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King Edward VII and the World War

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  • King Edward VII and the World War

    It was not at all uncommon for the crowned heads if imperial Europe to have worries and doubts about the capacity of their offspring to assume their royal responsibilities, but Queen Victoria took such concerns to an entirely new level with her first born son, Albert Edward, fondly nicknamed “Bertie.”

    His tutor, Henry Birch, found his royal pupil to be “extremely disobedient, impertinent to his tutors, and unwilling to submit to discipline.” Birch later softened his judgment and wrote that “I saw numerous traits of a very amiable and affectionate disposition . . . He has a very keen perception of right and wrong, a very good memory and very singular powers of observation.”

    As a young adult, Bertie soon demonstrated his fondness for the myriad temptations of Paris, much to the dismay of his parents. After a romantic dalliance with Nellie Clifden, his father wrote him “with a heavy heart upon a subject which has caused me the greatest pain I have ever felt in my life” and went on to warn Bertie of the possibly dire legal consequences of his latest amorous misadventure:

    “If you try and deny it [the affair], she can drag you into a Court of Law and force you to own it, and there, with you, the Prince of Wales, in the witness box, she will be able to give before a greedy multitude disgusting details of your profligacy for the sake of convincing the jury; yourself cross-examined by a railing, indecent attorney and hooted and yelled at by a Lawless Mob!! Oh! Horrible prospect, which this person has in her power, any day, to realize! And to break your parents hearts.”

    Later that year, 1861, Albert senior died at the age of 42. Queen Victoria believed that her beloved husband had died of a broken heart inflicted by Bertie’s gin-soaked romantic forays and never forgave her son. In a letter to her daughter Vicky, she wrote: “I never can or shall look at him without a shudder.”

    Meanwhile, events in Europe were proceeding apace. In 1886, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Flourens, with the support of the Prime Minister, Maurice Rouvier, began to work on an alliance between France and Russia which resulted in the Franco-Russian Alliance – signed, sealed, and delivered in 1894. Further, Charles Porter has written that “Few events in modern history are more important than Delcasse’s accession to Office on June 29, 1898.” This was soon after the demise of the great Bismarck.

    The very symbol of anti-German paranoia, Delcasse was Eyre Crowe with real influence, and Leon Gambetta with a brain. Upon arrival at his office at the Quai d’Orsay, he announced: “I do not wish to leave here, I do not wish to vacate this fautewil, until I have established a friendly understanding with England.” The following year, Chamberlain gave a speech at Leicester:

    “No far-seeing statesman could be content with England’s permanent isolation on the continent of Europe . . . The natural alliance is between ourselves and the German Empire . . . Both interest and sentiment unite the two peoples and a new Triple Alliance between Germany and England and the United States would correspond with the tie that already binds Teutons and Anglo-Saxons.”

    But the Prince of Wales had different ideas . . . Unbeknownst to his mother, Victoria (who would have been mortified had she known), he had managed secret meetings in Paris with Leon Gambetta – the Prince of revanche – and Delcasse. Elizabeth Longford, one of the Queen’s many biographers has written: “For close on thirty years she [Victoria] obstinately kept Prince Albert’s golden key to the Foreign Office despatches out of hands which seemed to her both grasping and incompetent.” But as Sydney Lee reminds us: “It was not generally known that for some fifteen years every important foreign dispatch had been placed at his disposal and that for some nine years the reports and proceedings of the Cabinet had been regularly submitted to him. Although he had not figured publicly on the political stage, he had moves almost continuously behind the scenes and the prominent actors had often taken their cue from him.”

    Finally, as Ian Dunlop tells us:

    “When the King ascended the throne, he demanded, and very rightly too, that he should not be ignored and that he should be consulted, especially in connection with Foreign Affairs . . . “

    Edward VII was of course a “constitutional monarch,” but his ardent admirer, Ian Dunlop, reports breathlessly:

    “However, he [Edward VII] was not the sort of man to be thwarted by any Cabinet or Minister and he very soon leveled all the barriers opposed to him by the soundness of his views on all matters referred to him, and soon convinced the Government that from his knowledge of men and his shrewd appreciation of events his advice was well worth taking on all questions of the hour.”

