Wales

David Lloyd George: Secret 'double life' of ex-PM

Dan Snow with the portrait of David Lloyd George at 10 Downing Street
Image caption Dan Snow with the portrait of David Lloyd George at 10 Downing Street

Historian Dan Snow has uncovered the double life of his great-great grandfather, David Lloyd George, for a new BBC Wales documentary.

December marks 100 years since Lloyd George became the prime minister - the only Welshman to hold the position.

He was hailed as "the man who won the war", but he was leading a double life.

Mr Snow retraces his political career to Westminster and his life as a "notorious womaniser."

Having spent his childhood holidays in Criccieth, Gwynedd, Mr Snow returned to north Wales to make the documentary.

During the programme, he visited the Parliamentary archives to read excerpts from the diary of Lloyd George's secretary Frances Stevenson, as well as letters he wrote to her.

Lloyd George, the MP for Carnarvon Boroughs, continued an affair with Miss Stevenson until they married after the death of his wife Margaret.

Image caption Dan Snow on Moel y Gest, near Criccieth

"He was also a notorious womaniser whose long-running relationship with his young secretary meant that he almost had two wives," said Mr Snow.

"I'm descended from one of Lloyd George's daughters, so this other side of his life has always been a bit of a family secret, something we never talked about.

"On one level, as a family member, it's pretty distressing.

"Reading about your great-great-grandfather's love affairs and his aborted love child.

"But on another level you do find yourself attracted to him - as a lover, as a human - and you almost feel yourself wishing him all the best in that relationship, because he clearly loved her very much."

Image copyright Getty Images

Lloyd George was a great public speaker who connected with ordinary people and despite initially being anti-war, he succeeded in galvanising a nation into a "dynamic war machine".

He headed a small, decisive war cabinet, brought leading industrialists into government and made the armaments industry more efficient.

Mr Snow said: "I think the most remarkable aspect of the Lloyd George story is that this was a guy without money, without connections, without an Army background and without being educated in Oxford or Cambridge, who rose up to become one of the most powerful men in the world.

"That single fact, to me, is one of the most remarkable aspects of 20th Century history."

  • Dan Snow On Lloyd George - My Great-Great Grandfather - BBC One Wales, 7 December, 21:00 GMT

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