Of all the British monarchs who have claimed that they have ruled the seas, only one, King William IV, has been a truly professional seafarer. Known as the "Sailor King" in his own lifetime, he saw himself as a naval officer who happened to become the sovereign rather than a monarch who had been a naval officer. His life presents an appealing, if sometimes shocking character. His life in the Royal Navy was fraught with crisis: rivalries, doomed love affairs, extravagance and rebelliousness. Often he seems a Hogarthian character, or a nautical version of the Regency rake.
Yet, while many mocked or despised him, there were those who loved him. And, when he came to the throne and was all but swept away by the tide of the Age of Reform, he faced it with resolution and survived with honour. He had overcome the pressures and contradictions of a royal upbringing, to end his days a king who was not only loved but admired for setting an unstable monarchy on an even keel for the long reign of his niece Victoria which followed his.
Tom Pocock is the author of 18 books (and editor of two more), mostly biographies but including two about his experiences as a newspaper war correspondent.Born in London in 1925 - the son of the novelist and educationist Guy Pocock - he was educated at Westminster School and Cheltenham College, joining the Royal Navy in 1943. He was at sea during the invasion of Normandy and, having suffered from ill-health, returned to civilian life and in 1945 became a war correspondent at the age of 19,the youngest of the Second World War.After four years wth the Hulton Press current affairs magazine gro...
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