Sky drama Royal Mob depicts moment King Edward VII punched Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm

Author: Yuvi November 21, 2022


With nine children and 42 grandchildren, Queen Victoria was at the center of a web of connections that stretched across Europe’s royal families.

Her English and German grandsons, King George V and Kaiser Wilhelm II, had gotten on very well.

But that was not the case for the relationship between King Edward VII and the Kaiser, who was his nephew – as a new royal drama highlights.

Tonight’s episode of Sky History’s Royal Mob depicts the alleged moment that the pair came to blows during the Isle of Wight’s prestigious Cowes Week in the 1890s.

The then Prince of Wales, who succeeded his mother Victoria after her death in 1901, is seen punching Wilhelm in the face after the Kaiser had poked fun at him for losing a boat race to the shore.

The Royal Mob shows a furious Edward confronting Wilhelm after one of the men rowing on the Kaiser’s boat had used his oar to hit one of his rivals in the face.

Details of the real royal bust-up were reported in the Daily Mail in 1920 and emerged again in a letter sent by the son of the second mate aboard Edward’s royal racing cutter, Britannia.

The close blood ties between the English, German and Russian royal families ultimately failed to prevent the outbreak of the First World War, which began in 1914.

The show depicts the moment Edward punched his nephew - played by Evan Milton.

The then Prince of Wales, who became King Edward VII, is seen being depicted by Gary Oliver in the Sky History drama Royal Mob. The show depicts the moment Edward punched his nephew – played by Evan Milton.

The Royal Mob scene begins with Edward and Wilhelm leading rival teams of rowers at Cowes.

Edward challenges him to a race to the shore after the Kaiser jokingly calls him a ‘terrible sailor’.

But then William, played by Evan Milton, is seen getting one of his sailors to hit one of the men in the other boat.

On shore, Wilhelm tells him, ‘Well done Uncle, not bad for an old man.’

Edward, played by Gary Oliver, responds: ‘That was highly irresponsible Wilhelm, your recklessness could have caused serious injury.’

The Prince of Wales then takes offense when he tells his uncle ‘not to worry’ about the sailors because ‘there’s plenty more where they came from.’

A furious Edward replies: ‘You’ll never say that again, do you hear me, never!’

When the Kaiser asks ‘or what, uncle?’, Edward turns around and hits him.

Although the scene is invented, it is based on what is known to have happened.

William Brasted had been second mate on board HMY Britannia, a racing cutter.

His son, Henry, wrote to mariner John Jefferies to tell him about a fight between Edward and the Kaiser.

The letter emerged in 2008 as part of an archive of yachting history left by Mr Jefferies after his death.

Henry wrote: ‘Kaiser Bill jeered King Teddy about the result, where straight away King Teddy hit him in the mouth, knocked him down, then stormed into the club.

‘My father watched all this from the beaten rowing cutter.

King Edward VII and the Kaiser (pictured above in 1908) did not get on well.  Edward's animosity towards Wilhelm was also demonstrated in a letter he wrote to his sister Victoria - the German's mother - after the death of her husband Frederik III in 1888.

King Edward VII and the Kaiser (pictured above in 1908) did not get on well. Edward’s animosity towards Wilhelm was also demonstrated in a letter he wrote to his sister Victoria – the German’s mother – after the death of her husband Frederik III in 1888.

King Edward VII and his family on board the royal yacht 'Osborne' during Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight.  With him are his wife Queen Alexandra (1844 - 1925), his sons Prince George (later King George V) and Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, and his daughters Princess Louise, Princess Maud and Princess Victoria

King Edward VII and his family on board the royal yacht ‘Osborne’ during Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight. With him are his wife Queen Alexandra (1844 – 1925), his sons Prince George (later King George V) and Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, and his daughters Princess Louise, Princess Maud and Princess Victoria

The future King Edward VII (top right) is seen standing next to the Kaiser as the pair pose for a photograph with Queen Victoria (seated left).  Also seen in the image is the Kaiser's mother Victoria (seated right), who was the daughter of Queen Victoria and the wife of his father Emperor Frederick;  Duke Alfred of Coburg (back row, second from left) and Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught

The future King Edward VII (top right) is seen standing next to the Kaiser as the pair pose for a photograph with Queen Victoria (seated left). Also seen in the image is the Kaiser’s mother Victoria (seated right), who was the daughter of Queen Victoria and the wife of his father Emperor Frederick; Duke Alfred of Coburg (back row, second from left) and Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught

‘That episode was never printed in the papers at that time – imagine the consequences if they had.’

The Daily Mail’s 1920 report told how sailor Captain John Johncox had once witnessed ‘the then Prince of Wales fighting out a disagreement on Cowes sands with the German Crown Prince, afterwards Kaiser Wilhelm, and separated them.

‘The Crown Prince at once went aboard his yacht and ordered her to sail back to Germany.’

The report also said that Captain Johncox, who had died aged 81, had himself hit the Prince of Wales at Cowes regatta in 1880 – after the royal ‘playfully’ tripped him up.

Edward’s animosity towards Wilhelm was also demonstrated in a letter he wrote to his sister Victoria – the German’s mother – after the death of her husband Frederik III in 1888.

Queen Victoria with members of her extended family at Osborne House in Cowes

Queen Victoria with members of her extended family at Osborne House in Cowes

On succeeding the throne, Wilhelm’s first act was to have troops surround the palace in which his father had died, on the pretext of searching for papers relating to the older man’s reign.

But his ire was actually directed at his mother, with whom he had a strained relationship.

Speaking of the bust-up, Edward wrote: ‘His conduct towards you is simply revolting. His manners are not those of a gentleman.

Until her death, Victoria had attempted to maintain peace between the rival elements of her family.

Kaiser Wilhelm (right) is seen with King Edward VII (left) on the Isle of Wight in 1907

Kaiser Wilhelm (right) is seen with King Edward VII (left) on the Isle of Wight in 1907

Her granddaughter, Alexandra Fedorovna, was married to Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II, who was also the cousin of King George V and the Kaiser.

When Queen Victoria died, the Kaiser had rushed to be by her side and helped to lay out her body.

At her funeral, he rode behind her casket alongside Edward VII.

Wilhelm had been born with a withered arm thanks to his traumatic birth. His mother later reacted badly to her son’s handicap.

The future King George V is seen with his cousin Tsar Nicholas II of Russia at Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1904

The future King George V is seen with his cousin Tsar Nicholas II of Russia at Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1904

As a teenager, he wrote strange – almost sexually charged – letters to his mother Princess Victoria in which he described dreams of kissing her hands and caressing her.

‘Promise to do to me as I did in my dream to you. I love you so much,’ the future German monarch wrote in one.

But when she replied speaking only of art and politics, the already tortured relationship continued to worsen.

The Isle of Wight was one of Queen Victoria’s favorite places and she spent a lot of time at her home on the island, Osborne House.

Royal links to Cowes Week stretch back to 1826, when King George IV presented the King’s Cup there.

Royal Mob airs tonight on Sky History at 9pm.

21 November, 2022, 7:49 pm

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Monday, 21st November 2022

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