King George V
Part Three, Chapter Seven: Decisions, Decisions
Though the British Royal Family braced themselves for a mass outpouring of public displeasure and a prolonged scandal in the wake of Prince George of Cambridge’s shocking decision to marry a low-born Roman Catholic Hanoverian, the expected tirade of opposition failed to materialise beyond those who were perhaps best described as professionally outraged. That is not to say that when the story did break, people were not taken aback by it. “Prince George of Cambridge to Wed Catholic
” was a shocking headline for the time but as the Palace remained tight lipped on the King’s response to the forthcoming nuptials, newspapers were forced instead to print speculation. This was accompanied by a series of opinion pieces written by middle-class snobs who took an almost funereal tone, proffering such morbid observations as “there will be great sadness at the news that a young man of such excellent parentage, so wonderfully raised with tradition and duty as his guide, should become a fallen Prince condemned to so tragic a future”. The Bishop of Durham provided a bizarre commentary in which he did not mention the Prince directly but instead, suggested that “the radical element in society which seeks to impose a decline in moral standards will no doubt rejoice as their wicked ways singe the institution of marriage, just as their evil followers set a torch to the factories and mills of the North”. The aristocracy were suitably outraged and delighted in equal measure. Public face demanded their opposition to the match but their dinner parties were certainly made more interesting as guests swapped the latest rumour and gossip they had picked up from an erstwhile lady in waiting or retired equerry.
Politicians too were obliged to pass some comment, though as the Prince had not yet married and taken himself out of the line of succession to the British throne, few were willing to comment publicly. Though some could not help themselves and in the House of Lords, the Earl of Winchelsea made a passionate declaration of support for the King for his “demonstration of the sincerity of the vow His Majesty made to uphold the Protestant succession”, whilst Lord Melville was heard to remark that if his son (Henry Dundas) ever behaved in such a way as to humiliate his parents and his regiment, he should waste no time in “horse whipping the boy until he was corrected”. But if the establishment expected a mob baying for blood outside Cambridge House in Piccadilly, there were much mistaken. Though the Palace prepared a statement reassuring the public that the marriage would not be recognised and that, if it was contracted, the King had pledged to remove royal rank from his cousin, the need for it never arose. In reality, the working classes were simply too hungry to give a damn as to whom a minor British princeling had taken for his bride some 600 miles away and those who otherwise might find time to criticise were trying to find a way to stop their empty factories, mills and mines from becoming abandoned concerns.
An engraving of a "typical" Chartist demonstration, 1842.
By September 1842, the strikes borne of the Baring Cut had spread beyond the factories and mills of the north to the mines of the Midlands and even as far as the docks at Dundee. When industrial action reached a new town or city, the loudest agitators were quickly arrested and the crowds read the Riot Act before being forcibly dispersed. Ringleaders were put on trial for offences of varying severity; any charge would do so long as it got them off the streets and into gaol. But the fact remained that many were still refusing to return to work until their wages were restored and this time, they were prepared to stand firm in this demand regardless of anything the police or the local militia might throw at them. The official line taken by the government was that the strikes were a disproportionate response but in private, many members of the Cabinet blamed Baring for a failure to predict the consequences of reintroducing of the income tax which saw industrialists slash wages to offset the rise in their rates. The government could not force employers to restore wages, neither could they afford (economically or politically) to u-turn and scrap the income tax once more even though Baring’s catalyst for its reintroduction had been resolved. The war in China had been won and the peace talks at Nanking were to see a push for a profitable territory grab that would re-open trade routes and secure hefty reparations from the Qing. But most knew that this was only a sticking plaster on a gaping wound. The war had not plunged Britain into economic decline; the combined policies of successive governments of the last 50 years had contributed to that and increased shipments of tea were hardly like to turn the tide.
