24 May 2022

King Edward VII's funeral and every king in Europe - 1910.

coronation of King Edward and Queen Alexandra, 1901

King Edward VII (ruled 1901-10) died on 6 May 1910. After a priv­ate ly­ing in state in Buckingham Palace’s Throne Room, the coffin was taken to Westminster Hall for a public lying in state; thousands of cit­izens queued in the rain to pay their respects. Kaiser Wil­helm II wanted the hall closed wh­ile he laid a wreath; but po­lice feared this may cause dis­ord­er, so the Kaiser was taken in via another entrance. In total half a million people visited the hall to pay respects.

The funeral was held two weeks after the king's death. Crowds of 3-5 million gathered to watch the procession, the route of which was lined by 35,000 soldiers. It went from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where a small cerem­ony was conducted by the Archbishop of Canter­bury be­fore a small group of official mourners: widow Queen Alexandra, son King George V, daught­er Princess Victoria, brother Duke of Conn­aug­ht and nep­h­ew the German Emperor. The remainder of the huge funer­al party wait­ed outside the Hall. Big Ben was rung 68 times, Edward's age. 

The 9 monarchs and the Duke of Cornwall in funeral procession,
High St Windsor. Bridgeman

The march saw a horse­back proc­es­sion plus 11 carriages, proceeding from Westminster Hall via Whitehall and the Mall, Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch. From there to Paddington Station. Then the Royal Funer­al Train, built for Queen Vic­toria, took mourners to Windsor Castle where a full funeral ceremony was held in St George's Chapel. This pub­l­ic funeral was notable for the important European royalty in attendance.

Edward’s funeral passed in the streets of London on 20th May 1910. See the moving casket, heads of state walking behind the casket, royal carriage and marching military units.

The reigning European monarchs were present during King Edward VII’s burial in 1910. This was a great opport­un­ity and coll­ect­ed the mon­ar­chs for this historical image, possibly the only photo of all 9 kings in existence. The funeral was the larg­est gathering of Euro­pean royalty ever to take place, with representatives of 70 states and the last before many royal families were deposed in and after WW1.

Back L->R: King Haakon VII of Norway, Tsar Ferd­in­and of Bul­garia, King Manuel II of Portugal, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Ger­many, King George I of Greece, King Albert I of Belgium. 
Front L->R: Kings Alfonso XIII of Spain, George V of Britain, Frederick VIII of Denmark.

King George V was related by blood or marriage to most of Europe’s sov­ereigns; he was a grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Al­bert, and first cousin of Russian Tsar Nicholas II and Ger­man Emperor Wil­helm II. Here he was seen with two uncles (Kings of Den­mark), brother-in-law and first cousin (King of Norway), first cousin by marriage (King of Spain) and 3 distant cousins, all descended from branches of the Saxe-Coburg family (Kings of Bulgaria, Portugal and the Belgians). And note that Frederik VIII of Denmark was father of Haakon VII of Norway.

The funeral service largely followed the format used for Queen Victoria. The liturgy was based on the Order for The Burial of the Dead, Book of Common Prayer. And Queen Alexandra accepted His Body Is Bur­ied In Peace, from George Frideric Handel's Funeral Anthem. Edward was temporarily buried in Windsor’s Royal Vault un­d­er Albert Chap­el.

Edward’s funeral was the last time all of the great Europ­ean mon­ar­chs met before WW1.  In fact WW1 ended most of the mon­archical lines of Europe for good. Looking at this picture really makes one real­ise how much WW1 was the result of national egos embodied by mon­­archs, rather than a sense of duty to their states. Within 5 years, Britain & Belgium went war with Germany & Bulgaria, and 4 of the 9 monarchies in the photo did not sur­­vive (Bulgaria, Portugal, Germany and Greece). 4 kings were later deposed and 1 was assassinated.

cousins Kaiser Wilhelm, King George, Tsar Nicholas 

King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War is a biography of the formative lives of cousins George V, Wilhelm II and Nicholas II, who led their countries into WWI. The three leaders grew up knowing each other since early childhood in a vast extended family, overseen by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Queen Alexandra ordered a mon­um­ent designed and exec­uted by Bertram Mackennal in 1919. It featured tomb effig­ies of the king and queen in white marble mounted on a marb­le sarcophagus, where both bodies were buried after the queen's death in 1925.


