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Channel 4 documentary reveals insight into childhood of Queen Victoria’s grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm II


Kaiser Wilhelm II is most notably recognised as the man who led Germany into World War One in 1914. He consequently was leading his people into outright war against his own mother’s country. From this new Channel 4 documentary, ‘Queen Victoria and the Crippled Kaiser’, audiences can learn about a collection of hidden royal letters that have recently been unearthed which show both the close and dysfunctional relationships that Wilhelm shared with his family members, including his grandmother, Queen Victoria.

Wilhelm was the first grandchild of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. His parents were Victoria, the Princess Royal, and Prince Frederick of Prussia, who later became Frederick III. The Princess Royal’s delivery of her first child was traumatic. Wilhelm’s breeched birth left his right arm permanently damaged. ‘Queen Victoria and the Crippled Kaiser’ illustrates how this disability was to become the beginning of a long battle of shame and embarrassment for his family.

This documentary demonstrates some of the cruel medical experiments that Wilhelm was subjected to, as it was hoped that such tortuous experiments might improve his condition. The long-hidden collection of family letters used in this documentary show a terrified little boy who became fully aware of his mother’s growing detachment for him because of his disability.

Despite being acknowledged as Queen Victoria’s favourite grandchild in these letters, it has been suggested that it was the dysfunctional relationship Wilhelm had with his mother, Victoria, and his distressing childhood experiences, that turned this young boy into the man who would later tear Britain and Germany apart.

This documentary was directed by Brian Henry Martin and produced by Dermot Lavery.

‘Queen Victoria and the Crippled Kaiser’ is part of the Secret History series and will be broadcasted on Channel 4 at 8pm on Sunday 17th November.

The programme will be available to watch online on 4oD soon after the broadcast, along with a number of airings on channel 4seven throughout the following week.


Photo credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives via photopin