From 1840 until 1842, the Tory government had been fortunate in that they faced no real opposition. Their official majority was boosted by like-minded Unionists who, though they sat on the opposition benches, more often than not leant their votes to government bills. Lord Cottenham’s departure from office and the Whig defeat in the last general election had left the Whigs divided and bruised and as they struggled to find a new sense of purpose (not to mention unity), the Tories were able to ride out the storms of the day without worrying too much about their electoral rivals. But in September 1842, all that changed. The horse trading of the summer at Holland House and Bloomsbury Square had seen a clear victor emerge from the two front runners in the race to lead the Whig party to restored good fortune. That victor was the former Foreign Secretary, Lord Melbury. But unlike his predecessors, Melbury was not frightened, or even resentful, of his rival Lord John Russell. Indeed, though he had captured the support of the Spencerites and swung the Whig party to his corner, Melbury was wise enough to know that he could never lead the Whigs successfully if he did not acknowledge the Russell Group and try to bring them on board as he set sail for a new political course. To effect this, he would have to welcome Russell and adopt some of his positions. What emerged was an effective double act with Melbury finally able to take the Tories to task in the Lords with Lord John tackling the government in the Commons . For those on the Tory benches who had delighted in Whig division for so long, they were about to reap what they had sown. The strikes of 1842 brought the Whigs together for the first time in two years, allowing them to focus on an issue they could all rally behind. The same could not be said for the government.
The strikes of 1842 were markedly different from anything the United Kingdom had seen before in that they were organised and mostly non-violent, which made policing those who picketed or withdrew their labours increasingly difficult. Indeed, even the most experienced magistrates could not find a way to punish a man for refusing to work for a wage he did not feel fair, though many were helped along by law enforcement who were not averse to embroidering a charge sheet or putting strikers at the scenes of other crimes to get a conviction. Naturally this served to agitate the strikers even more and within weeks, many town gaols were full and the crowds in the streets were still so large that they could not be broken up in sufficient numbers to clear them completely. Where stragglers remained, reinforcements seem to appear and within hours, market towns and city suburbs were just as full as they had been earlier that same day. Such was the benefit of co-ordinated strike action.
Around this time, the Prime Minister travelled to Buckingham Palace for a private audience with the King. George V had been following developments where the strikes were concerned and he had serious worries that there seemed to be a distinct lack of urgency in the government's response. After exchanging pleasantries, the King and the Prime Minister sat in the King’s Study where Sir James began to work his way through the latest reports; 4 killed in Norwich, 18 arrested in Lincoln, 34 gaoled in Manchester, 2 factories burned out in Leeds. What had begun as a handful of non-violent strikes in major cities seemed to be spiralling out of control fast and yet Sir James Graham read this catalogue of social unrest as if it were a weary church bulletin.
“Moving on to Hong Kong…”
“Yes Your Majesty”, the Prime Minister said vaguely, “The peace talks, you know. I am informed they will conclude in a few days’ time, we have now successfully added treaty ports at Amoy and a place called Foochow…that brings the total amount to four and that is of course, in addition to the port authorities we have secured at Canton…”
“Oh”, the King replied somewhat puzzled, “Well…yes, that’s very good. No, Prime Minister, I thought we might stick with these strikes for a little while longer”
“We may have to Sir”, Sir James laughed, "I fear the working classes have begun to regard the situation as a prolonged public holiday which they are not eager to see end any time soon"
The King smiled awkwardly. What on earth was so amusing?
“Prime Minister”, he began, leaning forward earnestly, “I must confess that when I read that report, with the news from Lincoln and Manchester, I had not realised quite how serious the situation had become. I know I have some catching up to do but…well…I am quite alarmed at what appears to be a growing move to disorder”
Sir James put down his papers and clasped his hands before him as if he were about to lead the King in a prayer. His tone was suitably sanctimonious.
“Fear not Sir”, he said, “I am assured that the taste for prolonged strike action is waning. In Hull there is a general return to work already, and for quite a small increase in wages, we expect other employers to follow suit in the coming days”
“But what is their incentive to do so?”
“They will starve if they do not Your Majesty”
“Not the strikers. The employers…”
It was the Prime Minister’s turn to appear puzzled.
“The employers Sir? It is not the business of government to regulate what an employer should pay a man for his labours. I am disappointed at some who chose to offset the increase in their rates by cutting wages but nothing could justify my intervention in the way a man wishes to operate his own concern, whether that be factory, mill or…if you will forgive me Sir…palace. You see Your Majesty, it would be akin to my passing a bill which forced the Crown to pay its farm labourers a certain wage regardless of their productivity, length of service, ability even. It cannot be done Sir. And soon enough, the strikers will realise that and they shall have to return to work. It may take a shilling or two more on the part of the employers to convince them to do so, but there is simply no alternative”
“But these Chartists…”
“The Chartists are a radical mob taking advantage of the poor and feeble-brained”, the Prime Minister said haughtily, “They are using this unfortunate business for their own ends and I concede they are enjoying some success in it. But they cannot feed the masses Your Majesty. Only work can do that”.
