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The Imperial War Graves Commission, the war dead and the burial of a royal body, 1914-1932

Connelly, Mark, Goebel, Stefan (2020) The Imperial War Graves Commission, the war dead and the burial of a royal body, 1914-1932. Historical Research, 93 (262). pp. 734-753. ISSN 0950-3471. (doi:10.1093/hisres/htaa020) (KAR id:78885)


The mass deaths of British and imperial soldiers during the First World War created a crisis of commemoration. How could the bereaved come to terms with the losses when their deceased loved ones were buried so far from home, or had disappeared completely? Attempting to impose a common solution, the Imperial War Graves Commission (founded in 1917) committed itself to non-repatriation of bodies and standard treatment of war graves. In doing so, it ran the risk of contradicting the wishes of bereaved families. This article explores how the grave of Prince Maurice of Battenberg became a test case for the Commission in its quest for legitimacy and the aptness of its approach against the opposition of Maurice’s mother, Princess Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria. It reveals the I.W.G.C.’s desire to avoid public controversy while sticking to its guiding principles, and its belief that far from being exempt from those principles through her royal status, Princess Beatrice had a moral obligation to accept and embrace them.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/hisres/htaa020
Uncontrolled keywords: First World War; Western Front; burial; Royal Family
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I (1914-1918)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Mark Connelly
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 15:52 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2024 09:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Connelly, Mark.

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Goebel, Stefan.

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