Prince Henry of Prussia (1862–1929)

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Prince Henry of Prussia
Photograph by Ernest Flagg, 1914
Born(1862-08-14)August 14, 1862
Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, German Confederation
DiedApril 20, 1929(1929-04-20) (aged 66)
Schloss Hemmelmark, Barkelsby, Schleswig-Holstein, Weimar Republic
Burial24 April 1929
Schloss Hemmelmark, Barkelsby, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
(m. 1888)
German: Albert Wilhelm Heinrich
English: Albert William Henry
FatherFrederick III, German Emperor
MotherVictoria, Princess Royal
SignaturePrince Henry of Prussia's signature
Military career
Allegiance Kingdom of Prussia
 German Empire
Service/branch Imperial German Navy
Years of service1872–1919
RankGroßadmiral (grand admiral)
Commands held
  • Commander of the Baltic Naval Station
  • Commander of the High Seas Fleet
  • Inspector General of the Navy
  • Commander in Chief of Baltic Naval Forces

Prince Henry of Prussia (German: Albert Wilhelm Heinrich; 14 August 1862 – 20 April 1929) was a younger brother of German Emperor Wilhelm II and a Prince of Prussia. Through his mother, he was also a grandson of Queen Victoria. A career naval officer, he held various commands in the Imperial German Navy and eventually rose to the rank of Grand Admiral and Generalinspekteur der Marine.


Born in Berlin, Prince Henry was the third child and second son of eight children born to Crown Prince Frederick William (later Emperor Frederick III), and Victoria, Princess Royal (later Empress Victoria and in widowhood Empress Frederick), eldest daughter of the British Queen Victoria. Henry was three years younger than his brother, the future Emperor William II (born 27 January 1859). He was born on the same day as King Frederick William I "Soldier-King" of Prussia.

After attending the gymnasium in Kassel, which he left in the middle grades in 1877, the 15-year-old Henry entered the Imperial Navy cadet program. His naval education included a two-year voyage around the world (1878 to 1880), the naval officer examination (Seeoffizierhauptprüfung) in October 1880, and attending the German naval academy (1884 to 1886).

Prince Henry of Prussia visiting Hawaii in 1879

Early commands[edit]

As an imperial prince, Henry quickly achieved command. In 1887, he commanded a torpedo boat and simultaneously the First Torpedo Boat Division; in 1888 the Imperial yacht SMY Hohenzollern; from 1889 to 1890 the protected cruiser SMS Irene, the coastal defense ship Beowulf, the ironclad Sachsen and the pre-dreadnought battleship Wörth.

Squadron commands[edit]

From 1897, Prince Henry commanded several naval task forces; these included an improvised squadron that took part with the East Asia Squadron in consolidating and securing the German hold on the region of Kiaochow and the port of Tsingtao in 1898. The prince's success was more of the diplomatic than the military variety; he became the first European potentate ever to be received at the Chinese imperial court. In 1899 he became officially the commander of the East Asia Squadron, later of a capital-ship squadron and in 1903 commander of the Baltic Sea naval station. From 1906 to 1909, Henry was commander of the High Seas Fleet. In 1909, he was promoted to Grand Admiral.[citation needed]

World War I[edit]

Prince Henry of Prussia in Santiago de Chile, early April 1914, on the occasion of the visit of the Detached Division of the Imperial Navy to Chile
A portrait of Prince Henry of Prussia

At the beginning of World War I, Prince Henry was named as Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic Fleet. Although the means provided to him were far inferior to Russia's Baltic Fleet, he succeeded, until the 1917 Revolution, in putting Russian naval forces far on the defensive and hindered them from making attacks on the German coast. After the end of hostilities with Russia, his mission was ended, and Prince Henry simply left active duty. With the war's end and the dissolution of the monarchy in Germany, Prince Henry left the navy.


On 24 May 1888, Henry married Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine, his first cousin. His dying father, German Emperor Frederick III and his mother Empress Victoria were in attendance. The marriage produced three children:

Name Picture Birth Death Notes
Waldemar William Louis Frederick Victor Henry 20 March 1889 2 May 1945 Married Princess Calixta of Lippe-Biesterfeld, but had no issue.
William Victor Charles Augustus Henry Sigismund 27 November 1896 14 November 1978 Married Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Altenburg, had issue.
Henry Victor Louis Frederick 9 January 1900 26 February 1904 Was a haemophiliac and died aged four after bumping his head[citation needed]
Prince Henry with his wife, Princess Irene, and their sons Waldemar and Sigismund

Their sons Waldemar and Heinrich were both hemophiliacs, a disease which they inherited through Irene from the maternal grandmother of both of their parents, Queen Victoria, who was a carrier.

Personality and private life[edit]

Henry received one of the first pilot's licenses in Germany, and was judged a spirited and excellent seaman. He was dedicated to modern technology and was able to understand quickly the practical value of technical innovations. A yachting enthusiast, Prince Henry became one of the first members of the Yacht Club of Kiel, established by a group of naval officers in 1887, and quickly became the club's patron.

