1. Wilhelm with his mother, Vicky, and sister, Charolotte, 1860
2. Wilhelm in Highland gear at his uncle Edward’s wedding, age four
3. Wilhelm in his late teens with Vicky before the split
4. Wilhelm, complete with his now famous moustache and in uniform, to which he was addicted. Even his entourage considered him “obsessed by the question of clothes and external,” 1891.
5. “Dropping the Pilot,” Punch magazine’s response to Wilhelm’s sacking of Bismarck, 1890
6. At Your Majesty’s Command! The kaiser as paterfamilias and military chief: from early in Wilhelm’s reign, his sons were employed to bolster his public image.
7. Wilhelm’s wife, Augusta Victoria, known as “Dona.” She provided unquestioning devotion and support, and he found her terribly dull.
8. Wilhelm and Dona in England, during the Boer War in 1899. In honour of his grandmother, the kaiser was unusually in mufti.
9. By 1903–4, German diplomacy had gained such a reputation for clumsy flattery and bullying that the German satirical magazine Simplicissimus ran this cartoon showing the training of young diplomats.
10. Alexandra and Bertie with Eddy (standing), George (front) and baby Louise, indulging in the royal passion for pretending to be Scottish, ca. 1868. George was about three.
11. Alexandra and George, age thirteen, the youngest and smallest naval cadet at Dartmouth Naval College. “Nobody can, or shall ever, come between me and my darling Georgie boy,” she wrote.
12. A summer house party at Amalienborg, the Copenhagen residence of King Christian and Queen Louise of Denmark. The Waleses, the Romanovs and the Danish royals are all present. George (standing) and Nicholas, in his pram (both far left)
13. Bertie and his family, late 1870s, on board the yacht Victoria and Albert. Eddy, at the back, George, to the right, and the three daughters, Louise, Toria and Maud
14. Albert Victor, “Eddy,” and Georgie, pre-beard, late 1880s
15. George and May after their engagement, with Queen Victoria, 1893. The queen, then seventy-four, made a point of never looking into the camera lens.
16. After the China land grabs of 1898, a French cartoon shows Wilhelm and Queen Victoria squabbling over a pie representing China, while Nicholas eyes it up and a Chinese government official raises his arms in horror.
17. George’s two passions were shooting and stamp collecting.
18. Nicholas and his sisters Xenia (centre) and Olga (right)
19. Tsar Alexander III and his family (clockwise from top left): Minny, Nicholas, Xenia, Georgy, Olga and Misha
20. George and Nicholas with George’s siblings Eddy and Louise at Fredensborg, the summer residence of the Danish royal family, 1889
21. Nicholas (centre, in grey suit and white pith helmet) and his entourage on his grand tour in Jobindram, India, 1891. Nicholas complained of “the unbearableness of being surrounded … by the English and of seeing their Red Coats everywhere.”
22. Nicholas and George in London, July 1893. The two were constantly mistaken for each other.
23. Alexandra, or “Alicky,” age eleven. Queen Victoria said she was the handsomest child she ever saw.
24. Nicholas and Alexandra at Coburg, just after she had agreed to marry him, 1894
25. Family photograph at Coburg in 1894, after the wedding of “Ducky” to Alexandra’s brother Ernest, and Nicky and Alicky’s engagement. Wilhelm is at bottom left; Nicholas and Alicky are next to him; Queen Victoria is seated in the middle, next to Wilhelm’s mother, Vicky.
26. Balmoral, 1896: Queen Victoria in the pony carriage, with Nicholas behind and Alix, as he called her, to the right
27. Nicky and Alix with their first child, Olga, at Balmoral with Queen Victoria and Bertie, 1896. Nicky described Queen Victoria as “a big round ball on wobbly legs.”
