Royal Cousins at War, TV review: Family squabble begat the bloodiest century in human history
The first part of the Royal Cousins at War (BBC2), which concludes tonight, explained the origins of the First World War as, roughly, "The World at War: Sigmund Freud Edition", starring Game of Thrones' Joffrey Baratheon as Kaiser Wilhelm II. This was the story of how Queen Victoria's family tore themselves, and a continent, apart. But for the most part, it focused on her grandson Wilhelm.
If it wasn't for the millions of dead 19-year-olds, you'd almost feel sorry for old Willy. A traumatic birth left him with a crippled left arm, which his parents tried to fix with barbaric machines. It also left, according to historian John Röhl, his mother Victoria (Queen Vic's daughter) subconsciously letting him know he wasn't up to it. We also learned that Wilhelm sent his mother erotic letters before later moving faaar to the right and disowning her.
As much as the build-up to the First World War is about as complex as history gets, boiling it down to mummy issues seems as good as any other explanation.
There was no smirking in the tone of Tamsin Greig's voiceover but some of the stories of Wilhelm's unpopularity within his family were Partridge-esque. I liked the stories of him turning up to Cowes and misjudging the decorum spectacularly. Rather than treating it as a picnic with sailboats like the Brits, Wilhelm brought a warship. Another year, he employed a marching band to wander around with him. He was, as Greig noted, "the cousin no one wanted to play with".
Not surprisingly, his resentments, and the chumminess between his cousins George V and Nicholas II didn't help the atmosphere across Europe, where a family squabble begat the bloodiest century in human history.
Think on that before your next domestic argument over a game of Risk.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
- 2 Lisa Randolph-Gant: Queen Elsa cake maker says she will carry on baking and will not let people 'break her spirit'
- 3 Tube strike: This pedestrian-friendly map tells you the time it takes to walk between stations
- 4 Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2015: Three men gored and 10 hospitalised on first day of festival
- 5 Sarah Jessica Parker explains why she is not a feminist: 'It's not just about women now'
Artist Milo Moire arrested in Paris for taking naked selfies with passers-by in front of the Eiffel Tower
Is Jon Snow dead? Theories stoked by Kit Harrington's longer hair despite Game of Thrones director claiming he's 'deader than dead'
Noel Gallagher actually gives Kanye West some credit for his Glastonbury headline set: 'For half an hour it was as good as it gets'
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas run through Google's Deep Dream neural network is pure nightmare fuel
Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy