This week at The Archive we are going global, bringing you a prince’s 50,000 mile journey across the world, as well as highlighting one of our favourite newspapers, The Sphere.
Read on to discover more about The Sphere, as well as the Prince of Wales’s world tour of 1920.
Newspaper of the Week
The Sphere, or The Sphere: An Illustrated Newspaper for the Home began in London, just as the twentieth century dawned. Published weekly, The Sphere abounded with illustrations and photographs, and set out to publish news from across the world.
Number of Pages
This global viewpoint was laid out in a early front cover of the publication. Featured on the front page of its first edition, published on 27 January 1900, are two women carrying a globe. These two women represent the east and the west, laying out The Sphere’s mantra of worldwide reporting – making it essential reading for British expatriates, as well as for those back home.
The Sphere was founded by Illustrated London News editor Clement King Short, who left his role at the latter publication in order to follow this new venture. Faced with a new image-rich rival the Illustrated London News fought back, with some slightly underhand tactics. They published a new title named The Spear, in a deliberate attempt to confuse customers.
Clement King Short, at The Sphere, was not having any of it, however. He responded in kind, placing advertisements which read: ‘REMEMBER THE SPHERE is spelt S-P-H-E-R-E. You want THE SPHERE: insist upon having it – you may be offered something else instead which you don’t want.’
Following the success of The Sphere – apparently unharmed by the publication of its similarly named rival – Clement King Short went on to found famed society title The Tatler. Meanwhile, The Sphere survived for another sixty years, finding particular popularity during the years of the Second World War.
A Prince on Tour
100 years ago the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, set out from Portsmouth on a world tour. As Prince of Wales, this was the second of what would be sixteen world tours, the first having taken in the United States and the West Indies the year before. The ultimate destination in 1920 for the Prince was Australia and New Zealand, which his father, King George V, had promised to visit ‘when peace comes.’
The Prince of Wales was sent instead, and he was to visit 110 cities and towns in Australia, traveling there in style on board the HMS Renown, which had been refitted from a battle-cruiser to a royal yacht.
And publishing pictures throughout the Prince’s tour was The Sphere, who on 10 April 1920 featured a spread entitled ‘The Prince’s Life at Sea – Scenes on Board the HMS Renown.’ Pictured are the ship’s dining room, and the efforts made to keep the ship spick and span.
Meanwhile, the Illustrated London News, on the same day, published an illustration of the Prince of Wales and his staff aboard the HMS Renown. Dubbed by Prime Minister Lloyd George as ‘Our Greatest Ambassador,’ the Prince was bound for Barbados, the Panama Canal, Honoulu, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.
The Prince, according to the Illustrated London News, received an ‘enthusiastic welcome’ at Barbados, with The Sphere in May 1920 describing how ‘during the short time on the island he was fêted everywhere.’ He is pictured at the Government House garden party, and The Graphic shows him inspecting a group of girl guides – ‘capturing all hearts.’
The Sphere also publishes some more unofficial pictures of the Prince, capturing him off-duty as well as on. He is shown in a canvass swimming bath, accompanied by Lord Louis Mountbatten.
After Barbados, the Prince and the HMS Renown travelled through the Panama Canal. The Illustrated London News relates how the Renown became the ‘largest ship’ at that time to pass through the waterway, and the publication then records on 1 May 1920 how the Prince had received another ‘enthusiastic welcome’ upon his arrival in New Zealand.
On the 25 April 1920, Anzac Day, the Prince ‘attended two very impressive memorial services in honour of the New Zealand dead.’ After New Zealand, the Prince went on to Australia. The Sphere, 5 June 1920, shows the route of his procession through Melbourne, where the entire eight miles were ‘lined by cheering crowds.’
Everyone everywhere seemed to agree; the Prince’s tour had been a resounding success. The Sphere, picturing the trip’s official and unofficial moments agreed, calling it a ‘wonderful tour’ as the HMS Renown returned home to Portsmouth.
The Prince, himself reflecting on the tour, called it a ‘profoundly moving and inspiring experience.’ The Graphic goes on to describe how he was ‘most deeply touched by the unity and the strength of sentiment which binds all parts of His Majesty’s Dominions to the Throne.’
And it was not just our newspapers which captured the Prince’s successful second tour. Indeed, they reveal how his momentous journey had been captured in an exciting new medium. Our cinema industry title The Bioscope previews a brand new documentary in November 1920: 50,000 Miles With The Prince of Wales – ‘the Official Film Record of His Royal Highness’ Empire Mission.’
And so, our newspapers and the film cameras captured this short chapter in the Prince’s much-documented life, showing how he was widely popular with citizens across the world before he came to the throne in 1936.