Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein
|Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein|
Queen consort of Prussia
|Tenure||15 June 1888 – 9 November 1918|
|Spouse||Wilhelm II, German Kaiser
(m. 1881–1921; her death)
|Issue||Wilhelm, German Crown Prince
Prince Eitel Friedrich
Prince August Wilhelm
Princess Victoria Louise
|House||House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (by birth)
House of Hohenzollern (by marriage)
|Father||Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein|
|Mother||Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg|
22 October 1858|
Dolzig Palace, Kingdom of Prussia
|Died||11 April 1921
Huis Doorn, Netherlands
Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein (Auguste Viktoria Friederike Luise Feodora Jenny; 22 October 1858 – 11 April 1921) was the last German empress and queen of Prussia as the first wife of Wilhelm II, German Emperor.
Augusta Victoria was the eldest daughter of Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. On 27 February 1881, Augusta married her second cousin Prince Wilhelm of Prussia. Augusta's maternal grandmother Feodora was the uterine half-sister of Queen Victoria, who was Wilhelm's maternal grandmother.
Wilhelm had earlier proposed to his first cousin, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine (known in the family as "Ella"), a daughter of his mother's own sister, but she declined his offer. Wilhelm did not take that well, and was adamant upon marrying another princess soon.
Wilhelm's family was originally against the marriage with Augusta Viktoria, whose father was not even a sovereign. However, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck was a strong proponent of the marriage, believing that it would end the dispute between the Prussian government and Augusta's father. In the end, Wilhelm's intransigence, the support of Bismarck, and a determination to move beyond the rejection of his proposal to Ella, led the reluctant imperial family to give official consent.
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Augusta was known as "Dona" within the family. She enjoyed a somewhat lukewarm relationship with her mother-in-law, Victoria, who had hoped that Dona would help to heal the rift between herself and Wilhelm; this was not to be the case. The Empress was also annoyed that the title of head of the Red Cross went to Dona, who had no nursing or charity experience or inclination (though in her memoirs, Princess Viktoria Luise paints a different picture, stating that her mother loved charity work).
Augusta often took pleasure in snubbing her mother-in-law, usually small incidents, such as telling her that she would be wearing a different dress than the one Victoria had recommended, that she would not be riding to get her figure back after childbirth as Wilhelm had no intention of stopping at one son, and informing her that Augusta's daughter, Viktoria, was not named after her (though, again, in her memoirs, Viktoria Luise states that she was named after both her grandmother and her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria).
Augusta and her mother-in-law grew closer for a few years when Wilhelm became emperor, as Augusta was often lonely while he was away on military exercises and turned to her mother-in-law for companionship of rank, although she never left her children alone with her lest they be influenced by her well-known liberalism. Nevertheless, the two were often seen out riding in a carriage together. Augusta was at Victoria's bedside when she died of spinal cancer in 1901.
Augusta also had less than cordial relationships with some of Wilhelm's sisters, especially the recently married Crown Princess Sophie of Greece. In 1890, when Sophie announced her intention to leave her Evangelical faith for Greek Orthodoxy, Dona summoned her and told her that if she did so, not only would Wilhelm find it unacceptable, being the head of the Evangelical State Church of Prussia's older Provinces; she would be barred from Germany and her soul would end up in Hell. Sophie replied that it was her business whether or not she did. Augusta became hysterical and gave birth prematurely to her son, Prince Joachim, as a result of which she was protective of him for the rest of his life, believing that he was delicate. Evidently, so did Wilhelm; he wrote to his mother that if the baby died, Sophie would have murdered it.
In 1920, the shock of exile and abdication, combined with the breakdown of Joachim's marriage and his subsequent suicide, proved too much for Augusta's health. She died in 1921, in House Doorn at Doorn in the Netherlands. Wilhelm, still reeling over the same losses, was devastated by her death. The Weimar Republic allowed her remains to be transported back to Germany, where they still lie in the Temple of Antiquities, not far from the New Palace, Potsdam. Because he was not permitted to enter Germany, Wilhelm could accompany his wife on her last journey only as far as the German border.
Kaiserin Augusta gave birth to seven children by Wilhelm II:
- Wilhelm, German Crown Prince (1882–1951); married Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
- Prince Eitel Friedrich (1883–1942); married Duchess Sophia Charlotte of Oldenburg.
- Prince Adalbert (1884–1948); married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.
- Prince August Wilhelm (1887–1949); married Princess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.
- Prince Oskar (1888–1958); married Countess Ina Marie von Bassewitz.
- Prince Joachim (1890–1920); married Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt.
- Princess Victoria Louise (1892–1980); married Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick.
The funeral of Augusta Victoria is reflected upon in the novel by Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools. In it, a German passenger silently reminisces on the funeral and its cinematic showing to a small colony of Germans living abroad in Mexico and describes the outpouring of public grief that was seen within that community. Augusta Victoria's passing is viewed among Germans who lived through the First World War as the ending of a great epoch, the conclusion of which forever divorces them from their maternal country and enshrines Augusta Victoria as a venerable saint and symbol of a Germany long past.
Titles and styles
- 22 October 1858 – 27 February 1881: Her Serene Highness Princess Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
- 27 February 1881 – 9 March 1888: Her Royal Highness Princess Wilhelm of Prussia
- 9 March 1888 – 15 June 1888: Her Imperial and Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Germany, Crown Princess of Prussia
- 15 June 1888 – 11 April 1921: Her Imperial and Royal Majesty The German Empress, Queen of Prussia
Her husband abdicated on 9 November 1918. She died on 11 April 1921.
- Empress Augusta Bay, bay on Bougainville Island named after the Empress
- The Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem was built by Wilhelm II and named after his wife.
- There is a white rose cultivar named after her, the Kaiserin Auguste Viktoria (Peter Lambert, 1891).
- Radziwill, Catherine (1915). The Royal Marriage Market of Europe. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company. ISBN 1-4589-9988-2.
- Van der Kiste, John: The last German Empress: A life of Empress Augusta Victoria, Consort of Emperor William II. Amazon, 2014
- Thomas Weiberg: … wie immer Deine Dona. Verlobung und Hochzeit des letzten deutschen Kaiserpaares. Isensee-Verlag, Oldenburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-89995-406-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein.|
Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein
Cadet branch of the House of OldenburgBorn: 22 October 1858 Died: 11 April 1921
Victoria, Princess Royal
Queen of Prussia
15 June 1888 – 9 November 1918
|Titles in pretence|
|Loss of title
||— TITULAR —
Queen of Prussia
9 November 1918 – 11 April 1921
Title next held byPrincess Hermine Reuss