German Royalty: Friederich III's Children

Frederich and Victoria had eight children, four boys and four girls. The best known of course is Prince Wilhelm who suceeded his father after his untimely death. It was not a large family by German standards. But considering their mother's harrowing experience at Wihelm's birth, it was surprising that she would have six more children. Wilhelm was especialy close to Henry who was born 3 years after him. Wilhelm and Henry were te only boys to suevive beyond adulthood. We have few details at this time on the children and the relationships between them. We also have few ideas on how the children were dressed or the relationship between them. Strangely, many biogrphies of Wilhelm barely mention his brothers and sisters. Thus our information on Wilhem's brothers and sisters is very limited at this time.

The Children

Prince Freiederich's children were rather small and rather week, especially in comparison to their cousins on the Holenzollern (German) side of the family. At the time strapping fat children were considered to be the embodiment of health. The royal childern, as a result, were rather looked down upon within the family. Wilhelm's handicapped arm was a further sign of weakness. Their small sature was inherited from their mother who, like Queen Victoria, was only 5 ft 2 in tall. As a result Vicky was very sensitive on the subject. She was esspially incensed by her husband's cousin, Prince Frederick Karl--who would blurt out his opinion that a one-armed man shold not be allowed to become King of Prussia. [Van Der Kriste, 1999, p. 16]

Individual Children

William II (1859-1941)

Prince Wilhelm became Kaiser in 1888.The liberal outlook of Friederich and and Victoria were not shared his father or Bismark. They exercised considerable influence over the education of Prince Wilhelm. He was a handicapped child that through strength of character became a capable horesman and marksman. Kaiser Wilhelm's upbrining and family background equiped him ideally to play the kind of peace keeping role played by his uncle Edward VII. However this role was not to his liking. He rejected the liberal leanings of his parents and instead the beicose leanings of the Prussian Junkers appealed to him. His accession to the throne was anticipated with pleasure by most Germans, who genially referred to him as "Our Fritz. Prince Wilhelm became Kaiser in 1888. He proved to be one of the most disatrous leaders in German history, excepting Hitler. When he abdicated in 1918, Wilhelm was the most reviled man on earth.

Charlotte (1860-1919)

Charlotte was the eldest daughter. Charlotte became known as "Ditta" from Wihelm's efforts to call her sister. Charlotte was a rather michevious child. She and Wilhelm as children were very close. She mairred Duke Bernhard III of Saxe-Meiningen (1851-1928) in 1878. She became "an elegant, sophisticated young woman" and the "unofficial leader" of Berlin's smart set. After Wilhelm's mairrage she was extremely disappointed with Auguste Victoria or Donna as she was called in the family, viewing her as plain and slow witted. Her husband Bernhard agreed, complaining about Donna's "... stupidity, lack of education, and tactlessness". Charlotte and Wilhelm quickly loss their [Van der Kiste, p. 30.] Charlotte, like her older brother, became inreasingly estarined from her mother. It was thought that Charlotte was responsible for the gossipy anonaymous letters that appeared at court which caused a false arrest, duels, mainmings, a death, and ill-well all around. Charlotte's stolen diary may have been involved. In the end, the culprit was found to be Doina's brother Ernst Gunther. At any rate, the rupture between Charlotte anf Wilhelm over Donas could not be healed. Berhard was posted to Breslau where he and her sociery-loving wife could be quietly excluded from court.

Henry (1862-1929)

Prince Henry and his older brother Wilhelm were very close as boys. Henry left the nursery 2 years after his brother to join him in the schoolroom iverseen by their titir Georg Hinzpeter. Their father taught them to swim and sail. The boys sailed a boat together with an American friend. It was said that this was the birth of the Kriegsmarina. This is more important than it may seem. Many in England had for several centuries viewed Prussia and the other German states as allies against England's mortal enemy--France. English kings since George I had been Germans. George I did not even speak English when he came to England. A variety of factors explain the gradual shift of British thinking to view Prussia and Germany as a foe rather than an ally. Perhaps no single factor was more important than Wilhelm's decission to build the Kriegsmarina into a force that threatened the Royal Navy. Henry was to become a Grand Admiral in the new Krirgsmarina. He mairred Irene of Hesse and the Rhine (1866-1953).

