Royal History: The Empress Frederick - An Obituary

This is a condensed version of an obituary published by The New York Times on Aug. 6, 1901, on the death of the Dowager Empress Frederick of Germany. 

 A portrait by Winterhalter depicting Emperor Frederick III of Germany, King of Prussia
with his wife, Empress Frederick, and their children, Prince William
and Princess Charlotte. Wikimedia Commons
The life story of the elderly lady who died at Cronberg is calculated to dispel the illusion, if still entertained, that happiness is the portion of royalty. It is doubtful if many women of her time had a less satisfactory life than the Empress Frederick.

It is a long time ago that, as the first born of the reigning Queen, the Princess Royal occupied a unique place in the affections of the sentimental British people. And the marriage of the Queen's first-born to the heir presumptive to the throne of Prussia was the occasion of a better popular feeling as well as a "dynastic alliance."

So far as it is known, the marriage was a suitable one, but it could not have been quite happy for the reason that the princess was distinctly unpopular with the Prussian people and could not overcome the strong prejudice with which she was regarded, a prejudice which led to coldness and sometimes to insult when the opportunity offer. Her husband was so modern, moderate and civilized that he was suspected of Anglicizing the Prussian constitution. Doubtless, if he had succeeded to the throne in full health and strength, the development of Germany would have taken different lines and the inevitable transformation of it into a politically modern country would have been a peaceable evolution, instead of the explosive revolution by which it can be accomplished.

It is plain that the junkers and absolutists, with Bismarck at their head, attributed to the English ideas of his way, a suspicion which embittered the old Emperor William I's advisers' against her. Bismarck's influence to the young Emperor William II was strong enough and he was under Bismarck's tutelage, especially in the matter of the publication of Emperor Frederick's papers, ro betray the young man into what looked too much like acts of filial impiety against both his parents.

With the death of her husband and the succession of her son, the Dowager Empress was set aside and practically eliminated from the social and political life of the capital. That she loved the Germans no better than they loved her is quite probable and that she will be even kindly remembered or ever valued in German history as the capable, broad minded woman she undoubtedly was, is scarcely to be expected. She did not fit her envirionement, and her causes of unhappiness were many and unalterable. There is something touching and essentially human in her frequent repetition during her last illness of the words of her late husband: "Learn to suffer without complaining." And sufferer, indeed, she did.

The Royal Blogger

Christian George Acevedo is a book worm, mentor, and scholar of wide-ranging interests. He has authored hundreds of articles for various websites, and his expertise ranges from online marketing and finance to history, entertainment and many more. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Tumblr. Contact Christian at


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