European Royalty: Boys' Clothes

European and American Children's fashions, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries were strongly influenced by the way royal families dressed their children. Queen Victoria was especially influential as so many of her children and grandchildren maired into royal familes throught Europe. Kaiser Wilhelm II, for example, was the Queen's grandson. While the British House of Windsor was the most influential in this regard, other royal families also had great influence, at least in their own countries

Figure 1.--Sailor suits from the reign of Queen Victoria have been one of the most common styles for both British princes and princesses. George V here is pictured with his children. The two older boys are George VI and Edward VIII. I believe the younger boy in the sailor dress is Henry William Frederick Albert, Duke of Gloucester. Note the lace collar he wears with his reeefer jacket.

The geneology of European royalty is a huge under taking, given the large number of countries and principalities. Major changes have ocurred over time with countries created, dismantleted, and reappearing. Some royal lines extend more than a millenium, others only a few generations. Royal lines can be looked up on the internet with a convenient search engine.

Europe since the fall of the 500-year old Roman Republic in the first century B.C. was ruled by various monarchial systems, ranging from tribal chiefs to the absolutism of Louis XIV, France's famed Sun King. The Christian monarchs which emerged in first Western and then Eastern Europe and Russia claimed that they were anointed by God, the divine right monarchy which dominated Europe for a millenium. Some monarch were able to exert absolute control, symbolized the French bourbons which inherited a weak monarchial system and built a system of absolute control. Elsewhere in Europe, limited monarchies developed out of the struggle between monarchs and the nobility. In some countries, such as Poland, a strong monarchy never developed, in the end leading to the disappearance of Poland from the European map in the 18th century. In other countries this lead to the emergence of modern constitutional monarchies, such as in Britain (the United Kingdom). Democratic institutions appeared in many countries, including Imperial Germany. Led by able advisors like the Count von Bismark, the German Kaiser was able to dominate still weak democratic institutions. In other countries, such as Russia and and Austria-Hungary, the monarch still reigned with virtual absolute power at the turn of the century.

The turn of the 20th century saw a Europe still dominated by monarchial government. The only important republic was the France. All other European states, with only minor exceptions, were ruled by hereditary monarchs. This vast monarchial system was virtually swept away in a few years by the malestorm of the First Word War. At the time it was seen as a progressive democratic step, but the nationalistic passions unleased play a major role in the horrors of the Second World War. And as seen still today in the Balkans, where the First World War erupted, have not yet played out. The fall of the European monarchies left a large numbers of prentenders to vanished thrones. Details on these individuals are included in each of the national pages above.

These pages will focus primarily on the chilhood of the royals in an effort to describe their clothes and life style. ome basic background is also provided to show their accomplishments and impact on the following generation. Greater details are available on many interest sites. Excellent search engine for biographical information on the royals.

Christopher Wagner

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Last updated: June 2, 1998