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If you would like to find out more, please read on and judge for yourself whether this is something that’s going to interest you. You’ll discover on this website that this isn’t just a straightforward story. We want to provide you with the often astonishing and appalling background that helps put the story into historical context. We want you to see how people then saw their world and the events that dominated it. We want to know what those peripheral characters are thinking before they brush briefly past you and disappear completely. We also want you to tell us what you think (honestly but diplomatically) and we want you to tell us if you have any information that connects you to the people and events we describe.
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Both the Australian King and the King of England had attended the Olympics. Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India, had finally inherited the throne at the age of sixty in 1901. By 1908 his playboy lifestyle was catching up with him. He was short of breath and stature, very stout, pop-eyed and looked increasingly like a bearded version of his late mother, but he was nevertheless a surprisingly effective and highly popular figurehead for the largest empire in history.
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The self-made Australian ‘Cattle King’ had run away from home at the age of thirteen and started work as a sheep herder with a one-eyed horse he had bought himself and five shillings change. By the time he brought his family on his first visit to the mother country early in 1908, he was fifty, in the prime of life and already the biggest private landowner the world had ever seen. In the dawning age of newspaper celebrity, he quickly became almost as recognisable and popular as the King Emperor.