Infidelity of Frederick William Caused Unhappiness to Wife
Sad Life of German Crown Princess
Infidelity of Frederick William Caused Unhappiness to Wife
THE story of the unhappy life of the Crown Princess of Germany with her husband is told by Princess Radziwill in Good Housekeeping. The
writer has become famous as the narrator of stories of the crowned heads of Europe and latterly by reason of a remarkable volume on the rise of Bolshevism. In the present narrative she presents the Crown Prince in a very unfavorable light. After telling of the courtship, during which Frederick William behaved very well, with only occasional lapses into his habitual brutality, she proceeds with her account of what followed the wedding:
Something pleasant and totally unforeseen, too, had happened. The Kaiser, who so hated the Grand Duchess, had been expected to hate her daughter also: to the surprise of those about him he was attracted by her. He found her lively and amlising; he liked to be with her and to talk with her. The Crown Prince jealously looked somewhat askance at this unexpected friendship of his father for his wife,
perhaps threatening his own influence with the Kaiser, but he did not yet openly object to it.
Cecile had begun to hear stories contradictory to the character of the Crown Prince as he had made her see it. At twentj-one, when she had met him, he already had had many affairs with women. It was not merely, she learned, so that he might see something of the world that his father had sent him to Boidighera; it was to break off an amour which had angered and alarmed the Kaiser. Cecile had found a distressing animality in her husband from the night of her marriage. She also discovered that he was cruel to his dogs and horses and brutal with his servants. She learned that he was inordinately vain and extravagantly and ridiculously ambitious. She tried to forgive these things.
She had not fully realized yet that he was incapable of sustained affection, and that the only love which he could feel was a temporary physical infatuation. Her knowledge of that came at the end of her few months’ happiness; she saw then that he had grown tired of her. He sneered at her display of affection for him. He refused, when she asked help of him in her inexperience of the Berlin court, to advise or help her, saying that, since she had been clever enough to in-
gratiate herself with his father, she ought to be clever enough to solve her problems for herself. He absented himself from her for days, except on formal occasions, and did not even make a pretense of explaining to her where he had been.
The time approached when the Crown Princess must undergo the travail of women. The change in her slender, graceful figure produced no consideration or tenderness toward her from her husband, but increased his indifference to her because she was no longer beautiful to him. She was surrounded by persons who were either critical of her or indifferent toward her. Her Hohenzollern relatives resented her affection for Russia and France; they criticized her way of dressing, her tastes, her manner. Tfieir only interest in her was that a possible heir to the German throne was about to be born. Her own attendants took their tone from them.
As the time for the birth of her child approached, Cecile—she was only nineteen—longed inconsolably for her mother. She saw almost nothing of the Crown Prince. The Kaiser was absent on his annual journey to the fjords of Norway. The Kaiserin was busy with the household cares which absorb every German housewife from the highest to the lowest. She did not dare to beg them to send for her mother, because she knew it would be useless.
The Crown Princess went down into the valley of shadow in loneliness. The Berlin newspapers announced the birth of another Hohenzollern. Her husband paid no heed to the event.
As soon as Cecile grew strong enough, she prevailed upon her physician to order her to St. Moritz for her health. She wrote her mother, begging her to meet her there. The Grand Duchess responded, and they took rooms at the same hotel. The Kaiser, learning they were together, telegraphed the Crown Princess to return at once to Berlin. The Crown Prince’s neglect of her had hardened Cecil’s heart, and she threw the Kaiser’s message into the wastebasket.
Soon the Crown Prince appeared at St. Moritz and ordered her to return with him. Princess Cecile, astonished as much at the manner of the command as at its substance, refused to go back until she had finished her visit with her mother. He repeated his command and struck her, She struggled with him. Her screams aroused the guests and attendants of the hotel. The Grand Duchess, hearing her daughter’s cries, rushed to her room. She found Cecile in a paroxysm of tears and the Crown Prince standing over her. Anastasia Michaylowna seized her son-in-law by the shoulders and forced him out of the room.
She wrote at once to the Kaiser, demanding protection from him for her daughter against his son. The Kaiser recalled the Crown Prince and in attempted reparation permitted Cecile to finish her visit with her mother. Cecile had come to realize fully now the brutal character of her husband; she had begun to suspect as well his essential sneakiness, his viciousness, and his mean pleasure in revenge.
