A draft of this uploaded before. This was a glitch. It was not meant to happen. Enjoy the completed post.
Is it Prussian Court
Or pit of hissing vipers?
Same thing. Run, Vicky!
Victoria, Princess Royal, and Empress of Germany for a hot second, could have averted some bad shit that happened in the 20th century. How? Oh, I’ll tell you.
Vicky (as we’ll call her to differentiate her from her mumsy) in 1840 to that obscure British monarch, Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Albert. She was the eldest of nine kids and was a little bit of a disappointment when she popped out, having the wrong genitalia and all. (“Never mind, next time it will be a prince!” – Queen Victoria, upon hearing that her firstborn was a girl.)
Nevertheless, despite being the wrong gender, Vicky soon became her father’s firm favorite. Unlike the secondborn (the future Edward VII), Vicky was ALL ABOUT learning and education and hard work. Prince Albert, while kind of a misogynistic dick in some ways, appreciated those tendencies in others no matter their genre. He kind of saw her as a bit of a protégé.
And maybe as a means of setting Germany down the path of liberalization, which was one of the German-born Prince Albert’s projects. How would he manage that, you wonder? By engineering a match between her and Friedrich, son of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia. Friedrich? Much less of a reactionary autocratic type than his pops! Maybe not the brightest of fellows, but get him to be led by the hand by a certain young woman…
It wasn’t love at first sight. It wouldn’t have been, with her being 11 and him being 19. But amiability ensued as Princess Vicky guided Friedrich through the Great Expedition with perfect German. After he left, the two were encouraged to correspond. Then he came to visit in 1855 and bam! They were engaged and married in 1858. And oh man, the marriage was not popular, on either side of the Chanb. Regardless, Vicky almost immediately found herself enciente. Good, right?
The Queen actually felt a bit bad for her girl, being knocked up so quickly. Here are some facts about Queen Victoria: she loved doing it with her husband, the babies that resulted were kind of a drag, and she wished she had more time to to do it with her husband before babies resulted. (The ‘lie back and think of England’ thing? Complete fabrication.)
And when the big day came, it didn’t go well for mother or child. At all. For starters, the baby was breech. And while the doctors managed to flip that kid around, they were still forced to use forceps to pull him out… Which unfortunately caused permanent damage to his left arm, which was forever shorter than his right. Oxygen deprivation might have affected the kid too. But both mother and son were saved, and that son grew up to be…
Kaiser Wilhelm II. Oh dear.
(Fortunately, her other pregnancies weren’t so dramatic. But dangit, this was the one with the most potential geopolitical effects.)
More bad shit was down the pike. First, her father, Prince Albert, died in December 1861. Then, in the next year, her father-in-law, now King Wilhelm, threatened to resign over a military matter. Everything hinged on Friedrich accepting his father’s resignation… And he couldn’t do it, despite Vicky’s encouragement. One wonders what would have gone down if Prince Albert lasted just a few more years.
But he didn’t, so hurray, autocracy.
Meanwhile, every move she made was criticized as somehow a British plot against the German states. Essentially, she was to them as the Austrian-born Marie Antoinette was to the French way back when: yes, she made some missteps, but they never would have accepted her even if she were perfect.
Fast forward to 1871 and the Franco-Prussian War. The French don’t do so well. King Wilhelm is upgraded to Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. This won’t lead to anything bad four decades down the line. Despite being, you know, the crown prince, Friedrich and by extension, Vicky, kept being shoved to the side so they wouldn’t get their icky liberalism all over everything. (They liked to read up on Darwin and Marx, and they didn’t like antisemitism. Gross, right?) So when the old man finally kicked it in 1888 at the age of 91, Friedrich hadn’t accomplished much. As Emperor, he’d accomplish even less, as he was well into the final stages of laryngeal cancer. Vicky didn’t believe for a long while that it was cancer and it was terminal, but she supported Friedrich’s decision not to seek further treatment when he made it. (And was she criticized about all of this in the Prussian press? You bet your ass, she was!)
Friedrich died just three months after his father. His firstborn then became Kaiser Wilhelm II. Now, this guy. He idolized his grandfather, denigrated his father, had a massive complex about that arm, and thus wound up having a massive complex against the British in general and his mother in specific. (Vicky had to take a time out from mourning to stash away Friedrich’s correspondence, because Wilhelm was scared that it might have said something bad about him.) He did his best to isolate her and make her a non-entity and he succeeded. What a little bastard.
Vicky died of breast cancer in 1901, just scant months after her mother’s death. Thirteen years later, World War I started, in large part due to her firstborn. Goddamn.