Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein


Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein

Infobox Prussian Royalty|majesty|consort
name =Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein
title =German Empress, Queen of Prussia


caption =
reign =June 15, 1888 - November 9, 1918
spouse =William II
issue =Wilhelm, German Crown Prince
Prince Eitel Friedrich
Prince Adalbert
Prince August Wilhelm
Prince Oskar
Prince Joachim
Princess Viktoria Luise
royal house =House of Hohenzollern
Augustenburg
titles ="HI&RM" The German Empress, Queen of Prussia
"HI&RH" The German Crown Princess, Crown Princess of Prussia
"HRH" Princess William of Prussia
"HSH" Princess Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein
father =Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein
mother =Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
date of birth =birth date|1858|10|22|mf=y
place of birth =Dolzig Palace
date of death =death date and age|1921|4|11|1858|10|22|mf=y
place of death =Huis Doorn|

Princess Auguste Viktoria Friederike Luise Feodora Jenny of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (October 22 1858 - April 11 1921), was the last German Empress and Queen of Prussia.

She was the eldest daughter of Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein and Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Her maternal grandparents were Ernst Christian Carl IV, Duke of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Princess Feodora of Leiningen, half-sister of Queen Victoria.

On February 27, 1881, Augusta married the then Prince William of Prussia in an eight hour ceremony that required everyone to remain standing. She accompanied him to the Netherlands after World War I, where she died a few years later.

Family life

Before her marriage and indeed for sometime after it, Augusta was looked down upon by some members of William's family, his sister, Princess Charlotte, in particular thought she was of insufficient rank to marry a Crown Prince being merely the daughter of a duke with questionable sovereignty.

Augusta was known as "Dona" within the family. She enjoyed a somewhat cool relationship with her mother-in-law Victoria, who had hoped that Dona would help to heal the rift between herself and William; sadly, this was not to be the case. The Empress was also annoyed that the title of the head of the Red Cross went to Dona who had no nursing or charity experience or inclination. However, in her memoirs, Princess Viktoria Luise, paints a different picture saying how much her mother loved charity work. Dona often took pleasure in snubbing her mother-in-law, usually small incidents, such as telling her that she would be wearing a different dress to the one the Empress had recommended, that she would not be riding to get her figure back after childbirth as William had no intention of stopping at one son, and taking pleasure in informing the Empress that Augusta's daughter, Viktoria, was not named after her. However, in her memoirs, Viktoria Luise is of the belief that she was named after both her grandmother and great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.

Augusta and her mother-in-law grew closer for a few years when William became Emperor, as Dona was often lonely when he was away on military exercises and Dona turned to Vicky for companionship of rank, although she never left her children alone with Vicky in case her mother-in-law’s well known liberality should influence them. Nevertheless, they were often seen out riding in a carriage together. Dona was also at the bedside when the Empress Frederick died of cancer in 1901.

Dona also had less than cordial relationships with some of William's sisters, especially the Crown Princess Sophie of Greece. In 1890, when Sophie announced her intention to leave her Lutheran faith for Greek Orthodoxy, Dona summoned her and told her that if she did so, not only would William find it unacceptable, being the head of the Prussian Protestant church; she would be barred from Germany and her soul would end up in hell. Sophie replied that it was her business whether or not she did. Dona became hysterical and her son, Prince Joachim, was born too early causing her to cling to him for the rest of his life as she believed he was delicate. Evidently, so did William as he wrote to his mother that if the baby died Sophie would have murdered it. In 1920, the shock of exile and abdication, combined with Joachim's suicide over the abdication and break down of his marriage, proved too much for Dona. She died in House Doorn in Doorn in the Netherlands in 1921. The Weimar Republic allowed her remains to be transported back to Germany. She is buried in the Temple of Antiquities not far from the New Palace, Potsdam.

Children

Empress Augusta gave birth to seven children by William II:

*Crown Prince Wilhelm (1882-1951).
*Prince Eitel Friedrich (1883-1942)
*Prince Adalbert (1884-1948)
*Prince August Wilhelm (1887-1949)
*Prince Oskar (1888-1958)
*Prince Joachim (1890-1920)
*Princess Viktoria Luise (1892-1980)

Historical view

History has not dealt kindly with her, recording nothing special about "Dona", as Augusta was nicknamed; she was not intellectual, did not play an instrument and hero-worshipped her husband.

This view of Augusta is, however, one that is substantially based upon the point of view of late twentieth century, often English speaking historians, and also is reading her through the lens of twentieth century political history. She is often placed unfavourably against Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her mother-in-law Victoria, Princess Royal, both of whom are read as symbols of cultural and political dissonance to the left. Augusta is read as a more conservative figure and therefore more negative imagery and narrative is directed towards her. Returning to earlier sources, unburdened by later politics, Augusta was in fact viewed far more positively as a celebrity figure internationally, even in the English speaking press, before the First World War, and imaged as a person of dignity, even glamour. This is quite a different picture to the consensus amongst present day, mostly male historians. In Germany out of all the Imperial family she was perhaps the most spontaneously loved by the general public. She was extremely conscientious in carrying out the public relations duty and charitable and welfare work that was an expected part of royal duties. She was not as untalented as later commentators made out and had interests in and affinity for the arts. There was a genuine and widespread sense of loss and mourning amongst ordinary Germans when she died and her funeral was marked by much spontaneous public grieving, as well as the more formal rituals of the Prussian state.

Genealogy

See also

* Empress Augusta Bay, bay on Bougainville Island named after the Empress


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