The King stood up but motioned for the Prime Minister to remain seated. As he paced, he took in Sir James’ words. They may well reflect the reality of the situation but they still rang of cold indifference to the plight of many.
“So is your decision to ride out this wave of strikes, Prime Minister?”
“Yes Sir”, Graham replied, almost sighing, “The Chancellor informs me that the economic situation shall improve in the short term and when it does, we shall be able to abolish the income tax once more and employers shall have better means to increase the wages available to their employees. Patience and perseverance made a Bishop of His Reverence, what? Now....the talks at Nanking...”
The King gave another weak smile as the Prime Minister returned to his papers. There was more detail about the cessation of Chinese territory, a list of recommendations for a new Governor to be appointed at Hong Kong and then a schedule for a proposed state visit from the King of Prussia. He said nothing and waited for the audience to conclude. The Prime Minister left the King’s study that evening and heaved a sigh of relief. In truth, he did not believe a word of what he had just said. Baring’s decision to reintroduce income tax only received the approval of the Cabinet as a whole because it would be a temporary measure to provide the Treasury with a buffer. Whilst it was true that the peace talks in Nanking would see trade routes re-open (thus slashing prices on goods such as tea) and whilst the Qing had indicated that they would indeed pay a hefty sum in war reparations (the figure of £25m had been proposed), Baring was mistaken if he believed that it was the nation’s military adventures alone which had brought Britain to the brink of a recession . The problem was the government could not force employers to reverse wage cuts (that much the Prime Minister had been honest about) but neither could it afford (financially or politically) to u-turn on the income tax.
At a Cabinet meeting held shortly before the Prime Minister’s trip to Buckingham Palace, it was obvious that the King was not alone in his concerns. At a meeting held in London, Chartist leaders William Lovett and Henry Vincent were calling for a general strike in which all working men would show solidarity with those affected by the Baring Cut in withdrawing their labour for two days, thus bringing the country to a standstill . The Prime Minister knew only too well that these were overly ambitious goals, the vast majority of the working poor could not afford politics and nobody was going to lay down their tools when they desperately needed work. In the larger cities, most employers had overcome the difficulties of the strikes because for as many who were prepared to take industrial action, there were ten men only too eager to take their place for a lower wage because they had no choice but to work if they hoped to feed their families. That said, the Chartist threat was not going away any time soon and now the Home Office was coming under just as much pressure as the Treasury as demands came from magistrates for more powers to restrict freedom of assembly as Lord Liverpool’s government had done some 25 years earlier in the face of increased public unrest. The Home Secretary was refusing to consider such a move. Gladstone believed Liverpool’s “Six Acts” to be “the worst kind of repression a government could ever impose” and told the Prime Minister that he would rather resign than “commit to an act which will do nothing but inflame tensions and lead to greater civil unrest”. 
Gladstone in 1838.
This put Gladstone at odds with his Cabinet colleagues. Lord Wharncliffe, Lord Lowther and the Duke of Buccleuch all agreed that emergency legislation was needed to prevent strike action spilling over into something far more dangerous - if it hadn't already - and when Gladstone firmly rejected such a notion, they made it their common goal to see him ousted from the government. Gladstone might well have expected this. His appointment as Home Secretary in 1841 had not been entirely popular at the time and he was minded to turn down the offer of the post because he felt he may find himself quickly at odds with more traditional Tory voices such as Lowther and Buccleuch. The Prime Minister was discouraged from giving Gladstone the post in the first place by none other than the outgoing Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel. Peel had been pleased to have the opportunity extended to him to redeem his reputation somewhat following the 1838 general election defeat which saw the Tories beaten back into continued opposition by Lord Melbourne. But many in Graham’s Cabinet disliked Peel just as much as they did Gladstone and it quickly became clear that his position was untenable. When he resigned, Graham suggested to Peel that he may promote the Leader of the House of Commons, William Gladstone, to Home Secretary. Peel could only foresee that Gladstone would find the same reception in office and urged Graham to choose someone else. But the Prime Minister had an ulterior motive for promoting Gladstone. 
