Autobiography’, NLW, MS 23671C, ff. 42. See also A. Lentin, Lloyd George and the Lost Peace: From Versailles to Hitler, 1919–1940 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001), chapter 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 14.
    J. Graham Jones, ‘A Breach in the Family: The Lloyd Georges’, Journal of Liberal Democrat History, 25 (1999–2000), pp. 34–39.Google Scholar
  9. 20.
    Mrinalini Sinha, ‘Britishness, Clubbability, and the Colonial Public Sphere: The Genealogy of an Imperial Institution in Colonial India’, Journal of British Studies, 40 (2001), pp. 489–521 (quotes from pp. 494, 496).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. For the club as the site of the amateur but effective defence of Empire see Richard Usborne, Clubland Heroes (London: Hutchinson, 1983 [1953]).Google Scholar
  11. 23.
    Morgan, Dictionary of National Biography, p. 666; Ben Pimlott (ed.), The Second World War Diary of Hugh Dalton (London: Jonathan Cape, 1986), pp. 527, 562–3; Jones, ‘A Breach in the Family’, p. 38.Google Scholar
  12. 33.
    Roy Douglas, The History of the Liberal Party1895–1970 (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1971), p. 249.Google Scholar
  13. 38.
    J. Graham Jones, ‘The Parliament for Wales Campaign 1950–1956,’ Welsh History Review, 16 (1992–3), p. 209.Google Scholar
  14. See also Alan Butt Philip, The Welsh Question: Nationalism in Welsh Politics 1945–1970 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1975), p. 295.Google Scholar
  15. 39.
    The following paragraph relies heavily on Felix Aubel, ‘The Conservatives in Wales, 1880–1935,’ in Martin Francis and Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska (eds), The Conservatives and British Society (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996), pp. 96–110. The quote is from p. 97.Google Scholar
  16. 43.
    Indeed in 1979 the Conservatives captured Anglesey. For a sense of Conservative optimism in the 1970s and 1980s see Chris Butler, ‘The Conservative Party in Wales: Remoulding a Radical Tradition,’ and Donald Walters, ‘The Reality of Conservatism,’ in John Osmond (ed.), The National Question Again: Welsh Political Identity in the 1980s (Llandusyl: Gomer, 1985), pp. 155–66, 210–21.Google Scholar
  17. 56.
    Kenneth O. Morgan, Rebirth of a Nation: A History of Modern Wales (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 243.Google Scholar
  18. 63.
    See J. Graham Jones, ‘Dame Margaret Lloyd George, The Norway Debate and the Fall of Neville Chamberlain’, The National Library of Wales Journal, 31 (1999–2000), pp. 423–32 and Foot’s Letter to The Times, 17 May 1966.Google Scholar
  19. 65.
    Emyr Price, Megan Lloyd George (Caernarfon: Gwynedd Archives Service, 1983), p. 45.Google Scholar
  20. 78.
    Deirdre Beddoe, ‘Images of Welsh Women’, in Tony Curtis (ed.), Wales: The Imagined Nation Studies in Cultural and National Identity (Bridgend: Poetry Wales Press, 1986), p. 227.Google Scholar
  21. 79.
    The two pioneering historical studies were J.A. Mangan and James Walvin (eds), Manliness and Morality: Middle-Class Masculinity in Britain and America, 1800–1940 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987)Google Scholar
  22. and Michael Roper and John Tosh (eds), Manful Assertions: Masculinities in Britain since1800 (London: Routledge, 1991).Google Scholar
  23. See also Martin Francis, ‘The Domestication of the Male? Recent Research on Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century British Masculinity’, Historical Journal, 45 (2002), pp. 637–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 81.
    Thelma Cazalet-Keir, From the Wings: An Autobiography (London: The Bodley Head, 1967), p. 126.Google Scholar
  25. 99.
    See Lesley A. Hall, ‘Impotent Ghosts from No Man’s Land, Flappers’ Boyfriends or Crypto-Patriarchs? Men, Sex and Social Change in 1920s Britain’, Social History, 21 (1996), pp. 54–70. The press attention combined hostility with fascination.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 111.
    Gwyn A. Williams, When was Wales? A History of the Welsh (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), chapter 10.Google Scholar
  27. 112.
    David Lloyd George, Patriotism and Free Trade, 1904, in David Feldman, ‘Nationality and Ethnicity’, in Paul Johnson (ed.), Twentieth-Century Britain (London: Longman, 1994), pp. 137–8.Google Scholar
  28. 113.
    Andrew S. Thompson, Imperial Britain: The Empire in British Politics c. 1880–1932 (Harlow: Pearson, 2000), p. 170.Google Scholar
  29. 115.
    See for example, Miles Taylor, ‘Imperium et Libertas? Rethinking the Radical Critique of Imperialism during the Nineteenth Century’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 19 (1991), pp. 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 122.
    Quoted in Brian Brivati, Hugh Gaitskell (London: Richard Cohen, 1996), p. 277.Google Scholar
  31. 125.
    See Lord Beloff, ‘The Crisis and Its Consequences for the British Conservative Party’, in William Roger Louis and Roger Owen (eds), Suez 1956: The Crisis and Its Consequences (Oxford: Clarendon, 1991), pp. 319–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Paul Ward 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Ward

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations