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February 10: A Telegraph to the King of England

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Prince George Frederick Ernest Albert was proclaimed King George V of England in 1910. He would reign until 1936 through some tumultuous times.

Relatively early on in his reign, on this date in 1914, amidst reports of the opening ceremony of the British Parliament, King George V was also making news in North Dakota.

It seems that several months prior, a young hotel clerk in Devils Lake by the name of Lloyd Young wrote a telegraph message to the royalty and left it out in the lobby as a joke. However, the telegraph was actually sent to King George. Other staff had delivered the telegraph to the Western Union office, but end result is that a message from Lloyd Young was sent to the King of England, which read in essence:

“Received your invitation to the reception, but owing to conditions, I will be unable to attend.”

For this, $6.46 was owed to the Western Union Company…and the monarchy did not choose to pay it.

And thus, Young was pulled into trial to pay the fee. He contended that the telegraph was not intended to be sent. Bolstering his point, he noted that it was addressed to “King Edward” rather than the actual sitting King, George the Fifth.

In the end, since the King could not be a witness at this Devils Lake trial, the charges were dismissed, and it was “up to the Western Union Telegraph Company to look to” the king for collection.

It is unknown if the charges were ever paid—but by that court ruling, they weren’t paid by Lloyd Young!

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


  • https://www.royal.uk/george-v
  • The Evening Times, February 10, 1914, p1, 2 (Grand Forks)
  • Jamestown Weekly Alert, February 19, 1914, p1
  • The Ward County Independent, February 12, 1914, p3
  • Devils Lake Daily Journal, Friday Evening, Feb 6, 1914, p3
  • Devils Lake Daily Journal, Saturday Evening, Feb 7, 1914, p1

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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