Today is the Anniversary of the death of Professor Peter Geach, Balliol College, distinguished Catholic philosopher and husband of the equally distinguished Elizabeth Anscombe. When I publicised a Notice of the Requiem arranged for yesterday, a kind reader drew my attention to the accounts of Geach's proclamation in 1937 of our late Sovereign Lord King Robert I and IV. As one does, I duly googled PETER GEACH PROCLAMATION RUPPRECHT ... and it is surprising how much can be found in old newspapers about this subject; and remarkable how much interest it elicited all over the English-speaking world. Some scholarly person could probably reconstruct in some detail an interesting minor episode in English History (I didn't bother with the materials which would have involved me in opening internet accounts). Readers will recall that 1937 was a time when the Abdication crisis had put the institution of the Monarchy under considerable pressure, and a charismatic and popular 'modern' (i.e. e.g. pro-Nazi) king had been replaced by a younger brother whose startling lack of glamour was exceeded only by the courage and resolution he was to display in the unwanted role of kingship during a difficult war ... a damn' close run thing. But, in 1937, the virtues of 'Stuttering Bertie' still awaited future demonstration.
"Fifty Oxford undergraduates championed a lost cause when, on January 31, they proclaimed Rupprecht, ex-Crown Prince of Bavaria, 'legitimate heir to the throne of Britain' as descendant of the Stuarts.
The proclamation was read at the Martyr's Memorial. The undergraduates did not even Anglicise the new 'king's' name to the Stuart 'Rupert' - who was a member of St John's College and who led the German forces against Britain on the Western Front. ... The proclamation sneered at the House of Windsor for failing to defend "the dignity of the crown and the liberties of the people". The ceremony lasted but a few minutes. ... The undergraduates, wearing in their button-holes the white rose of the 'Legitimist' clique, raised a cheer. Mr Peter Geach, 21-year-old scholar of Balliol College, who made the proclamation ... stressed the 'loyalty' of Balliol. 'There are many in Oxford', he said, 'who would be willing to fight for the Stuarts'. ...He said the Jacobites would take no part in the Coronation celebrations ...".
Another newspaper added the information that "should former Prince Ruprecht of Bavaria become king of England, the only reward Peter Geach plans to ask is 'the right to lead a quiet academic life' ... Geach, who wore his scholar's gown when he made the proclamation, continues to peer through his horn-rimmed spectacles at the Latin and Greek tomes on which he must stand examination [Honour Moderations in Litterae Humaniores, aka 'Mods'] this spring. ... slender for his six foot height, Geach comes from Cardiff, Wales, and is of Cornish descent ..." This account is headed by a photograph of Geach waving his academic cap.
To be continued and concluded tomorrow.