The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Prince Wilhelm of Prussia

Prince Wilhelm of Prussia

A carte-de-visite portrait of a young Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, later Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany (1859-1941, reigned 1888-1918).

The son of Crown Prince Friedrich (later Friedrich III) and Victoria, the Princess Royal, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, he became Emperor in 1888. In 1890 he forced Chancellor Bismarck to resign, and began to direct foreign policy himself, which proved disastrous. In 1914 he first approved Austria’s ultimatum to Serbia and then, when he realised war was inevitable, tried in vain to prevent it. In 1918 he fled to Holland.

A traumatic breech birth left him with a withered left arm due to Erb’s palsy, which he tried with some success to conceal. In many photographs he carries a pair of white gloves in his left hand to make the arm seem longer, or has his crippled arm on the hilt of a sword or clutching a cane to give the effect of the limb being posed at a dignified angle.

Photographed by Camille Silvy of London.


Code: 124036
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© Paul Frecker 2018