Figure 1.--Prince Henry is seen here in a Prussian military uniform. He looks to be 10-11 years old.
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 overseen 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).
Henry was the third child and second son of the Crown Prince (whom reined briefly as Frederick III) and the Princess Victoria (English Princess Royal, Queen Victoria's eldest daughter. They were both of liberal disposition and sought to convey a liberal outlook to their son. Wilhelm's grandfather and Chancellor Bismark, however, influenced the boy's education. His strict tutor had a very great impact on both Henry and his older brother Wilhelm and they grew up with very different attitudes from their parents.
Frederick was born in 1831, the son of King Wilhelm I of Prussia at Potsdam. When his father succeeded to the throne of Prussia in 1861, Frederick became Crown Prince Frederick William. Frederick was liberal in his political views, uncharacteristic for the Hohenzollerens. He opposed Count von Bismark throught his long term as Chancellor.
Victoria and Alfred's oldest child was the Princess Royal, named Victoria after her mother. The Princess Royal was born in 1840 and Victoria was concerned that her subjects would be dissapointed that her first child was a girl. Most were delighted that "Uncle Earnest," King of Hanover, was no longer directly in line to inherit the throne. She was called "Pussy," "Pussette," or "Vicky," in the family. Before the age of 3 years she was conversing in English, German, and French. The Queen once commented that we find Pussy amazingly advanced in inteligence and also in naughtines. The Princess Royal once told her governess, I'm sorry I was naughty--but I mean to be just as naughty next time. She
married Crown Prince Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia who was to become Kaiser Frederick III, but reigned only a few days. She strove to introduce English manners and the precepts of constitutional monarachy, but was opposed by Bismark. Even her influence on her son and
grandson were limited by Bismark. When her husband died, she was long estrainged from her bombastic son who became Wilhelm II.
Henry had seven brothers and sisters, three brothers and four sisters. It was not a large family by German standards. But considering their mother's harrowing experience at Wilhelm's birth, it was surprising that she would have six more children. Wilhelm and Henry were especialy close. Henry was born 3 years after Wilhelm. 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.
Prince Henry and his older brother Wilhelm were very close as boys. Their relationship was fortified when Henry left the nursery and joined Wilhelm in the schoolroom with their tutor Dr. Hinzpeter.
We do not at this time have much information on Wilhelm's and Henry's. We have created this page because it is a subject of interest which we hope to describe in some detail. Given the number of brothers and sisters, however, it must have been a busy place. We do not know how the nursery was organized and to what extent the parents and grandparents supervised the nursery. We hope to find some information about the nursery. One important note is the grain strain that Wilhelm's parents were under at the time that Wilhelm and and Henrey were little boys in the nursery.
The Crown Prince's children grew up in a warm family ebnvironment. The childtren while at home normally ate breakfast with
their parents. Ye younger children would be brought to their parents room at 7:00 am while thery were still in bed having a cup
of tea and toast. The children remember their mother as very busdy. Their second daughter, Vicyoria, however remembers that
their mother always made time for them as children. [Victoria, My Memoirs, p.4.]
The Crown Prince and his family spent winters in Berlin. The summers were normaly spent at Potsdam. There was usually a
holiday to England during July and August so Vickie could see her family and the princes and princes could meet their English
cousins. They also occasionally visited the Netherlands during the summer. The sea air was at the time considered very healthy
for the children
Crown Prince Frederick and Victoria would bring their children to England most summers. Victoria was especially interested that for Wilhelm to be exposed to the less military atmosohere at the English residences. As Wilhelm and his brothers and sisters spent so many summer vacations in England at the royal residences, many stories exist about the children while in England. Some of those asociated with Wilhelm are legendary.
Henry left the nursery 2 years after his brother to join his older brother in the schoolroom overseen by their tutir Georg Hinzpeter. A Potsdam school teacher was engaged to teach reading and writing. It was Dr. Georg Hinzpeter who was to have the greatest influence on Wilhelm's and presumably Henry's character. Hinzpeter in mid-1866
was chosen as a civil tutor fgor Wilhelm. Hinzpeter was a severe bachelor ahed 38 when he behan to work with Wilhelm. He had a doctorate in philosphy and clasical philology.
Just as another German tutor, Florschütz who worked with the future Prince Consort Albert, may have been one of the most successful teachers of the 19th century,
Hinzpeter despite some worthy approaches may be considered one of the least successfull teachers.
Prince Henry's brother Wilhelm broke precedent by attending the Kassel Gymnasium instead of beginning his militart training. Prince Henry was enrolled in the Kassel Polytechnic School to begin the preparation for his naval career.
We have compiled infornmation about Friederich and Victoria as parents we do not have much infornmation yet on their specifis relationship with Henry. We know that Henry and Wilhelm grew up in a happy home. Their parents took a deep personal interest in the boys. This was not always the case for young royals. Some controversy exists in the written record, in part because Victoria was not popular with the German royal family.
HBRC does not yet have full details about the relationship between Henry and his mother. We know that the English Princess Royal Victoria (1840-1901). We do know that his mother was egocentric, combative--and an early advocate of women's rights. All characteristics that did not endear her to the conservative Prussian court. Some authors describe Victoria as an "ambivalent mother", but were are not sure that this is the case.
