King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War by Catrine Clay - review by Nigel Jones

Nigel Jones

Georgie, Will, Nicky

King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War


John Murray 416pp £25 order from our bookshop

Queen Victoria was a wise old bird. She had the measure of her troublesome grandson, the future Kaiser, from the outset. In one of numerous condemnations quoted by Catrine Clay in her fascinating and often hilarious study of European Royalty in the run-up to the Great War, the old Queen laments of her grandson to his mother (her favourite daughter and namesake, Vicky):

The nonsense provoked by entrusting delicate & important matters to such INEXPERIENCED hands – and those of such a GREEN & IMPETUOUS young man. It DAMAGES THE CAUSE, sets HIS head spinning, and is an outrage against you.

Such an outburst might be thought offensive to the impetuous young man’s mother, but Vicky was, if anything, even more vituperative about young Wilhelm. ‘He is so headstrong, so impatient of any control … and SO SUSPICIOUS…’, she told her mama, ‘that it is quite USELESS to attempt to enlighten

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