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For the brother of King Frederick II of Prussia, see Prince Henry of Prussia (1726–1802).
Prince Henry
Prinz Henry, younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II
Personal details
Born (1862-08-14)14 August 1862
Crown Prince's Palace, Berlin, Prussia
Died 20 April 1929(1929-04-20) (aged 66)
Hemmelmark, Schleswig-Holstein
Spouse(s) Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine

Prinz Albert Wilhelm Heinrich von Preußen or Prince Henry of Prussia (born Albert Wilhelm Heinrich, 14 August 1862 – 20 April 1929) was a younger brother of German Emperor William II and a Prince of Prussia. A career naval officer, he held various commands in the Imperial German Navy and eventually rose to the rank of Grand Admiral.


Born in Berlin, Prince Henry of Prussia was the third of eight children born to Crown Prince Frederick (later Emperor Frederick III), and Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom (later Empress Victoria and in widowhood Empress Frederick), eldest daughter of the British Queen Victoria. Henry was three years younger than his brother, the future Emperor William II (born 27 January 1859).

After attending the gymnasium in Kassel, which he left in the middle grades in 1877, the 15-year-old Henry entered the Imperial Navy cadet program. His naval education included a two-year voyage around the world (1878 to 1880), the naval officer examination (Seeoffizierhauptprüfung) in October 1880, and attending the German naval academy (1884 to 1886).

Prince Henry of Prussia visiting Hawaii in 1879

Early commands

As an Imperial Prince, Henry quickly achieved command. In 1887, he commanded a torpedo boat and simultaneously the First Torpedo Boat Division; in 1888 the Imperial yacht SMY Hohenzollern; from 1889–1890 the second-class cruiser SMS Irene, the armored coastal defense ship SMS Beowulf, and the capital ships SMS Sachsen and SMS Wörth.

Squadron commands

From 1897, Prince Henry commanded several naval task forces; these included an improvised squadron that took part with the East Asia Squadron in consolidating and securing the German hold on the region of Kiaochow and the port of Tsingtao in 1898. The prince’s success was more of the diplomatic than the military variety; he became the first European potentate ever to be received at the Chinese imperial court. In 1899 he became officially the commander of the East Asia Squadron, later of a capital-ship squadron and in 1903 commander of the Baltic Sea naval station. From 1906 to 1909, Henry was commander of the High Seas Fleet. In 1909, he was promoted to Grand Admiral.[citation needed]

World War I

A portrait of Prince Henry of Prussia

At the beginning of World War I, Prince Henry was named Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic Fleet. Although the means provided him were far inferior to Russia’s Baltic Fleet, he succeeded, until the 1917 Revolution, in putting Russia’s naval forces far on the defensive, and hindered them from making attacks on the German coast. After the end of hostilities with Russia, his mission was ended, and Prince Henry simply left active duty. With the war’s end and the dissolution of the monarchy in Germany, Prince Henry left the Navy.



Prince Henry with his wife, Princess Irene, and their sons Waldemar and Sigismund

On 24 May 1888, Henry married Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine, his first cousin. The marriage produced three children:

Name Picture Birth Death Notes
Waldemar William Louis Frederick Victor Henry Pince Waldemar.jpg 20 March 1889 2 May 1945 Married Princess Calixta of Lippe-Biesterfeld, but had no issue.
William Victor Charles Augustus Henry Sigismund Prince Sigismund of Prussia.jpg 27 November 1896 14 November 1978 Married Princess Charlotte of Saxe-Altenburg, had issue.
Henry Victor Louis Frederick File:Henry1900.jpg 9 January 1900 26 February 1904 Was a haemophiliac and died aged four after bumping his head[1]

Their sons Waldemar and Heinrich were both hemophiliacs, a disease which they inherited through Irene's maternal grandmother, Queen Victoria, who was a carrier.

Personality and private life

Medallion designed by Victor David Brenner for Prince Henry's 1902 visit to the U.S.

Henry had little in common with his brother, the German Emperor. He lacked, for example, William II's erratic nature and egotism. The prince was truly popular in Northern Germany, and on account of his humble and open manner was beloved by those under his command. On foreign travels, he was a good diplomat, who, unlike his brother, was able to strike the right tone. Thus, on his 1902 trip to the United States, Henry made a favorable impression with the critical American press and succeeded in winning the sympathy of more than just the numerous German-American segment of the population.

As a naval officer, Henry had a profession that completely satisfied him and that he loved. He was thoroughly a pragmatist. He received one of the first pilot’s licenses in Germany, and was judged a spirited and excellent seaman. He was dedicated to modern technology and was able to understand quickly the practical value of technical innovations. A yachting enthusiast, Prince Henry became one of the first members of the Yacht Club of Kiel, established by a group of naval officers in 1887, and quickly became the club's patron.

Henry was interested in motor cars as well and supposedly invented a windshield wiper and, according to other sources, the car horn. In his honor, the Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt (Prince Heinrich Tour) was established in 1908, like the earlier Kaiserpreis a precursor to the German Grand Prix. Henry and his brother William gave patronage to the Kaiserlicher Automobilclub (Imperial Automobile Club).

Henry also was an early proponent of introducing submarines and airplanes. He had a steamship converted into a primitive aircraft carrier for operations in the Baltic Sea.

Henry respected his brother, but this attitude was not returned in the same measure. William kept his younger brother far from politics, although Henry served as his representative as long as the Crown Prince was still in his minority. Henry complied with this, for he did not interest himself in either politics or grand strategy. He did not recognize what political effect the German naval build-up would entail, and also would not have been in the position to move his brother toward a different policy.

After the German Revolution, Henry lived with his family in Hemmelmark near Eckernförde, in Schleswig-Holstein. He continued with motor sports and sailing and even in old age was a very successful participant in regattas. He popularized the Prinz-Heinrich-Mütze ("Prince Henry cap"), which is still worn, especially by older sailors.

In 1899, Henry received an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Engineering honoris causa) from the Technical University of Berlin. Also in foreign countries he received numerous similar honors, including an honorary doctorate in 1902 from Harvard University.

Prince Henry died of throat cancer, as his father had, in Hemmelmark on 20 April 1929.[2]

George Burroughs Torrey painted a portrait of him.

Naval Career and Advancement

  • Unterleutnant zur See, 14 August 1872; Basic Training and Naval Academy 1877-1878
  • Leutnant zur See, 18 October 1881; Training Cruises and Naval Academy 1878-1882
  • Kapitänleutnant, 18 October 1884; Executive Officer, Armored Cruiser SMS Oldenburg, 1886
  • Korvettenkapitän, 18 October 1887; Commander, 1st Torpedo Boat Division, 1887; Commander, Imperial Yacht SMY Hohenzollern, 1888
  • Kapitän zur See, 27 Januar 1889; ; Commander, Cruiser SMS Irene, 1889–1890; Commander, Armored Coastal Defense Ship SMS Beowulf, 1892; Commander, Armored Cruiser SMS Sachsen, 1892–1894; Commander, Armored Ship of the Line SMS Wörth, 1894–1895
  • Konteradmiral, 15 September 1895; Commander, 2nd Division, 1st Battle Squadron, 1896–1897; Commander, 2nd Division, Cruiser Squadron, 1897–1899
  • Vizeadmiral, 5 December 1899; Commander, Cruiser Squadron, 1899–1900; Commander, 1st Battle Squadron, 1900–1903
  • Admiral, 13 September 1901;[3] Commanding Admiral, Baltic Sea Naval Command, 1903–1906, Commander, High Seas Fleet, 1906–1909
  • Großadmiral, 4 September 1909; Inspector General of the Imperial Navy, 1909–1918; Commander-in-Chief, Baltic Fleet, 1914–1918

Regimental Commissions and Honorary Ranks


  • 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß (Royal Prussian 1st Regiment of Foot Guards) – Leutnant (Second Lieutenant) through Generaloberst im Range eines Generalfeldmarschalls (Colonel-General in the Rank of Field Marshal), 1871 - 1918[4]
  • Kgl. Sächs. 2. Grenadier-Regiment Kaiser Wilhelm, König von Preußen Nr. 101 (Royal Saxon 2nd Grenadier Regiment)
  • Kgl. Bayerisches Artillerie-Regiment Nr. 8 (Royal Bavarian 8th Artillery Regiment) – Generaloberst im Range eines Generalfeldmarschalls and Chef (Colonel in Chief)[5]
  • 1. Großherzogl. Hessisches Feldartilleree-Regiment 25 (Grand Duchy of Hesse 2nd Artillery Regiment)[4]
  • Fußilier-Regiment “Prinz Heinrich von Preußen” (Brandenburgisches) Nr 35 (The Brandenburg Fusilier Regiment) - Generaloberst im Range eines Generalfeldmarschalls and Chef (Colonel in Chief)[6]


  • Austria-Hungary K.u.K. Infantry Regiment Nr. 20 – Oberstinhaber (Colonel in Chief)[4]
  • Austria-Hungary K.u.K. Navy – Vizeadmiral (vice admiral)[4]
  • British Royal Navy – Admiral (Honorary) 13 September 1901[3][4]
    • British Royal Navy - Vice-Admiral (Honorary) 5 February 1901.[7]
  • Russian Imperial Dragoon Regiment Nr. 33 – Colonel[4]

Orders and Medals[4]


Non-Prussian German




  1. The Royal Forums
  2. "Died". magazine. 29 April 1929.,9171,769213-2,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-06. "Prince Henry of Hohenzollern, 66, of Berlin, brother of onetime Kaiser Wilhelm II, Wartime commander of Germany's Baltic fleet; of heart disease and pneumonia; in Berlin. Popular Prince Henry visited the U. S. in 1884 and 1902, was caricatured in many a newspaper passing under festal arches of sausages, pretzels." 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "No. 27365". 15 October 1901. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Handbuch..., 1904, p. 2
  5. Der Rittmeister Militaria, LLC:
  6. Handbuch..., 1904, p. 2, and Der Rittmeister Militaria, LLC:
  7. "No. 27281". 5 February 1901. 

Further reading

  • Harald Eschenburg. Prinz Heinrich von Preußen - Der Großadmiral im Schatten des Kaisers. Heide, 1989, ISBN 3-8042-0456-2. [Translation of title: Prince Heinrich of Prussia - The Grand Admiral in the Shadow of the Emperor.]

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
new post
Commander-in-Chief of High Seas Fleet of the Imperial German Navy
Succeeded by
Henning von Holtzendorff

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