William Gladstone had made a name for himself in the 1830s on two major political issues of the day; slavery and the Corn Laws. On the former, he allowed himself to be dominated by his family’s interests in the slave trade and fought hard against its abolition, even going so far as to personally secure compensation for his family concern to the tune of £105,000. This put him firmly among the ranks of the “High Tories” who were of like mind, many of whom had since left the party to join the Unionists. Yet Gladstone was a complex man and when it came to the Corn Laws, he set himself amongst quite another group who had nothing in common with the anti-abolitionists. At first, much like the Prime Minister himself, Gladstone had been a keen supporter of the Corn Laws which regulated the price of imported grain. But, again much like the Prime Minister, in recent years he had mellowed in his attitude and had begun to consider that they were doing more harm than good. He even allowed himself to attend Anti Corn Law League meetings at Exeter Hall, though he was never a member and thought the League far too radical in its position. But men like Wharncliffe, Lowther and Buccleuch were keen supporters of retaining the Corn Laws and when Gladstone innocently remarked in Cabinet that the income tax would never have been needed had the government addressed the Corn Laws first, this kick started their campaign to have him removed .
Sir James Graham appointed Gladstone because he knew that he had the potential to be a great rival. In Cabinet, Gladstone would be bound by the convention of collective responsibility but his wide scope of interests would also be restricted to just one portfolio. Better Gladstone on the frontbench, calm and controlled, than Gladstone on the backbenches, free to raise merry hell. Gladstone saw off some of his critics earlier in 1842 when he privately indicated his opposition to reintroducing income tax (though he ultimately agreed on the basis that it would be a temporary charge) but he flung himself firmly back into their firing line when, faced with general strike action, he suggested that the government “seize the day” and at least consider a move to reform the Corn Laws in line with some of the Prime Minister's own writings on the subject. To do so would take the wind out of the Whig sails, reduce prices, and remove the motivation for the strikes. Whilst he was still lukewarm to a wholesale repeal, the circumstances of the day led him to believe that something must give if the government was to continue to rule out a u-turn on income tax reintroduction. Wharncliffe jumped on this statement and asked rudely, “Why do you not concern yourself less with the Treasury and more with your own department Gladstone? Your refusal to counter appropriate restrictions of public assembly is making the situation worse by the hour, your priority should surely be that? Leave the accounts to Baring”.
Sir James Graham shot Wharncliffe a disapproving glance.
“That isn’t very helpful...”
“But it is true”, Lowther chipped in, “In the name of God man, there’s riots on the streets and there have been no steps taken to prevent further bloodshed. We must act now to protect the general public from the mob!”
“The general public are
the mob”, Gladstone snapped, “If you wish to put it that way. If you restrict their liberty you shall only give the Chartists the justification they seek to continue this madness”
“Quite right”, Baring replied in agreement, “Agitators are one thing but the common man will return to work when his belly is empty, you do not need to arrest him to bring him to heel. That will happen naturally”
“That isn’t quite what I meant…”, Gladstone sighed, “Gentlemen, the fact is that a man has the right to speak his mind and to protest his view. He does not have the right to cause violence to his neighbour or destroy public property but these men are, on the whole, not inclined to such activity. They have simply withdrawn their labour and I cannot, we cannot, pass a bill that forces them to take up their tools again against their conscience”
“Balderdash!”, came a shout from across the table, “We have a responsibility to act in the common good!”
“It is a duty”, another minister cried out in protest, “A Christian duty to protect them from evil influences!”
"Evil?!", someone else bellowed, "The working man is not evil Sir, it is the radicals who poison him...!"
Sir James Graham wrapped his knuckles loudly on the table. Silence descended.
“Gentlemen, please”, he said sharply, “I fear we are proving our opponents correct in their assertions that we are a divided group. Let me say, here and now, that I do not intend to revisit the Corn Laws at this moment. Neither do I intend to reimpose the Six Acts passed during the tenure of the late Lord Liverpool. We have a solution staring us in the face and it is one we can pursue without recourse to petty arguments at this table - and I believe, which will cause minimum fuss with maximum results. When the income tax proposal came before us, we agreed that it’s reintroduction should be temporary. Therefore, I believe we should announce a timetable for phasing it out with minor decreases to the rates as the deadline for its removal draws near. I have asked the Chancellor to put together such a timetable and I believe this shall be enough to encourage those who have cut wages to consider raising them somewhat in line with the new rates. Where wages have been raised by just a few pence, we are seeing a return to work and the termination of strike action. I am sure it shall prove to be the case when such an approach becomes standard as the result of this new measure”
This announcement was not entirely warmly received. Whilst it would no doubt encourage some to return to the factories or mills, it did not address those issues which had become the new driving force of the movement as adopted by the Chartists. Gladstone was the only one willing to say so openly.
