On This Day: Death of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia

  May 26, 2015 at 6:00 am by

On May 26, 1940 Prince Wilhelm of Prussia died in Nivelles, Belgium. He had been involved in the German invasion of France, and was fatally injured.

The Prince was born at the Marble Palace near Potsdam during the reign of his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm II, on July 4, 1906. He was the first child and eldest son of Wilhelm, German Crown Prince and Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and as such was second in line to the throne.

After the fall of the German Empire in 1918, Wilhelm and his family (which by now included siblings Louis Ferdinand, Hubertus, Friedrich Georg, Alexandrine and Cecilie) remained in Germany and he attended the local grammar school. The Prince studied law at the Universities of Königsberg, Munich and Bonn during the late 1920s and early 1930s, during which he met his future wife, Dorothea von Salviati. They married without the approval of Kaiser Wilhelm in June 1933, with Wilhelm giving up his succession rights. The couple had two daughters: Felicitas and Christa.

Despite being refused a career in the military during the Weimar Republic, the Prince went on to hold the rank of Senior Lieutenant in the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces in the Third Reich. In 1939, Wilhelm led his regiment, the 11th company of the Infanterie-Regiment 1, during the invasion of Poland. The regiment would later fight on the western front during the invasion of France in May 1940. Wilhelm was injured while fighting between Valenciennes and Blaregnies, the former a French town and the latter a Belgian village located on the French-Belgian border, on May 23 and died in a field hospital three days later.

Prince Wilhelm’s funeral was held in Potsdam, at the Friedenskirche on the grounds surrounding the Sanssouci Palace. He was interred into the Antique Temple, also on the Palace grounds. Also buried in the Temple are two of Wilhelm’s uncles, Princes Joachim and Eitel Friedrich, and his grandmother, Empress Augusta Viktoria.

The large turn-out of mourners (over 50,000) was a large cause of concern for Adolf Hitler, who shortly after passed the Prinzenerlass, a decree banning members of former reigning houses from serving in the German army.

Wilhelm was survived by his wife, daughters, parents and his grandfather, the former Kaiser.

Filed under Germany, Historical Royals
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2 Responses to On This Day: Death of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia

  1. Archie1954 says:

    Too bad he supported the Nazi military!

  2. Lady Daphne says:

    I love reading about the Prussians. Mistaken though they were in many cases, I think they deserve more appreciation than they receive today. The current, Friedrich of Prussia, and his wife Sophie have retired with their family to a country estate and are rarely seen.

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