    This was the man whose royal career may be summed up as having prepared the diplomatic ground for twin Ententes with France and Russia – fleshed out with military “conversations” by his Foreign Secretary, Edward Grey. And this was the man whose policies caused the German Press [Newe Freie Presse] to editorialize on April 15, 1907:

    “Who can fail to receive the impression that a diplomatic duel is being fought out between England and Germany under the eyes of the world. The King of England . . . is no longer afraid of appearing to throw the whole influence of his personality into the scales whenever it is a question of thwarting the aims of German policy. The meeting at Gaeta [with the King of Italy] is another fact connected with the burning jealousy between England and Germany. Already people are asking themselves everywhere: What is the meaning of this continual labour, carried on with open recklessness, whose object is to put a close ring around Germany?”

    “He’s a devil! You cannot believe what a devil he is!” exclaimed the Kaiser about Edward VII on March 19, 1907. Virginia Cowles [The Kaiser] explained that

    "The outburst was caused by the knowledge that the British Government was negotiating in St. Petersburg for an agreement which would put an end to outstanding disputes between the two countries, and secondly by the announcement that King Edward would meet the King of Italy at Gaeta and the King of Spain off Cartagena. The Kaiser was convinced that his uncle's main purpose was to do mischief to Germany"

    The King’s Minister in charge of the Foreign Office was Sir Edward Grey, who wrote:

    "No crime has ever aroused deeper or more general horror throughout Europe. Sympathy for Austria was universal. Both governments and public opinion were ready to support her in any measures, however severe (my italics), which she might think it necessary to take for the punishment of the murderer and his accomplices."

    This was in complete accord with the Preamble to the English Blue Book:

    “No crime has ever aroused deeper or more general horror throughout Europe, none has ever been less justified. Austria was under provocation. She had to complain of a dangerous popular movement against her Government”

    But Sir Edward Grey insisted on supporting the King’s policy:

    Ferguson writes of “his [Grey’s] dominant belief, from as early as 1902, that Britain should align itself against Germany.” In January, 1903, he told the poet Newbolt: “I have come to think that Germany is our worst enemy and our greatest danger . . . I believe the policy Germany to be that of using us without helping us: keeping us isolated that she may have us to fall back on. If any Government drags us back into the German net,” he declared to Liberal MP Ronald Munro-Ferguson in August 1905, “I will oppose it openly at all costs.”

    Two months later on the eve of coming to power, he underlined his commitment:

    “I am afraid the impression has been spread with some success by those interested in spreading it, that a Liberal Government would unsettle the understanding with France in order to make up to Germany. I want to do what I can to combat this.”

    The combined diplomacy of the King and his Foreign Secretary bore its inevitable fruit in August of 1914. Kaiser Wilhelm put it this way:

    “Either we are shamefully to betray our Allies, sacrifice them to Russia—thereby breaking up the Triple Alliance, or we are to be attacked in common by the Triple Entente for our fidelity to our Allies and punished, whereby they will satisfy their jealousy by joining in totally ruining us. That is the real situation in nuce, which, slowly and cleverly set going, certainly by Edward VII, has been carried on and systematically built up by disowned conferences between England and Paris and St. Petersburg; finally brought to a conclusion by George V and set to work. And thereby the stupidity and ineptitude of our ally is turned into a snare for us. So the famous encirclement of Germany has finally become a complete fact, despite every effort of our politicians and diplomats to prevent it. The net has been suddenly thrown over our head, and England sneeringly reaps the most brilliant success of her persistently prosecuted purely anti-German world policy, against which we have proven ourselves helpless, while she twists the noose of our political and economic destruction out of our fidelity to Austria, as we squirm isolated in the net. A great achievement which arouses the admiration even of him who is to be destroyed as its result! Edward VII is stronger after his death than am I who am still alive!”
    "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo

