German Royalty: Wilhelm II: Childhood Visits to English Royal Residences

Figure 1.--

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.

The Residences

Some basic information is available on the principal residences of the royal fasmily. The official London residences of the royal family became Buckingham Pallace amd Windsor Castle. Victoria was the first British monarch to designate Buckingham Palace as a royal residence. The royal family needed, however, somewhere to go to be away from the lime light. There two favored retreats were Balmoral Castle in Scotlnd and Osbourne House on the Isle of Wright. Bot were designed and built under Albert's supervision. He did his best to avoid official duties at Osbourne and devote himself to the Queen and children. Several interesting group photos were taken at Osbourne, but fewer images seem to exist from the other residences--perhaps an indicator that more family time was spent at Osbourne.


Vicky brough Wilhel back to Windsor about 8 montha after Bertie's wedding. The artist William Powell Frith had been comissioned to paint a group portrait of the wedding. This was a prestigious assignment for the painter of Victorian genre scenes. It proved to be one of his most difficult works. One might have thought painting a scene in London's busy Padington Station was a serious challenge. But the youngest member of the Prince of Wales' wedding party caused the artist considerable trouble. At first he made fun of the artist's whiskers. Then he daubed paint on the canvas, Frith allowed this. In the process he got paint all over him, upsetting his nurse. Firth tried to clean him up with turpentine, but a scratch meant that it really smarted Willy who punched poor Mr. Frith. Willy retreated under a table and started howling. Afterwards he refused to properly sit for the portrait. As a result, Willy's image in the painting has only the most basic likeness.

The children at Windsor made butter and cream cheese in the royal dairy at Frogmore.


Wilhem and Henry at Osbore enjoyed the model fort yhat Prince Albert had built for the Prince of Wales and his brothers. The boys in particular enjoyed firing the brass canon. [Van der Kiste, Kaiser Wilhelm II: Germany's Last Emperor, 1999, p. 17.]


The Gillies at Balmoral helped the young Wilhelm lear to shoot with a small rifle that had been made for the Prince of Wales. Wilhelm eventually became a gifted shooter--no small accomplishment with only one strong arm.


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

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

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

Victoria, Wife of Frederick III, Letters of the Empress.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: Jun22, 2001
Last updated: July 22, 2001