Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia
Victoria Louise of Prussia (German: Viktoria Luise Adelheid Mathilde Charlotte von Preußen, Herzogin zu Braunschweig-Lüneburg, Prinzessin von Hannover, Prinzessin von Großbritannien und Irland; 13 September 1892 – 11 December 1980) was the only daughter and the last child of German Emperor Wilhelm II and Empress Augusta Victoria. She was their last surviving child. Princess Victoria Louise is the maternal grandmother of Queen Sophia of Spain and the former King Constantine II of the Hellenes. She was the Duchess of Brunswick by marriage.
Princess Victoria Louise Adelheid Mathilde Charlotte was born on 13 September 1892, the seventh child and only daughter of German Emperor Wilhelm II and Empress Augusta Victoria. "After six sons, God has given us our seventh child, a small but very strong little daughter," the empress wrote in her diary soon after the birth. The young princess was christened on 22 October, and was named after her maternal great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, and her paternal great great grandmother, Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Known officially as Victoria Louise, she would be nicknamed "Sissy" by her family.
Historian Justin C. Vovk writes that Victoria Louise was intelligent like her paternal grandmother Empress Frederick, stately and dignified like her mother, but imperious and willful like her father. She enjoyed being the center of attention, and was her father's favourite. According to her eldest brother Crown Prince Wilhelm, Victoria Louise was "the only one of us who succeeded in her childhood in gaining a snug place" in their father's heart. In 1902, her English governess Anne Topham observed in their first meeting that the nine-year-old princess was friendly, energetic, and always quarreling with her next eldest brother, Prince Joachim. Anne later noted that the "warlike" emperor "unbends to a considerable extent when in the bosom of his family," and is the "dominating force of his daughter's life. His ideas, his opinions on men and things are persistently quoted by her."
The family resided at Homburg Castle, and Victoria Louise and Joachim would often visit their cousins – the children of the Prussian princesses Margaret and Sophia – at nearby Kronberg Castle. For a period of one week in May 1911, Victoria Louise traveled to England aboard the Hohenzollern with her parents, where they visited their cousin King George V for the unveiling of a statue of Queen Victoria in front of Buckingham Palace.
In 1912, Ernest Augustus, the wealthy heir to the title of Duke of Cumberland, came to the Berlin court to thank Emperor Wilhelm for having Crown Prince Wilhelm and Prince Eitel Friedrich attend the funeral of his brother Prince George William. While in Berlin, Ernest Augustus met Victoria Louise, and the two became smitten with each other. However, any discussions of marriage were prolonged for months due to political concerns; Ernest Augustus was also the heir to the Kingdom of Hanover, which had been annexed into the Kingdom of Prussia following the 1866 Austro-Prussian War. The Prussian crown prince was displeased with the match and wished that Ernest Augustus abdicate his rights to Hanover; in a compromise, it was decided that he would be granted the smaller duchy of Brunswick rather than the Hanoverian kingdom.
Their wedding, an extravagant affair, took place on 24 May 1913 in Berlin. It was hailed in the press as the end of the rift between the House of Hanover and House of Hohenzollern that had existed since the 1866 annexation. The Times described the union as akin to Romeo and Juliet, albeit with a happier ending. Despite the press' fixation on the union as a love match, it remains unclear if the match was one of love or politics; historian Eva Giloi believes that the marriage was more likely the result of Prussia's desire to end the rift, though Victoria Louise herself described it as a love match in a letter.
In a diplomatic gesture, Emperor Wilhelm invited almost his entire extended family. The wedding became the largest gathering of reigning monarchs in Germany since German unification in 1871, and one of the last great social events of European royalty before World War I began fourteen months later. Attendees included Wilhelm's cousins King George V and Tsar Nicholas II, accompanied by their respective wives Queen Mary and Tsarina Alexandra. The wedding feast included 1,200 guests. Empress Augusta Victoria took the separation from her only daughter badly and wept.
Duchess of Brunswick
In a conciliatory gesture later that year, Wilhelm II made his new son-in-law the reigning duke of Brunswick, a title which had been vacant for years. The new duke and duchess moved to the capital of Brunswick and began their family with the birth of their eldest son, Prince Ernest Augustus, less than a year after their wedding. They would have four further children: Prince George William (b. 1915), Princess Frederica (b. 1917), Prince Christian Oscar (b. 1919), and Prince Welf Henry (b. 1923).
