Article

The Missing Witness? George V, Competence, Compellability and the Criminal Libel Trial of Edward Frederick Mylius

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Abstract

A criminal libel trial in 1911 set the monarch against one of his subjects. Edward Mylius repeated a rumour that accused King George V of marrying Queen Mary when – secretly – the King had previously married someone else and had three children. The criminal charge, the process used to bring the issue to court, the advice to the King of the relevant ministers (including Winston Churchill as Home Secretary) and the trial itself stretched the boundaries of fairness. The legacy of the trial created a lingering problem. Can the monarch ever be required to face the direct scrutiny of examination by being required to appear as a witness in his or her own court to support a personal complaint?

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