Jump to content

Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia
Victoria Louise aged 16
Victoria Louise c. 1908
Duchess consort of Brunswick
Tenure1 November 1913 – 8 November 1918
Born(1892-09-13)13 September 1892
Marble Palace, Potsdam, German Empire
Died11 December 1980(1980-12-11) (aged 88)
Hanover, West Germany
Burial20 December 1980
Berggarten Mausoleum, Hanover
(m. 1913; died 1953)
  • Victoria Louise Adelaide Matilda Charlotte
  • German: Viktoria Luise Adelheid Mathilde Charlotte
FatherWilhelm II, German Emperor
MotherAugusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein

Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia (German: Viktoria Luise Adelheid Mathilde Charlotte; 13 September 1892 – 11 December 1980) was the only daughter and the last child of Wilhelm II, German Emperor, and Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. Through her father, Victoria Louise was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

Victoria Louise's 1913 wedding to Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover was 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 the First World War began fourteen months later. Shortly after the wedding, she became the Duchess of Brunswick by marriage.

Early life and education[edit]

Princess Victoria Louise was born on 13 September 1892 at the Marmorpalais in Potsdam, the seventh child and only daughter of German Emperor Wilhelm II and Empress Augusta Victoria.[1] "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.[2] The princess was baptised in the Marble Gallery of the New Palace in Potsdam on 22 October, the birthday of the empress.[1][3] She was named Victoria after her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, and Luise after her paternal great-great-grandmother, Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.[4] Known officially as Victoria Louise, she was nicknamed "Sissy" by her family.[5]

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[6] and was her father's favourite.[7][8] 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.[9] 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.[10] 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."[11]

The family resided at Homburg Castle,[12] and Victoria Louise and Joachim would often visit their cousins – the children of the Prussian princesses Margaret and Sophia – at nearby Kronberg Castle.[13] In 1905, the princess studied music with concert pianist Sandra Droucker. For one week in May 1911, Victoria Louise traveled to England aboard the royal yacht Hohenzollern with her parents, where they visited their cousin George V, for the unveiling of a statue of Queen Victoria in front of Buckingham Palace.[14] The princess's confirmation took place at Friedenskirche in Potsdam on 18 October 1909.[15]


Princess Victoria Louise and Prince Ernest Augustus, 1913

In 1912, Ernest Augustus, the wealthy heir-apparent to the title of Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, 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. At the time, the House of Hanover lived in exile at Gmunden, Austria. While in Berlin, Ernest Augustus met Victoria Louise and the two became smitten with each other.[9] However, any discussions of marriage were prolonged for months due to political concerns;[16] Ernest Augustus was also the heir to the Kingdom of Hanover, which the Kingdom of Prussia annexed following the 1866 Austro-Prussian War. The Prussian crown prince was displeased with the match and wished that Ernest Augustus would abdicate his rights to Hanover; in a compromise, it was decided that, in exchange, he would succeed to the smaller duchy of Brunswick, of which his father was the lawful heir. The family had been barred from the succession to Brunswick due to their claims towards the Hanoverian kingdom.[17]

Ernest and Victoria became engaged in Karlsruhe on 11 February 1913.[18] Their extravagant wedding took place on 24 May 1913 in Berlin.[19] 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.[20] The Times described the union as akin to Romeo and Juliet, albeit with a happier ending.[21] Despite press fixation on the union as a love match, whether the match was one of love or politics remains unclear;[21] historian Eva Giloi believes that the marriage was more likely the result of Prussia's desire to end the rift,[22] though Victoria Louise described it as a "love match” in one of her letters.[21]

In a diplomatic gesture, Emperor Wilhelm invited almost all of his extended family.[23] He also pardoned and released two imprisoned British spies, Captain Bertrand Stewart and Captain Bernard Frederick Trench, as a present to the United Kingdom.[24] 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.[25] Attendees included Wilhelm's cousins George V and Tsar Nicholas II, who were also cousins of Ernest Augustus through their mothers. The wedding feast included 1,200 guests.[26] Empress Augusta Victoria took the separation from her only daughter badly and wept.[26]

Husband and children[edit]

A 5 Mark coin of Brunswick commemorating the accession of Ernest Augustus and Victoria Louise.
Victoria Louise, c. 1918

The new duke and duchess of Brunswick moved into Brunswick Palace in 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.[27] They had four further children: Prince George William (1915–2006), Princess Frederica (1917–1981), Prince Christian Oscar (1919–1981), and Prince Welf Henry (1923–1997). Through Frederica, Victoria Louise was a great-grandmother of Felipe VI of Spain.

On 8 November 1918, her husband was forced to abdicate his throne along with the other German kings, grand dukes, dukes, and princes, and the duchy of Brunswick was subsequently abolished. The next year, he was deprived of his British peerages under the Titles Deprivation Act 1917 as a result of his service in the German army during the war.[28] Thus, when his father died in 1923, Ernest Augustus did not succeed to his father's British title of Duke of Cumberland.