After World War I and the establishment of the Weimar Republic, the duchy of Brunswick was abolished. In reaction to the elder Ernest Augustus' decision to "adhere to the enemies of His Majesty" during the war, the British government revoked the title duke of Brunswick under the Titles Deprivation Act of 1917.
World War II
World War II saw the rise of the Nazi Germany. Several of Victoria Louise's brothers joined the Nazi party, including former crown prince Wilhelm and Prince August Wilhelm. While Ernest Augustus never officially joined the party, he donated funds and was close to several leaders. As a former British prince, Ernest Augustus as well as Victoria Louise desired a rapprochement between England and Germany. Ostensibly desiring to pursue an alliance with the UK, in the mid-1930s Adolf Hitler took advantage of their sentiment by asking the couple to arrange a match between their daughter Princess Frederica and the Prince of Wales. The Duke and Duchess of Brunswick refused, believing that the age difference was too great.
In May 1941, Wilhelm fell ill from an intestinal blockage, and Victoria Louise traveled to Doorn to visit him, as did several of her brothers. Wilhelm recovered enough for them to depart, but he died the following month in the presence of his second wife, Hermine Reuss of Greiz. By the time of the war's ending in Europe in April 1945, Victoria Louise was living with her husband at Blankenburg Castle.
After the war, Victoria Louise spent much of her time supporting palace restoration projects, high-society parties, hunting, and the showing of horses. She also spent time helping with philanthropic causes, for instance supporting a holiday estate for low-income children.
Approximate translations of the titles into English are given in parentheses.
- Ein Leben als Tochter des Kaisers ("Life as Daughter of the Emperor")
- Im Strom der Zeit ("In the Stream of Time")
- Bilder der Kaiserzeit ("Pictures from the Imperial Period")
- Vor 100 Jahren ("100 Years Ago")
- Die Kronprinzessin ("The Crown Princess")
- Deutschlands letzte Kaiserin ("Germany's Last Empress")
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The famous ocean liner SS Deutschland was renamed the Victoria Louise in 1910. It was reported that the princess was amused and flattered by the new name of the ship. Built by Bremer Vulkan, the Deutchland sailed for America for the first time on July 4th, 1900. The third HAPAG liner to bear the name, she was at the time the largest German ship, at 16,500 GRT and carried 1,050 cabin passengers and another 1,000 in steerage. She captured the Blue Riband on her maiden voyage in both directions, making the crossing in about 5 days and 15 hours.
The Deutschland remained on the North Atlantic run until 1910, when she was re-engined and modified for cruising and renamed the Victoria Louise, making her the largest ship up to that time to be refitted for this purpose. She was modified for war duty in 1914 but never used as such, and after the war was once again the largest German liner, as all the newer ships were taken by the Allies for reparations. Her mechanical difficulties at this point also made her an undesirable award. She was overhauled again in 1920 and resumed North Atlantic crossings as the Hansa in 1921, with two of her funnels removed. She made crossings for three more years and was then scrapped.
Titles, styles, honors, and regimental commissions
Titles and styles
- 13 September 1892 – 24 May 1913: Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia
- 24 May – 1 November 1913: Her Royal Highness Princess Ernest Augustus of Hanover
- in Britain: Her Royal Highness Princess Ernest Augustus of Cumberland
- 1 November 1913 – 30 January 1953: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Brunswick
- 20 January 1953 – 11 December 1980: Her Royal Highness The Dowager Duchess of Brunswick
- Dame, First Class, Order of Louise, Prussia
- Dame, First Class, Shefkat Nishani (Order of Charity), Ottoman Empire (Turkey)
- Medjidie Order for Princesses, Ottoman Empire (Turkey)
- Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa (Spain)
- Regimentschefin (Regimental Chief) and Oberst à la suite (Honorary Colonel), 2. Leib-Husaren Regiment Königin Victoria von Preußen Nr. 2, ca. 1909
|Prince Ernest Augustus||18 March 1914||9 December 1987(aged 73)||married firstly 1951, Princess Ortrud of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg; had issue.
married secondly 1981, Countess Monika of Solms-Laubach; no issue.
|Prince George Wiliam||25 March 1915||8 January 2006(aged 90)||married 1946, Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark; had issue.|
|Princess Frederika||18 April 1917||6 February 1981(aged 63)||married 1938, Paul of Greece; had issue.|
|Prince Christian Oscar||1 September 1919||10 December 1981(aged 62)||married 1963, Mireille Dutry (b. 10 January 1946); divorced 1976; had issue.|
|Prince Welf Henry||11 March 1923||12 July 1997(aged 74)||married 1960, Princess Alexandra of Ysenburg and Büdingen; no issue.|
- Vovk 2012, p. 79.
