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Lafayette L3607
Neg. Date: 02-07-1906

copyright V&A

Richard Burdon Haldane (1856-1928), later 1st Viscount Haldane (created 1911), British statesman, lawyer and philosopher, photographed by Lafayette in July 1906.

In the difficult times leading up to World War I, Haldane was first Secretary of State for War (1905-1912), and then Lord Chancellor (1912-1915).

In 1912, when the German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg introduced new bills in the Reichstag allowing for an increase in the army and navy, British-German relations hit a dangerous low. Daisy, the English wife of the German Prince of Pless was worried and intensified her efforts in “explaining the two countries to each other.”

According to her biographer, W. John Koch, from January 1912 Daisy busied herself seriously with international politics, writing letters and meeting crowned heads of Europe, politicians, diplomats and generals. She tried to convince the German Emperor that the reports of British hostility were German exaggerations by sending him positive clippings from the British newspapers which she felt sure were being withheld from him by his staff.

With the spectre of war looming, Daisy was thus extremely happy when the British Prime Minster sent Lord Haldane to Germany “on a mission of peace” in February 1912. Daisy felt that he would "understand the German mentality in a way few other English statesmen have done." Daisy later took it upon herself to explain to him “some points concerning Anglo-German relations which I thought might have escaped him."

In Berlin he held lengthy private conversations with the Emperor and other high-ranking Germans, seeking to impress on them that Britain was not trying to impede German progress.

For a moment there appeared to be a thaw in relations. A member of the German Foreign Service reported to Daisy optimistically: “Lord Haldane’s mission has gone very far to remove distrust that existed on both sides” and he briefed her on the outcome of her press-cuttings campaign: "Kaiser read them all and later passed them to Foreign Office."

Lord Haldane’s mission was denounced by Conservatives in Westminster as “foolish and futile,” he was groundlessly accused of pro-German sympathies and war was not averted.