Buckingham Palace Responded To Ten-Year-Old

James has about 40 clients in his guardianship business. Every now and then there is just a special story about one of the people he has come to know.

One of his clients, at age 10, wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth to express his sadness regarding the death of her father. George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death in 1952.

Buckingham Palace responded to the boy. He saved the note, and had it framed. What a great piece of history and a charming story!

Beats Like A Human Heart

I will be brief and to the point this morning.

I thrill to microhistory, and this book is one that well defines the term.

Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Disraeli (was not aware he swung both ways), George Eliot, Karl Marx, William Thackeray…all within the time frame of the dreadful heat and smelly stench of the Thames in the summer of 1858. I marvel at how one researches books of this kind, let alone writes the narrative that beats like a human heart. While I read a lot of books of the types I much enjoy, it is always a pleasure to be bowled over. This is a ten-strike.

As they negotiated their lives day by day, Darwin, Dickens, Disraeli, and their contemporaries had no certain sense of how their circumstances might change or their problems be resolved, while we can make use of the historian’s gift of hindsight to ‘trace the pattern’ of the ‘atoms’ as they fall on the protagonists in the hot months of 1858.

I made such a point yesterday with this post.

Prince Philip’s Death Makes Memorable Front Pages Of Newspapers

To the British people, he’s the longest-serving royal consort in the nation’s history serving alongside Queen Elizabeth for 65 years. They had been married for 73 years. The country, indeed the world, is paying tribute today over the news of the death of Prince Philip with truly must-see front pages of newspapers.

British Military Incompetence In WWI

Duplicity and arrogance, along with a healthy dose of racism seeps out of the pages of Scott Anderson’s finely written book as it hones in on Britain’s military and diplomatic efforts in WWI. Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East  is the type of book any reader of history will devour with pleasure.

At the center of it all was Lawrence himself. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist excavating ruins in Syria; by 1917 he was riding into legend at the head of an Arab army as he fought a rearguard action against his own government and its imperial ambitions. Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabia definitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed.

As this passage underscores T.E Lawrence knew what ineptitude looked like from his own country’s actions and behavior.

COVID Claims Life Of Tom Moore

This news today is really sad. Tom Moore proved what determination can achieve, no matter one’s age. It also just adds to the dreadful toll of people who have died from COVID.

Tom Moore, the redoubtable 100-year-old Army veteran whose charity walks raised $45 million for British hospitals and made him a national symbol of pluck in a country ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, died on Tuesday.

His death was announced on his Twitter account.

Mr. Moore had been treated for pneumonia in recent weeks and tested positive for the coronavirus last month, his daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, said on Twitter on Jan. 31. He was taken to a hospital because he needed help breathing, she said, and his condition then deteriorated.

Dapper, spry and droll, Mr. Moore ambled his way into the hearts of people across Britain 82 steps at a time — the number it took to cover the length of a brick patio beside his garden in Marston Moretaine, a village an hour north of London. He did 100 laps before turning 100 last April.

Mr. Moore’s feat, which grew out of a challenge from his son-in-law, became a media sensation when Ms. Ingram-Moore publicized her father’s walks and began an online fund-raising campaign for the National Health Service. With donors that included Prince William, who called him a “one-man fund-raising machine,” Mr. Moore quickly raised 32.8 million pounds, or $45 million.

“The Crown” Perfect Pandemic Television Remedy

There is a wide variety of truly good television viewing to be had these weeks–just none of it on the three main networks. As the pandemic rages, while medical professionals advise us all to stay as close to home as possible, television allows for some needed escapes.

We started season four of The Crown this week and as with past years are most impressed. What stands out this season is the character of Margaret Thatcher being portrayed with the attitude and personality that we came to know from her years in power and the books that punch back at the image she tried to spin. All of that makes for a splendid post today which features the article in today’s New York Times.

Though Thatcher would later emphasize how much she lacked as a child — including hot running water and an inside toilet — her deprived home life was a result of her father’s financial meanness, not poverty. As Hugo Young puts it in his book “One of Us,” the young Thatcher “belonged to the rising petty bourgeoisie, not the beleaguered working class.” The mid-1930s was a time when 75 percent of British families were officially defined as working class, but Thatcher’s family belonged to the 20 percent that could be considered middle class.

All of this is complicated by the fact that Thatcher had elocution lessons to eliminate her regional accent, studied at Oxford University alongside Britain’s privileged elite and climbed the social ranks when she married the affluent, upper-middle class Denis Thatcher. In November 1970, when Thatcher was the education secretary, The Sun newspaper asked resentfully, “How did the grocer’s daughter from Grantham become a Tory lady with a taste for large hats, a posh home, a wealthy husband and children at public school?”

