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The Good Stuff
Stamped with Honour
by B. A. Llewellyn
Length: 395 words

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Stamped with Honour

George V had hoped his elder brother, Albert, would be king, and let him live a quieter, saner life, but the fates decreed otherwise.  Albert died in 1892, making George the heir apparent.  Upon the death of his father, Edward V11, in 1910, George became King of England.

George is often spoken of as an unexceptional man.  His official biographer wrote “no personal magnetism, no intellectual powers. He was neither a wit nor a brilliant raconteur, neither well-read nor well-educated, and he made no great contribution to enlightened social converse.”  But George was a sensible man.  In 1917, he recognised and understood his country’s distaste for all things German.  George dropped his family’s very obvious Germanic name, and Windsor Castle became the inspiration for the Royal Windsor name.

George was also known as a gentle and dedicated man.  During the First World War, he made over 450 visits to troops and over 300 visits to hospitals, visiting wounded servicemen.  He helped to bring about the better treatment of German prisoners-of-war and conscientious objectors. 

Perhaps one of the best illustrations of George’s gentle honour is not to do with his royal duties, but with his favourite hobby – stamp collecting.

While still a prince, George was asked to look through an old lady’s stamp album.  It had been valued at fifty pounds, but George saw at once that it was worth much, much more.  It even contained a particular rare stamp that had been his heart’s desire for many years.  The album’s owner was informed of the treasure she owned and was advised to sell the collection through Puttick and Simpson, auctioneers in London, and pay ten pounds in advertising the sale.

The lady followed the Prince of Wales instructions, and made a fortune of over seven thousand pounds.  Part of that fortune came from the sale of the stamp the Prince so desired – it went for fourteen hundred pounds.

A week after the sale, Sir Arthur Davidson, who was Equerry to King Edward, phoned George and, knowing of the Prince’s interest in stamps, mentioned the sale of the stamps and the lady’s extreme good fortune.  He said, “Did you happen to see in the newspapers that some damned fool had given as much as fourteen hundred pounds for one stamp?"

George’s gentle honesty and humour now displayed itself, as he replied, “I was that damned fool."


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