5.3 ‘The Greatest Welshman Yet Born’? David Lloyd George and Wales
‘Lloyd George Knew My Father, Father Knew Lloyd George’
My first ever acquaintance with the name of David Lloyd George came through hearing my paternal grandmother sing the line ‘Lloyd George Knew My Father, Father Knew Lloyd George’, over and over again, to the tune of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’. This music-hall ditty originated as a satirical comment on the controversy that surrounded the ‘honours scandal’ of 1922, when the Lloyd George government was accused of trading honours such as OBEs (Order of the British Empire), knighthoods, baronetcies and peerages in return for financial donations.
A much more profound and educational engagement with the life and times of Lloyd George came in 1981, when the BBC screened an impressive nine-part drama. It is an interesting exercise to reflect on how our historical knowledge of individuals or events is constructed through layers of cultural memory.
What do you know already about the life of Lloyd George? Without referring to any additional materials, jot down as many facts about him as you can think of.
There is no ‘right’ answer for this activity: everyone is likely to have a different range of ideas and knowledge about Lloyd George's life. Of course, some of those ideas might be ‘wrong’, but let's not worry about that at the moment. I tried to come up with facts about Lloyd George that might fit the bill of ‘strange, but true’; here are three.
Although we see Lloyd George quite clearly as a Welshman and a fluent speaker of the Welsh language, he was actually born in 1863 at 5 New York Place, Chorlton upon Medlock, Manchester.
Lloyd George is one of relatively few Welsh politicians to have a mountain named after him: Mount Lloyd George, 2,938 metres high, in northern British Columbia, Canada.
Who do you think Lloyd George termed ‘the George Washington of Germany’ after taking tea with him in 1936? I'm afraid that it was Adolf Hitler. It is only fair to note that Lloyd George revised his opinion by the end of the decade.