‘Why chuck good money after him?’ That was the reaction of my Greek barber, when we were recently discussing the possible restoration of King Constantine: ‘those kings, they just milk the people’. His words caught the gist of the anti-monarchical tradition in Britain, too, as revealed in Frank Prochaska’s crisp and cogent survey of the last two and a half centuries.
From the rise of London radicalism under George III to the high point of the Red Clydeside attacks under George V, royal profligacy proved the spur to republican agitation. Why should the nation bankroll the Regent’s colossal building programmes, simply to please that Prince of Pleasure? What on earth were