Nine Kings at Buckingham Palace

Back row, l. to r.: Haakon VII of Norway, Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, Manuel II of Portugal, Wilhelm II of Germany, George I of Greece and Albert I of Belgium; front row: Alphonso XIII of Spain, George V of the United Kingdom, and Frederick VIII of Denmark.

A fortnight earlier, on May 6, 1910, the 68-year-old King Edward VII had died after a nine-year reign. Known invariably as Edward the Caresser or Edward the Peacemaker, he had been “Uncle of Europe” — the German Kaiser, the Russian Tsar, the Norwegian King, and the Dukes of  Hesse, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and Brunswick were his nephews; his sisters married the kings of Hellenes and Denmark respectively. Kings of Belgium, Portugal and Bulgaria were his second cousins.

This grand royal family gathered in late May for Edward’s funeral. There were twelve crowned heads and forty-seven imperial, royal, apostolic, or serene highnesses. A lone commoner was the former president Teddy Roosevelt representing the United States, who was allocated almost to the last of the procession. Preceding him was the largest gathering of the European royals, but this was their last hurrah. Austria-Hungary was represented at the funeral by Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who assassination four years later would precipitate a world war which would sweep away many monarchies.

The decorated and mustachioed men of the above photo was taken by the Royal Warrant holders, W. & D. Downey, did not know it yet, but tumult was just a few months away for some of them. A revolution overthrew the Portuguese king just five months later. George of Greece had been assassinated in 1913 and his son abdicated in 1922.

The German Kaiser, the Austrian Emperor, and the Russian Tsar were all forced to abdicate after losing the war. The Tsar and his family were killed by the Bolsheviks after Britain and her king refused to rescue them (fearing a revolution at home). Another losing combatant of the WWI, Ferdinand of Bulgaria abdicated in order to save the throne for his son Boris. The kingdom ­tottered on in a weakened state until the Second World War. ­Alfonso of Spain fled his country when the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed in 1931; his descendants still rule the country after the monarchy was reinstated in 1975.

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0 thoughts on “Nine Kings at Buckingham Palace

  1. As most of this royal group is looking off to their left, I’m assuming there was another, more official photographer present. Where is the his photograph of the group?

    1. I guess he had too many internal problems. His brother, Grand Duke Mikhail, represented him.

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