Recollections of David Lloyd George, Part II
At a time when class-distinctions were still immensely powerful, writes Lucy Masterman, Lloyd George became the first working-class Prime Minister of Great Britain.
As one of the leading ministers, Lloyd George was frequently entertained by King George V and Queen Mary, with whom on the whole his relations seem to have been fairly amicable. He specially enjoyed his visits to Balmoral where the atmosphere was informal and without ceremony, very different from what it had been under Queen Victoria.
In 1910 he told my husband,
“The King gave him one of his father’s walking sticks and the Queen some presents for Megan. He said the life was most extraordinarily simple and they were most charming hosts, saying every day, ‘What do you want to do? Where would you like to go?’
One day they went out with the children and, taking a hamper with them, had lunch up the river in a little hut Queen Victoria had built there, the Queen washing the plates and packing up like any one else might have done; and the whole party played hide and seek round the hut, monarchs included.”
I do not know if it was this picnic or another that threatened to have a more melodramatic ending. The river was in spate after rain and all stepping stones were submerged except one. What took him I do not know; but Lloyd George sprang on to this stone, to discover that neither as a stance nor as a jumping-off place was it at all suitable and the far bank further off than he thought.
He paused for a moment to consider his next move, while the royal couple stood wringing their hands and exclaiming “He will be drowned, he will be drowned! and everyone will say we did it.” Fortunately, after a moment Lloyd George was able to leap back—he was compact of muscle as my husband once observed when bathing with him— and landed safely.
Mrs. Lloyd George once gave my husband an account of his reception at Windsor.