Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany
Frederick William Victor Augustus Ernest (6 May 1882 – 20 July 1951) of the House of Hohenzollern
House of Hohenzollern
The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near...

 was the last Crown Prince
Crown Prince
A crown prince or crown princess is the heir or heiress apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The wife of a crown prince is also titled crown princess....

 of the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 and the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

. He was colloquially known as William or Wilhelm throughout Europe.

Early life

William was born in the Marmorpalais
The Marmorpalais was a royal residence in Potsdam, eastern Germany, built on the grounds of the extensive Neuer Garten on the shores of Lake Heiliger See...

 of Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 in the Province of Brandenburg
Province of Brandenburg
The Province of Brandenburg was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1815 to 1946.-History:The first people who are known to have inhabited Brandenburg were the Suevi. They were succeeded by the Slavonians, whom Henry II conquered and converted to Christianity in...

. He was the eldest son of Wilhelm II, German Emperor (1859–1941) and his first wife Princess Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein
Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein
Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein was the last German Empress and Queen of Prussia. Her full German name was Auguste Victoria Friederike Luise Feodora Jenny von Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg.She was the eldest daughter of Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess...

 (1858–1921). When he was born, he was third in line for the throne, behind his grandfather
Frederick III, German Emperor
Frederick III was German Emperor and King of Prussia for 99 days in 1888, the Year of the Three Emperors. Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl known informally as Fritz, was the only son of Emperor William I and was raised in his family's tradition of military service...

 and father
William II, German Emperor
Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe...

, as the reigning emperor was his great-grandfather
William I, German Emperor
William I, also known as Wilhelm I , of the House of Hohenzollern was the King of Prussia and the first German Emperor .Under the leadership of William and his Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the...

, William I. He was the eldest of the Kaiser's seven children, and his birth sparked an argument between his parents and grandmother
Victoria, Princess Royal
The Princess Victoria, Princess Royal was the eldest child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert. She was created Princess Royal of the United Kingdom in 1841. She became German Empress and Queen of Prussia by marriage to German Emperor Frederick III...

. Before William was born, his grandmother had expected to be asked to help find a nurse, but since her son did everything he could to snub her, Wilhelm asked his aunt Helena
Princess Helena of the United Kingdom
Princess Helena was a member of the British Royal Family, the third daughter and fifth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert....

 to help. His mother was hurt and his grandmother furious. When his great-grandfather and grandfather died in 1888, he became the heir to the German throne.

William was a supporter of football, then a relatively new sport in the country, donating a cup to the German Football Association
German Football Association
The German Football Association is the governing body of football in Germany. A founding member of both FIFA and UEFA, the DFB organises the German football leagues, including the national league, the Bundesliga, and the men's and women's national teams. The DFB is based in Frankfurt and is...

 in 1908 and thereby initiating the Kronprinzenpokal
The Länderpokal is the oldest cup competition of the German Football Association. It came into existence as the Kronprinzenpokal but has changed its name various times since. The cup is held annually at the Sportschule Duisburg-Wedau...

, the oldest cup competition in German football.

World War I

Despite being raised within militaristic circles, the Crown Prince had little command experience when he was named commander of the 5th Army in August 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. In November 1914 William gave his first interview to a foreign correspondent and the first statement to the press made by a German noble since the outbreak of war. He said this in English:
He led the 5th Army until November 1916, a two-year period which included the battle of attrition known as the Verdun Offensive
Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Verdun was one of the major battles during the First World War on the Western Front. It was fought between the German and French armies, from 21 February – 18 December 1916, on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France...

. From April 1916 onward, he tried in vain to convince the supreme command that the Verdun offensive no longer made any sense, but the campaign continued until 2 September of that year.

After the German revolution

After the outbreak of the German Revolution
German Revolution
The German Revolution was the politically-driven civil conflict in Germany at the end of World War I, which resulted in the replacement of Germany's imperial government with a republic...

 in 1918, both Emperor William II and the Crown Prince signed the document of abdication. The Crown Prince went into exile on the island of Wieringen
Wieringen is a municipality in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. It consists of a former island, also named Wieringen, and there are plans to make Wieringen an island again by widening the Amsteldiepkanaal into a lake called the Wieringerrandmeer.-Population centres :The...

, in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. In 1923, he returned to Germany
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 after giving assurances that he would no longer engage in politics. The former Crown Prince held some political ambitions, and was reportedly interested in the idea of running for Reichspräsident
The Reichspräsident was the German head of state under the Weimar constitution, which was officially in force from 1919 to 1945. In English he was usually simply referred to as the President of Germany...

as the right-wing candidate opposed to Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 in 1932, until his father forbade him from acting on the idea.

The Crown Prince supported Hitler for some time, hoping and announcing in public that this man would do for Germany what Mussolini had done for Italy - make an end to all Bolshevist/Marxist influence. He had connections with some organisations more than loosely connected with the Nazi Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 and allowed himself to be used by the Nazi government
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in various symbolic actions. After the murder of his friend, the former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher was a German general and the last Chancellor of Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic. Seventeen months after his resignation, he was assassinated by order of his successor, Adolf Hitler, in the Night of the Long Knives....

, in the Night of the Long Knives
Night of the Long Knives
The Night of the Long Knives , sometimes called "Operation Hummingbird " or in Germany the "Röhm-Putsch," was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany between June 30 and July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders...

 (1934), he retreated from all political activities. Most of his efforts from 1919 until 1934 had been directed to making a return of the Hohenzollerns to the throne a viable option, and he had assumed that Hitler would give this idea his support.