  • #2
    After so many words, so much effort, so many referenced sources and people prepared to point you in the right direction you, 'peterhof' still cling to the notion that Edward VII, the former Prince of Wales and son of Queen Victoria Empress of India, wielded power? Astonishing!! .... or not as the case may be.
    Signing out.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
      After so many words, so much effort, so many referenced sources and people prepared to point you in the right direction you, 'peterhof' still cling to the notion that Edward VII, the former Prince of Wales and son of Queen Victoria Empress of India, wielded power? Astonishing!! .... or not as the case may be.
      After so many words, so much effort, so many referenced sources and people prepared to point you in the right direction you, 'Full Monty' still cling to the notion that Edward VII, the former Prince of Wales and son of Queen Victoria Empress of India, wielded no power? Astonishing!! .... or not as the case may be.
      "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by peterhof View Post
        After so many words, so much effort, so many referenced sources and people prepared to point you in the right direction you, 'Full Monty' still cling to the notion that Edward VII, the former Prince of Wales and son of Queen Victoria Empress of India, wielded no power? Astonishing!! .... or not as the case may be.
        You rarely reference your sources, and when you do they are so vague as to make them difficult to put in their proper context. Hence my apparent ignorance. I'd love to learn more but all you do is make it difficult. Why?

        More pertinent, there's nothing new here, nothing you haven't posted before. Why start another thread? I've requested it locked or merged btw.
        Signing out.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
          You rarely reference your sources, and when you do they are so vague as to make them difficult to put in their proper context. Hence my apparent ignorance. I'd love to learn more but all you do is make it difficult. Why?
          Except where noted, the citations came from Edward VII and the Entente Cordiale (Ian Dunlop, Constable & Robinson, 2004). I note that Dunlop is very much pro-British and paints the King in the best possible light.

          King Edward VII is more responsible for the outbreak of WW1 than any other individual (with Sir Edward Grey being a close second) and therefore merits a thread of his own.
          "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by peterhof View Post
            Except where noted, the citations came from Edward VII and the Entente Cordiale (Ian Dunlop, Constable & Robinson, 2004). I note that Dunlop is very much pro-British and paints the King in the best possible light.
            Given that you think anyone with an English flag is automatically pro-British this is hardly a worthwhile comment. If everything stems from Dunlop (a foolish move to rely on single sources) then page numbers at a bare minimum should be provided.

            King Edward VII is more responsible for the outbreak of WW1 than any other individual (with Sir Edward Grey being a close second) and therefore merits a thread of his own.
            This is a 'discussion board', not a platform for the dissemination of anyone's beliefs. Statements like this are not an invite for debate are they. They may be an invite for ridicule and derision of course.
            Signing out.

            Comment


            • #7
              Anyone with sufficient wit and intellect might consider taking the time to peruse 'Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution' (8th Edition, pub. 1915) by A.V. Dicey. It gives a very full picture of the limitations imposed upon the monarch of the UK by Parliament.

              Of course anyone with sufficient wit and intellect would realise that there are better things to do with ones life than study the law of the Constitution!
              Signing out.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by peterhof View Post
                Except where noted, the citations came from Edward VII and the Entente Cordiale (Ian Dunlop, Constable & Robinson, 2004). I note that Dunlop is very much pro-British and paints the King in the best possible light.

                King Edward VII is more responsible for the outbreak of WW1 than any other individual (with Sir Edward Grey being a close second) and therefore merits a thread of his own.
                Considering Eddie had been dead four (4) years when the war broke out, he truly must have had an astonishing influence and power. Especially if the adage "a week is a long time in politics" holds any truth.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
                  Considering Eddie had been dead four (4) years when the war broke out, he truly must have had an astonishing influence and power.
                  You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I wonder if the same attitude towards 'Bertie' by Queen Victoria, is not shared by Queen Elizabeth II toward Prince Charles at present. In spite of running off with that blond tart {who got herself killed in an car accident after an evening at a dubious place of repute along with one of her middle eastern lovers}; the Prince of Wales has been of exemplary conduct. This is unlike Edward VII.
                    Last edited by Nickuru; 28 Dec 12, 21:19. Reason: spelling
                    When looking for the reason why things go wrong, never rule out stupidity, Murphy's Law Nº 8
                    Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. George Santayana
                    "Ach du schwein" a German parrot captured at Bukoba GEA the only prisoner taken

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
                      I wonder if the same attitude towards 'Bertie' by Queen Victoria, is not shared by Queen Elizabeth II toward Prince Charles at present. In spite of running off with that blond tart {who got herself killed in an car accident after an evening at a dubious place of repute along with one of her middle eastern lovers}; the Prince of Wales has been of exemplary conduct. This is unlike Edward VII.
                      (The "People's Princess" a "blonde tart" eh ? Forthright!)