Joe said...

I cannot believe how close the family ties were between the three principal kings, Kaiser Wilhelm II, King George V and Tsar Nicholas II. They all looked alike and they were all cousins: Wilhelm and George = 1st cousins, George and Nicholas = 1st cousins, Wilhelm and Nicholas = 2nd cousins. It didn't prevent the War to End All Wars though, did it?

DUTA said...

Judging by the picture and your description, it was a very impressive funeral with the participation of most Europe's monarchs at that time!
As they say - it's all in the family, good or bad. Here it was bad, as the many monarchs closely related by marriage, didn't prevent WW1 and its terrible consequences.

Hels said...


the close family relations had started decades before eg the wedding of Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark was in 1863 at St George's Chapel Windsor Castle. Queen Victoria wanted her children, nieces and nephews to come from all countries for the festivities, including little Prince Wilhelm of Germany who was the ring bearer.

Sisters Princess Alexandra (later wife of Prince Bertie) and Princess Dagmar (later wife of Tsar Nicholas) wanted to holiday together every summer and to have their children as close as humanly possible!

Hels said...


it IS all in the family, good or bad, yes. And because these families were royal, powerful and rich, they could travel to each others' city palaces and summer holiday homes whenever they felt like it. For every wedding and funeral of course, but also to remain close to Queen Victoria and the other shared grandparents. [Haemophilia was the only downside of very close familial relationships].

Everyone loved King Edward and Queen Alexandra, but noone even tolerated Wilhelm, before 1888 or after when he became the German Kaiser.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Hels - it's an interesting time in Europe's existence ... so many royal inter-marriages; certainly we knew how to put on funerals or weddings for the royals, people were more involved with their rulers and nobles, though it was changing.

I'm glad Big Ben has been repaired and conserved ... so if necessary the bell can be rung/tolled over 90 times for the Queen, when that life-changing moment arrives.

There's a Necropolis Line that runs from Waterloo out to the 'new' cemetery at Brookwood dealing with plague victims of the mid 1800s when London's cemeteries were over-run with numbers.

I must say I hadn't realised that royal coffins were taken by train to Windsor ... but do know that Paddington was the 2nd mainline station to be built in London.

I see that Bertram Mackennal was an Australian ...

Thank you - interesting to read ... especially as we're covering the 1900s Russian Revolution and death of the Tsar ... cheers Hilary

Fun60 said...

I have not seen that photo before that I can recall. It is fascinating seeing them all together knowing what is to come a few years later.

Andrew said...

It is remarkable how intertwined the European royal families were. Now I am curious as to what happened to each of them. I'd better have a good read.

Hels said...


you raised some good points, of which I will concentrate on Big Ben. The restoration took a very long time (2017-late 2022) and cost a LOT of money. But imagine Paris without its Eiffel Tower or Sydney without its Opera House. Big Ben is well worth all the effort!!

Big Ben was rung 68 times at the king's funeral, Edward's age in years. Yet despite his popularity and successes, King Edward reigned a very short time (9 years). This was because his mother Queen Victoria, miserable and doddery, would not pass the crown to her energetic son. Can we see the same happening to Prince Charles exactly? Why on earth hasn't Queen Elizabeth won't pass the crown to her son, while he was young and energetic.

Hels said...


this was an unplanned photo, apparently, but most people were very grateful that someone took the opportunity to get the royals altogether. I have not seen a photo like that either before, or after King Edward's 1910 funeral.

It was a very optimistic era in European history (high employment rates, education for all children, booming theatre and music, improvements in women's rights etc etc), in fact a golden era. There was no sign at all of what was to come in 1914.

Hels said...


you can easily find out what happened to the 9 royals in the photo, both good and tragic. EG:
Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in 1914;
Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria joined the Germans in 1914 and had to abdicate the throne;
King Haakon VII of Norway returned as a hero to Norway in 1945 and lived till a good age;
King Manuel II of Portugal lost his throne in the Republican Revolution (late 1910) and lived his life in exile.

What a mess

Pipistrello said...

