Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

Elizabeth Lanyon, a former teacher, gave a lecture to the Oxted & District History Society on ‘Kaiser Bill’.

Kaiser Bill, Wilhelm II, was the grandson of Queen Victoria.  His mother, Princess Victoria, married Frederick, the Crown Prince of Prussia.  Prince Albert hoped that the marriage would lead to a democratic Germany.  Wilhelm had a difficult birth, leaving him with a deformed arm and mental instabilities.  He was kept away from the moderating influence of his parents and was given a militaristic education.

When 29, his grandfather and father died within a few months of each other and Wilhelm became Kaiser.  He lacked diplomatic skills, had enormous power and ignored sound advice.  He refused to renew the secret alliance with Russia and Russia instead formed an alliance with France.  Britain negotiated the Entente Cordial with France in 1904 and through this was linked to Russia.

Wilhelm’s uncle, Edward VII, used his considerable diplomatic skills to prevent war but the military build-up on both sides made war inevitable.  The German generals secretly planned a war and Wilhelm could not prevent it.  His ill-judged rhetoric had helped to start it.  At its end he was forced to abdicate and retire to Holland, where he died in 1941.