Henry was interested in motor cars as well and supposedly invented a windshield wiper[1] and, according to other sources, the car horn.

In his honor, the Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt (Prince Heinrich Tour) was established in 1908, like the earlier Kaiserpreis a precursor to the German Grand Prix. Henry and his brother William gave patronage to the Kaiserlicher Automobilclub (Imperial Automobile Club). From 1911 to 1914 the British car makers Vauxhall Motors produced a model, the C-10, which was called the "Vauxhall Prince Henry" in his honour after initially being built for participation in the 1911 race.

After the German Revolution, Henry lived with his family in Hemmelmark near Eckernförde, in Schleswig-Holstein. He continued with motor sports and sailing and even in old age was a very successful participant in regattas. He popularized the Prince Henry cap, which is still worn, especially by older sailors.

In 1899, Henry received an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Engineering honoris causa) from the Technical University of Berlin. Also in foreign countries he received numerous similar honors, including an honorary doctorate (LL.D.) from Harvard University in March 1902, during his visit to the United States.[2]

Prince Henry died of throat cancer on 20 April 1929 in Hemmelmark.[3]

George Burroughs Torrey painted a portrait of him.

Naval career and advancement[edit]

  • Unterleutnant zur See, 14 August 1872; Basic Training and Naval Academy 1877-1878
  • Leutnant zur See, 18 October 1881; Training Cruises and Naval Academy 1878-1882
  • Kapitänleutnant, 18 October 1884; Executive Officer, ironclad corvette SMS Oldenburg, 1886
  • Korvettenkapitän, 18 October 1887; Commander, 1st Torpedo Boat Division, 1887; Commander, Imperial Yacht SMY Hohenzollern, 1888
  • Kapitän zur See, 27 January 1889; Commander, protected cruiser SMS Irene, 1889–1890; Commander, Armored Coastal Defense Ship SMS Beowulf, 1892; Commander, ironclad corvette SMS Sachsen, 1892–1894; Commander, pre-dreadnought battleship SMS Wörth, 1894–1895
  • Konteradmiral, 15 September 1895; Commander, 2nd Division, 1st Battle Squadron, 1896–1897; Commander, 2nd Division, Cruiser Squadron, 1897–1899
  • Vizeadmiral, 5 December 1899; Commander, Cruiser Squadron, 1899–1900; Commander, 1st Battle Squadron, 1900–1903
  • Admiral, 13 September 1901;[4] Commanding Admiral, Baltic Sea Naval Command, 1903–1906, Commander, High Seas Fleet, 1906–1909
  • Großadmiral, 4 September 1909; Inspector General of the Imperial Navy, 1909–1918; Commander-in-Chief, Baltic Fleet, 1914–1918

Regimental commissions and honorary ranks[edit]


  • 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß (Royal Prussian 1st Regiment of Foot Guards) – Leutnant (Second Lieutenant) through Generaloberst im Range eines Generalfeldmarschalls (Colonel-General in the Rank of Field Marshal), 1871 - 1918[5]
  • Kgl. Sächs. 2. Grenadier-Regiment Kaiser Wilhelm, König von Preußen Nr. 101 (Royal Saxon 2nd Grenadier Regiment)
  • Kgl. Bayerisches Artillerie-Regiment Nr. 8 (Royal Bavarian 8th Artillery Regiment) – Generaloberst im Range eines Generalfeldmarschalls and Chef (Colonel in Chief)[6]
  • 1. Großherzogl. Hessisches Feldartilleree-Regiment 25 (Grand Duchy of Hesse 2nd Artillery Regiment)[5]
  • Fußilier-Regiment “Prinz Heinrich von Preußen” (Brandenburgisches) Nr 35 (The Brandenburg Fusilier Regiment) - Generaloberst im Range eines Generalfeldmarschalls and Chef (Colonel in Chief)[7]


  • Austria-Hungary: K.u.K. Infantry Regiment Nr. 20 – Oberstinhaber (Colonel in Chief)[5]
  • Austria-Hungary: K.u.K. Kriegsmarine (Navy) – Vizeadmiral (vice admiral)[5]
    • Austria-Hungary: K.u.K. Kriegsmarine - Konteradmiral (rear-admiral) 1899[8]
  • United Kingdom: Royal Navy – Admiral (Honorary) 13 September 1901[4][5]
    • Royal Navy - Vice-Admiral (Honorary) 5 February 1901.[9]
  • Russian Empire Russian Empire: Imperial Dragoon Regiment Nr. 33 – Colonel[5]



Honorary degrees and offices[edit]