William lived as a private citizen on his family's estates throughout World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Upon his father's death in 1941, he succeeded him as head of the House of Hohenzollern
House of Hohenzollern
The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near...

, the former German imperial dynasty. In 1951, the former Crown Prince died of a heart attack in Hechingen
Hechingen is a town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated about south of the state capital of Stuttgart and north of Lake Constance and the Swiss border.- City districts :...

, in the ancestral lands of his family in Swabia
Swabia is a cultural, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany.-Geography:Like many cultural regions of Europe, Swabia's borders are not clearly defined...

, as the family's estates in Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

 had been occupied by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. William and his wife are buried at Hohenzollern Castle.

Family and children

William married Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was a Crown Princess of Germany and Prussia as the wife of German Crown Prince William, the son of German Emperor William II...

 (20 September 1886 – 6 May 1954) in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 on 6 June 1905. Cecilie was the daughter of Grand Duke Frederick Francis III
Frederick Francis III, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Friedrich Franz III was the penultimate Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.-Biography:He was born in Schloss Ludwigslust the son of Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and his first wife Princess Augusta of Reuss-Köstritz...

 of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Mecklenburg-Schwerin was a duchy in northern Germany created in 1348, when Albert II of Mecklenburg and his younger brother John were raised to Dukes of Mecklenburg by King Charles IV...

 (1851–1897) and his wife, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia was a daughter of Grand Duke Michael Nicolaievich of Russia; she married Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin...

 (1860–1922). Their eldest son, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, was killed fighting for the German Army
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

 in France in 1940
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

. However, during the early stages of his marriage the crown prince had a brief affair with the American opera singer Geraldine Farrar
Geraldine Farrar
Geraldine Farrar was an American soprano opera singer and film actress, noted for her beauty, acting ability, and "the intimate timbre of her voice." She had a large following among young women, who were nicknamed "Gerry-flappers".- Early life and opera career :Farrar was born in Melrose,...

, and he later had a relationship with the dancer Mata Hari
Mata Hari
Mata Hari was the stage name of Margaretha Geertruida "M'greet" Zelle , a Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan, and accused spy who was executed by firing squad in France under charges of espionage for Germany during World War I.-Early life:Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was born in Leeuwarden, Friesland,...


Their children and male-line grandchildren are:
  • Prince Wilhelm of Prussia
    Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (1906-1940)
    Prince Wilhelm of Prussia was the eldest child and son of Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany and Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. At his birth, he was second in line to the German throne, and was expected to one day succeed to the throne after the deaths of his father and grandfather, both of...

     (1906–1940), who renounced his succession right. He married Dorothea von Salviati
    Dorothea von Salviati
    Dorothea von Salviati was the wife of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, the eldest son of Crown Prince Wilhelm, the heir of the last German Emperor, Wilhelm II....

     and had issue.
    • Princess Felicitas of Prussia
      Princess Felicitas of Prussia
      Princess Felicitas Cecilie Alexandrine Helene Dorothea of Prussia was a German princess and great-granddaughter of the last German Emperor, Wilhelm II.-Biography:...

    • Princess Christa of Prussia (born 1936)
  • Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia
    Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia
    -Children:* Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia , married firstly Waltraud Freytag on 22 August 1967 in Plön, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; secondly Ehrengard von Reden on 23 April 1976; thirdly Sibylle Kretschmer. He renounced his succession rights on 18 September 1967...

     (1907–1994); married Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia
    Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia
    Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia was the second daughter of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna...

     and had issue.
  • Prince Hubertus of Prussia
    Prince Hubertus of Prussia
    Prince Hubertus Karl Wilhelm of Prussia was the third son of Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany and Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.-Marriage and issue:...

     (1909–1950); married Baroness Maria von Humboldt-Dachroeden and Princess Magdalena Reuss of Köstritz
    Princess Magdalena Reuss of Köstritz
    Princess Magdalena Reuss of Köstritz was the wife of Prince Hubertus of Prussia. She was a member of the House of Reuss.-Marriage and issue:...

    , had issue.
    • Princess Anastasia of Prussia (born 1944)
    • Princess Marie-Christine of Prussia (1947–1966)
  • Prince Frederick of Prussia
    Prince Frederick of Prussia
    Prince Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Christoph of Prussia , a.k.a. in England as "Mr. Friedrich von Preussen", was the son of Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany and Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.-Family:...

     (1911–1966); married Lady Brigid Guinness
    Lady Brigid Guinness
    Lady Brigid Guinness was the youngest daughter of Rupert Guinness, 2nd Earl of Iveagh and wife of Prince Frederick of Prussia, grandson of Wilhelm II, German Emperor.-Early life:...

     and had issue.
    • Prince Frederick Nicholas of Prussia (born 1946)
    • Prince Andrew of Prussia (born 1947)
    • Princess Victoria of Prussia (born 1952)
    • Prince Rupert of Prussia (born 1955)
    • Princess Antonia of Prussia (born 1955)
  • Princess Alexandrine of Prussia (1915–1980), called "Adini", had Down syndrome
    Down syndrome
    Down syndrome, or Down's syndrome, trisomy 21, is a chromosomal condition caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. It is named after John Langdon Down, the British physician who described the syndrome in 1866. The condition was clinically described earlier in the 19th...

  • Princess Cecilie of Prussia (1917–1975), married American interior architect Clyde Harris in 1949, settled with him in Amarillo, Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

     and had a daughter in 1954.

Their surviving descendants are also in the Line of British succession.

Titles and styles

  • 6 May 1882 – 15 June 1888: His Royal Highness Prince William of Prussia
  • 15 June 1888 – 20 July 1951: His Imperial and Royal Highness The German Crown Prince, Crown Prince of Prussia


External links

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