- Vovk 2012, pp. 79–80.
- Pakula 1997, p. 558.
- Vovk 2012, p. 80.
- Vovk 2012, pp. 242–243.
- Clay 2007, p. 113.
- Cecil 1996, p. 10.
- Vovk 2012, p. 243.
- Topham 1915, pp. 11–13.
- Topham 1915, pp. 12, 18.
- Topham 1915, p. 14.
- MacDonogh 2000, p. 323.
- Vovk 2012, pp. 243–244.
- MacDonogh 2000, p. 340.
- Riotte 2011, p. 305.
- Riotte 2008, p. 95.
- Giloi 2011, p. 167.
- Vovk 2012, p. 244.
- Vovk 2012, pp. xxvii–xxviii.
- Vovk 2012, p. 246.
- Vovk 2012, pp. 246–247.
- Petropoulos 2006, pp. 99, 162.
- Black 2004, p. 212.
- Petropoulos 2006, p. 167.
- Petropoulos 2006, p. 99.
- Petropoulos 2006, pp. 159–62.
- Cecil 1996, p. 353.
- MacDonogh 2007, p. 75.
- Giloi 2011, p. 360.
- Schench 1907.
- Works cited
- Black, Jeremy (2004). The Hanoverians: The History of a Dynasty. New York: Hambledon and London. ISBN 1852854464.
- Cecil, Lamar (1996). Wilhelm II: Emperor and Exile, 1900-1941, Volume 2. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
- Giloi, Eva (2011). Monarchy, Myth, and Material Culture in Germany 1750-1950. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-76198-7.
- Clay, Catrine (2007). King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War. Walker & Company. ISBN 978-0802716231.
- MacDonogh, Giles (2000). The Last Kaiser: The Life of Wilhelm II. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-30557-5.
- MacDonogh, Giles (2007). After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0465003389.
- Pakula, Hannah (1997). An Uncommon Woman: The Empress Frederick, Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc. ISBN 0684842165.
- Petropoulos, Jonathan (2006). Royals and the Reich: The Princes von Hessen in Nazi Germany. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195339274.
- Riotte, Torsten (2008). "The House of Hanover, Queen Victoria and the Gelph dynasty". In Urbach, Karina. Royal Kinship. Anglo-German Family Networks 1815-1918. Munich: K.G. Saur Verlag. ISBN 978-3-598-23003-5.
- Riotte, Torsten (2011). "Hanoverian Exile and Prussian Governance: King George V of Hanover and His Successor in Austria, 1866-1913". In Mansel, Philip; Riotte, Torsten. Monarchy and Exile: The Politics of Legitimacy from Marie de Médicis to Wilhelm II. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-24905-9.
- Schench, G. (1907). Handbuch über den Königlich Preuβischen Hof und Staat fur das Jahr 1908 [Manual of the Royal Prussian Court and State for the year 1908] (in German). Berlin.
- Topham, Anne (1915). Memories of the Kaiser's Court. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company.
- Vovk, Justin C. (2012). Imperial Requiem: Four Royal Women and the Fall of the Age of Empires. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4759-1749-9.
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Princess Victoria Louise of PrussiaBorn: 13 September 1892 Died: 11 December 1980
Title last held byPrincess Marie of Baden
as Duchess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
|Duchess consort of Brunswick
2 November 1913 – 8 November 1918
|Titles in pretence|
|Loss of title
||— TITULAR —
Duchess consort of Brunswick
8 November 1918 – 30 January 1953
Reason for succession failure:
Duchy abolished in 1918
Princess Ortrud of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
Princess Thyra of Denmark
|— TITULAR —
Queen consort of Hanover
14 November 1923 – 30 January 1953
Reason for succession failure:
Hanover annexed by Prussia in 1866
|— TITULAR —
Duchess consort of Cumberland and Teviotdale
14 November 1923 – 30 January 1953
Reason for succession failure:
Titles Deprivation Act 1917