“I concede we may see a return to work under this plan Prime Minister”, he said softly, “But surely this will do very little to silence the Chartists-“
The room was suddenly filled with a loud bang as Sir James struck the table.
“Damn it, I do not wish to hear one more word about the bloody Chartists!”, he raged, “Do you not see, Gladstone, that the Chartists do not feed the people they lead onto the streets? Are you so foolish as to believe that the people marching and striking and smashing shop front windows are doing so because they believe in Chartist
principles? For goodness’ sake man, half of the beggars can’t read their own names, let alone the pamphlets these layabouts publish! We shall pursue this and we shall see an end to these strikes and if we do not, then we shall take further measures against the Chartists directly and we shall keep doing so until every last one of them is transported, if that's what it takes, do I make myself clear?"
He had perhaps made himself a little too clear.
The Qing come to terms at Nanking, from a British newspaper, 1842.
The meeting then moved on to peace talks at Nanking. Shattered, broken and humiliated by the swift British victory, the Qing would forever regard the Treaty of Nanking as an unequal one in which they were unfairly exploited. The Treaty broke the Canton System which had been in place since 1760 and had allowed China to keep the Western powers at arm’s length. Now, four “treaty ports” were to be established with open-access to all
foreign traders with British consuls given the right to station themselves at Amoy, Foochow, Ningpo and Shanghai in addition to their existing concerns at Canton. This would see British trade routes in the Far East re-open almost immediately and with far more profitable results than ever before. This was good news for a beleaguered British economy but the Treasury had still had to fund an expensive campaign it could ill-afford. This was easily remedied with a clause in the Nanking Treaty which forced the Qing government to pay the British government the total sum of £25m within three years with an annual interest rate of 4% for any monies not paid in a timely fashion. The £25m was to serve as compensation; £3m was said to be owed for the loss of confiscated opium whilst £22m would serve to repay the cost of the war itself. But by far the biggest advantage to the United Kingdom was the cessation of Hong Kong. It was a staggering blow to the Qing as they had no choice but to agree to hand over Hong Kong which was declared a crown colony under British rule in perpetuity.
“So let us be united gentlemen”, the Prime Minister said enthusiastically, “For this is the proof of what we can achieve when we are so”. Sir James caught Gladstone’s eye. It must be remembered that Gladstone had opposed the China War, even threatening to resign if Britain took up arms against the Qing. In the event, Gladstone remained in his post because he reasoned that the United Kingdom had been left with no choice but to fight the Chinese. Yet with one look, the Prime Minister had effectively warned Gladstone that he had been lucky to keep his job before, and furthermore, his objections that the war would not be easily won, or that the outcome could not be guaranteed, had been proven to be unfounded. Whilst Graham did not wish to sack Gladstone as some of his Cabinet might have wished, cracks were beginning to develop in the delicately forged united front the Tories had been able to present for so long – and the Whigs were poised, waiting to take advantage of it.
Some days later, the Duke of Buccleuch requested an audience with the King at Buckingham Palace. George V had been keen to keep the Buccleuchs at arm’s length since the death of his wife earlier that year but as the Duke was Lord President of the Council, this could only last for so long before the Prime Minister might consider he had reasonable cause to demand that such a meeting take place. However, Sir James Graham was spared this when a Privy Council matter that required the King’s urgent attention reared its head. A letter had made its way to Buccleuch from Prince George of Cambridge. He was formally requesting permission from the Privy Council to marry Franziska Fritz; “In much the same way as consent was given by His Majesty’s Privy Councillors to the marriage of my uncle, the Duke of Sussex, I now petition the same privilege be conferred upon me as I seek to marry before the conclusion of the year”. It appeared Prince George had made his decision. Buccleuch knew only too well what the answer would be, yet he was duty bound to present the petition to the King. Entering the King’s study, Buccleuch chose to tear off the band aid and quickly address the situation at hand.
