The Other Victoria: The Princess Royal and the Great Game of Europe

By Andrew Sinclair | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
Empire

'WE COULD NOW fight France and beat her too,' Bismarck told his chief propagandist, Moritz Busch, in February 1870. 'But that war would give rise to five or six others.'1 He was waiting for his opportunity to make France seem an aggressor. Time and Spain delivered that chance into his hands. The throne of Spain was vacant; as usual, a German prince was the traditional choice to fill it. The Spanish Parliament and its leader, General Prim, asked for a Hohenzollern prince to accept their crown. To France, this overture could seem to be a Prussian plot. In the event of war, Louis Napoleon would have to divide his armies to guard against a stab in the back from across the Pyrenees. But how could he protest against the offer? How could a civilized modern country still go to war for dynastic reasons? 'Please see that this theme, a new war of succession in the nineteenth century,' Bismarck scoffed to Busch, 'is thoroughly threshed out in the press.'2

When the Spanish offer came to Prince Frederick of Hohenzollern- Sigmaringen, Bismarck encouraged him to accept it. As head of the royal family, the King of Prussia would have to give his consent. Bismarck sent him a strong memorandum, favouring a Prussian prince on the Spanish throne. Prussia would benefit, France would feel threatened and humiliated. The King did not agree. Ignoring all advisers except the Crown Prince, he refused to give his permission. There might be too much trouble for too little gain. No Hohenzollern would take the Spanish throne, even if Bismarck wanted it.

The Crown Princess sent this information to her mother; her husband had asked her to do so in his name. In fact, it was no business of

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The Other Victoria: The Princess Royal and the Great Game of Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Princess Victoria's Family Tree xiv
  • Prince Frederick William's Family Tree xvi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - Minuet Before A Wedding 5
  • Chapter Two - Adieu to England 32
  • Chapter Three - Divided Loyalty 49
  • Chapter Four - Besieged by Bismarck 65
  • Chapter Five - To Us Germans 89
  • Chapter Six - To Win, to Lose 103
  • Chapter Seven - Waiting on Ceremony 127
  • Chapter Eight - Empire 139
  • Chapter Nine - How Long, O Lord, How Long? 161
  • Chapter Ten - Anguish and Omens 179
  • Chapter Eleven - At the Throat 193
  • Chapter Twelve - The Short Reign 208
  • Chapter Thirteen - Old Scores, New Places 223
  • Chapter Fourteen - Retirement and Requiem 238
  • Source Notes 249
  • Select Bibliograpby 265
  • Index 269
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