German Royalty: Wilhelm II's Childhood Aquaintences

Figure 1.--

Wilhelm as a child traveled widely with many trips to England and Holland. He also visited Austruia. I do not know of trips to France. As a result, he came into contact with many other royaln children. We have some details on these encouters. Many provide interesting insights to Wilhelm and his character. Some details are available on his clothing.

Aunt Beatrice

Princes Beatrice was the first Windsor to run afoul of Prince Wilhelm. His mother had brought him to England for the Prince of Wales' wedding. He proceeded to throw her muff out of a cairrage window. He objected when Beatrice, who was only a little older, wanted to be called "Aunt Beatrice.

Uncle Leopold

Prince Leopold as a small boy tried to get Wilhelm to behave at the Prince of Wales' wedding. Wilelm was done up in a kilt outfit and wanted to playb with the dirk which was part of the costme.

Uncle Arthur

Prince Leopold as a little older boy also tried to get Wilhelm to behave at the Prince of Wales' wedding.

Uncle Bertie

The Prince of Wales (future Edward VII) and Wilhelm did not get along. Perhaps their emnity began when the very young Wilhelm act up at the Pribce of wales' wedding. Years later Wilhelm, who had become Kaiser, would write Queen Victoria condescending letters complaining of the Prince pf wales' behavior, obstensibly because he had the rank of admiral in the Germany Navy.

Henry Bigelow

Wilhelm had few boyhood friends. His principal companio was his younger brother Henry. One of the very few exceptions was surprisinly an American--Poulteney Bigelow. The American boy was the 15 year old son of the American Ambassador in Berlin who invited to play with Wihelm and his brother in Potsdam during summer 1870. Wihelm was 11 years old at the time. Poulteney found the young princes enjoyable country, especially when they were not under the eyes of there tutor Dr. Hinzpeter. The kicked footballs on the roof of Neue Palace, until they broke toommany windows. Another favorite activity was sailing a model frigate that had been given Wilhelm by an English great uncle. Henry went on to become a Admiral and some Bigelow later said that the frigate they played with was the birth of the Kriegsmarina. It later life Wilhelm and Bigelow corresponded. The Kaiser remembered his stories about the American west and served as an authority in their games of Red Indiam. [Wilhelm, 1926, p.30]

Crown Prince Rudolph

Crown Prince Rudolf was the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth, one of Europe's most beautiful princesses. Wilhelm who was almost the same age as Rudolf met him on a trip with his parents to Vienna. They had been invited to represent Prussia at the universal exposition in 1873. Wilhelm was taller and more stocky than Rudolf. Wilhelm's mother thought Rudolf "a light graceful boy with very nice manners". [Victoria, Darling Child, p. 89.] Wilhelm was not impressed with Rudolf as the two boys had little in common. Wilhelm was, however, impressed with Ruldolf's beautiful mother--Empress Elizabeth. Wilhem was so struck by her beauty that vhe had to be prompted by his mother to kiss the Empress's hand. He recalls being completely "carried away" by the emperess.

Sigfried Sommer

Prince Wilhelm's best friend at his gymnasium (grammar school) in Kassel was a Jewish boy. This is interesting in light of the anti-semitism he expoosed in later life. Siegfriend was a academically gifted student who was always scored at the top of his class. Sommer became a highly respected jurist, with only a little assistance from his friend the Kaiser.

Aunt Alice

Prince Wilhelm first met his Aunt Alice, his mother's cloest sibling, while an infant when his parents visited England. Princess Alice mairred Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt (1837-92). Some historians have wondered why a girl so intelligent and charming as Alice would have mairred such a "red-faced bucolic" as Louis. It did place her close to her sister Victoria in Berlin. While Prince Wilhelm was at University in Bonn, he would often spend the weekend with his Hessian counsins at their modest palace in Darmstadt. His mother encouraged him to visit with her sister's family as the atmosphere was less formal than the Prussian court and she thought it would be good for him.


Kohut, Thomas A. Kaiser Wilhelm II and his parents, in John C. G. Röhl and Nicolaus Sombart (eds). Kaiser Wilhelm II. New Interpretations. The Corfu Papers (Cambridge, 1982).

Morier, Sir Robert. Memoirs and Letters, (Edward Arnold, 1911), 2 volumes.

Röhl, John C.G. Young Wilhelm : the Kaiser's early life, 1859-1888, translated by Jeremy Gaines and Rebecca Wallach.

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

Victoria, Queen, Darling Child: Private Correspondence of Queen Victoria and the Crown Princess of Prussia, 1865-71 ed. Roger Fulford (Evans Bros., 1976).

Wilhelm II. My Early Life (New York, 1926).

Christopher Wagner

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Created: June 6, 1998
Last updated: July 25, 2001