“I have had a request from His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge”, the Duke said hurriedly, “It is to ask the Privy Council to give him permission…”
“No”, the King said flatly, refusing to look up from his state papers.
“Yes Sir, as it stands His Royal Highness is not yet 25 and-“ 
“Not Royal Highness”,
the King muttered, again seemingly unwilling to look the Duke of Buccleuch in the eye, “Not anymore he’s not”
A frosty silence reigned. Finally, the King looked up.
“Well?”, he said unkindly, “What else is there?”
Buccleuch thought for a moment. And then decided now was not quite the time.
“Nothing Sir…I bid you good night”
And with that Buccleuch left the room. The King sighed deeply and shook his head. Was it really so bad that his cousin had found somebody he loved and wished to make his bride? After all, wasn’t that just what the Duke of Sussex had done and which the King had so recently sanctioned? And if the King could, would he not give his Crown and every jewel in it for just a few precious moments more with the woman he
loved? George reached across his desk and grabbed a piece of notepaper.
Then he thought better of it, scrubbed out the words with his pen, balled up the notepaper and threw it toward the fire.
By the end of September 1842, ‘Cousin George’ had his formal reply from the Privy Council. No such consideration to approve his marriage could be given as he had not yet turned 25. “Furthermore Sir”, Buccleuch wrote to the Prince, “It is my regret to inform you that His Majesty has prepared an Order-in-Council concerning this matter, the particulars of which I shall not include here but which I believe are well known to you already”. Little did George know it, but this would mark the last time he would ever receive a letter from England addressed to His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge
, though it was this name which he entered into the Parish Register of the Allerheiligenkirche in Erfurt on the 31st of October 1842 when he married Franziska Fritz. As the marriage was unrecognised in England, Fritz was not entitled to the courtesy title of Countess of Tipperary. From the moment he said "I do“
, His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge lost everything; his royal rank, his career, but most importantly, his family.
For the remainder of the decade, there would be no communication between George and his family. His parents absolutely forbad his sisters to write to him, the King issuing similar instructions in England. He did not visit the United Kingdom, nor Hanover, and chose to settle in a small house in Kirchheim on the banks of the River Wipfra. The “small sum” given to him by his father before his departure from Herrenhausen was a little over £500, the equivalent of £30,000 today, which was just enough to lease the farmhouse at Kirchheim and to take in a small staff of just three; a footman-valet, a cook and a housemaid. This was to become George’s home for the next two years but his penchant for lavish spending (matched thaler for thaler by his new bride) quickly saw their meagre nest egg disappear. George’s marriage shocked and appalled the royal courts of Europe and forever after, he would be known as ‘Poor George’ – though this might apply just as much to his reduced station and banishment from his family home as to his financial circumstances. The former Prince quickly became a disturbing example to other young men in his position as to what might happen if they did not behave themselves.
But for King George V, his cousin became a regular presence pricking at his conscience. And this only increased as the years went by. All George Cambridge could hope is that one day soon, the King would become so tired of such nagging thoughts, that he may relent and bring Prince George back into the family fold…
 His courtesy title was Lord John Russell but as he did not yet hold a peerage in his own right, Russell was still able to stand for election to the Commons.
 This figure was the same in the OTL.
 Again, as in the OTL.
 You can read more about Lord Liverpool and his "Six Acts" as they appeared in TTL here: https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...-british-monarchy.514810/page-2#post-22266414
 I failed to mention Peel's departure earlier but it actually fits quite neatly here.
 As in the OTL, men like Gladstone and Graham were already questioning their continued support of the Corn Laws a few years before the famine in Ireland forced their hand and they agreed to support a repeal.
 At 25, the Privy Council could consider the matter without the King's consent pending parliament's approval.
With other OTL events now concluded, I'm back to my previous schedule so there'll definitely be more than just one chapter this week - unless the cold I picked up over the weekend gets any worse! When I am asked in years to come where I was when Queen Elizabeth II's State Funeral took place, I will have to answer; "Tucked up on the sofa with Kleenex and Night Nurse".
This instalment marks the departure of Prince George for a little while as he's now served his purpose - for the time being. But he'll prove important in the future and I hope that when we reach that stage, you'll see why George married Franziska and not Sarah Fairbrother as he did in the OTL. That said, with so many characters it's a bit of a plate spinning act and as one is retired for a little while, other favourites can make a return for a while. So keep your eyes peeled...