Sigismund (1864-66)

Prince Sigismund was born in 1864, but died in 1866.

Victoria (1866-1929)

Victoria was named after her mother or was it her grandmother? Her title was Princess of Prussia. Wilhelm as a young man began to submissively refer to his parents and three younger sisters as "the English colony". There was a long simmering dispiute between here mother an Wilhelm over her mairrage. Her mother had wanted her to marry Alexander of Hesse who briefly served as Prince of Bulgaria. Wilhelm objected because of the less than nobel birth of Alexader's mother. Victoria had begun to see her life as an old maid, alothugh she was still quite young. She mairred Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe (1859-1916) in 1890. The Prince was distantly related to the Württenberg royal family. One historian described him as "an undistinguished soldier and mot very clever," but she at last was mairred. After Adolf's death, Victoria remairred in 1927 to Alexander Zubkov (1900-36). There were no children from either mairrage.

Waldemar (1868-79)

Prince of Prussia. Waldemar was a favorite of his mother and father. The Prince particularly liked animals and had a favorite cat. Prince Wilhelm in fact was reportedly jealous of the affection given to his younger brother. Waldemar died of diptheria at a very early age, about about 11 years of age. Vicky was devestated having just lost her cloest sister--Alice the year before.

Sophie Dorothea Ulrica (1870-1932)

Princess Sophie married Constantine I (1868-1923) King of Greece in 1889. She had six children, threr of which ruled as kings of Greece. When her first child George was born in 1890, she decided to convert to Orthadoxy causing a unseemly family rowe with her brother who had become kaiser. As the head of the evangelical church of Prussia he wanted to forbid the conversion. He assigned his wife Dona who told her sister-in-law rather artlessly that she "would wind up in Hell". Sophie ignored then and went ahead with the conversion. Her husband who tried to keep Greece out of World War I was forced to abdicate twice. Three of her sons served as kings of Greece. She left Greece and lived in Florence for several years. In 1928 she placed her youngest daughter Katherine in an English school. She visited her brother Wilhelm in his Dutch exile during 1929 on his 70th birthday. He received her cooly, expressing little interest in her personal travails. She died of cancer after returing to Germany.

Margrethe Beatrice Feodora (1872-1954)

Princess of Prussia Margrethe was the youngest child. She was called "Mossy" in the family. A variety of suitors had been considered, including the Duke Of Clarence Albert Victor, edldest son of Prince of Wales. The Tsarevich Nicholas had also been considered. Neither were enamored with her. It was said that she was pretty, although Queen Victoria writes that she was "not regularly pretty". [Battiscombe, p. 180.] This was probably why Prince Albert Victor rejected the suggestion. Another historian speculates, it is likely that neither relished Wilhelm as a brother-in-law. [Van der Kiste, 1999, pp. 86-87.] The Princess married Friederich Karl, Landgrave of Hesse (1868-1940) in 1893. Friederich Karl was a memmber of the Hesse-Cassle branch of the Hessian line which had been absorbed by Prussia after the Austro-Prussian War just before German unification. As the family was not wealty, Wilhelm was not impressed with the match, another greviance he held against his mother, but he finally agred as no other prospects were at hand. She lost two of her six sons in World War I. She lived the longest of all the children.

Sources

Battiscombe, Georgina. Queen Alexandra (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1969).

Van der Kriste, John. Kaiser Wihelm II: Germany's Last Kaiser (Bodmin: Sutton Publishing, 1999), 244p.






Christopher Wagner








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Created: June 30, 1998
Last updated: July 3, 2001