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The Beggar And The King

Written by: George Chittenden : 18 Jul 2019

This interesting photo was taken in 1920 and features a beggar soliciting money from King George V and his royal party, who look embarrassed. The image was taken as the king was travelling to the Derby at Epsom. Alongside King George sat his son Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester. You may wonder why they are not hugely alarmed, and it’s possibly because the beggar is wearing medals and is an ex-soldier. You may also wonder why the beggar appears well-dressed, but a closer inspection tells a different story.

Note the unusual haircut, which allows the appearance of a full head of her when the beggar is wearing his cap but is sheared to avoid lice. His overcoat is also cut loose, and his cuffs are fraying. Now considering this photo was taken shortly after the end of World War One and the beggar likely risked his life serving King and country, you would expect the King to put his hand in his pocket, but in this image the men seem to barely acknowledge the poor man.

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