Friedrich appears to have been a very engaged father. He spent much more time with his children than his father had spent with him. He was delighted with Wilhelm. Surely Victoria incouraged her husband to spend time with the children as she did. Also important was that because of the Danzig incident, the King and Bismarck did their best to keep him away from official duties, leaving the Crown Prince time to spend with his family.
The boys sailed a boat together with an American friend. It was said that this was the birth of the Kriegsmarina. Wilhelm and Henry's interest in the navy grew as boys, undoubtedly fueled by visits with their English relatives with visits aboard Royal Navy vessels and fleet reviews. All of 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. It was a Prussian General that came to Wellington's aid against Napoleon at Waterloo. 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. Not only was the British view of Germany changed, but it was the Kriegsmarina's U-boats that brought America into World War I against Germany. The end result was that while the Kriegsmarina was enormously expensive and in the end yielded no military successes, it was a major cause in turning both Britain and America against Germany.
Prince Henry was to become a Grand Admiral in the new Krirgsmarina. Henry never rose to the upper command structure of the navy. It is believed that the Kaiser, who looked upon the navy as his personal creation, was jealous of his brother.
Prince Henry was much more easygoing than his more tempermental brother. Perhaps not as bright as Wilhelm, his brother was probably correct that Henry was a naive politically. Hinzpeter once said of Henry, "... you can see in Prince Henry what the Kaiser would have become if I had not taken in hand." That of course can be taken in a number of ways. As an adult, Henry went out of his way to avoid conflict with his volitile brother, unlike their sister Charlotte. Henry suffered indignities like Wihelm bragging that he wrote Henry's speeches. Wilhelm bragged to the sycophants he kept around him that "... to be the intelectual giant of one's family has its drawbacks." Henry maintained good relations with Wilhelm, but many felt that their relationship was "never hearty and frequently strained". [Van der Kiste, 1999, p. 98.]
Henry mairred Princess Irene Marie Louise Anna of Hesse and the Rhine (1866-1953) in 1888. Her father was Louis IV von Hessen-Darmstadt, Grand Duke of Hesse (1837- ). Her mother was Princess Alice Maud Mary Wettin (1843- 78). Like Henry's mother, Princess Alice were daughters of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Alice and Victoria were very close as children.
Irene was a wonderful match for Prince Henry. As a boy, Henry had gone along with Wilhelm and Charlotte in irritating their parents. Irene provided the settling on Henry that Dona did not on Wilhelm. The Prince was modest, in sharp contast to his brother, and devoted to Irene and the children. Irene got on well with her mother-in-law who often stayed with them.
Although relations between Henry and his brother the Kaisser were always correct, there was tension. The wives in particular disliked each other. There personalities were very different. Dona who disliked the English also objected to the Irene's good relations with her husband's mother as well as Queen Victoria and their English relatives. The Kaiser for his part was also jealous of how Henry was received by Queen Victoria and their relatives. He also found Henry's popularity in the Navy grating.
Figure 3.--Prince Henry's two oldest sons, Waldemar and Sigismund, are pictured here with the Czar and the Archduke of Hesse Louis IV--the boys' grandfather. The little boy seated in front is another grandson of Louis IV, the future Louis Mounbatten of Burma. They are on board the Czar's yacht "Standardt". Dickie looks to be about 10 so the photograph was taken about 1910. It is a good example of the close personal ties beteen the British, German, and Russian royal families before World War I.
Irene and Henry had three boys, one dieing tragically in infancy.
Waldemar had the title of Prince of Prussia. We have little information about him at this time. He mairred Princess Charlotte Agnes of Eckernförde in 1919 after World War I. There were no children. He died in Bavaria on May 2, 1945 immediately before the German surrender ending World War II in Europe. I do not know the circumstances.
Sigismund had the title of Prince of Prussia. We have little information about him at this time. We do know that he mairred Princess Charlotte Agnes of Saxe-Altenburg in Berlin in 1919 after World War I. They had two children: Barbara Irene Adelaide (1920-94) and Alfred Frederick Ernest (1924- ). Princess Barbara was born in Germany and lived her life there, marrying in 1954 and having two girls. Her brother Prince Alfred was, however, born in Guatemala on a farm that his parents presumably owned. Prince Alfred mairred an American late in life and had no children. Their father Prince Sigismund died in Costa Rica during 1978.
Henry died as an infant a few weeks after he was born.
Prince Henry served in the Navy during World War I, but did not oplay a major role.
Henry was allowed to live in Germany after the War. He had pledged not to interfere in the Goverment. He was a frequent visitor to Doorn to keep his brother informed of developments in Germany and to bring recently published books. His finances were stretched by the hyper-inflation of the early 1920s. He died in 1929, several years before his older brother. Always popular with his English relatives, King George V sent Irene condolences. The Times of London even paid homage to him.
Van der Kriste, John. Kaiser Wihelm II: Germany's Last Kaiser (Bodmin: Sutton Publishing, 1999), 244p.
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