A bitter interview took place between them when she rejoined him in Berlin. He accused her of having deliberately falsified what had taken place at St. Moritz in order to undermine his influence with the Kaiser. Her indignant denials increased his rage. He was jealous of her popularity among the people of Berlin
Cecile’s pride, which revolted against his misrepresentation of her, aided his meanness. Finding herself misjudged, she became defiant of what her critics might think of her. There had appeared in Paris the slit skirt. Cecile, whose gowns all came from Paris, wore among the formalities of a grand court ball a skirt which had an unmistakable slit. Her sisters-in-law exclaimed in horror, arid Cecile vas reprimanded by the Kaiserin. It had been planned, at another ball, that the royal family should appear in ancient German costumes imitated from the portraits of their ancestors. Cecile presented herself in an antique Russian dress. She replied, when they expostulated bitterly with her, that she had had Russian ancestors. The Crown Prince spoke of her loudly as “the Russian,” and it be-
came a derisive nickname for her, used continually by all the family.
To the distressing bickerings which went on continually between the Crown Princess and her husband, there began to be added money troubles. The Grand Duchess Anastasia, wildly extravagant herself, had taught her daughter nothing of the control of money. Cecile got inextricably into debt and was rescued by the Kaiser, who warned her, however, that the next time he might pay bills contracted in Berlin, but would pay none in Paris. She got in debt again in Paris, and this time her mother paid.
The Crown Prince, instead of aiding her in financial matters, added to her embarrassments. He was even more extravagant than herself. At times Frederick William’s expenditures left themnothing with which to placate the tradesmen, and the superintendent of the household finally told him that if he met his demands, he would not have enough left to be able to obtain ordinary supplies.
The Crown Prince, with this sourde cut off, borrowed money from a friend and gave a promissory note. The friend, doubtful of the security, discounted the note at a bank. When Frederick William asked him to renew it, he replied that the matter was now out of his control and the bank would present it for collection in three days. The Crown Prince, in panic for fear his father might find out, begged help
from his wife Cet lie’s love for h:m was dead, but she yielded to his pleadings. Under his urgings she let him take the ruby and diamond parure which had been the Kaiserin’s wedding gift to her, and he arranged to pawn it in Vienna.
The time was approaching when Cecile would bear another child, and the Kaiser in recognition of the event planned to give her ruby bracelets to match the Kaiserin’s parure. He instructed her head maid to obtain the jewels without letting the Crown Princess know ; he would then g’ive them to the jewelers to be matched. The maid found the case that had contained them empty. Horrified at the loss, she first summoned the police, then notified the Kaiser. William II, unwilling to distress Cecile, ordered the loss concealed until the police had made their search. The Prussian royal jewels, by the investigation which was made, were discovered in the establishment where they had been pawned by a friend of the Crown Prince.
The man was arrested and confessed his actions as a go-between. The Kaiser redeemed tne jewels. He notified Cecile that they would remain thereafter in the possession of the Crown Treasurer; she would not be permitted to have possession of them, but would be allowed to take them when she wished to wear them. Cecile indignantly inquirea of him why she should be punished in that way for having tried to help her husband by a transaction in which
she herself had received no profit. The Kaiser replied that he had already talked with the Crown Prince, who had assured him frankly that he had nothing to do with the affair and that Cecile had pawned the jewels in order to pay dressmakers’ bills, about which she had not wanted the Kaiser to know.
Cecile, furious at this cowardly deception, refused to defend herself. She secretly left Berlin that night for Schwerin. There she saw her brother, the Grand Duke, and begged him to arrange a separation for her from the Crown Prince. The Grand Duke argued with her without avail; he finally told her that he would do what she asked, but that she must of course understand that, in that case, she would never be allowed to see her children again. After giving her time for reflection upon this, he prevailed upon her to let him take her back to Berlin.
The Grand Duke obtained an interview with the Kaiser and explained to him what actually had occurred, and the Kaiser gave Cecile back the jewels, together with the bracelets he had intended for her as a gift. He advised her if the Crown Prince got into difficulties again, not to try to assist him but to come to him. But the breach between the Crown Princess and her husband had widened. For Cecile it was no longer a question of living with a man she did not love; she lived now with a man whom she had begun to hate.
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