German Royalty: Kaiser Wilhelm's Childre--Breaching and Hair Cuts

Figure 1.--Emperess August Victoria is seen here with her husband and seven children about 1893. This image helps to identify when the children were breached and their hair cut.

We have only a few portraits of the Kaiser's children, far fewer than of his grandchildren. The omage here is the earlies we have of all the children. There are very few images of the younger boys, so we are unsure at this time what they wore when they were younger, how there hair was done and when thry were breached.

Breaching and Hair Cuts

Families in the 19th cnury had different conventions for breaching their boys and cutting their curls. Some times it was done at the same time. Some fmilies did one earlier than the other. Families varied widely on this in America. We do not know if there was more consistency in Germany. We have no information written information yet on what the conventions were in the German royal family. Photographic evidence, however, suggests that the childrn were breached about 3 years of age and their hair cut at about age 5, although that is just an estimate.

Individual Children

An analysis of the children shown here about 1893 give a good indication of the conventions toward breaching and hair cutting were in the German royal family (figure 1). The children are Crown Prince Wilhelm (1882-1951), Prince Eitel Friedrich (1883-1942), Prince Adalbert (1884-1948), Prince August Wilhelm (1887-1949), Prince Oskar (1888-1958), Prince Joachim (1890-1920) and Princess Victoria Luise (1892-1980).

Wihelm and Eitel Friederich

The two oldest boys wear dress military uniforms and would have been 10-11 years old.


Prince Adalbert appears to be wearing a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit as he has an elaborate lace collar. Unfortunately his outfit is mostly covered by his older brother who is sitting down in front of him. It is interesting that an older brother wears a Fauntleroy suit while his younger brothers wear sailor suits. He would have been about 9 years old.

August Wilhelm and Oskar

Princes August Wilhelm and Prince Oskar ijn this approximately 1893 portrait both wear identical cream colored kneepants sailor suits with short white socks and strap shoes. They would have been about 5-6 years old. Note that Oskar has been breached, but his hair has not yet been cut short and is worn long, but uncurled. This means that the boys may have had their hair cut short at age 6 years. We note a 1895 portrait of Prince Oskar with short hair.


Prince Joachim was the youngest boy. He wars a white dress with a plaid waist sash. It looks to be identical to his little sister's white dress, but with a plaid rather than red sash. Note that his hair has been curled. I am not sure if the difference between Joachim's curled hair and Oskar's long straight hair is meerly differnt styles or has age connotations. He would have been about 3 years old. This suggests that the boys would have been breached at about age 4 years. We note an 1895 portrait of Prince Joachim in a Highland kilt outfit with his older brother Oskar. While Oskar has short hair, Koachim wears quite long ringlet curls. The next year 1896, Prince Joachim's hait has also been cut short and he wears a kneepants Faintleriy suit.

Victoria Luise

Princess Victoria Luise was the royal family's only girl. This image suggests that before breaching that both boys and girls wore the same style of dresses.


Wilhelm and August Victoria have seven children, including six sons, but only one daughter. Many photographs exist of the family. HBC has so far been able to find very little information about the individual children. Even infornmation on Crown Prince Frederick Wilhelm. There is probably a good bit of information available in German-language sources. HBC has, however, been able to find very little available in English sources. We would be very interesrted in any information that our German readers could offer. Some fought in World War I. The family followed their father into exile after World War I, but many eventually returned to Germany. They apparently thought that the NAZIs would restore the monarchy.

Children's Clothing

Kaiser Wilhelm's children wore a variety of outfits. As young boys they wore dresses, some with sailor styling. Some wore pantalettes with their dresses. They were born during the Fauntleroy era and at least some of the children wore velvet suits with lace collars. The sailor suit with kneepants appears to have been a popular outfit. These outfits, however, were only worn when they were younger boys. The boys also wore military uniforms which was usually the uniforms for the military academies that they attended. They also had formal military uniforms that they wore on special occasions.

Family Life

The family mostly lives in the marble palace of the Hohenzollern in Potsdam. As a result of her personality and domestic life, the German people come to see her as the embodiment of the ideal German mother. She certainly was a dutiful wife and mother. Unlike her husband, she was very close to the children.


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June 2, 2002
Last updated: April 30, 2003