Modern Monarchy in Global Perspective Research Hub | Seminar Series 2022
Professor Frank Mort | University of Manchester
Monarchs, Diplomats and Human-Interest Journalists: A Berlin Wedding 1913
Diplomatic and political historians have defined the European build up to the Great War as a watershed, dividing the old political world from the new – as a slide towards ‘the abyss’ for the monarchies of Europe and the start of a future dominated by democracy, not by kings and emperors.
International royalty and local citizens were together for the marriage of the Kaiser’s eldest daughter, Princess Viktoria Luise, in Berlin in May 1913. Early experimental colour film captured part of the elaborate ceremony, where the Tsar, George V and Queen Mary were guests of the Kaiser, parading up and down Unter den Linden with their honour guards and decorations. Historians have cast the wedding as the last rendezvous of the ‘royal mob,’ before the war toppled Hohenzollerns, Romanovs and Hapsburgs alike. On the diplomatic front the meeting has been seen as a final family effort at what Johannes Paulmann has termed royal cosmopolitanism, in a Europe dominated by the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. But for the international press assembled at the show it was the crowds just as much as royalty who were pictured centre stage.
Local Berlin women fought to see a display of the wedding dress, evoking Freudian readings of female hysteria in the newspapers. Journalists used the techniques of human-interest journalism to probe the personalities of the young married couple and their royal guests and to arouse the interest of an international reading public. Using the wedding as a historical snapshot, my paper compares the political and cultural performance of European royalties and their audiences the eve of war. It asks the question why and how the British monarchy successfully adapted to the challenges of democracy and mass society.
Frank Mort is Professor of Cultural Histories and Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts at the University of Manchester. He has written widely on such topics in modern British history as the history of London, metropolitan culture, cultures of consumption and sexuality. Among his recent publications on monarchy are ‘Accessible Sovereignty: Popular Attitudes to British Royalty during the Great War’ in Social History (2020) , ‘Safe for Democracy: Constitutional Politics, Popular Spectacle, and the British Monarchy 1910-1914’ in the Journal of British Studies (2019), and ‘On Tour with the Prince: Monarchy, Imperial Politics and Publicity in the Prince of Wales’s Dominion Tours 1919-20’ in Twentieth Century British History (2017). His current project is a major study of popular attitudes to the British monarchy across the twentieth century to be published by Oxford University Press.
When | Friday | 11 March 2022
Where | Online, via Zoom
Time – please note
9am | London
8pm | Sydney (AEDT)
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To find out more, visit https://global-modern- monarchy.sydney.edu.au/
Image credit: Wedding of Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia and Prince Ernst August of Hannover (Unknown Artist. Public Domain).