THE END OF A REIGN
THE FESTIVITIES in March 1887 marking the ninetieth birthday of Kaiser Wilhelm I were to be followed in June by Queen Victoria's far more elaborate Golden Jubilee celebration, which many of her fellow sovereigns planned to attend. The Kaiser's great age and uncertain physical condition would not permit him to undertake a journey to England. Under ordinary circumstances, the Crown Prince would have represented his father, but in the spring of 1887 it seemed as though illness might prevent his being present in London to pay tribute to the mother-in-law he greatly admired.
Throughout the fall of 1886 the Crown Prince suffered from a persistent hoarseness, and by Christmas he was frequently unable to speak. In March 1887 a throat specialist discovered a growth on the left vocal cord, which when cauterized quickly reappeared. This disturbing development led to a further consultation in May with six prominent German laryngologists, who unanimously declared that the polypous growth was a malignant epithelioma that should be removed immediately, even though the necessary operation, which held some danger for the patient's life, would render him permanently speechless.1 Confronted by this grave verdict, the Crown Prince bravely agreed to submit to the operation, and a room was prepared in the palace where it would be performed.
The German physicians, whose spokesman was Berlin's leading surgeon, Ernst von Bergmann, decided that before undertaking the operation, which might have serious political as well as medical consequences, they should consult the leading European authority. The doctors agreed that Dr. Morell Mackenzie of Harley Street in London, with whose magisterial text on disorders of the larynx they were familiar, should be called from England. In choosing Mackenzie, Bergmann was partly influenced by his knowledge that the Crown Princess would be sure to prefer an English specialist, and she did indeed wish to have Mackenzie examine her husband. But the Crown Princess, aware of her unpopularity in Berlin, was afraid that if she summoned a London specialist, it would be