Kings in Waiting is a History Documentary programme.



Kings in Waiting

An intimate and revealing narrative portrait of three of the most celebrated Princes of Wales - Henry V, Edward VII and George IV - features in Kings In Waiting. With richly detailed storytelling, each of the films provides a unique insight into the psychology of these men and the changing nature of the societies they ruled over.

Since Edward I declared his son Prince of Wales in 1301, the position has played a peculiar role in the English state. The title is, in effect, an institution designed to contain the ambitions and energies of kings in waiting. The problems associated with this odd and difficult position have changed very little over the past 700 years. Bred to be king, these princes have found themselves politically impotent and denied of any real power. They have worked to carve a role for themselves outside their father's shadow. By earning their father's respect on the battlefield or provoking displeasure through scandalous behaviour, these notorious princes were bored, frustrated and impatiently waiting on their destiny. It is a pattern that occurs throughout history with inevitable regularity.

The series opens with Jeremy Black tracing the life of "Henry V", the original Prince Hal whose dissolute youth in the taverns of Eastcheap has passed into legend and been immortalised by Shakespeare. Such behaviour was echoed by generations of kings in waiting.

Henry V has long been viewed as one of Britain's most successful kings. In the space of nine short years, Henry achieved a series of remarkable military and diplomatic victories in France, while at home, his reign marked a defining moment of rare national unity, personally cultivated by Henry's pioneering use of English in official correspondence.

But there is also another side to Henry's reputation. Accused of being a brutal, paranoid megalomaniac, he is often portrayed as a man who led England into a European war that it couldn't win; a man who drained England's exchequer to finance a personal fantasy; who imagined plots against him, which were bloodily repressed; and a war criminal who turned against his friends, leaving his country nothing tangible bar an infant son to rule a bankrupt nation.

Genre: History Documentary

Running Time: 60 minutes (approx)