1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/William

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

WILLIAM, German Crown Prince up to 1918 (1882-), eldest child of William II. of Germany, was born at the Marble Palace, Potsdam, on May 6 1882. He was educated at the Military Cadets School at Ploen in Holstein and at the university of Bonn. After visits to the courts of Vienna and St. Petersburg and an unofficial visit to Scotland he went on a tour with his brother Prince Eitel Friedrich to Constantinople and to the Nile. On his return to Germany he began his military career by serving in the 1st Foot Guards, and accompanied the Kaiser to England (Jan. 19-Feb. 5 1901) on the occasion of the funeral of Queen Victoria. On June 6 1903 he married the Duchess Cecilia, sister of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. There were five children, four sons and one daughter, of the marriage. His political and personal interventions in public affairs gave some trouble in the years preceding the war. He was credited with pan-German sympathies, and on one occasion (Nov. 9 1911) he appeared in the royal box in the Reichstag during the debate on the Morocco settlement and demonstratively applauded speakers who were attacking Great Britain and the Imperial Chancellor, Bethmann Hollweg. He was afterward compelled by the Emperor to make amends to the Chancellor. Other ill-advised interventions were in connexion with the Brunswick settlement, in regard to which he questioned (1914) the adequacy of his brother-in-law Prince Ernest Augustus of Cumberland's renunciation of all claim to the throne of Hanover, and again, on the occasion of the conflict in Dec. 1913 at Zabern in Alsace between officers of the garrison and the civilian population, when he despatched telegrams encouraging the officers in their truculent attitude. He had, nevertheless, done a public service in 1907 by calling the attention of the Emperor to the disreputable morals of the court camerilla, headed by Prince Philip Eulenburg, which was being denounced in the Zukunft by Maximilian Harden. In 1910-1 he paid a visit to Ceylon, India and Egypt, and he published some account of his experiences in his Jagdtagebuch. On the outbreak of the World War he was promoted to the rank of Lt.-General and appointed to the command of the V. Army in the west, where his troops were successful in the battles of Longwy and Longuyon on Aug. 22 and 24 1914. In Sept. 1915 he received the command of an army group, and he was nominally in charge of the German operations against Verdun. After the Armistice he represented himself in newspaper interviews as having been sceptical, since the battle of the Marne, regarding the possibility of the ultimate success of the German arms. His flight to Holland speedily followed that of the Emperor in Nov. 1918, and he went to Wieringen, an island in the Zuider Zee. He formally renounced on Dec. 1 1918 his rights of succession to the crowns of Prussia and the German Empire. The ex-Crown Princess and her children continued to reside at Potsdam, where she enjoyed considerable popularity among all classes of the population.