Such pomp and ceremony! I'm sure what is planned for our dear ERII will be on a large scale with as many international dignitaries as is feasible, although how "modern" the affair will be only time will tell. On the subject of the interwoven and troubled relations between the cousins, there's a terrific 1974 tv series called "Fall of Eagles" which, if you've not seen and can get your mitts on, I highly recommend.

Hels said...


Yes indeed. I know siblings and cousins fall apart in even normal families. But the tv series you referred to is much deeper than "My brother didn't invite me to his wedding", or "My parents didn't divide their estate equally".

Yes the series dealt with the Habsburgs royals of Austria-Hungary, the Hohenzollern Germans and Romanov Russians. I am also deeply concerned with Princess Victoria marrying Prince Frederick of the Kingdom of Prussia - her politically liberal views came to grief with those of brutal Prussian morals. Even worse, Victoria's son Wilhelm II hated his mother's liberalism and hated her love of Britain.

Luiz Gomes said...

Boa tarde Hels. Através do seu maravilhoso trabalho aprendo cada vez mais. Não sei porque me veio a mente de como será da rainha Elizabeth II.

Phil said...

My grandpa, King George I of Greece, had the nastiest end. He was assassinated in his own country in 1913.

mem said...

Its very sad to think that if he hadn't drunk smoked and bonked his way through life and managed to live to a good old age he may have been able avert the first World war . He apparently was a very diplomatic person who could bring the best out in people and was one of the few people in his family that the truculent and angry Kaiser actually liked and got along with . Apparently a lot of the Kaisers anger was down to his treatment by his cousins in childhood who didn't respond well to his personality . He was rather ostracized by them and made fun of. His personality seems to have been shaped by his mothers rejection of him based on his disability caused by a difficult birth which left him with a brachial plexus lesion and the limited use of one arm . His parents left him in the care of a tutor who seems to have been a cruel person who was very harsh with this poor little boy who struggled to learn the manly arts of fencing and horse riding .He ended up with a log sized chip on his shoulder . This personality combined with the arms race going on and the stirrings of nationalism in the Slavic states led to war . Its a very good reason for seeing that countries fates should NEVER rest on the whims of one person . We are seeing that only too well at the moment .

Hels said...


The Edwardian era is usually expanded to include the most critical events then (eg 1898-1918), even if it was not exactly the short number of years that King Edward was on the throne. I would say Queen Elizabeth will also be treated royally.

Hels said...


George was a teenage Danish prince who was elected King by the Greek National Assembly, which had deposed the former king. Two of his sisters, Alexandra and Dagmar, married into the British and Russian royal families. As the first monarch of the new Greek dynasty, his LONG 50-year reign enjoyed territorial gains as Greece gained importance in pre-WWI Europe. During the First Balkan War, he was assassinated in 1913.

As you know, Philip Duke of Edinburgh was King George’s grandson 😊

Hels said...


I agree with everything you said (re Wilhelm's terrible birth and shrivelled arm, nasty values of his grandfather, lacked of Wilhelm's control in public, mental degeneration, weird position in Boer War etc), and occasionally I felt very sorry for him.

Utterly convinced of his right to rule, Wilhelm (reigned 1888-1918) always overestimated his decision-making abilities. His dismissal of Chancellor Bismarck in 1890 and his determination to make Germany a world power destroyed that balance of European order.

And he had two commitments that weren't open to discussion: endless enlargement of the German Navy and extraordinary claims for German colonial expansion. Despite his ineffectiveness directing WW1, NOTHING stopped his destruction of his closest family's countries.

Andrew said...

As you know Hels, I am a shallow person who is interested the looks of men and the king of Portugal Manuel II and Albert 1 of Belgium interested me.

Hels said...

oh Andrew

you cannot just focus on a king's face and arse!!

King Albert I of Belgian strengthened his army in 1912-3. He reaffirmed Belgian neutrality in mid 1914 and rejected Kaiser Wilhelm’s ultimatum in 1914, demanding free passage of German troops across Belgium. A terrible German invasion and occupation happened, so Albert took personal command of his army in a nation reduced by war. Only post-war could he focus on urgent recovery… until this hero died by accident in 1934.