Interwar years[edit]

Victoria Louise with her daughter Frederica and granddaughter Sofia, the future Queen of Spain, 1939.

For the next thirty years, Ernest Augustus remained the head of the House of Hanover, living in retirement on his various estates with his family, mainly Blankenburg Castle in Germany and Cumberland Castle in Gmunden, Austria. He also owned Marienburg Castle near Hanover; however, the couple rarely lived there until 1945.

Several of Victoria Louise's brothers were early members of the Nazi party, including former Crown Prince Wilhelm and Prince August Wilhelm.[29] While Ernest Augustus never officially joined the party, he donated funds and was close to several leaders.[30]

As a former British prince, Ernest Augustus as well as Victoria Louise desired a rapprochement between the United Kingdom 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; Princess Frederica would have been around 18 years of age while Edward was over 22 years older.[31] Following his brief reign as King Edward VIII in 1936 Edward, now Duke of Windsor, and his wife Wallis visited "the Cumberlands" at Cumberland Castle in Gmunden, Austria.[32] Instead, in 1938 Princess Frederica married her second cousin, the future King Paul of Greece.[33]

World War II[edit]

In May 1941, her father 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 feel able to depart, but soon relapsed. Victoria Louise returned in time to be at her father's bedside, along with nephew Louis Ferdinand and stepmother Hermine, when he died on 4 June 1941 of a pulmonary embolism.[34] By the time of the war's ending in Europe in April 1945, Victoria Louise was living with her husband at Blankenburg Castle.[35] A few days before Blankenburg was handed over to the Red Army by British and U.S. forces in late 1945, to become part of East Germany, the family was able to move to Marienburg Castle, at the time located in the British Occupation Zone, with all their furniture, transported by British Army trucks, on the order of George VI.[36]

Later life[edit]

The Duchess signing her autobiography (1970)

After the war, Victoria Louise spent much of her time attending public events in Lower Saxony, 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.[37] Her husband died at Marienburg on 30 January 1953. When her eldest son made Marienburg a museum in 1954 and moved himself to Calenberg Estate nearby, she became at odds with him, although he had offered her several other manor houses to move in. There was also a rivalry between them about her popularity and public appearances. Instead, she moved back to Brunswick, occupying a house which had been offered to her by a wealthy industrialist and a circle of fans called "Braunschweiger Freundeskreis" (circle of Brunswick friends). She lived there until her death.[citation needed]

In 1965 she published her autobiography Life as Daughter of the Emperor, and thereafter several other books, including biographies of her mother and of her sister-in-law Cecilie, the last crown princess of Germany. It is however believed that her publisher Leonhard Schlüter served as her ghostwriter.[38]

She is buried next to her husband in front of the Royal Mausoleum in the Berggarten at Herrenhausen Gardens in Hanover, which is the burial chapel of Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover, and his wife[39] and, since his reburial after World War II, also of George I of Great Britain.


Graves of Ernst August and Victoria Louise in front of the Berggarten mausoleum in Hanover

Approximate translations of the titles into English are given in parentheses.

  • Ein Leben als Tochter des Kaisers ("Life as a Daughter of the Emperor")
  • Im Strom der Zeit ("In the River of Time")
  • Bilder der Kaiserzeit ("Images from the Imperial Period")
  • Vor 100 Jahren ("100 Years Ago")
  • Die Kronprinzessin ("The Crown Princess")
  • Deutschlands letzte Kaiserin ("Germany's Last Empress")


David Jones records in his prose-poem In Parenthesis a fragment of song from the Western Front – "I want Big Willie's luv-ly daughter" – implying (as Jones notes) "that the object of the British Expedition into France was to enjoy the charms of the Emperor's daughter".[40]

A number of vessels were named for the princess:


Regimental commissions[edit]

  • Regimentschefin (Regimental Chief) and Oberst à la suite (Honorary Colonel), 2. Leib-Husaren Regiment Königin Victoria von Preußen Nr. 2, c. 1909[49]


Name[50] Birth Death Notes
Prince Ernest Augustus 18 March 1914 9 December 1987(1987-12-09) (aged 73) married first 1951, Princess Ortrud of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg; had issue.

married second 1981, Countess Monika zu Solms-Laubach; no issue.

Prince George William 25 March 1915 8 January 2006(2006-01-08) (aged 90) married 1946, Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark; had issue.
Frederica, Queen of the Hellenes 18 April 1917 6 February 1981(1981-02-06) (aged 63) married 1938, Paul of Greece; had issue.
Prince Christian Oscar 1 September 1919 10 December 1981(1981-12-10) (aged 62) married 1963, Mireille Dutry (b. 10 January 1946); divorced 1976; had issue.
Prince Welf Henry [fr] 11 March 1923 12 July 1997(1997-07-12) (aged 74) married 1960, Princess Alexandra of Ysenburg and Büdingen; no issue.



