Thursday, December 13, 2012

1911: The Hohenzollern Family

Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1911, pictured with only a few members of his enormous family.

The photograph captures two of the Kaiser’s children, one daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. The photograph was taken during the Kaiser’s annual summer sailing sojourn, and may be dated from the apparent ages of the grandchildren.

From left to right: Princess Viktoria Luise (1892-1980), seventh and youngest child—and only daughter—of Kaiser Wilhelm II; Duchess Cecilie Of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1886-1954), wife of German Crown Prince William (not pictured) and known as The Crown Princess; Prince Hubertus Of Prussia (1909-1950), third son of The Crown Prince and The Crown Princess; Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941); Prince Wilhelm Of Prussia (1906-1940), first son of The Crown Prince and The Crown Princess; Prince Adalbert (1884-1948), third son of Kaiser Wilhelm II; and Prince Louis Ferdinand Of Prussia (1907-1994), second son of The Crown Prince and The Crown Princess.

Prince Wilhelm Of Prussia took part in Germany’s 1940 invasion of France, and died as a result of injuries received in battle. His death aroused great public sympathy—and caused Hitler, who feared a threat to his power, to issue an order barring all members of former German royal houses from serving in the military.

Prince Wilhelm Of Prussia was once second in line to the Hohenzollern throne; both his grandfather and father outlived him.

As may be seen in the photograph, Prince Adalbert was an exceedingly handsome young man. In fact, all six of the Kaiser’s sons were exceedingly handsome as young men, as countless photographs attest. They certainly did not get their looks from their father: even as a young man, Kaiser Wilhelm II could never be considered genuinely handsome. Their mother, too, never presented an especially striking appearance, if photographs depict her accurately.

Yet all six sons were absolute head-turners—and exceedingly well-raised, and exceedingly well-behaved, if contemporary accounts are true. Kaiser Wilhelm II must have been a very good father—despite the fact that his own father had been a conspicuous horror.

Prince Adalbert’s wedding ceremony—he married Princess Adelheid Of Saxe-Meiningen (1891-1971)—was, oddly, held on August 3, 1914, the very day Germany declared war on France.

Perhaps even odder: the wedding ceremony of Prince Adalbert’s only son, Prince Wilhelm Victor (1919-1989), was held on July 20, 1944, the day of the attempted assassination of Hitler.

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