The Power and the Glory (ePub)
Royal Navy Fleet Reviews from Earliest Times to 2005
Click here to watch video review by Dr Alexander Clarke
'Short listed for the Mountbatten Maritime Literary Award, 2021'
The Power and the Glory tells the story of royal fleet reviews from the fifteenth century to the 2005 International Fleet Review, commemorating the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar, which was the final exhibition of that pomp and ceremony that had been an essential if irregular expression of naval strength for more than 500 years. Whether to impress or deter a foreign power, often when mobilising for war, provide reassurance for domestic consumption or celebrate a sovereign’s accession, royal naval reviews were an integral part of political positioning and national pride.
At these reviews, particularly during the eras of British naval dominance, potential allies or enemies were invited to marvel at British prowess, while the British public could revel in the country’s naval superiority; advances in technology and ship design were showcased, often for commercial benefit, and homage paid to kings and queens at the head of their fleets.
Starting with an examination of the reasons for Britain’s need for and close association with a navy, the author goes on to explain the historical, political and technological context for British fleet reviews from the time of Edward III onwards. The Royal Navy reached its apogee in the extended nineteenth century, and The Power and the Glory examines this period, in particular the aims and ambitions of the nineteen reviews during the reigns of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, and the subsequent twelve under George V, Edward VIII and George VI.
After the Second World War and the Coronation Review of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the Royal Navy entered a long period of almost terminal decline which has been reflected in the lack of royal reviews since 2005. The book examines the reasons for this loss of what had been for centuries the main pillar of British power. Finally, the book looks at the history of the royal yachts, used for conveying monarchs around their shores and fleets, and how they reflected the character of the times.
Political manoeuvring, technological change and the personal stories of many of the naval characters involved are all told with pace and verve, as are the histories of many of the ships involved. The Power and the Glory is a celebration of the Royal Navy and its role in our history, and in particular of its essential importance to the pomp and glory of Britain’s maritime heyday in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
‘It is the sort of book that invites rereading and repeated referencing, and it richly merits a place on the shelf of anyone interested in the Royal Navy and the geopolitical and social history at play throughout the sweep of its existence’..Mariners Mirror, May 2023
"The Power and the Glory would be a worthy addition to the library of a professional historian or casual naval history enthusiast."Nautical Research Journal 67:3 (Autumn 2022).
‘He wants his readers to be reminded of past glories and made aware of present-day pitfalls. It certainly did that for me. My regret is that those who probably should read it, probably won’t.’Andy Field, The Naval Review
Featured inTrinity House biannual 'FLASH', Autumn 2021 No 35.
Click here to watch video reviewDr Alexander Clarke
NOTE: set cursor to 40 minute mark
This has to be the definitive account of the review as an instrument of policy and projection of power, across the centuries.Jonathan Seagrave - South West Soundings, South West Maritime History Society
To conclude in the author’s own words, “….the story of Royal Fleet Reviews is a history of the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom in miniature….” and he has succeeded superbly in condensing that fascinating history and putting it into print.ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)
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‘it’s very well written, well researched, and definitely well worth consideration by those who have an interest in history, especially naval history. In summary, a very entertaining and enjoyable read’.‘Union Jack’ in arrse.co.uk (Army Rumour Service) June 2021
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‘[it] is that rare thing, an important book embellished with some well chosen and unusual illustrations….This is an extraordinarily good book’Warships International Fleet Review, June 2021 edition
The author has brought together a fascinating array of information not only about the ships but material ranging from the strategic background to the lunch menus. The result is a brilliant overview of our changing navy with a bonus of insight into the society of the time of change... We highly commend this novel approach to naval history to all readers.Clash of Steel
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‘This is an extraordinarily good book which sheds light on a significant aspect of the Royal Navy in the age of sail as well as in modern times.’The Kedge Anchor (the magazine of the 1805 Club)
This book is thoroughly recommended.Small Warships
Click here to watch video reviewBru Ships Youtube Channel