The Princess Grace of 1902 Imperial Germany

In 1902, Wilhelm’s eldest son, the twenty-year-old Crown Prince and heir Frederick William, fell in love with an American girl from a prominent family and actually proposed, giving her a huge engagement ring.  The situation was widely discussed in many newspapers of the day, given the excitement which surrounded such an early “Princess Grace” affair.

However, social traditions were very different in those days, and Wilhelm and court reacted with outrage against the notion of the future emperor of Imperial Germany marrying a commoner, let alone a foreign one, given that Germany itself contained so many eligible princesses.  After a great deal of pressure, they forced the engagement to be broken off, and the incident seems to have totally disappeared from historical memory.

But just consider the massive historical impact which such an event would have had on American public opinion in the years leading to WWI, and—given the close balance over intervention—the reasonable likelihood it might have helped keep America out of that war, with vast consequences for the later history of the world.

“The German Crown Prince and an American Girl”
The Literary Digest, September 13, 1902, p. 323

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