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King George V1 and the Boy's camp

By Edited Dec 4, 2016 1 0

The threat of Revolution

George VI was the second son of the reigning King and as such was able to immerse himself in activities that would not be deemed suitable for the heir to the throne. He was a man of a sympathetic and practical nature. He believed that the distinctions between the Upper Classes and those who belonged to the Working Classes were the biggest threat to the stability of society.  These ideas which he expounded in the  early 1920's came only a few years after the death of the Russian Royal Family at the hands of the Revolutionary Government

Sir Aexander Grant

During the early 1920's the Duke made a direct appeal to Heads of Industry for backing to finance an idea he had to host a boys camp. The first camp was financed by the millionaire  philanthropist Sir Alexander Grant. The inventor of the digestive biscuit and father of McVities biscuits, Sir Alexander , financed the building of a camp on an aerodrome in Kent, close to the sea. Sir Alexander had an especial interest in class as he was a millionaire having been born the son of a railway guard

King George V1

All the Boys were equal

The camp was intended for two hundred boys aged between seventeen and nineteen years comprising one hundred boys from public (private) schools and one hundred boys from industry. The latter would have finished their formal education some years earlier to learn a trade or to labour in the factories. When the boys arrived it was clear which set they belonged to but they were divided into groups of twenty (ten of each) and billetted together. To create more of a level playing field the boys were issued with identical clothing of shorts and shirts. Games were played especially so that the industrial boys could benefit from the fresh air and sunshine. New games were devised so that one group did not have an advantage over the other because they had previously played the game.

The King takes part in the camp

The Duke of York made his first visit to the Boys camp after it had been running a few days, silencing some of the negative comments in the national press. As time passed the King changed his style of visit from inspection to involvement playing games and swimming with the boys. A tradition grew up where prominent figures were invited to the camp and given a good dinner. They were then given three minutes preparation time and told to deliver an interesting speech to the two hundred boys and assembled staff!

George V1 Boys camp

The final camp at Abergeldie Castle

The camp attracted the attention of the media, although it was not as intrusive as the modern day paparazzi. The King did not enjoy the inquisitiveness of either the cameras or the day trippers that would walk past the camp in an attempt to see the King at play.

 

In 1930 the camp was moved to Southwold in Suffolk a much more peaceful and secluded site where the King could work and play with the boys.

In 1939 the final camp took place at Abergeldie Castle , near Balmoral in Scotland. This camp saw the King take the active role of Camp Chief and he spent a week leading the boys in country pursuits, walking through the hills and trying to engender them with his love of the countryside.  Supper was often taken at Balmoral castle with the King and Boys sitting down with the Queen and the Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret.

The King had a very happy week just before the outbreak of the Second World War

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