Queen Victoria and Prince Albert saw marriages between Europe’s royal houses as a way to safeguard peace but this vision was shattered by the onset of the First World War. As dynastic alliances unravelled, cousins King George V, Tsar Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm II found themselves on opposing sides of the conflict. Overtaken by events, when the fighting stopped in 1918, Wilhelm II was sent into exile, Nicholas II had been executed and George V’s power was further diminished.
Desperate to conceal his damaged left arm and distant from his mother who felt she failed in her primary duty to produce a suitable heir, Wilhelm carried the emotional damage of his childhood into adult life. Overbearing and manipulative, both his Russian and British relatives found him difficult, and George in particular dreaded his cousin’s visits. Wilhelm led Germany down a dangerous path and, throwing his weight around in a bid for British respect, the expansion of the German navy prompted Britain to look for alliances against this new threat to its maritime power, whilst his bellicosity caused alarm to other European powers.
During the war, Wilhelm was side-lined by his generals and restricted to ceremonial duties. As the tide turned and enemy troops advanced, he saw it all in very personal terms, suffering nightmares of his relatives mocking him. With defeat looming, Germany teetered on the brink of revolution. To help restore order, Wilhelm was forced to abdicate. He spent the rest of his life living in exile in Holland, where he died in 1941.
|Pure Metal Type||Gold|