Should Royal Family Showcase WWI Uniform?

With the centenary of the First World War approaching, many are recognizing their heritage. It is in this spirit that many are insisting the Royal Family should showcase a WWI uniform worn by the Queen’s grandfather at a time when the Royal Family had clearer ties to their Germanic roots. George V was cousins with Kaiser Wilhelm II, and therefore was in possession of a German WWI uniform at the time the conflict began.

This suggestion does not stem solely from encouragement for the Queen to honor her heritage. On the contrary, many Britons are currently dissatisfied with their governance and want the Queen to showcase the fact that her roots are not entirely British. The fact that George V owned a German WWI uniform in the first place is evidence of this fact. This fact is further exacerbated by the fact that George V did not have a single relative of pure English blood. He and his entirely family were German descendants, which is why he was fitted for the wear of a German field marshal. The Royal Family still owns the outfit in question, but it is almost never viewed publicly.

During the conflict, it was far from surprising that many held resentments against the Royal Family for their German bloodline. With the use of gas attacks, trench warfare, and other horrific military strategies, there mere sight of an enemy’s WWI uniform would have garnered the same disdain as the sight of the enemy himself. Even pacifistic civilians of German descent were treated harshly. Shop-keepers were robbed, their wares destroyed and thrown in disarray.

There was even an embargo on German culture, not unlike the German boycott of Western culture enacted by Hitler during the Second World War. German music, art, spirits, and even dogs were frowned upon. Needless to say, the King’s WWI uniform was not given a great deal of wear. Even so, resentments continued to fester. In the throes of nationalistic pride, Britain began to despise her own rulers. Many doubted that George V had Britain’s best interests at heart, but was rather infatuated with the land of his heritage, the Mail Online reports.

Insistence that the Queen should recognize her heritage by showcasing George V’s WWI uniform is therefore not likely a call for her to honor her heritage, but rather an excuse for citizens to criticize it. Many believe that the Royal Family is removed from the citizenry of the United Kingdom, with little understanding of citizens’ daily affairs. By asking the Queen to showcase George V’s German WWI uniform, many are essentially asking the Royal Family to acknowledge, by means of physical proof, that they are not one with the nation. Given the anti-monarchist spirit of this request, it seems unlikely that the Royal Family will give in.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE