Augusta Victoria, known by her family as Dona, was born on October 22nd, 1858, in Dolzig Castle, Brandenburg. She was the daughter of Duke Frederick VIII of Schleswig-Holstein, and Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Adelheid was the daughter of Princess Feodora of Leiningen, the half-sister of Queen Victoria. Augusta Victoria and her future groom were both great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria’s mother, among other relations.
Wilhelm, son of the Crown Prince and Princess of Germany, had fallen in love with a beautiful princess, who just happened to be his maternal first-cousin, to whom he wrote many love poems. Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, though, was unamused and rejected him. After Elisabeth’s rejection, Wilhelm was determined to marry. At first, the imperial family was reluctant to allow him to marry the woman he chose, but they relented in the end.
And so, he married Princess Augusta Victoria. The imperial family was originally against the match, but Otto von Bismarck supported it, so the family was forced to agree. They married in 1881. Augusta Victoria and her mother-in-law had mixed feelings for each other, and she enjoyed snubbing Vicky in small ways. Augusta Victoria and her husband had six sons and one daughter.
Following Empress Frederick’s husband’s death and Wilhelm’s ascension to the throne, the new Empress would find herself quite lonely without her husband. Her only companion was her mother-in-law, so they got along for the last few years of her life, and Augusta Victoria was at Vicky’s bedside when she died in 1901.
Augusta Victoria never got along well with her sisters-in-law, especially Queen Sophie of Greece. When Sophie announced that she would be converting to Greek Orthodoxy, Augusta Victoria was appalled and told Sophie that she would not be allowed to enter Germany and that she would end up in hell if she did. Sophie said that Augusta Victoria had no say in the matter, and the Empress was so shocked that she gave birth prematurely to her final son.
Augusta’s only daughter, Viktoria Luise, fell in love with Prince Ernst Augustus of Hanover when he was at the German court to thank Kaiser Wilhelm for sending his brother’s body home. Viktoria and Ernst’s families had been enemies since Ernst’s family was dethroned when Viktoria’s family annexed Hanover. This Romeo and Juliet story had a much happier ending, and the two married and had a happy life together.
Viktoria and Ernst’s wedding was attended by Kaiser Wilhelm, of course, but also by King George V of the United Kingdom and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. After that, the three cousins started World War I. After the war, Wilhelm was forced to abdicate and the family fled to the Netherlands. At first, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was reluctant to grant them asylum in the Netherlands, but she eventually did, though she never visited the family.
They lived at Huis Doorn, but Augusta Victoria didn’t stay there for long. The stress of it all was too much for the exiled Empress, and she died on April 11th, 1921, aged sixty-two. Augusta Victoria’s remains were allowed to be transported back to Germany, but Wilhelm was not allowed to accompany her since he was not allowed to enter the country. Wilhelm remarried to a minor German princess, Hermine, who was nearly thirty years his junior, not even a year after Augusta Victoria’s death.