Nine Kings in one photo, 1910

The Nine Sovereigns at Windsor for the funeral of King Edward VII, photographed on 20 May 1910.
The Nine Sovereigns at Windsor for the funeral of King Edward VII, photographed on 20 May 1910.

In May 1910, European royalty gathered in London for the funeral of King Edward VII. Among the mourners were nine reigning kings, who were photographed together in what very well may be the only photograph of nine reigning kings ever taken. Of the nine sovereigns pictured, four would be deposed and one assassinated. Within five years, Britain and Belgium would be at war with Germany and Bulgaria. Only five of the nine monarchies represented in the photo still exist today.

Standing, from left to right: King Haakon VII of Norway, Tsar Ferdinand of the Bulgarians, King Manuel II of Portugal and the Algarve, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Prussia, King George I of the Hellenes and King Albert I of the Belgians.
Seated, from left to right: King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King George V of the United Kingdom and King Frederick VIII of Denmark.

There are several family relations in that picture. For instance, Frederik VIII of Denmark (bottom right) was the father of Haakon VII of Norway (top left), while Wilhelm II of Germany (top, 3rd from the right) was first cousin of both George V of the United Kingdom (bottom center), and Queen Maud of Norway who was wife to Haakon VII of Norway and sister to George V of the United Kingdom – which made Haakon VII of Norway and George V of the United Kingdom brothers-in-law. George V of the United Kingdom’s and Queen Maud of Norway’s mother was incidentally Alexandra of Denmark, sister to Frederik VIII of Denmark. This means that Frederik VIII of Denmark was also the uncle of George V of the United Kingdom.

George was a grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. The funeral of King Edward VII was the last time all of the great European monarchs would meet before the First World War, the same war that would end most of the monarchical lines of Europe for good. Imagine, they all knew a war was coming, all knew it was going to be between them. Looking at this picture really makes one realize how much the First World War was the result of national egos embodied by monarchs. And just how full of nonsense they were with any sense of honor or duty to their states.

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23 comments
  • The good part of it is that kings cannot decide the fates of millions of people only because of their disagreements with fellow cousins. The bad part is that money can buy hundreds of thousands of mercenaries to send all across the planet to wage war for stupid reasons and kill innocent people.

  • Regarding close family relations: Also, Frederick VIII of Denmark and George I of the Hellenes were brothers.

    • It may seem that monarchs were “useless mouths” but you have to realize that in their time, they were the bravest battle-hardened men who had the responsibility of protecting people, territory for agriculture (food production), and keeping the peace. They were also the people that protected learning, sometimes sponsoring it and especially the artists. We would never have the treasures we have to day like the Hermitage museums, and the museums of Italy, Spain, France and England if it weren’t for royalty. They, and the other aristocrats were the “best and brightest” for hundreds of years albeit they were often corrupt and cruel. Life was hard and so was maintaining civilization. They did it, and I, for one, am thankful.

  • The Portuguese king is in fact Manuel II, not a common name for a king, but he wasn’t supposed to be one; the first Manuel in the XVI century wasn’t supposed to be king as well… Republicans killed his father the regnant king, and his elder brother, he took the throne at 17 years old; in this picture he was 20; 5 months later monarchy ended in Portugal with him. I’m glad we’re living in a republic now but he was a good man while he was king and after in exile; he lived in the wrong time at the wrong place, monarchy was rotten. Never was an ego character, had a strong sense of honour and duty to his state. Want to know more, search for it.

    • Thank you for that, Electrion. It was said he was god father to 300 children during his exile because of his kind and sincere heart. He inspired a story that I’ve written which I hope to become a TV series.

      • How interesting Dianne! I visited your website and hope all your dreams come true. Of course I’m Portuguese and artist, who else would care about the story of d.Manuel II? However I’m sure Portuguese people knows little about him, nobody cares about these subjects; maybe 10% knows he was the last king and nothing more… Good for you who understood the potential for a story. Best regards

    • ” not a common name for a king, but he wasn’t supposed to be one”

      Actually that is not entirely truth.

      Kings that weren’t suppose to be were the most common thing, for obvious reasons. Many times reaching the throne was nothing but a matter of luck, and hardly a matter of logic.

      So the name of a person has little to do with a soon-to-be-king, not at least in Portugal, for most of times, otherwise there weren’t so many names around, contrary to France, for instance. In Portugal there were two main names (Afonso earlier on, João later on) and if we follow only that straight “common” line, then there weren’t so different named kings like Duarte, Sebastião, Manuel, Pedro, Carlos, Luís, Fernando, José, Miguel, etc. So royal names have either some former prestige or cultural influence, but there isn’t any anointed-royal name.

      Actually the name Manuel was VERY popular in the 16th and 17th centuries and having a second-named Manuel king in that period could eventually happen, and even later pretenders to the throne kept that name in order of prestige well into the late 1630’s. But since that line was put aside, João became more important as an obvious link between the past dinasty and the new one – and even this was a matter of luck in some cases, for instance, John VI wasn’t suppose to be king, but his brother, who should have been Joseph II.

  • saw an original print of this picture today in the butler’s sitting room at Stansted Park-curious that everyone is dressed alike

  • They are not dressed alike. Uniforms are different as are the royal and military orders. Some orders would be alike, for example if King George V had bestowed the Order of the Garter on any of the kings.

  • I’m fascinated by this picture for being unique and also for the family relationships between the posers. They were unbelievably powerful men if considered the wealth, the armies and the amount of people they could influence still……. they didn’t avoid a World War that actually finished their power and influence! Are we better with parliamentyary democracies today? What is the criteria to define what is better for the society? It’s obvious that countries with a puppet monarchy like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Holland and the UK accomplished much more than ex- monarchical societies like Greece, Portugal, Romania or Bulgaria, but why? Even Austria is in a better shape than Hungary !

  • “Imagine, they all knew a war was coming, all knew it was going to be between them.” They didn’t even know a war was coming in July, 1914. Read the Guns of August, by Barbara Tuchman and the Sleepwalkers, by Christopher Clark before pronouncing on the end of the first globalization. Some were complicit in the start of the war, others not. Our elected leaders are sleepwalking us into the next world war.

    • You have a Czar standing second on the left. This title was used first in Bulgaria in the middle ages and Ferdinand started to use it again in 1908.

  • Isn’t it particularly ironic that there were those (like Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany or Tsar Nicholas of Russia) who had actual political power and couldn’t/wouldn’t stop things from getting to the point of war, whereas someone like George V (Great Britian) couldn’t, as he was just a constitutional monarch and did not hold real power.

  • If anyone wonders why Alfonso XIII is seated at the right of George V, the reason is he was the most veteran monarch, as he was king since he was born.

  • The question that needs to be answered is : Why are Nikolai 2 and Franz Yozef, both top tier Monarchs as well as close relatives of Edward 7th, missing from this most aristocratic forum ?

  • it would be great just to made a post, about all the medals, badges, ribbons or military decorations of each of those kings and what they stand for. So that could give us a clue about the main monarchies at that time for the military exploits of their kings, and how their military prowess can make us understand a little about their positions in the conflict to come.

  • Nicholas was not present at the funeral because his being there was deemed too much of a security risk. Despite being the nephew of the Dowager Queen Alexandra, and his wife Alix being the niece of the deceased Edward VII, they had to decline attending because the security would be outrageous. His mother and younger brother were representatives for Russia.

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