In an era of superfluous monarchical rule in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Europe’s reigning monarchs were known to be closely related to each other in one way or another. Pictured here in the center-middle, King George V sits surrounded by closely related blood or marital related Kings of Europe including; King Haakon VII of Norway, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, King Manuel of Portugal, Emperor William II of Germany, King George I of Hellenes, King Albert of the Belgians, King Alfonso XIII of Spain and King Frederick VIII of Denmark. They had congregated, in traditional military uniform, to mourn the death of King Edward VII, who passed the crown onto George V when he died in 1910. His funeral would be the biggest gathering of European royalty ever with 70 representatives from across European states attending. Related through cousin links and uncles links all the men would be the face of Europe, a continent which not long after would erupt into a battlefield – which some put down to just being one of the biggest family feuds ever. WWI would see an end to numerous European dynasties who would never return to power.
All these links would be connected by King George V’s grandmother, Queen Victoria. She was known as ‘the grandmother of Europe’ because of her vast links through blood or marital status to other reigning monarchs across the continent. The funeral itself would see a grandiose event that included a horseback procession which was followed by 11 horse-drawn carriages carrying the star-studded entourage. It would take the dead King’s body from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall and then onto Windsor Castle. Thousands gathered in the street to mourn the dead King and it would be the first time that Big Ben would chime for the death of a monarchy. Ringing 68 times for every year of his life, this was a massive moment.
The leaders of Europe pictured here look close and wholesome. It wouldn’t be till 1914, only 4 years later, when these cousins would rub each other up the wrong way and commit to the bloodiest war ever. In fact, many have argued that due to the negligence of these Kings they inadvertently started one of the worst atrocities in recent human times due to a petty family feud – something that doesn’t seem too far from reality. It would be King George V of Britain, Czar Nicholas II of Russia (the last in the dynasty there before the Bolshevik uprising), and Kaiser Wilhelm II, all related as cousins to each other, who would clash horns and end up beginning the Great War. You thought causing an atmosphere at the Christmas dinner table because of an argument with your cousin was bad, these guys took it to a whole new level.