At the outbreak of the First World War three cousins reigned over Europe's greatest powers - Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and King George V of Britain. This two-part series looks at the role played by the three monarchs, and their relationships with each other, in the outbreak of war, arguing that it is far greater than historians have traditionally believed.
A House Divided 'A House Divided' tells the story of the emerging divisions and rivalries between the inter-related royal houses of Europe and features the little known story of the two Danish sisters, Princess Alexandra and Princess Dagmar, who had pulled off the dynastic coup of the 19th century by marrying the heirs to both the British and Russian thrones. Following the invasion of their native Denmark by Prussia in 1864 during the Wars of German Unification, the sisters became the core of an anti-Prussian coalition that prefigured the great anti-German alliance of 1914. Their sons, King George V and Tsar Nicholas II were also close friends. It looks too at the tangled relationship between the German Kaiser and his English mother, Vicky -the oldest daughter of Queen Victoria. Disabled from birth, Kaiser Wilhelm had a complex love/hate attitude towards Vicky, which transferred itself to Britain as a whole, strongly influencing his foreign policy.
Into the Abyss 'Into the Abyss' looks at the realignment of the European powers and the emergence of the alliance system in the years following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. It examines the key role played by royalty in smoothing the path to the Anglo-Russian entente of 1907, and at the part played by the Kaiser's erratic, unstable personality in the growing isolation of Germany in the years leading up to 1914. It explores the role played by each of the three monarchs in the frantic, desperate days of July and August 1914. And it tells the tragic story of King George's refusal to grant his cousin, and close friend, Tsar Nicholas asylum in Britain following the Russian Revolution of 1917 - a refusal that would lead directly to the brutal murder of the Tsar and his family by the Bolsheviks in the summer of 1918.