Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Cross-Dressing Cousins

I am often asked by non-bloggers how I decide what to write about. Do I write about what I have been doing (no, it is generally quite boring), about some great dominating theme or interest (no, there are far too many), or about the social, economic and political affairs of mankind (no, just no)? The answer, I suppose, is that it is a serendipitous process. Fellow bloggers will know what I mean, but for the chance visitor, here is an example.

I woke up this morning and had my usual glass of orange juice (Asda Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice) and slice of toast (Warburton Soft White Toasty - medium / well done setting on the toaster). Noticing that Boy Cameron will be facing his first Prime Ministers' Questions today in the House of Commons - and fighting to hold back a yawn - I begin to clear my desk of the accumulated detritus of the previous day. Amongst a pile of papers that seem to have appeared from nowhere I find an unused postcard. It is not a particularly old postcard and it has never been used. It is neither colourful nor particularly pretty. It shows two cousins having a bit of a giggle by dressing up in each others clothes.


The two cousins concerned are George Frederick Ernest Albert of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (known to his subjects as King George V) and Nikolay Alexandrovich Romanov (known by some of his subjects as "Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias" and others as a hapless tyrant). The picture was taken in Berlin in 1913 whilst they were visiting another of their cousins, Friedrich Wilhelm Victor Albert (known by everyone as Kaiser Bill). The two chaps thought it would be a bit of a wheeze to dress up in each others uniforms and thus it is Czar Nicholas on the left wearing the British uniform and King George on the right wearing the Russian uniform. Within just a few years of the photograph being taken, the world would change radically for everyone concerned. Having abdicated, Kaiser Bill was living in exile in the Netherlands. King George was still on the throne, but he was King of a country that had been socially and economically broken by the Great War. And his cousin Nicholas was long dead : the victim of a bloody execution in a cellar in an obscure palace in Yekaterinburg. Recent research suggests that the British Government were willing to allow the Czar and his family to come to exile in Britain (a plan the Bolsheviks supported), but King George, fearing some form of political backlash against his own family, vetoed the suggestion.

It just goes to show .... well it just goes to show something. I need to take the dog for a walk now, so I will ponder just what it goes to show whilst we are out on our walk.

19 comments:

  1. I like those guys. Well, you sure know an awful lot in your creative randomness.... doesn't Rasputin fit in there somewhere? -J

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  2. Oooh... now I'm totally waiting for a pic of you and one of your cousins exchanging uniforms.

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  3. I've always been amazed at how much George V and Czar Nicholas looked alike. I'm having 12 grain bread toasted med-well with fig preserves and a big Starbucks mug of strong black tea, as we speak.

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  4. They did sport some wonderful beards in those day though. The ability to grow a full set is a mark of distinction, I say.

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  5. It just goes to show: history is full of ironies and dreamy, unrealistic aspirations.

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  6. One can never have too much toast or use the word detritus too often. As for your giggly cousins, damn fine moustaches, you'd never know they're having a belly laugh under all that hersuitness! I wonder if when their children were born they were bound to count their fingers to ensure only five on each hand not six? Enjoy your walk and ponder on!

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  7. Hmmmm... I think it just goes to show that interrelated monarchies never lead to a good end. Although George's heirs still seem to be hanging on.

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  8. Hi again, I forgot to mention that I did not know the Czar had a 'lighter' side! -J

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  9. What a hoot. I wonder if Kaiser Bill took the photo, and if so, what clothes he was wearing....

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  10. Well... it just goes to show you... you neva neva know! Great post, my friend. Have some more orange juice before walking the dog. :) The Bach

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  11. They looked enough alike too, that perhaps they could have traded places, sort of like in the movie The Parent Trap.

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  12. well at least czar nicholas had a few good times before executioners volley began

    quite a pair....

    I wonder if it was it the toast or the oj that inspired such a musing!! I think i need to change my breakfast!

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  13. You are right to yawn. I had the BBC live text up and then just stopped even contemplating diverting my gaze to follow it.

    "Asda Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice"

    With or without juicy bits? That is the question.

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  14. Funny how cousins can sometimes look even more alike than brothers. This post delights me ... the little bit of unlooked-for whimsy taken at the cusp of a changing world.

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  15. I'm always amazed at how elaborate some countries' uniforms are. It's like they just have to add a bit of gold braid there and something else here and something else over there ... until the thing becomes so glommed up with STUFF as to be nearly too heavy to wear. These were amazing. You always have such fun postcards, Alan.

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  16. remarkable reflections...

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  17. What a remarkable photo!

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  18. To think that I almost missed this. What a post!! My father, if he were alive, would try to imagine that he was related to the German one, and yet he could have been related to the other too. I don't think I will search that far. I also don't think they had much to entertain themselves back then. Take care.

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  19. I've always been fascinated by the Russian Revolution, especially Rasputin's involvement in the events leading up to it. Great postcard you have there!

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