"The Grand Old Duke of York" is a song about what?
"The Grand Old Duke of York" is an English children's nursery rhyme, often performed as a song. The thought behind the song is evident from the words:
Oh, the grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.
When they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only halfway up,
They were neither up nor down.
It is an exercise in futility. Nowadays the song is often applied sarcastically to politicians who start with plan A, find that it is not going very well, switch to plan B, find that that is not going very well either, and then go back to A again, all the while trying to take their supporters with them.
It is not clear which of the many bearers of the title “Duke of York” inspired the delightful little song. The leading contender is Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827). The picture shows his statue in Waterloo Place, Westminster, London.