An examination of the personal and diplomatic relationships between King Edward VII, King George V and the European imperial and royal families, many of whom were closely related by blood or marriage
At Queen Victoria's death in 1901, almost every European nation was a monarchy, most linked by close family ties to her and her son and successor Edward VII, the 'uncle of Europe'. Before the outbreak of the First World War, the personal relationships of Edward, and of his successor and son George V, with the other royal families of Europe flourished: with his second cousin, Albert I of the Belgians; with his nephews, the German Emperor William II and the Tsar of Russia Nicholas II; with the Danish royal family through hs wife Queen Alexandra; and with the Norwegians through the marriage of his daughter Maud to Charles of Denmark, elected Haakon VII of the newly independent Norway.
In addition, Edward VII's nephews and nieces of the Hesse and Battenberg families and other lines brought him close links with the royal houses of Spain, Greece, Sweden and Roumania. His unrivalled knowledge of their courts and leading statesmen gave him considerable influence over British foreign policy. The less cosmopolitan George V never attempted to emulate the same role, yet to a lesser extent he continued to maintain these personal channels already cultivated with such care.
This cohesion was shattered by the outbreak of war in August 1914. The Russian empire fell with the revlution in 1917, and the armistice of 1918 brought the German and Austrian empires crashing down. Some monarchies were strengthened, others fatally weakened. George V, the figurehead of exemplary constitutional monarchy, maintained contact with the surviving crowned heads and their families through the turbulent 1920s and the dawn of the age of the dictators until shortly before his death in 1936.
This book draws on previously unpublished correspondence in the Royal Archives, Windsor, and is illustrated with over 60 photographs.
[First published 1993, revised edition 2003]
"Now in this wonderful moment of England's great victory, when your feelings of pride & relief must be almost too big for words, I wish by one short line to tell you how truly I rejoice with you in this supreme hour & what great pride I feel at having been born an Englishwoman with English traditions. The excitement here has been intense & the Allied Flags are displayed in most of the streets."
Queen Ena of Spain to her cousin King George V, 17 November 1918