1. ITV Report

WW1 was a defining period for the Royal Family

The Royal Family, including King George V, Queen Mary and Princess Mary (left), pose for a picture in January 1916. Credit: PA/PA Archive

The First World War was a defining period for the British monarchy, transforming the Royal Family into a more modern institution.

While other monarchs abdicated or were removed across Europe, George V emerged from the Great War more popular, with a new symbolic family name and a secured place on the throne.

As war broke out in August 1914, anti-German sentiment steadily grew among the public and the press.

Even writer HG Wells described the monarchy's German heritage as an "alien and uninspiring Court," prompting George to say, "I may be uninspiring, but I'll be damned if I'm alien."

King George V visits the graves of British soldiers killed in battles at Ypres. Credit: PA/PA Archive

The monarchy's family name at the beginning of the Great War was Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which originated from the Bavarian-born Prince Albert when he married Queen Victoria in 1840.

Sensitive of his German background, George changed the family's surname to Windsor in 1917 and gave up its German titles.

The move, although symbolic, was aimed at putting any concerns people had about the King's loyalty to rest.

During the war George visited the troops more than 450 times - including a few trips to the Western Front - and made over 300 visits to hospitals to see wounded servicemen.

Queen Mary pictured visiting a convalescent camp in Eastbourne, where injured soldiers were treated. Credit: PA/PA Archive

In some respects he was the first monarch to embrace being the public face of the state and to be seen by his people.

Queen Mary also did her bit by visiting injured soldiers. When one princess was said to have moaned about another hospital trip, she replied, "We are the Royal Family, and we love hospitals."

George's eldest son, the Prince of Wales, commissioned in the 1st Battalion the Grenadier Guards when the war broke out.

The Prince, who became Edward VIII, eventually joined the British Expeditionary Force in France, helping to raise the morale of troops.

Prince Albert, later King George VI, marches with his regiment, the Grenadier Guards, in 1914. Credit: PA/PA Archive

His younger brother Prince Albert, Queen Elizabeth's father, fought and saw action as a sub-lieutenant aboard the Collingwood in the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

He became the only sovereign since William IV to see action in battle.

When the war ended on November 11, 1918, not only had Britain's society changed irrevocably - so had its Royal Family.

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