  1. ^ a b Kirschstein, Jörg (2003). "Victoria Luise Prinzessin von Preussen". preussen.de (in German). Haus Hohenzollern. Archived from the original on 30 January 2016. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  2. ^ Vovk 2012, p. 79.
  3. ^ Vovk 2012, pp. 79–80.
  4. ^ Pakula 1997, p. 558.
  5. ^ Vovk 2012, p. 80.
  6. ^ Vovk 2012, pp. 242–243.
  7. ^ Clay 2007, p. 113.
  8. ^ Cecil 1996, p. 10.
  9. ^ a b Vovk 2012, p. 243.
  10. ^ Topham 1915, pp. 11–13.
  11. ^ Topham 1915, pp. 12, 18.
  12. ^ Viktoria Luise 1977, pp. 18.
  13. ^ Topham 1915, p. 14.
  14. ^ MacDonogh 2000, p. 323.
  15. ^ Viktoria Luise 1977, pp. 40.
  16. ^ Vovk 2012, pp. 243–244.
  17. ^ MacDonogh 2000, p. 340.
  18. ^ Viktoria Luise 1977, pp. 57.
  19. ^ "Royal Wedding In Berlin 1913". British Pathe News. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  20. ^ Riotte 2011, p. 305.
  21. ^ a b c Riotte 2008, p. 95.
  22. ^ Giloi 2011, p. 167.
  23. ^ Vovk 2012, p. 244.
  24. ^ Emmerson 2013, p. 13
  25. ^ Vovk 2012, pp. xxvii–xxviii.
  26. ^ a b Vovk 2012, p. 246.
  27. ^ Vovk 2012, pp. 246–247.
  28. ^ "At the Court at Buckingham Palace, the 28th day of March, 1919". London Gazette. His Majesty's Stationery Office. 28 March 1919. pp. Issue 31255, Page 4000. Retrieved 28 November 2011. Their Lordships do humbly report to Your Majesty that the persons hereinafter named have adhered to Your Majesty's enemies during the present war: —His Royal Highness Leopold Charles, Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence and Baron Arklow; His Royal Highness Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, Earl of Armagh; His Royal Highness Ernest Augustus (Duke of Brunswick), Prince of Great Britain and Ireland; Henry, Viscount Taaffe of Corren and Baron of Ballymote."
  29. ^ Petropoulos 2006, p. 167.
  30. ^ Petropoulos 2006, p. 99.
  31. ^ Petropoulos 2006, pp. 159–62.
  32. ^ Autobiography Life as Daughter of the Emperor
  33. ^ "Haus Braunschweig-Lûneburg (Maison de Brunswick-Lunebourg)". Almanach de Gotha (in French). Gotha: Justus Perthes. 1942. p. 39.
  34. ^ Cecil 1996, p. 353.
  35. ^ MacDonogh 2007, p. 75.
  36. ^ Viktoria Luise 1977, pp. 155.
  37. ^ Giloi 2011, p. 360.
  38. ^ Ernst-August Roloff and Uwe Meier, Die Bücher der Herzogin Victoria Luise und ihr Verleger Leonhard Schlüter (The books of Duchess Victoria Louise and her publisher Leonhard Schlüter, in: braunschweig-spiegel.de, 14 April 2012
  39. ^ "Herzogin Viktoria Luise – Munzinger Biographie". www.munzinger.de. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  40. ^ D. Jones, In Parenthesis (London 1969) p. 104 and p. 213
  41. ^ Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships 1815–1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. pp. 47–48. ISBN 0870217909.
  42. ^ Saunders, Aaron (1 October 2013). Giants of the Seas: The Ships that Transformed Modern Cruising. Seaforth Publishing. pp. 12–14. ISBN 9781473853102.
  43. ^ "DELAG: The World's First Airline". Airships.net. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  44. ^ a b c d e f Schench, G. Handbuch über den Königlich Preußischen Hof und Staat fur das Jahr 1908. Berlin, Prussia, 1907.
  45. ^ "Princess-victoria-luise".
  46. ^ "Real orden de Damas Nobles de la Reina Maria Luisa". Guía Oficial de España. 1930. p. 237. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  47. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Preußen (1908), Genealogy p. 2
  48. ^ "Ritter-orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, Vienna: Druck und Verlag der K.K. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1918, p. 328
  49. ^ Schench 1907.
  50. ^ Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser XVIII. "Haus Hannover". C.A. Starke Verlag, 2007, pp. 22–26. ISBN 978-3-7980-0841-0.
  51. ^ Huberty, Michel; Giraud, Alain; Magdelaine, F. and B. (1989). L'Allemagne Dynastique, Tome V – Hohenzollern-Waldeck. France: Laballery. pp. 197, 204, 217–218, 231, 239, 252. ISBN 2-901138-05-5.
  52. ^ Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser, Band IV (in German). Glücksburg: C.A. Starke Verlag. 1956. pp. 107, 112, 554–558.
Works cited

External links[edit]

Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia
Born: 13 September 1892 Died: 11 December 1980
Royal titles
Title last held by
Princess Marie of Baden
as Duchess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Duchess consort of Brunswick
1 November 1913 – 8 November 1918
German Revolution