                      Edward VII exercised nowhere near the same influence upon diplomatic affairs that Kaiser Wilhelm did. For example Edward would never have called German ministers "Unmitigated Noodles" or would have submitted an article to a leading German newspaper explaining that while he, himself, was pro-German , his subjects weren't.

                      As for his private life, I,for one, would be prepared to cut "Bertie" a fair amount of slack. He had a miserable childhood, being temperamentally unable to measure up to the Prince Consort's exacting training schedule and was blamed most unfairly by Queen Victoria for his father's death.

                      Deliberately shut-out of royal affairs by Victoria he sought solace in womanizing and gluttony- the devil finds work for idle hands,perhaps.
                      But when he finally succeeded to the throne he surprised everybody by becoming a much-loved King adept at handling people and shrewdly playing his part in the affairs of state.

                      This part was bound by constitutional convention and he was always subservient to the government of the day. I note that Joseph Chamberlain is mentioned in the context of a proposed German alliance:- If anyone believes that "Radical Joe", as an example, would take instructions from the Palace as to where his duties lay, they are quite mistaken.
                      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                      Samuel Johnson.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                        Given that you think anyone with an English flag is automatically pro-British this is hardly a worthwhile comment. If everything stems from Dunlop (a foolish move to rely on single sources) then page numbers at a bare minimum should be provided.
                        The problems between "Bertie" and his long-suffering parents, as well as his gin-soaked romantic forays have been documented by any number of historians. Ian Dunlop's Edward VII and the Entente Cordiale happened to be handy.

                        This is a 'discussion board', not a platform for the dissemination of anyone's beliefs. Statements like this are not an invite for debate are they. They may be an invite for ridicule and derision of course.
                        This 'discussion board' is not a platform for the dissemination of "ridicule and derision" which have been your stock in trade. You are unable to muster anything more substantial than such pathetic responses for the simple reason that my theory of responsibility for the War - like that of Bethmann-Hollweg, von Jagow, Kaiser Wilhelm, and others - is correct. Either you lack the intellectual candle-power, or the required education to respond to me with something more substantial than "ridicule and derision."

                        I have stated a very simple proposition: In concluding Ententes with France and Russia and conducting military "conversations" while forbidding any rapprochement with Germany, Edward VII and Edward Grey bear more responsible for the War than any other single individual. See if you can manage a rational reply without resorting to "ridicule and derision."
                        "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          "While forbidding any rapprochement with Germany " : Source ?

                          Probably,it is the same source for an other of PH's enormities :that Queen Victoria would have locked up Edward in the Tower,if she knew of his conversations with Gambetta .

                          BTW:where is the source for that ?
                          Is the source Barnes,W T,Professor Stieve,etc ?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Here is the full text of Grey's letter to Monro-Ferguson of august 1905( not the edited one from PH):

                            "I think more and more that Rosebery is wrong about Germany and I feel it so strong that,if any government drags us back into the German net,I will oppose it at all costs.But,it is a pity,now that we are free from German entanglements,to keep up an anti-German campaign in our press."

                            If this is proving that Grey was anti-German,what about the following declaration of Grey (as under secretary of state for foreign affairs) in the Commons in march 1895:

                            "any intervention in the Soudan from the part a foreign power would be considered "an hostile act".

                            Would that mean that Grey also was anti-french ?

                            What now,PH ?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                              Given that you think anyone with an English flag is automatically pro-British this is hardly a worthwhile comment. If everything stems from Dunlop (a foolish move to rely on single sources) then page numbers at a bare minimum should be provided.



                              This is a 'discussion board', not a platform for the dissemination of anyone's beliefs. Statements like this are not an invite for debate are they. They may be an invite for ridicule and derision of course.
                              You could always ask Peterhof how many German authors he likes as that is even more illustrative of his point about the 'flag' of an author. He absolutely refuses almost everything by Mombauer, Kautsky, Herwig, Rohl, Fischer, Lichnowsky, Eulenburg, and Geiss, whilst only liking selected bits from Ritter. If other authors like Steiner, Joll, Strachan, Fromkin, Zuber, Albertini, Fromkin, and certain selected comments by Ferguson, are taken into account it reads like a 'Who's Who' of WWI historians and notaries that are all to be ignored.

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