This coming Monday (Oct 20th ) is the 300 th anniversary of one of the most momentous events in British history yet no great parades through London are planned, no service of thanksgiving, not even a special issue of commemorative stamps. Yet arguably what happened 400 years ago was one of most important occurrences not only in the history of Britain but in the history of the world. It was of course the accession of King George I, the Elector of Hanover, to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland.
Yet it so nearly did not happen. The Tories and much of the country at large hankered for the return of the Stuarts in the person of The Old Pretender, the son of the deposed James II.The Jacobites though lost through a mixture of indolence, overconfidence, and bad luck but it was a close run thing. If they had prevailed and the Old Pretender had been crowned James III then the 18th century might have been very different. Instead of Great Britain becoming embroiled in war after war against France we might, instead, have allied ourselves with France against the likes of Prussia and Hanover. Think on that. If France had been an ally then no French help would have been given to the American colonists in their War of Independence. Canada would have remained French, France would not have bankrupted herself in wars with Britain and therefore the French Revolution would not have happened.
But instead of glamorous Stuarts we opted four hundred years ago for stupid boring Germans and by God they were all that and more. George I arrived with his two ugly mistresses, one of whom he created duchess of Kendal and the other countess of Darlington. the duchess was tall and thin and immediately nicknamed the Maypole while the countess was small and fat and thus was called the elephant.
But it was to the sheer stupidity of the four George's, and to the first two's idleness in delegating all the business of government to such a clever man as Sir Robert Walpole, that caused the rapid transfer of power during the 18th century from the Crown to an elected Parliament and the development of that unique British invention - the Constitutional Monarchy. Food for thought I think you will agree and surely one of histories big 'What If's' - is it worthy though of a celebration? I cannot warm to the Hanoverians I'm afraid, they had no 'style' - no glamour- they were dullards all. No I am a romantic and the Stuarts for all their faults had style, they had romance and they were one and all glamorous so I for one would not be celebrating in any case but I am surprised that no else is.