The Power and the Glory (Hardback)
Royal Navy Fleet Reviews from Earliest Times to 2005
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.