Tuesday 18 November 2014

Horns Of A Dilemma

Trawling old newspapers for some bits of information saw an item from late in 1868 about Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, being taken out by a rampant stag while hunting in the Forest of Compiegne north of Paris.

Although unhorsed, he had only minor injuries, was able to remount and continue the hunt.  This was intriguing in that it was very close in date to fifty years later when The Armistice was signed in a railway carriage in the forest to bring World War One to an end.

But what if the stag had done for him?  There are many and various possibilities.  One in the period is that the political fall out and other matters may have meant that the Franco-Prussian War may not have occurred as it did.  Doubtless Germany may have come to be united, but it may have been at another time and on a different basis.

There were his two sons to succeed him, both very young, Albert Victor and George, whose upbringing and education may well have been different if Queen Victoria had taken charge.  Also a much greater role may have been played by his younger brothers. 

The next in line to Edward was Alfred, Duke of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, who died in 1900.  The next son was Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, who married Princess Louise of Prussia.  The next then was Leopold, Duke of Albany, who had haemophilia and died young.

It was Edward who came to be closely associated with France and popular in Paris because of his appreciation of its many and various delights.  It is argued that as King after 1901 he may have been a moving force in the shift of British foreign policy to support for and alliance with the French as opposed to our traditional dislike and opposition.

If either Alfred or Arthur had managed to strike up and maintain a level of friendship and closeness with Emperor Wilhelm of Germany, not only might the 1914 war have been different, it may not have happened at all.

If only it had been a bigger stag.


  1. I'm reminded of 'the little gentleman in black velvet'.

    When it comes to regicide, bigger is not necessarily better..

  2. My wife and I were discussing something similar but on a much more mundane level only recently.

    We are all here through the merest coincidence, the fact of our parents meeting each other. The throw of a dice.