Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Kaiser Wilhelm in mourning

August 3, 1916

Kaiser Wilhelm II is in mourning for his brother-in-law, Prince Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe, "who has not fallen on the field of battle, but who has succumbed to aneurysm of the heart," at Bonn. The Marquise de Fontenoy reports that Adolf was an "amiable, good looking, but insignificant man, who after having been placed by the kaiser in false position, became the subject of a quarrel extending over several years, that had the effect of irritating the rulers and the people of every non-Prussian state of Germany against the kaiser."
Rather than blame himself for the matter, Wilhelm II "bore a grudge against the unlucky Prince Adolf," who was made to feel it "in many different ways. The kaiser's "underlings" took their cue from him, and Prince Adolf, whose life has not been rosy, has been treated in a contemptuous manner.
Adolf is married to the Kaiser's younger sister, Princess Victoria. This was not a marriage of love, but of convenience, perhaps, as Victoria was engaged to marry the late Prince Alexander of Battenberg. Prince Alexander was in "the blackest books" of Alexander III, when the prince was the ruler of Bulgaria. Prince Bismarck and the future Wilhelm II opposed the match "for fear of giving offense" to the Russian Czar.
After Alexander lost the Bulgarian throne, the marriage became more objectionable to Bismarck. Princess Victoria, "who was of a romantic turn of mind," was determined to marry her prince, who was "one of the handsomest men of his day," and she appealed to her grandmother, Queen Victoria, for help.
The marriage was arranged to take place privately at Windsor, instead of at Berlin, as Wilhelm II, who had recently succeeded his father, remained "unwilling to countenance the union."
A few days before the wedding was to have taken place, the "courts of London and Berlin, and in fact of every monarchical nation in Europe" was started by the news that Prince Alexander "had deliberately jilted" Princess Victoria and had run off with Johanna Loisinger, a Hessian opera singer and actress. Her parents were domestic servants, but she was a "woman of remarkable beauty."
Alexander realized that of the two women, Johanna was the more fascinating, and Victoria was "the least attractive of the kaiser's sisters." He also would have found himself in a more "awkward position" if he had married Victoria.
Prince Bismarck was delighted with the news, but Wilhelm II was "deeply affronted" at the news of one of his sister's being jilted "on the eve of the wedding." He took partial blame for the "slight to which she had been subjected." To efface the situation, he chose to marry her off as soon as possible, and he chose Prince Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe, one of his childhood friends, to marry Victoria.
The wedding took place in the following year. The marriage has remained childless.
Prince Adolf and Princess Victoria were not well off financially, so Kaiser Wilhelm II decided to look after their interests.
When the Kaiser realized that the elderly Prince Waldemar of Lippe was dying, and the next in line was his "hopelessly demented brother," Alexander, he "induced the moribund prince to sign a decree naming Prince Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe as the regent.
After Waldemar's death, Prince Adolf was established by Wilhelm, with the assistance of three Prussian regiments, as the regent of Lippe. This was done despite the protestations of Lippe's legislature and by Prince Ernst of Lippe, next in line after Prince Alexander. Ernst believed he was entitled to be the regent.
With the Kaiser's assistance, Prince and Princess Adolf "secured possession through the kaiser'smilitary forces not only the de facto sovereignity of Lippe, but also of the vast estates and immense wealth of the reigning house of Lippe."
The Kaiser declared that Ernst was disqualified as heir because his grandmother was a member of the lower German nobility, and not of a sovereign house.

Count Ernst died in 1904, and his fight was taken up by his son, Count Leopold, who was seen to be even more objectionable by the Kaiser, because his grandmother was an American girl, a native of Philadelphia. Her parents were Mr. and Mrs.Halbach-Bohlen, who became citizens of the United States, several years after emigrating from Germany. They were members of the fame family as Hans Halbach Bohlen who married the heiress Bertha Krupp.
Count Leopold was subjected to the same public affronts from the Kaiser, who forbid the officers of the Prussian regiments stationed in Lippe to bow or salute to the Countesses of Lippe.
Eventually, Leopold's right as regent was brought before a court of arbitration presided by the late King Albert of Saxony. This court ruled in favor of Count Leopold, as Prince Alexander had died in an insane asylum. Leopold, with the assent of the Supreme Court of the empire, was finally able to assume the throne as Prince Leopold IV of Lippe.
Prince Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe was relieved of his position as regent. He was also required to return "all of the immense entailed property of the reigning house of Lippe."

2 comments:

John said...

The Kaiser sounds like he was a very rigid, strict man. Not at all like-able. Marlene can you recommend your favorite English language biography of him? I am sure there are dozens, but I feel you would know best which are worthy.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

John

John Röhl's 3 volumes - not finished, very detailed -- as well as the 2 vols by Lamar Cecil