28. Nicky and Alix dressed as medieval Russian Tsar and Tsarina, ca. 1903
29. Wilhelm pulling the “fierce” expression he deliberately adopted for photographs, his famous moustache now fully realized, in the uniform of the “death’s head” hussars, the Prussian regiment famous for striking fear into the enemy
30. The salon in Wilhelm’s new imperial train, one of eleven gilded carriages, 1891
31. Philipp zu Eulenburg
32. Lord Salisbury
33. Otto von Bismarck
34. Bernhard von Bülow
35. Wilhelm on board the Hohenzollern, early 1900s, wearing his “fierce” look. After becoming kaiser, he was almost never photographed in repose again.
36. Edward, now king, with George’s children, once again in Scottish gear, 1903
37. Edward and Wilhelm, ca. 1901 Note neither looks at the other.
38. One of a series of informal “joke” photographs taken at Hesse-Darmstadt, home of Alix’s brother Ernie, one of the few places where Alix (sitting, left) and Nicky (behind, left) felt genuinely off-duty. Ernie’s wife, Victoria Melita, known as “Ducky” (sitting, right), would run off with Nicky’s cousin Grand Duke Kirill (just right of him) several years later.
39. Nicky sitting in Alix’s mauve boudoir, ca. 1900–1904
40. Nicky and Alix and their children, Olga, Maria, Tatiana, Anastasia and Alexis, ca. 1910. He would have been forty-two, she, thirty-eight.
41. German cartoon of the Entente Cordiale, 1906. John Bull walks off with a French trollop while Germany (complete with kaiser moustache) tries to look as if he doesn’t care.
42. Nicholas, with court in full Russian regalia, opens the Duma, Russia’s first elected assembly, 1906. One courtier said of the new Duma: “They gave one the impression of a gang of criminals … waiting for the signal to throw themselves upon the Ministers and cut their throats.”
43. Nicholas and Alix receiving Wilhelm at Peterhof, ca. 1912. Peterhof was famously windy.
44. Wilhelm and Nicholas walk along the Russian imperial yacht Standart, Swinemünde, 1907.
45. British warship en route to Kronstadt, June 1914
46. German armoured cruisers, 1907
47. Wilhelm and Nicholas on a German shooting expedition
48. Nicholas examining the camera lens at Neskuchnoe Park, Moscow, May 1896
49. Sergei Witte, Nicholas’s chief minister
50. Lloyd George, the British Liberal politician whom George loathed
51. Bethmann-Hollweg, Wilhelm’s wartime chancellor
52. Grigori Rasputin
53. Nicky (left) and George (right) in British naval dress at Barton Manor on the Isle of Wight in July 1909
54. Family picture taken on the Isle of Wight in 1909. From left, standing: future Edward VIII, Alexandra, George’s daughter Mary, George’s sister Toria, Olga and Tatiana; seated, from left: May, Nicky, Edward, Alix, George and Marie; on the ground: Alexis and Anastasia
55. Nine monarchs at Edward VII’s funeral. From top left: Haakon VII of Norway, Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Manuel of Portugal, Wilhelm, George I of Greece, Albert of the Belgians; sitting: Alfonso XIII of Spain, George, Frederick XII of Denmark
56. George and Mary, as she now was, in full regalia
57. Nicholas and Wilhelm at the wedding of the kaiser’s daughter, Victoria, June 1913, the last time the three men met
58. George and Wilhelm with Prussian dragoons, 1913
59. Nicholas and George at Victoria’s wedding, 1913
60. First World War: Wilhelm with Hindenburg and Ludendorff, the two generals who would eventually supersede him
61. George with (left to right) Marshal Joffre, French president Raymond Poincaré, Marshal Foch and General Haig, whom he supported against Lloyd George
62. British and U.S. propaganda turned Wilhelm into a sinister monster egging his troops on to ever greater atrocities
63. Nicholas after his abdication. He spent much of his time chopping firewood.
64. The Romanovs taking the sun in Tobolsk, their first stop-off in Siberia, before arriving at their final destination, Ekaterinburg, where they were killed in July 1918
65. George in 1923, on his way to open Parliament. The war left its scars on him.
66. Ever carefully striking a pose, Wilhelm in 1938, in exile in Holland