“I think the queen was very puzzled by Margaret Thatcher, because she jumped class,” Dean Palmer, the author of “The Queen and Mrs. Thatcher: An Inconvenient Relationship,” said in a telephone interview. Jumping into the upper class bracket is notoriously difficult in Britain, since, generally, the main way to get titles, land and “good breeding” — the traditional cornerstones of the aristocracy — is to inherit them. Mere money rarely cuts it. (Before Prince William married Kate Middleton, sources close to the royal family were quoted in newspapers bemoaning her wealthy — but not aristocratic — mother, whose faux pas included social climbing, chewing gum in public and an earlier career as a flight attendant.)

By the time she became prime minister in 1979, Thatcher looked and sounded posh, but she had very little in common with royalty. Still, a stickler for the rules and an ardent monarchist, Thatcher famously arrived early to her meetings with the queen and gave incredibly low, reverential curtsies. She admitted in her autobiography, “The Downing Street Years,” published in 1993, “I was anxious about getting the details of procedure and protocol right.”

But biographers have observed that Thatcher’s anxious disposition, pretentious accent and grandiose manner simply irritated the queen. Before Thatcher became prime minister, she was invited to Buckingham Palace as leader of the Conservative Party. “On at least two occasions,” Palmer said, “she got dizzy and fainted, and the queen had to say ‘Someone catch that woman — again!’”

Britain’s Newspapers Report Biden Election

Front pages of the newspapers from Britain are posted below. National newspapers will be featured in a post Sunday.

Donald Trump Being Compared To Winston Churchill Most Embarrassing Moment Of The Week

Before we get to the heart of this post lets define a word.

Vacuous is having or showing a lack of thought or intelligence; mindless.

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(We see why Donald Trump hired her.)

On Wednesday, after a week that had already produced an embarrassing and simply bizarre episode where Donald Trump walked from the White House across Lafayette Square to silently hold up a Bible in front of St John’s Church, had law enforcement disperse a peaceful protest, and threatened to use the federal military against U.S. citizens, came yet another stunning event from this pathetic administration.

The vacuous White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany compared Trump at the church to demonstrations of strength and solidarity by Winston Churchill.

When the breathtakingly stupid McEnany was asked at a news briefing why the president thought it was important to walk over to the church for the cameras, she explained that Trump “wanted to send a very powerful message that we will not be overcome by looting, by rioting, by burning.” She added, “Like Churchill, we saw him inspecting the bombing damage, it sent a powerful message of leadership to the British people.”

The ditzy press secretary clearly is not aware that there are few historical episodes more well known than the Battle of Britain.  Had she an ounce of historical reference she could recall the words Churchill used to help save democratic civilization.  Who can forget “Their finest hour”, “Blood, sweat and tears”, “Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

Meanwhile, the Trump administration authorized the use of  “pepper balls,” a projectile munition that lofts irritant powder into the air, and “smoke canisters” to scatter the peaceful crowd then assembled Monday.  That was done so Trump could stand with a bible, just another book he does not read, in front of a church.  And McEnany thinks that merits comparison with Churchill!

london-bombings

Earlier this spring I finished The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson.  It is a book that is sold in Washington, D.C. book stores and one McEnany seriously is in need of reading. (Someone can certainly help her with the larger words.)

On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons.

Chapter 44: On a Quiet Blue Day

The day was warm and still, the sky blue above a rising haze. Temperatures by afternoon were in the nineties, odd for London. People thronged Hyde Park and lounged on chairs set out beside the Serpentine. Shoppers jammed the stores of Oxford Street and Piccadilly. The giant barrage balloons overhead cast lumbering shadows on the streets below. After the August air raid when bombs first fell on London proper, the city had retreated back into a dream of invulnerability, punctuated now and then by false alerts whose once-terrifying novelty was muted by the failure of bombers to appear. The late-summer heat imparted an air of languid complacency. In the city’s West End, theaters hosted twenty-four productions, among them the play Rebecca, adapted for the stage by Daphne du Maurier from her novel of the same name. Alfred Hitchcock’s movie version, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, was also playing in London, as were the films The Thin Man and the long-running Gaslight.

It was a fine day to spend in the cool green of the countryside.

The Luftwaffe came at teatime . . .

Just how many inept characters are in the Trump administration?  A shockingly high number as we are learning.

Simply embarrassing for the nation.