On the outbreak of the Great War on 4 August 1914, the former Robinson and Cleaver department store building on Donegall Square, opposite the City Hall, was subject to anti-German vandalism by a Germanophobic mob.

If you look between the 1st and 2nd floors on the building, there are a series of carved heads (red circles above). These busts were of leading store patrons, celebrities and public figures popular when the store was constructed in the 1880s and included Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the Emperor and Empress of Germany.[1]

If you look carefully, one head is missing (see below). This is the head of Victoria,  German Empress and Queen of Prussia and wife of German Emperor Frederick III.  She was the eldest child of Queen Victoria and married Frederick III and gave birth to Wilhelm who became Wilhelm II, German Emperor at the outbreak of war in 1914..

Her image was hacked off by an angry mob at the outbreak of the Great War in a show of anti-German feeling caused by outbreak of War in August 1914.[2]

Do you want to learn more? Let me take you on my people and places tour to tell you more!


[1] Mark Patton, Central Belfast, A Historical Gazetteer (Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage, 1993), pp.107-108.

[2] Lorenzo Racino & Kathy Curran, Secret Belfast  (Versailles, France: Jonglez Publishing), pp.14-15.