Princess Victoria

... was the eldest child of Queen Victoria, known as the Princess Royal. In 1858, aged 18, she married Prince Frederick, the grandson of King Frederick William IV of Prussia. The King died three years later, and was succeeded by Frederick's father, who thus became King William I of Prussia. Following the victory of the German states in the Franco–Prussian War (July 1870–January 1871), Germany was united and William was proclaimed Kaiser Wilhelm I.

In 1888, Frederick (a heavy smoker) was diagnosed as suffering from throat cancer. His father died just three days later, and Frederick became Kaiser Frederick III (using the same regnal number as both German Kaiser and King of Prussia). He died just 99 days into his reign, on 15 June 1888, leaving his son William to succeed him as Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Princess Victoria died of breast cancer in 1901, not much more than six months after the death of her mother. Meanwhile William had forced Chancellor Bismarck to resign, and begun to direct foreign policy himself, but this proved disastrous. His support for Austria–Hungary in its dispute with Serbia was a major factor in the outbreak of the First World War. His subsequent abdication of responsibility to the military lost him the support of his subjects after the war ended in defeat, and Wilhelm abdicated his throne and fled to exile in the Netherlands. He remained there during the German occupation in World War II, and died in 1941.

© Haydn Thompson 2021