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Royalty and Military Service During World War I

The First World War war brought to the fore the role of royalty in battle. This was the period when most countries in Europe were headed by monarchs and royalty reigned supreme. After the end of the war many of the royal families across Europe ceased to exist, like to Russian Tsars and the German dynasty. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his entire family were murdered by the Bolsheviks led by Lenin and the Kaiser of Germany was deposed after his defeat.

The First World war 1914-18 was the first war that had a global impact. Fought essentially between the Allies against the Central powers led by Germany,  the war brought to the fore the role of royalty in battle. This was the period when most countries in Europe were headed by monarchs and royalty reigned supreme.  After the end of the war many of the royal families across Europe ceased to exist, like to Russian Tsars and the German dynasty. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his entire family were murdered by the Bolsheviks led by Lenin and the Kaiser of Germany was deposed after his defeat.

One of the constituents on the side of Germany was the Austria-Hungarian Empire. In fact the signal for the war to start was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand (1863-14), heir to the throne. Many members of the royal family of the House of Hapsburg took part in this war. Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen was the supreme commander of the Austro –Hungarian army with the rank of Field Marshal. He was removed from command in 1917 when Emperor Charles himself took over command of the army. He died in 1936.

Another significant name is that of Archduke Charles Stephen who was Grand Admiral of the Austro-Hungarian (K.u.K.) Navy. He died in 1933.  The name of Archduke Eugen of Austria is also prominent. He was a Field Marshal and commander in the Balkans and later of the entire south western front. He was the Archduke of Austria and prince of Hungary. He died in 1954.

Another major figure from royalty during World War I was Archduke Joseph August of Austria. He was the last Field Marshal of Austria and was commander of the VII Corps, the 6th Army, and eventually the Army Group Tirol. He died in 1962.

Many other members of royalty from the Austria Hungary royal family took part in the war. Prominent are Archdukes Franz Salvator, Josef Ferdinand, Karl Albrecht and Leo Karl.   They held positions from the rank of Major General to Colonel and captain.

 No history of Royalty and the First World War can be complete without mentioning the German Monarch Emperor Wilhelm II. He led the German war effort and greatly strengthened the navy. But defeat in the war forced him to abdicate and he died in 1942.

 The Royal family of England also made their contribution to the war effort. During World War I, Prince Albert, Duke of York was a turret officer abroad HMS Collingwood and took part in the Battle of Jutland. Another name connected with the royalty of England is Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Stratheam who rose to the rank of Field marshal and later was governor general of Canada.  He was the 7th child and 3rd son of Queen Victoria and died in 1942.

Two other members of British royalty namely Prince Arthur of Connaught and Prince Maurice of Battenberg are also mentioned in the archives. Prince Maurice was a Lieutenant in the Kings Royal Rifle corps and was killed at the battle of Ypres. Prince Maurice was the youngest grandchild of Queen Victoria.

Most members of the Royal family of England served in junior positions during the war and left the army or navy at the end of the war.

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