  1. ^ "untitled". The Day Book. Chicago. June 13, 1914. p. 10. Retrieved August 20, 2014. Admiral Prince Henry of Prussia, brother of the kaiser, has invented and patented an electrical device for cleaning windows of automobiles in rainy or frosty weather. The device is set in operation by the pressing of a button.
  2. ^ a b "Latest intelligence - Prince Henry in America". The Times. No. 36709. London. 7 March 1902. p. 3.
  3. ^ "Died". Time. 29 April 1929. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved 2008-06-06.
  4. ^ a b "No. 27365". The London Gazette. 15 October 1901. p. 6711.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Handbuch über den Königlich Preussischen Hof und Staat, 1908, p. 2
  6. ^ Der Rittmeister Militaria, LLC: Archived 2011-05-22 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Handbuch..., 1908, p. 2, and Der Rittmeister Militaria, LLC: Archived 2011-05-22 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "The Triple Alliance". The Times. No. 36062. London. 10 February 1900. p. 7.
  9. ^ "No. 27281". The London Gazette. 5 February 1901. p. 766.
  10. ^ Handbuch über den Königlich Preußischen Hof und Staat (1918), Genealogy p. 3
  11. ^ a b c "Königlich Preussische Ordensliste", Preussische Ordens-Liste (in German), 1, Berlin: 7, 552, 934, 1886 – via
  12. ^ a b c Justus Perthes, Almanach de Gotha (1914) p. 71
  13. ^ "Albert Wilhelm Heinrich Prinz von Preußen, K.H." the Prussian Machine. Archived from the original on 2017-10-23. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  14. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch für des Herzogtum Anhalt (1894), "Herzoglicher Haus-Orden Albrecht des Bären" p. 17
  15. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1888), "Großherzogliche Orden" pp. 61, 73
  16. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern (1906), "Königliche-Orden" p. 8
  17. ^ Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Herzogtums Braunschweig für das Jahr 1897, "Herzogliche Orden Heinrich des Löwen" p. 10
  18. ^ Staatshandbücher für das Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (1890), "Herzogliche Sachsen-Ernestinischer Hausorden" p. 46
  19. ^ a b Großherzoglich Hessische Ordensliste (in German), Darmstadt: Staatsverlag, 1914, pp. 2, 5 – via
  20. ^ Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Großherzogtums Oldenburg0: 1879. Schulze. 1879. p. 34.
  21. ^ Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach Archived 2020-09-06 at the Wayback Machine (1900), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 16
  22. ^ Sachsen (1901). "Königlich Orden". Staatshandbuch für den Königreich Sachsen: 1901. Dresden: Heinrich. p. 4 – via
  23. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Württemberg (1907), "Königliche Orden" p. 27
  24. ^ "A Szent István Rend tagjai" Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 468. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
  26. ^ Tom C. Bergroth (1997). Vapaudenristin ritarikunta: Isänmaan puolesta (in Finnish). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö. p. 65. ISBN 951-0-22037-X.
  27. ^ Italia : Ministero dell'interno (1898). Calendario generale del Regno d'Italia. Unione tipografico-editrice. p. 54.
  28. ^ 刑部芳則 (2017). 明治時代の勲章外交儀礼 (PDF) (in Japanese). 明治聖徳記念学会紀要. p. 143.
  29. ^ "조선왕조실록".
  30. ^ "Johor di Persada Global – Portal Kesultanan Johor". Portal Kesultanan Johor. Johor Royal Council.
  31. ^ Royal Thai Government Gazette (24 December 1899). "การรับฮิสรอแยลไฮเนส ปรินศเฮนรี สมเด็จพระเจ้าน้องยาเธอ กรุงปรุสเซีย" (PDF) (in Thai). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved 2019-05-08. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  32. ^ "Caballeros de la insigne orden del toisón de oro". Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish). 1887. p. 147. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  33. ^ "Caballeros Grandes Cruces de la Orden del Mérito Naval". Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish). 1908. p. 546. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  34. ^ Sveriges statskalender (in Swedish), 1925, p. 807, retrieved 2018-01-06 – via
  35. ^ Norway (1908), "Den kongelige norske Sanct Olavs Orden", Norges Statskalender (in Norwegian), p. 869-870, retrieved 17 September 2021
  36. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 211
  37. ^ Shaw, p. 68
  38. ^ Shaw, p. 416
  39. ^ "Prince Henry in America". The Times. No. 36701. London. 26 February 1902. p. 5.
  40. ^ "Latest intelligence - Prince Henry in America". The Times. No. 36712. London. 11 March 1902. p. 5.

Further reading[edit]

  • Harald Eschenburg. Prinz Heinrich von Preußen - Der Großadmiral im Schatten des Kaisers. Heide, 1989, ISBN 3-8042-0456-2. [Translation of title: Prince Heinrich of Prussia - The Grand Admiral in the Shadow of the Emperor.]
  • John Van der Kiste. Prince Henry of Prussia. 2015

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
New post
Commander-in-Chief of High Seas Fleet of the Imperial German Navy
Succeeded by