Britain, Sunday, 26th July
Morning Prince Henry on his way to see his sister staying in Eastbourne has a brief meeting with his cousin King George. He doesn't report to the Kaiser what the King said until he gets back to Germany on Tuesday, 28 July, but a naval attaché at the German embassy in London wires Berlin a misleading account of the King's comments, saying Britain would be neutral in a European war.
The attaché also reports the British fleet, which had been taking part in the annual review at Spithead, is now being dispersed and crews departing on leave. In fact, later in the day the First Sea Lord stops the dispersal. [More]
Morning Nicolson in charge in Grey's absence studies the latest information including the imminence of a Russian partial mobilisation and Sazonov's threat about Britain's position in Asia if it does not cooperate with Russia.
Noting Sazonov's remark that Russia might stand aside and leave the question of how matters are resolved between Austria-Hungary and Serbia in the hands of Britain, France, Italy and Germany, he decides to suggest to Grey he calls an ambassadors' conference of these four powers in London.
This is Britain's second mediation proposal. Such an ambassadors' conference is similar to one Grey chaired to defuse problems arising from the first Balkan war in 1912. [More]
Morning Lichnowsky has a message from Bethmann saying Russia might be calling up reserves without declaring a mobilisation. "We therefore request Sir Edward Grey to use his influence at St Petersburg". Lichnowsky writes a note for Grey saying if Russia calls up reserves Germany will mobilise. "My Government ... instructs me to request you to use your influence in St. Petersburg".
He also communicates Berlin's acceptance of Britain's first mediation proposal "My government accepts your suggested mediation à quatre". (This mediation suggestion has now been overtaken by Nicolson's four-power ambassadors' conference idea.)
Afternoon Grey telephones his agreement to Nicolson's suggestion of a conference. Telegrams are sent to the British ambassadors in Paris, Vienna, St Petersburg, Berlin and Rome and the minister in Nish, instructing them to ask their respective foreign ministers if they would agree to a conference of ambassadors in London to prevent complications. While the conference is meeting, all sides are asked to suspend "active military operations".
Afternoon Asquith writes a letter to his friend Venetia Stanley, part of which is about the developing European crisis. He thinks "Russia is trying to drag us in". However, on the ultimatum he thinks that "on many, if not most, of the points Austria has a good & Serbia a very bad case".
Afternoon London receives a wire from Rodd in Rome. He says Italy will be neutral in the event of a conflict between Austria-Hungary and Russia.
It has not been consulted by Austria-Hungary and the move against Serbia amounts to a deliberate provocation of Russia. Italy believes in these circumstances the alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany, the Triple Alliance, does not oblige it to support Austria-Hungary.
Afternoon In the absence of Churchill, Prince Louis of Battenberg, the First Sea Lord, decides in the light of the deteriorating European situation, to stop the dispersal of the fleet and maintain its crews at full strength. Churchill confirms the order when he returns to London late in the evening. [More]
Evening Lichnowsky takes his note to the Foreign Office. In Grey's absence he sees Nicolson and Sir William Tyrrell. The two British diplomats tell Lichnowsky about the proposed conference.
They also warn Lichnowsky if Austria-Hungary attacks Serbia European war is inevitable. The localisation of the conflict as hoped for in Berlin is wholly impossible. Lichnowsky is delighted by the conference idea and wires Jagow urging him to support it and to report what the British have said.
He adds his own urgent warning that Berlin should no longer believe in the possibility of localisation. [More]