The Critic Magazine

A lighter shade of Grey

Andrew Roberts is writing a biography of King George III to be published in October

THE REPUTATION OF Sir Edward Grey, the Liberal foreign secretary at the time of the outbreak of the Great War, has suffered greatly in recent years. Matthew Parris has called him “a bloody awful foreign secretary”, Andrew Adonis thinks him “arguably the most incompetent foreign secretary of all time”, Bendor Grosvenor called him “the worst MP in history”, on top of which Max Hastings, Niall Ferguson and John Charmley have all castigated him, the last two as the “gravedigger” of the British Empire. If Blackadder Goes Forth had covered the diplomatic rather than the military side of the war, Grey would have been presented as an upper class twit who blundered into catastrophe.

“The voices of his detractors, often strident and shrill, drown out all the others,” believes Thomas Otte, professor of diplomatic history at the University of East Anglia; and,

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