Royal Cousins at War

Into the Abyss

Series 1 - Episode 2 Into the Abyss



The concluding part of a terrific round-up of how the First World War had its roots in the travails of one extended family. It’s a fascinating, beautifully told story with unexpected angles, such as how Edward VII, often seen as a bit of a rogue and a playboy, turned into a jovial, charming diplomat: “If Queen Victoria was the grandmother of Europe, Edward was its genial uncle,” as the narration puts it.

But Edward’s successes in helping enable the Entente Cordiale with France and an alliance with Russia (both of them Britain’s age-old imperial rivals) only isolated his nephew, the Kaiser. We see footage of a family gathering in 1913, for the wedding of the Kaiser’s daughter, which marked the end of an era: it was the last gathering of European monarchs who mattered.


Part two of two. The documentary examines the key role played by royalty in smoothing the path to the Anglo-Russian entente of 1907, and the part played by the Kaiser's erratic, unstable personality in the growing isolation of Germany in the years leading up to 1914. The film also explores the roles played by the German, British and Russian monarchs in the months leading up to the outbreak of the First World War and tells the story of George V's refusal to grant his cousin Nicholas II asylum in England following the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Tamsin Greig
Director Richard Sanders
Executive Producer Denys Blakeway
Producer Richard Sanders