BEFORE the Jubilee year is ended, King George's loyal subjects will have issued many a book to commemorate his accession to the British throne, but one may venture to prophesy that few, if any, will be so interesting as Sir Austen Chamberlain's compilation of eighty-three illustrations in photogravure from the Pathe film of the same title as the present work's. Sir Austen has also written the foreword, which states the significance of the Crown today, and as a former member of H. M. Government he must certainly speak for a large and representative body of British opinion. "The King at home or abroad is ever first and foremost the servant of the State," says Sir Austen, and his selection of photographs exhibits the King, his consort, and the royal family, performing the duties incumbent upon them in peace and in war. These duties, if Sir Austen's anthology gave the whole story, would seem to be wholly public, and pity would then be one of the emotions aroused in the populace at the sight of Majesty opening the London County Hall (1922), inspecting troops, or watching the races at Ascot. Enough pomp and circumstance still attends public occasions in England for Mr. Max Beerbohm's admiration for royalty, when he contemplates the "cheap and tawdry inmates of the White House and the Champs Elysees," to be somewhat justified, even in the eyes of stanch republicans. One doubts, nevertheless, whether certain of King George's predecessors--Queen Elizabeth or even James II--would have been content to be chiefly decorative, or to have their royal relatives go "Empire crusading," as Sir Auston nicely and naively calls it, speaking of the Duke of Gloucester.
In theory the King-in-Parliament is the British sovereign, and he is a powerful, although (under modern conditions) a cooperative prince embodied in several persons, of whom the chief, at present, is King George. Politically, King George has been somewhat less forceful than his father, and one of the few personal acts for which he is likely to be remembered is his invitation to Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, after defeat at the polls, to become His Majesty's Prime Minister in the National Government. The twenty-five years of his reign, however, have been years in which personality has counted for less and less in politics; "the King's reign has been full of great events and of movements of which we cannot yet forecast the end." Perhaps some of his subjects--Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Mr. David Lloyd George--have influenced the course of events more than he has.
Sir Austen commends the King's "quiet devotion to duty," and one must agree, rejoicing that he has been sensible enough to present the King as a good man in a difficult position, and has not attempted the unreal figure of a Colossus dwarfing the men of his time.