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War and the Georges

There are two big anniversaries next year, and they make awkward bed-fellows if you’re a Germany-watcher.

The first is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I in 1914. The second is the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian accession to the British throne, with the coronation of King George I back in 1714. One is about savagery and suffering and millions of deaths, and the other about sharing and brotherhood and mutual lineage, and both happen to involve the same enemy-friend: Germany. So it’s going to be a year of mixed messages.

2014 will see lots of commemorations and newspaper editorial on the outbreak of a war that killed 15 million and wounded 20 million more, particularly focusing on the areas of trench warfare in northern Europe. Meanwhile, to the east, Germany will be promoting its new Royal Heritage Route which emphasises the shared leadership of the two nations, which started 300 years ago when George of Hanover, ruler of Saxony, became King of England too. The Heritage Route will link Hanoverian palaces and castles, particularly in Lower Saxony, showing where the Germano-British monarchs lived and travelled. Tour operators are going to be offering special royal tours.

And Germany is not alone in marking the royal connection: several UK historic palaces will also be mounting exhibitions marking the anniversary of the Germano-British linkup.

The new Royal Heritage Route was launched in London this week by the German Tourist Office and HRH Prince Ernst August, the present Hanoverian heir, a tall and courteous young man, who attended a British public school and now works in banking in the City of London, thus perpetuating the Germano-British link in more pragmatic style.

The House of Hanover itself came to crunching halt with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. It was then succeeded by the House of Windsor as we know it today, except back then they were Saxe-Coburgs, also from Germany, with George VI only making the name change to ‘Windsor’ in 1917, fearing backlash from anti-German feeling during the First World War. The very latest baby George, who will presumably one day be George VII, is his great grandson. So the Germans still win on penalties.



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