Wednesday, January 22, 2014
JANUARY 22 = Queen Victoria Dies
On January 22 in 1901, Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the British Dominions beyond the seas, Empress of India, and the longest reigning sovereign in British history died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Present at her bedside were members of her family, including her heir, the Prince of Wales (who would shortly take the title of King Edward VII). Victoria gave her name to an age in Great Britain. But she was more than merely a figurehead. She was truly a formidable woman. Enough so that when Germany's mighty "Iron Chancellor" Otto von Bismarck was due to meet her, he was reportedly sweating bullets at the thought. But oddly enough when she died on either side of the bed, lifting up her pillow so she could see who was there were her other surviving son, Prince Arthur, and of all people, Germany's Kaiser William II, who was her oldest grandchild.
Kaiser William II Invites Himself
The German Emperor had not been invited, but upon the hearing news that his grandmother was, after a long life nearing her end, he took the liberty of inviting himself. History tends to remember Kaiser as a kind of boastful, swaggering charlatan. And while most of the time, he was indeed just that, he also had it in his character to behave with the utmost tact, and even charm when he chose to. And by all accounts, his behavior at the time of Queen Victoria's death was one such time. In his 1991 book "Dreadnought - Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War", historian Robert K. Massie asserts that it was the Kaiser for whom Queen Victoria's death held the most significance:
The Effect of Victoria's Death on the Kaiser
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"Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War"
by Robert K. Massie, Random House Publ. Group Inc., New York, 1991.