Georgie, Willy, Nicky – Three Monarchs, One World War – Royal Central
Why didn't the close blood relations of King George V, Tsar Nicholas II, and Emperor Wilhelm II (all first cousins) prevent the escalation of Europe into WWI?. George and Wilhelm shared a common relation through their grandmother with her island nation, her younger grandson, George, the future king. With the deterioration of this relationship between Tsar and Kaiser, tension. Kaiser Wilhelm II, the eldest grandson of Queen Victoria (), had a King George V ( – ) – 'He knew his stuff'. In contrast to.
The three cousins grew up under great pressure from the past, and the political leanings of their predecessors molded their opinions and ideas as they rose to power.
Though tension existed among the three nations in the decades preceding World War I, the young cousins remained in contact with each other, partially driven by the expectation of courtesy from their common relations, yet also due to a genuine interest in the lives of their social counterparts. However, through the first decade of the 20th century, the bonds among George, Wilhelm, and Nicholas began to be strained.
Queen Victoria acted as one of the strongest influences on two of the young boys, as she grandmothered both George and Wilhelm. A special bond quickly developed between the Queen and her first-born grandchild, Wilhelm, in whom Victoria keenly inculcated the appeal and successes of British culture and policy. Wilhelm would acquire great power in adulthood, and Victoria intended to capitalize on the mutual affection with her German grandson to influence German political policy in a direction favorable to Great Britain.
The three cousins - WW1 East Sussex
Consequently, Wilhelm and George did not form any real relationship as children, which might have induced a stronger bond between the two rulers as they rose to power. Victoria was not the only one to discourage this friendship.
- Cousins at War
- Georgie, Willy, Nicky – Three Monarchs, One World War
- Family Feud: The Three Cousins Who Led Europe Into the First World War
However, the relations changed in as it become known that Queen Victoria was dying. Wilhelm travelled as fast as he could to be by her side in her last few hours.
Episode two, Into the Abyss, looks at the increasing tensions after the turn of the century. This episode shows how even though Edward VII had no real power over European politics at the time, he was however able to impress diplomats by becoming one himself. Sadly, it seems his attempts at forging an alliance with France through the Entente Cordiale, alongside issuing a treaty with Russia, only isolated the Kaiser even more from the family and European politics.
This episode stresses how Germany was now encircled by allied foreign powers. However, as we see from this episode, this was more of a momentous day than may have been felt at the time. This was to be the last time that all of the leading powers of Europe were seen together. Many could not have presumed that just a year later these family members would plunge into a bitter and bloody war against one another. One can appreciate why Kaiser Wilhelm II, at the outbreak of war inexclaimed that 'Nicky' had 'played him false'.
For the rulers of the world's three greatest nations - King George V of Great Britain and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia on the one hand, and the German Kaiser on the other - were not simply cousins, they were first cousins. If their grandmother Queen Victoria had still been alive, said the Kaiser, she would never have allowed them to go to war with each other.
Instead, World War One proved once and for all that the family ties between the reigning houses of Europe were more or less irrelevant. Their kinship simply snapped, like cotton threads, as the storm of war broke over their heads. The region had been in a state of ferment for years, and the assassination of the heir to the Hapsburg Empire, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, by a Serbian nationalist, was the culmination of a train of events leading inexorably to war.
Royal Cousins at War documentary reveals how rivaling relations led to outbreak of First World War
By now, however, Europe's leading nations were locked in alliances Yet at first the monarchs of Europe did not take the incident too seriously. With Serbia's apology not proving abject enough, relations between Serbia and Austria-Hungary were broken off. This finally alerted Europe's family of kings to the danger that threatened them.
As the alliances clicked inexorably into place, a positive snowstorm of telegrams between the crowned heads tried to avert the inevitable. But by now there was nothing they could do. Their constitutional powers counted for almost as little as their cousinhood. Although, technically, Franz Joseph, Nicholas II and Wilhelm II could perhaps have curtailed the coming hostilities, they were at the mercy of more powerful forces: In the face of national pride, imperial expansion and military glory, the protestations of the crowned heads were swept aside.
On such giant waves, they could only bob about like so many corks.
Kings were no more guaranteed to be good soldiers or military strategists than they were to be good rulers. In theory, sovereigns remained in supreme command, but the actual waging of this war was entrusted to generals.