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Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz (December 17, 1887 – August 7, 1947) was the second wife of German Emperor Wilhelm II. They were married in 1922, four years after he abdicated as German Emperor and King of Prussia. He was her second husband; her first husband, Prince Johann of Schönaich-Carolath, had died in 1920.

Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz

They were the parents of five children.

Princess Hermine was born in Greiz as the fifth child and fourth daughter of Heinrich XXII, Prince Reuss of Greiz (March 28, 1846 – April 19, 1902), and Princess Ida of Schaumburg-Lippe (July 28, 1852 – September 28, 1891), daughter of Adolf I, Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe and Princess Hermine of Waldeck and Pyrmont (1827–1910).

Princess Hermine’s mother, Princess Ida of Schaumburg-Lippe, had a brother, Prince Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe (1859–1917), who was married Princess Victoria of Prussia, daughter of German Emperor Friedrich III, and Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom eldest daughter of Queen Victoria.

This means that Princess Victoria of Prussia was Princess Hermine’s aunt by marriage and Princess Victoria was the sister of German Emperor Wilhelm II, Princess Hermine’s second husband.

Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz

Princess Hermine’s father was the ruler of the Principality of Reuss-Greiz, a state of the German Empire, in what is present-day Thuringia. Princess Hermine’s disabled elder brother became Heinrich XXIV, Prince Reuss of Greiz in 1902.

First marriage

Princess Hermine was married on January 7, 1907 in Greiz to Prince Johann of Schönaich-Carolath (September 11, 1873 – April 7, 1920).

Second Marriage

German Emperor Wilhelm II in Exile

In January 1922, a son of Princess Hermine sent birthday wishes to the exiled German Emperor Wilhelm II, who then invited the boy and his mother to Huis Doorn. Wilhelm found Hermine very attractive, and greatly enjoyed her company. The two had much in common, both being recently widowed: Hermine just over a year and a half before and Wilhelm only nine months prior.

By early 1922, Wilhelm was determined to marry Hermine. Despite grumblings from Wilhelm’s monarchist supporters and the objections of his children, 63-year-old Wilhelm and 34-year-old Hermine married on November 5, 1922 in Doorn.

Wilhelm’s physician, Alfred Haehner, suspected that Hermine had married the former kaiser only in the belief that she would become an Empress and that she had become increasingly bitter as it became apparent that would not be the case.

Hermine with Wilhelm II and her daughter Henriette in Doorn, 1931

Shortly before the couple’s first wedding anniversary, Haehner recorded how Hermine had told him how “inconsiderately [Wilhelm] behaved towards her” and how Wilhelm’s face showed “a strong dislike” for his wife.

Hermine’s first husband had also been older than she was, by fourteen years. Wilhelm and Hermine were fourth cousins once removed through mutual descent from Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt and fifth cousins through common descent from King George II of Great Britain.

In 1927, Hermine wrote An Empress in Exile: My Days in Doorn, an account of her life until then. She cared for the property management of Huis Doorn and by establishing her own relief organization, she stayed in contact with monarchist and nationalist circles in the Weimar Republic.

Hermine and Wilhelm II

Hermine also shared her husband’s anti-Semitism. She remained a constant companion to the aging emperor until his death in 1941. They had no children.

Later life

Following the death of Wilhelm, Hermine returned to Germany to live on her first husband’s estate in Saabor, Lower Silesia. During the Vistula–Oder Offensive of early 1945, she fled from the advancing Red Army to her sister’s estate in Rossla, Thuringia.

After the end of the Second World War, she was held under house arrest at Frankfurt on the Oder, in the Soviet occupation zone, and later imprisoned in the Paulinenhof Internment Camp.

On August 7, 1947, aged 59, she died suddenly of a heart attack in a small flat in Frankfurt, while under guard by the Red Army occupation forces. She was buried in the Antique Temple of Sanssouci Park, Potsdam, in what would become East Germany. Some years earlier, it was the resting place of several other members of the Imperial family, including Wilhelm’s first wife, Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein.

Hermine and Wilhelm II

Prince Charles Franz of Prussia married a daughter of Hermine from her first marriage.

Prince Charles Franz of Prussia was the son of Prince Joachim of Prussia and Princess Marie Auguste of Anhalt.

Prince Joachim of Prussia was the youngest son and sixth child of Wilhelm II, German Emperor, by his first wife, Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. He committed suicide at age 29.

On October 5, 1940, Charles Franz of Prussia married Princess Henriette of Schönaich-Carolath. She was a daughter of Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz, who had been the second wife of Charles Franz’s grandfather Emperor Wilhelm II since 1922 (Henriette was thus Emperor Wilhelm’s stepdaughter).

The wedding was at Wilhelm II’s private residence in Huis Doorn without much ceremony, he and Hermine attended the ceremony, as did a few other guests. The Mayor of Doorn performed the ceremony.

The eldest son of Charles Franz of Prussia and Princess Henriette of Schönaich-Carolath is Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia (born September 3, 1943), he married the claimant to the Russian throne, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, of Russia. Their child is Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia, Prince of Prussia, born March 13, 1981 in Spain.